March 2019 Power Player
Here at Power to Decide, we are committed to uplifting the many individuals who are on the ground doing the work that matters most. Each month we highlight an individual or organization who is championing the effort to give young people the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. Check out this month's Power Player profile.
Co-Founder + CEO, Sustain Natural
What work have you done to ensure that young people have access to high-quality sexual health information or high-quality contraceptive services so that they can decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child?
In 2018 I wrote my first book, Get on Top, which is sex-positive sex-ed for millennial women. The book covers everything from how to have an orgasm to a guide to birth control options, and its mission was to start a conversation about real, straight-forward, sex positive sexual and reproductive health so that women could feel more empowered to take care of their bodies.
How did you get started in your field? What is your driving force?
I saw two major opportunities - first, in all other categories, women were demanding safer products, from food to cosmetics, but for the most intimate of products, the ones going inside of our vaginas, there weren't safer, more natural options. Additionally, sexual wellness products have been forever made by men and marketed to men. What about women? Women buy 40% of condoms but have been completely neglected by the category.
I founded Sustain because I am dedicated to change all this. To empower women to take control of their sexual and reproductive health with better, more natural products.
What advice would you give to someone looking to effect change in the field that you currently work in?
Be bold, and have courage. Working in this space is challenging and comes with a lot of haters. In order to make waves in this space, you need to be willing to be bold and relentless.
Why should someone care about ensuring that all people—regardless of who they are or where they live—have access to the information and contraception they need to live their best life story?
Because women’s sexual and reproductive health is a basic human right, not a privilege.
Is there a highlight of your work in conjunction with our organization that you’d like to share?
Of course. My background, primarily, has been in founding and building the first brand of natural sexual wellness products, Sustain Natural, over the last few years. Sustain started as a line of natural/sustainable condoms focused on women, and has expanded into a line of vagina-friendly vagina essentials (condoms, lube, tampons, and beyond). Our mission is to empower women to take control of their sexual and reproductive health. Through building Sustain, I have spoken with thousands of women in person, and even more online. Over time I started to notice a common thread of women coming to me to ask really basic health issues around sexual and reproductive health. Then, about two years ago, I launched a national campaign called “Get On Top,” which was aimed at getting young women to pledge to practice safe sex, and for every pledge we donated a condom to Power to Decide. As part of this campaign, we partnered with Tumblr to do a version of their “Ask Me Anything” where people could submit questions about sexual health. Within hours, we had thousands of questions - some really straight forward (How does the pill work?) and some more complicated (At 18, I know I want to get my tubes tied, and how can I work through this?). This campaign really pushed forward for me the need to create a place, what became my book, to provide accurate, sex-positive information about sexual and reproductive health, and ultimately start more open conversations around these topics.
*Responses have been edited for clarity