Updated: Jul 24, 2019
Jette is a radiant source of power and positivity, her personality and passion can be truly felt. After the birth of her daughter she had this overwhelming need to do something impactful to help period poverty and women rights so founded ilo women a period subscription service that gives back to those less fortunate.
Who are you and what do you do? My name is Jette Virdi and I'm an entrepreneur. I've founded about 5 businesses over the last 15 years and my latest that launched this year is called ilo. It's a menstrual product subscription company that provides organic cotton or natural bamboo menstrual items and we donate 50% of our net profits to fighting period poverty. I'm also a mum to a 1 and a half year old which is a struggle if I'm honest. Wanting to give your all to your business and your baby and navigating that path is tough.
What inspired/motivated you to create your business?
A lot of factors around women's health and rights but mainly it was the birth of my daughter which gave me a total freak out moment! I've always been very conscious about Women’s health issues and was looking for a menstrual product company that high morals and a great ethos and couldn't find one so now it's my mission to educate all people who bleed (because men do too) about the benefits of using organic cotton or bamboo and how business that do good and give back can be successful.
What advice would you give others wanting to start a business?
Be prepared for the long haul. It takes time and dedication and if you're not passionate about it, don't bother. I'm a projector (if you're into Human Design you'll know what that means) and so my successes have actually just happened - I favour ease and for me things come very naturally if I have a goal or set my mind to it. Of course there have been challenges - like finding (and still looking) for investors but the path, if I'm passionate, always works out. I think that people see entrepreneurs or business owners on instagram and the life can look very glamorous...in truth though, it's far from it. It's working hard and long hours and ups and downs. But it's so worth it!
What have you learnt on your journey as a business owner?
One of my favourite quotes from a mentor is "be the crips packet" which is his way of saying to me - there are so many crisps on the market and yet look, they're still all in business and there are still hundreds of customers so do your thing. You and what makes your thing unique and special and it's so true! It can be hard to remember of course when you see others doing similar or copying you but the reality is businesses and brands should be more than just their products. Your customers want to have a relationship with you not just purchasing so show yourself and shine.
What has been the toughest challenge being your own boss? Being in a high position?
I love that you say 'high position' as most of the time it's me in my pyjamas with a child scrambling over me as I try to finish emails!
For me the toughest challenge is the loneliness. I'm a collaborator by nature so really struggle with not having someone to bounce off. And if I'm being honest the struggle to find investors. It seems like everywhere I turn I hear investors or mentors talking about supporting women and how only 1 % of women are funded but in my rounds, those same people only are funding men who's business ideas don't support the wider community or have a positive impact and it's disheartening. But, you keep on going and I believe the right investor will come along and be fully behind that my company isn't just about making money - yes that is important and I want to be financially successful but, I want to do so much more than just make myself rich. I want to educate all women and men about menstrual health, get educational programmes into schools, eradicate period poverty and give teenagers the confidence back within their own bodies so they feel empowered by their amazingness.
What do you do in those moments when you feel like quitting?
Eat a tub of Nutella with a spoon, have a cry, do some tarot and give my crystals some attention and then think "fuck it, come on. I'm better than half these people out there and if they can do it, so can I".
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
That I get to wear pyjamas and have my child scramble over me and the fact I get to be flexible. If my works done I get to relax and hang out with Molly. Most of the time I'll work over but I'm free to do that and love it.
Do you feel being a woman has been a barrier in anyway during your career and setting up and running your business?
I do and I don't. I think on the positive side, being a woman means we have so many more skills up our sleeves and we think in a non linear way which is great for business because let's face it, we always have to pivot! But I also feel being a woman, and especially a mixed race woman, it's harder for people to just trust you and believe that what you say is right. That's why honestly I've gravitated towards collaborating with women and tend to stay away from men.
Do you feel there is a women's revolution coming as more women set up and run their own businesses and is it a good and is this a good thing?
Yes absolutely, what I'd love to see is more collaboration and raising each other up. I know a lot of women who if asked wouldn't share things like prices, sales funnels etc. And it's not even about giving you every single detail but if another woman starting in my industry comes to me, I'm going to help her. I want to see her succeed just as much as I want myself to succeed. It's like the analogy of crisps brands in a shop. Look at how many crisp options we have in supermarkets and yet, companies keep bringing out crisps! There's room for all of us out there. The beginners, the dreamers, the doers, the whizz kids. Everyone has their own space and they can choose to take that up or not.
What does the future hold for your business?
I'm actually moving into online courses for period pain and awareness as I think there aren't that many resources out there for this type of education. So I'm doing some Free 5 days Period pain Workshops and then also there's an online course for €35 of 5 days of meditation, movement, food for Period Pain which I'm so excited to bring to my community. I'm also trying to do more talks within business communities because we get so much info on how to create insta shots, how to be authentic but actually if we also tapped into how to use your menstrual cycle to help your business we'd be in our natural cyclical behaviour and that would have a huge beneficial impact so if anyone out there wants to help their community of women to tap into their natural feminine energy I'd love to collaborate!
Seven random facts about yourself
I'm scared of the dark.
I speak French, Spanish and English.
I've lived in 8 different countries in my 36 years.
I recently got married and didn't wear shoes or a white dress.
I really want a tattoo and I really don't want a tattoo.
I hate chicken wings.
I love toast with butter and ketchup (an old school food)
Anything else to add
I currently have a GOFUNDME campaign running to help raise funds for ilo so I can be community funded to do all the amazing things I have planned for the company. I'd really love if people would take a look at the video, even if you're not planning on donating. It's more about education surrounding menstrual health and about how toxic non organic menstrual products are.
A recent study showed that 85% of sanitary products contain a cancer causing weed killer (sprayed onto the non organic cotton when growing and isn't removed during processing into tampons). It's really scary and that's why I would URGE everyone to find an organic cotton tampon supplier, hopefully my company (www.ilolove.com) but honestly, I just want everyone using sanitary products to be safe.
And if you do one thing this week, talk about your period with a friend and let's start changing the conversation around periods and the shame we have been taught to feel. 1 in 10 girls are embarrassed to talk about periods and also can't afford menstrual products on a regular basis so...let's help the future generations and show them that periods are normal.
You can follow ilo on instagram @ilo.women
my personal journey @jetteverdi
This is the link to the GoFundMe campaign