Social Entrepreneurs, Founders of Lunapads.com, Gday.world & Lunagals.com
“Giving back is embedded in our business model; rather than being an afterthought, it’s an essential core part of our practice. We basically filter every decision that we make through a impact lens, as in: “Will this make the world a better place?”
Madeleine and Suzanne are best known as the co-founders of Lunapads, a Founding Canadian B Corp, vertical web retailer and multiple award-winning pioneer in the taboo-breaking field of natural menstrual health.
Lunapads is one of the best-selling brands of cloth pads worldwide and are used by customers in over 40 countries. Thanks to their choice of Lunapads (and other reusable options like the DivaCup and Lunapanties) over 2 million disposable products: pads, tampons and applicators, are diverted from landfills monthly.
Lunapads were also the inspiration for AFRIpads, a Uganda-based business to whom Madeleine and Suzanne have provided cost-free IP and mentorship since its inception in 2008. Today AFRIpads employs 150 people and is widely heralded as a model of market-based approach to development needs.
In 2013, the dynamic duo created G Day, a national community-based rite of passage celebration series that welcomes girls ages 10 to 12 into adolescence. In 2014 and 2015, G Day welcomed over 1,000 people in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto.
In 2015 Madeleine and Suzanne launched Lunagals: Adventures in Social Entrepreneurship, chronicling their projects and resources for other leaders seeking to create social change using the tools of business and entrepreneurship.
In 2016, Lunapads was announced as a Top 5 finalist among the 230+ applicants for the SheEO Radical Generosity fund, a new initiative that was funded by 500 “Activators” – radically generous women across Canada, who each contributed $1,000. The $500,000 was divided by the finalist ventures in February 2016.
Describe your Mission.
Lunapads: To build an inclusive community where individuals celebrate a positive and shame-free connection with their bodies.
As Leaders: To create high impact, sustainable and profitable organizations that inspire others to lead with heart and impact.
Biggest highlight in your career so far?
Visiting the AFRIpads team in Uganda in 2012 was extraordinary. Meeting founders Paul and Sonia and their team in person meant the world to us: it was incredible to see firsthand how the same idea that we had been working on for so many years (Madeleine first started making cloth pads and underwear in 1993) was making a difference for girls and women in the global south.
Our more recent experience with the SheEO Radical Generosity Fund was also extraordinary, however in a very different way. Meeting the other finalists, getting to know them and their businesses, as well as Vicki and her team, was one of our all-time most pleasurable and rewarding experiences.
One thing that you feel has been most pivotal or useful thus far in your career?
Our relationship is the real magic behind Lunapads and G Day’s success. We are radically different in terms of skills (we have diametrically opposite Meyers-Briggs profiles!), however have forged a powerful bond of trust that enables us to work together and learn from one another to build our ventures in different ways.
The real lesson here is not that you need to find the “perfect” business partner, but rather that in business as in life, we need one another and can seldom do everything that we want or need to by ourselves. Get clear on your strengths and find others for whom the things that you are not great at, are easy or even a pleasure.
As you know, PowHERhouse is currently planning our upcoming National PowHERtalks Speaker Series for women. What would be your top three tips for women regarding a courageous approach when asking for what they need in order to move forward in their lives?
- Instead of imagining yourself bravely asking for something that might be difficult, try on the feeling of being delighted when you easily receive it
- Imagine yourself advocating for someone else whose cause you really believe in, and take the advice that you would give them
- Remember that you are here because you have worked hard and deserve what you are asking for. People around you – and the Universe – want you to succeed!
You must have some pretty long days. How do you keep your energy up and your focus consistent? How you stay PowHERful and on the top of your game?
- As individuals, we all have different energy patterns and levels. Now that we are well into our 40’s (and beyond: Suzanne turned 50 last year), we are recognizing the increasing need to prioritize self-care.
- One of the most interesting gifts of working with reproductive health is having a good understanding of our cycles and how they impact us. In Madeleine’s case, for example, the week before her period starts can be a time of heightened sensitivity and self-doubt: not the best time to be making big decisions. We find it helpful to think of every month or cycle in terms of seasons: the pre-period time is Fall, when things are slowing down and going inward, Winter is the time to let go (physically as well as psychologically and emotionally ;-), Spring to become energized and start new projects, and Summer to be relaxed and receptive. [Editor’s note: Love this!]
What would you say your Top 3 Excellence Habits are (ie. habits that ensure your success).
- Be transparent and compassionate with yourself when you have made a mistake, change your mind, are stuck or don’t feel ready for something. It’s very liberating to get past perfectionism.
- Make sure that your team is values-aligned. It’s what we always go back to as our baseline when we are getting confused or off-track.
- Relationships are the ballgame: Support others and they will support you. As much as possible, do what you say you are going to do: this builds trust, and with trust you can build anything.
Describe a favourite hobby or adventure.
Gardening for Madeleine, trail running for Suzanne.
On the dreaded “work/life balance” question.
We were recently asked by a young woman student for advice about work/life balance. We suggested that instead of assuming that they would be completely different pursuits, rather that she choose her career and relationships from a soul-based, heart-led place – that way there would not have to be such a division and she could just do what she loved, whether at work or otherwise.
Favourite indulgence or treat.
We are pretty masterful at combining business and pleasure, and most recently treated ourselves to a few days in New York to celebrate our SheEO success. We had great meals, went to the theatre, visited galleries and so on: it was so much fun! Any good New York photos?
Our parting thought…
What unexpressed dreams or “crazy ideas” do you have, what change would you like to see in the world that you have not yet taken steps to create? We are living examples that these sources of inspiration can be potent, financially successful and powerful indicators of your life purpose.
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with others: it will help bring them to life.