An Interview with Liz: Party in My Pants Media Manager and Cloth Pad Enthusiast

  1. What’s the origin story of Party In My Pants?

Luci Daum started sewing at the age of 3, and she’s made everything from a skunk costume to a wedding dress! She experienced years of discomfort and stress with disposable period products, and one day, she decided to try sewing her own! She started giving these cloth menstrual pads away as gifts to friends and family, and they encouraged her to start making and selling them on a larger scale. People also know Luci’s work as a milliner, making unique hats under the name Alley Cat Hats, and her many other projects over the years!

Luci cutting fabric for pads.
Luci in her sewing studio.
  1. How has the business grown and changed over the years?

The business has grown steadily since it was incorporated as an LLC in 2007. In the beginning, the cloth pads gained popularity mostly through word-of-mouth, but in the past few years we have embraced digital outreach and social media to interact with a wider range of people all over the world. We perform every aspect of the business onsite, so everything has a very grassroots “from the ground up” feel, which is why our image is so sincere- we’re just real people, figuring things out as we go!

Stacks of organic flannel pads. Photo credit Aria Durward.

In addition to selling directly to customers on our website, we also have wholesale accounts with stores across the country. Pads intended for sale in stores are packaged in individuals boxes. Photo credit Aria Durward.

The number of employees has fluctuated over time, but we are currently at about 12 employees, and it looks like we will continue to grow from here! While the COVID-19 pandemic was hard on so many small businesses, we actually found many new customers seeking us out, as more and more people started to think about the benefits of having reusable menstrual supplies at home! 

  1. What are some of your personal favorite PIMP products?

I love the pads, and it’s been the only product I use for my period since I tried my first one over 5 years ago. My favorite sizes are the Bitsy Pad because it’s a cute little size that’s still super comfortable, and it stays in place really well! I also love the Jetty Pad, and that’s the size I wear when I’m having a really active day. And the Queen Pad is great for full coverage while I’m sleeping!

Liz poses with a Queen Pad in a special fabric for Earth Day 2021. Photo credit Aria Durward.
  1. What are some common misconceptions or biases people have about cloth pads?

There are a lot of misconceptions about using washable period pads, and once people try ours, they realize that they’re all unfounded! To highlight a couple- people assume that cloth pads are hard to wash, but they’re actually super easy to care for! They can just be thrown in the washing machine, even with other clothing items- seriously! The blood won’t spread to other laundry items, and people are often surprised how clean-looking they are when they come out!

Cloth pads so easy to wash- it’s just like doing regular laundry! Photo credit: Canva.

Blood tends to wash out best with cool water, so just avoid using hot water for that laundry cycle. And then they can just be dried in the dryer on low/delicate, or hung on a clothesline. So easy! Some people do choose to pre-soak their pads or use a gentle stain remover, but it’s not necessary.

Just toss your pads in your hamper until you’re ready to do laundry- it’s that easy! Photo credit Michelle Katz.

Another common misconception is that people think they’re hard to carry around and use during the day, when they are at work or school for long periods of time. Our pads are actually super easy to carry in a backpack or purse, because they can fold and snap closed around themselves, with the leakproof bottom on the outside. I normally have a clean one folded up at the bottom of my purse, just in case I need it! And after they’re used and you’re ready to put on a new one, your bloodied pad can also be folded and snapped around itself, so the blood is contained and not visible. It won’t drip out, and you can just unfold them and throw them in your laundry hamper when you get home!

Pads easily fold and snap around themselves, so you can discreetly carry them in your bag. Photo credit Aria Durward.
  1. One thing I love about your products is all the fun patterns and marketing. What role does joy, fun, etc. play in shaping PIMP’s approach to menstruation?

Whimsy, creativity, and humor play a major role in what we do! We get endless joy from picking out new fabrics… we’ve had everything from rainbow unicorn cats, to s’mores, to roller skates, to astronauts… in addition to the more traditional floral/ geometric/ and solid colors that we also keep in stock. We infuse positivity and joy into our fabric selections, as well as our marketing and web presence. There is so much negativity around periods and menstrual blood… we try to counter that by offering a different perspective.

An adorable assortment of colorful fabrics. Photo credit Elizabeth Downey.
  1. I’m from Ashland and walk past the Wilmarth School all the time. Can you paint a picture of what the physical space and the work culture of your headquarters is like?

