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SALT LAKE CITY — Since our grandmothers' day, many things have changed due to rapid improvements in technology. But common treatments for a condition affecting a massive portion of the population haven't.
Every month, many of us still find ourselves throwing down ibuprofen and huddling up with a heating pad (mine literally belonged to my grandma) when "that time" hits.
But a group of recent Brigham Young University graduates hopes to change that.
The Girls Company started in fall 2018, as three young women found themselves among the only girls in their business class.
"We were three girls in a class of like 50 people, and there were only six girls in the entire class. And we got randomly placed into a group together, and the purpose of the class is that we were tasked with finding a problem and creating a solution to that problem," said cofounder Abby Warner.
They decided to focus on something related to women's health.
"I think every woman has had a bad experience with periods, and so we just started interviewing anyone that would talk to us about their period, and we would talk to them for sometimes hours on end. And we just found that the people that were, so many of the people, were suffering from really severe cramps, and it was holding them back. And they weren't satisfied with the solutions that were out there," Warner recalled.
The women realized how widespread the issue is.
A simple search engine inquiry with the words "period pain relief" brings up mostly over-the-counter medications and diet supplements, and some "devices" with unclear uses.
The students learned that many women still use rice or electric heating pads, which require users to remain sitting down or stationary. They also aren't exactly easy to conceal. The group began developing a special heating band that wraps around a woman's abdomen and stays heated between eight and 10 hours. Made of a thin fabric, the band is worn under clothing and can heat the back as well as the front.
By early 2020, The Girls Company had a product ready to sell — which soon gained the interest of retail giant Target when a person at BYU became aware of the women's work and referred a Target representative to them. The women began the process of applying to sell their product through the store's website, which took about a year.
On Sunday, The Girls Company's cramp alleviating band will launch on Target.com.
"It feels really surreal to us," Warner said.
Getting the deal so quickly — the women graduated from BYU last spring — was "a huge deal" for the startup.
"Target is, it's a retailer for us that is a perfect fit," Warner said. "And they really try to get brands that are, they have a lot of women-owned companies here, and they're actively trying to build out their women's health section, so that was really important to us."
Warner believes so few innovations have been made in treating period pain and related issues because they remain "taboo" to discuss. Many feel shame when speaking of their experiences, and many want to keep the issue as private as possible, Warner noted.
The Girls Company wants to get people talking about periods.
"That's really important to us … because I think that this stigma has, for one, created obstacles and prevented more innovation, and we definitely think that there should be as many solutions as possible for women," Warner said.
She added that by initiating conversations, the company hopes "that we can feel more of a community with each other and realize that we aren't alone, and support each other through this difficult thing that we go through every single month."
The Girls Company has plans to develop products for other aspects of women's health in the future, Warner said.
For more information, visit thegirlsco.com.