Meaningful Business (MB): Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you started Pantys?
Emily Ewell (EE): As a chemical engineer with a background in healthcare, I have always been passionate about finding innovative solutions to improve people’s quality of life in the industry. When I relocated to Brazil, I was struck by the overwhelming amount of space menstrual products occupied in the supermarkets. I began to realise the significant environmental impact of these products, as billions of menstrual pads are discarded each year, taking up to 500 years to decompose. This realisation led me to recognise the importance of our daily decisions in shaping the environment’s health and the connection between our health and the environment. Therefore, I founded Pantys, a sustainable and inclusive brand that provides eco-friendly menstrual products. Our goal is to create products that are better for both people and the planet, reduce waste, and help increase access to menstrual products for everyone, including marginalised communities.
MB: What have been some of your biggest challenges so far, and how did you overcome them?
EE: One of the major challenges we have faced since launching Pantys is breaking the taboos around menstruation and inspiring consumers to adopt more sustainable solutions. We have noticed that many people are hesitant to discuss this topic openly and may not be receptive to trying new and innovative products. However, we firmly believe in the transformative benefits that our products bring with regular use. To overcome this challenge, we have focused on developing strategic pillars such as content, marketing, and education. Through these pillars, we aim to educate the market and increase awareness around the importance of sustainable consumption and menstrual health. We have also established partnerships with organisations and influencers who share our values and can help us amplify our message. While it hasn’t been easy, we remain committed to our mission of promoting sustainability and inclusivity in the menstrual product industry, and we will continue to work towards breaking down taboos and inspiring positive change.
MB: How do you manage the pressures that come with being an entrepreneur?
EE: Being an entrepreneur is a challenging endeavour, and it can be difficult to balance work and personal life. As a self-motivated professional, I have learned to manage the pressures that come with entrepreneurship by creating priorities and learning to say no. It’s essential to maintain focus and not get bogged down by competing priorities. As a bootstrapped company, we have to make difficult choices all the time, and we must be responsible with our resources, whether it’s money, time, or personal energy. As a leader, it’s crucial to be aware of my energy levels and how they impact my team. To help me regulate stress and drive clarity, I have implemented a daily routine in the morning that includes mindfulness and meditation. Balancing work and personal life is an ongoing process, but creating boundaries and routines can help manage the pressures that come with being an entrepreneur.
MB: What does a typical day in your world look like?
EE: Creating a routine has been a challenge for me as an entrepreneur, as there is no typical day. Typically, I start around 7 in the morning by going through my emails to have a clean slate and understand my top priorities for the day. I try to schedule most of my meetings with the team and external meetings in the morning and dedicate my afternoons to internal work that I have to do myself. However, every week I have business trips and meetings, which makes it hard to create a set routine. I focus on work-life flow instead of balance to help drive my day. I also try to reduce the total number of meetings by asking myself if it’s necessary to have a meeting or if it can be handled via email, a quick phone call, or even a WhatsApp message. Simplifying and using time efficiently is crucial for productivity.
MB: What is your advice to a young entrepreneur, looking to combine profit and purpose?
EE: As an entrepreneur looking to combine profit and purpose, my advice would be to start by identifying your passions and personal purpose and finding ways to integrate them into your business. This will not only help guide your career path but also keep you motivated and focused on making a positive impact. Whether you’re in the corporate or non-profit space, any business has the potential to drive real impact, both socially and environmentally, in a sustainable way. By producing financial returns, social enterprises can fund and support causes they care about, creating a win-win situation for both profit and purpose. It’s also important to remember that creating impact is not a one-time effort but a continuous journey, and it requires commitment and perseverance. Don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment with new ideas, and always be open to learning from others and adapting your approach. Finally, surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, advisors, and peers who share your values and can offer guidance and encouragement along the way.
MB: In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur
MB: What have been the strongest influences in your life?
EE: Science and travel.
MB: What has surprised you the most while leading Pantys?
EE: How taboo menstruation is all over the world.
MB: How do you balance work and personal time?
EE: I focus on keeping my energy in balance. It’s almost impossible to separate work and personal life as an entrepreneur, so you have to manage them together, always.
MB: What would success look like in 2023?
EE: Navigating the economic situation and keeping sustainability a priority!
Discover the other leaders recognised on the 2022 MB100, for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Global Goals, here.