Yes! The Wilmarth School was built in the 1880s, when the population of Ashland was much larger, and it was used as an elementary school for over 100 years. It was built out of native brownstone blocks from local quarries, and it has huge wooden beams and original wooden floors. The building still retains a lot of the “schoolhouse” characteristics, and it’s not hard to imagine how the larger rooms were used for classrooms, and the smaller rooms were offices. Many of the original chalkboards still hang on the walls!

The Wilmarth School is over 120 years old! Photo credit Aria Durward.

One large classroom is now our main production sewing area, and another large classroom is our inventory/packaging room. Luci has added more bathrooms and kitchenettes, to make the second floor more of a comfortable hang-out space. And of course, there is plenty of fabric, art pieces, and funky accents to reflect her eclectic style!

Liz packages retail orders in our shipping room, which still retains its classroom-like feel. Photo credit Aria Durward.
  1. Tell me more about your personal experience doing this work.

I work at Party in My Pants because, every day, I feel that I am putting positivity and goodness out into the world. These reusable cloth pads are better for our bodies, our health, and our planet… and they will also save users thousands of dollars over their menstruating years! I am so happy to see more and more brand-new customers as the business continues to grow, because I know that they are receiving a high-quality product that will have many positive ripple effects in their life. We love getting messages from customers saying that our pads changed their life for the better!

Liz holds her favorite winter holiday pattern from 2019. Photo credit Elizabeth Downey.
  1. We know that not all menstruators are women, and not all women are menstruators. How does PIMP work towards gender inclusivity while also owning its identity as a female-owned and operated business?

We are proud of our status as a woman-owned business, and most of our team members identify as women. We also make sure to always have gender-neutral fabric options and colors for anybody who identifies as male, non-binary, or simply prefers that style. We’ve received many messages from trans male and non-binary customers that say our pads helped them feel so much more comfortable with their period, and helped them feel affirmed in their gender identify. That always makes our day! We also strive to use gender-neutral language on our website and social media pages.

The team holds large stacks of recently sewn pads. Photo credit Elizabeth Downey.

It’s definitely a balance, as we feel it’s also important to be openly and confidently owning our femme identity, especially in the traditionally male business world, while also being welcoming, accessible, and respectful to those who don’t identify in the same way! Our cloth menstrual pads are truly for everyone, and we are always striving towards a more inclusive representation. 

With over 65 fabrics to choose from at any given time, we have something for everybody’s style! Photo credit Elizabeth Downey.
  1. What are some of the biggest struggles that PIMP has faced?

The misconception that menstruation is “gross”, and that period blood is “dirty” or even “toxic”, is unfortunately still extremely common, due to hundreds of years of misinformation and bad advertising. The taboo against talking about periods is still very strong, and many people don’t feel comfortable talking about it with even their closest friends or family. Sometimes I do forget that fact, because I talk about menstrual blood with customers and co-workers all day!

Food for thought! Design by @shegotthepink on Instagram

But unfortunately, it’s still the case that the majority of people feel uncomfortable talking about it, or asking any questions about it. Of course, we don’t have any expectation that every single menstruator will choose Party in My Pants for their menstrual care, and there are many wonderful products out there! But we are working towards a future where every person that bleeds feels informed, supported, and comfortable enough to make the right choices for themselves.

A lovely array of organic cotton pads. Photo credit Elizabeth Downey.

10. PIMP has donated pads in the fight to end period poverty, and provides an environmentally sustainable alternative to disposable menstrual products. What do you see as being the social/environmental responsibility of the business? Have there ever been times when the ethics that PIMP strives for come into conflict with the reality of keeping the business running?

Luci, the creator and owner of Party in My Pants, has set the precedent of being a socially and environmentally responsible business from the very beginning. She’s an incredibly generous person, who strives towards a world where people are able to feel more healthy and supported, and where our planet is better cared for.

Luci smiles with some of her favorite products. Photo credit Tatiana Fontalvo.

Donating our reusable sanitary pads to charities, shelters, environmental activist camps, and other groups has simply always been a part of the business model, and I can’t imagine it being any other way! Recently, we added a “Donate a Pad” page to our website, which allows customers to sponsor a pad donation to our featured charity-of-the-month! I’ll never forget the day that one person sponsored the donation of 50 pads!

Colleen and Liz smile with stacks of donated pads for Mai’ Movement Hawai’i.

This interview was conducted by Ella Syverson of Lipstick & Rage, and was originally published on their website. Lipstick & Rage is a publication working to uplift the stories and voices of women and change-makers. Lipstick and Rage is a source of empowerment, of support, and of community for women across the country who are making change and making their voices heard.

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