10 Stories of Impact for 10th Birthday of Impact Hub Vienna: Impact is…Breaking Taboos

Today we have a treat for you – not just one anniversary story but two!

When erdbeerwoche became part of the Impact Hub Vienna community, they did it with a bang. Some members will remember the first reveal of the “Bloody Woman’ t-shirts 😉

 

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erdbeerwoche is the first social business from Austria to specialize in menstruation with the aim of leading a change in the way society perceives periods and bringing sustainable menstrual hygiene into the mainstream. Just one year younger than Impact Hub Vienna, erdbeerwoche went from a period talk trailblazer to myth buster – and they continue to educate people in Austria on the role of sustainability and openness when it comes to menstruation.

Dive into the impact story sent by the incredible co-founders of erdbeerwoche – Bettina Steinbrugger and Annemarie Harant.

Impact is…Breaking Taboos

While the ImpactHub Vienna celebrates its 10th anniversary (congrats, by the way!), we celebrate nine years of our company’s existence. Our social business idea grew alongside as we started dealing with the topic of menstruation, a topic considered a taboo much more back then that it is today. And it was nine years ago, in 2011, when we moved into a newly renovated Impact Hub Vienna.

Menstru…WHAT?!

At the very beginning, there was a lot of surprise on all sides: “What? You are dedicated to the topic of M-E-N-S-T-R-U-A-T-I-O-N??? And you want to sell organic tampons and menstrual cups??? Are you okay???”.

Now, 9 years later, we have managed to educate millions of women; teach tens of thousands of young people; and replace over 7 million conventional tampons and sanitary towels with sustainable alternatives. In the meantime we are no longer looked at weirdly or smiled at with obvious pity or humour. On the contrary: the topic of menstruation has reached the center of our society and that’s a good thing!

10 Stories of Impact for 10th Birthday of Impact Hub Vienna: Impact is...Breaking Taboos
Founders of erdbeerwoche (from left to right) Annemarie Harant and Bettina Steinbrugger.

 

Why “erdbeerwoche”?

We are often asked about our name, translated from German as “strawberry week”. “Is it about strawberries?”, people as us. No. The strawberry week is all about menstruation. And because a company cannot be called “menstruation”, we chose a term that gave this taboo subject a positive meaning and, at the same time, ironically alludes to the countless terms that were invented to disguise the unambiguous and uncomfortable terms. Other examples being “Tante Rosa” (Aunt Red) or “red Ferrari”. We, champions of open conversation and menstruation, call terms related to menstruation by their name, but still: “strawberry week” is a door opener that 90% of people, who hear it, will no longer forget.

There’s one thing that we noticed, namely: anyone who deals openly with taboo subjects also gets positive feedback. We noticed this in our youth work program, our digital learning platform READY FOR RED, as well as in discussions with “old white” men. We always benefited from our approach of clarifying facts and doing so with humour. This way most people we interact with or who come in touch with our brand can really start diving into the topic and many are really thankful that they have finally found a sparring partner in us with whom they can also talk about such “sensitive” topics. The ImpactHub Vienna in particular was an important support for us, because we found many discussion partners there who were very open to the topic.

Investment Ready Program

In 2015, we then participated in the ImpactHub Vienna’s Investment Ready Program, which helped us critically examine our corporate purpose and also to further develop our business model. A lot has happened since then and our core business has continued to develop.

erdbeerwoche’s business model is now divided into three areas: on one hand, our education platform erdbeerwoche.com, which also includes our passion project READY FOR RED: a digital learning platform that provides young people with everything they need to know about menstruation in an age-appropriate manner. Here we cooperate with public bodies such as the City of Vienna as well as with companies that have similar missions and that enable us to do this educational work. For example, in every package of the Italian menstrual products brand Organyc you will find a free access to READY FOR RED.

10 Stories of Impact for 10th Birthday of Impact Hub Vienna: Impact is...Breaking Taboos

Our second pillar of erdbeerwoche is our online shop, in which women can find everything a heart desires to make their period purchases sustainable: from organic tampons and menstrual cups to our specially produced fair trade period panties.

Last but not least, the third element of our business model is made up of our political work and activism. We have been campaigning for the reduction of the tampon tax for years (already successful in Germany!) and for more transparency regarding the ingredients of monthly hygiene articles. Our current campaign called “Periods for Future” is organised in cooperation with Generation Blue, the water youth platform of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism (Die Wasser-Jugendplattform Generation Blue des Bundesministeriums für Landwirtschaft, Regionen und Tourismus). The campaign is aimed at educating people about the correct disposal of menstrual products.

So there is still a lot to do overall and we look forward to continuing along this path with ImpactHub Vienna!

Bloody Happy Birthday from us! ☺

Bettina and Annemarie

Founders of erdbeerwoche

 

Images: courtesy of erdbeerwoche

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