Made in Vancouver is a collaboration between Vancity and Daily Hive. Together, we’re turning the spotlight onto local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are helping to create a healthy local economy.
Sara Jonsdottir doesn’t shy away from discussing the messy subject of menstruation—or the frustration that caused her to create her brand of period-proof underwear, Revol Undies.
She didn’t want to use disposable menstrual products, and she felt disappointed by the reusables available on the market at the time. She searched for period-proof underwear that could last a full day, even on the heaviest flow days. They didn’t seem to exist.
After working for several apparel companies that make clothing for activities such as swimming and cycling, Jonsdottir knew she had the necessary technical skills to create something better. So she did.
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Vancity has been supporting people in our communities since 1946, like local entrepreneurs. As part of our Made in Vancouver series spotlighting local businesses, we talked to Vancity member Sara Jonsdottir about her company, the struggles of doing business during the pandemic and more.
Jonsdottir told Daily Hive, “The concept really came from personally struggling to manage a heavy flow, leaking through every type of menstrual product I could find and being completely sick of it. Quite literally being a mess when it came to my period.”
Initially, she made the period-proof underwear just for herself, but soon she was telling other people about her creation. “Once you create something that really works, you can’t help but want to share it with friends,” she said.
“Instantly they opened up about their own struggles, which opened my eyes to a world of people menstruating that were just ‘getting by’ with the products they had. That is what I set out to change.” Since then, Jonsdottir and the man who eventually became her husband have been working to expand the brand from homemade to worldwide.
So what, exactly, are period-proof underwear?
Made from four layers of fabric, Revol Undies are intended to replace both underwear and tampons or pads during a menstrual cycle. Closest to the body is a layer of moisture-wicking, absorbent bamboo fabric. Next is a super-absorbent layer of bamboo and organic cotton fabric.
Third is a leak-proof layer of organic cotton infused with Silvadur antimicrobial silver ions, which block odours without using harsh chemicals. Finally, the nylon spandex outer layer is breathable and moisture-wicking.
Revol Undies stay dry and comfortable all day (or all night) long, and they come in four protection levels, ranging from light to extra-heavy. Jonsdottir said, “Our absorbency is unmatched, with up to 100 ml in our Extra Heavy Flow—you can go all day with zero leaks or stress.”
Jonsdottir also pointed out the care that the company takes not to harm menstrutors’ bodies or the planet: “Our underwear is made safely and sustainably in Vancouver. Every scrap of off-cut fabric gets recycled. We only use certified vulva-safe, PFAS-free fabrics to make sure our customers receive the absolute best in quality.”
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She identified “radical inclusion” as her company’s founding principle. “All sorts of people menstruate, and it is incredibly important for Revol to represent all the bodies that need the product. We have always been big advocates for gender inclusivity in our industry, to show diverse gender representation in all our campaigns,” she said. “As well, we focus on providing all sizes—we’re planning on going up to 8XL by the end of 2021.”
Jonsdottir continued, “Everyone should be ‘free to bleed,’ and it is important to make sure that brands in the menstrual hygiene industry are moving that needle forward towards inclusivity of genders, sizes and flows. At Revol, it is our core belief that ‘until there is liberation for everyone, we are not liberated,’ and we actively work to move in that direction every day.”
When asked about the secret to her success, Jonsdottir responded, “Hard work and never giving up, despite hitting a million and one roadblocks along the way. When your heart and passion for your business is so strong, quite literally nothing can stop you.”
She offered words of encouragement for her fellow entrepreneurs: “Business is hard, but not too hard that you can’t achieve great things. We have completely bootstrapped our business: zero outside investment and little to no debt. We truly believe if you are willing to hustle hard, and remember to relax here and there, you can achieve anything.”
Jonsdottir continued, “Having a purpose-driven business, especially one that focuses on creating a positive impact on the community, will always help you focus and succeed, because it is about more than just you.”
That’s not to say the road to success has been completely smooth, especially during COVID-19. Jonsdottir said, “We have had every one of our suppliers shut down at some point during the pandemic. We have had to pivot so many times to find new suppliers and resources. But we are grateful for the continued support of our community that was so patient with delays and truly kept us going through the whole ordeal!”
She added, “Currently our goal is to be fully stocked, something we struggle with all the time. We are currently sewing slower than we are selling, so we have partnered with a local sewing factory to help us achieve more inventory for the fall. This will allow us to do so much more on the community outreach and create more styles.”
Looking ahead to the future, Jonsdottir has a clear and unwavering vision for Revol Undies. She said, “I want people to feel amazing, empowered and leak-free in their period undies!”
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