Laurence and Anouk, are you both French and decided to move to Romania in 2016 and 2018? Why did you choose this country?
First of all for professional reasons. Two expressions sum up our connection with Romania: we cry twice, the first time when we arrive in Romania (we often have a false image of this country) and the second time when we leave (it's hard not to get attached to Romanians and their desire to progress with amazing speed, as well as the nature and traditions we discover there). Romania is Europe's best kept secret, so don't let that change too soon!
How did you come up with the idea of Libréa and menstrual panties?
At the origin of Libréa is a meeting around a common idea, a special moment, the energy and the desire to have a positive impact, all in a favorable context! First, there was a meeting: we shared the same circle of friends without really knowing each other. During a dinner at the beginning of 2021, we realized that we share much more: the values of mutual help, the desire to reject the status quo, the love for Romania and the audacity to challenge ourselves, considering at the same time complementary professional skills. Second, there was a good idea. I had just given myself period panties for Christmas "to take care of myself", and the innovation was making some noise in France. It changed my period experience and I felt a strong urge to share it with my girlfriends. I realized that such a product did not exist in my adopted country. Laurence discovered menstrual panties through her teenage daughter. She was looking for a healthy and comfortable product to help her through puberty. There was also a special moment, when COVID-19 suspended our activity and we accompanied our children for a year and a half of online school. This upheaval fueled our desire to get involved and take action to improve women's lives. Finally, there was a favorable context because, yes, Romania is a good place to start a new adventure. This is one of the things we particularly like here, there are fewer barriers to putting an idea into practice. Things happen quickly and simply.
Do they respond to a specific need that you perceived among women in Romania?
With the new comfort/wellness trend and environmental and health awareness, there is a real need for quality healthy alternatives. At the beginning of this year, we conducted a survey and focus groups with women from Romania, who convinced us that menstrual panties have their place here. Everything is 100% manufactured in Romania.
What difficulties did you face?
Because we want to promote Romania and because producing close to our customers allows us to go all the way in our ecological approach, we started here from scratch, with fabrics from the Obor market and with our sewing machine! Difficulties, yes, of course, it's our first start-up experience and we're launching overseas, so it's inevitably spicy! To name a few: one of our sewing workshops closed due to COVID-19 in the last 3 weeks, fabrics that got lost on the way, arrived 6 weeks late, or the infinite space-time behind the phrase "immediately". .. But there were also many pleasant surprises: a strong mutual support between the French abroad and numerous Romanian entrepreneurs / partners / influencers who support our initiative. They especially appreciated "made in Romania" and our mission. Thanks to our guardian angels who will recognize themselves in this adventure!
Isn't the issue of menstruation still a bit taboo in Romania?
The Romanian expression for menstruation is "I'm on the stop", literally "I'm on the spot"... To understand this, I talked a lot about this intimate topic with foreign people, juggling between Romanian, French and English... I heard a lot traumatic experiences of adolescent females. In Romania, sanitary protection has been available free of charge only since the 1990s. Feminine hygiene products are not yet recognized as essential products and the VAT is 19%. In France and several other countries there is currently a "tampon tax", with a reduced VAT of 5% on these products. There are no vending machines in public places either. There is a real menstrual poverty that would affect approximately 1 million girls and women (over 5% of Romania's population), due to lack of access to information or products. We support two local NGOs, @PeStop and @IeleSanziene, who are doing excellent work in terms of education and awareness. We encourage you to follow them! All these taboos are unfortunately present on a global scale.
Librea removes the barriers of menstruation taboo.
Learn more about our history and values here.
Would you define your brand as "feminist"?
Yes, we want to improve the everyday lives of women, not out of rebellion or frustration, but because the world has evolved rapidly and the place of women has become more and more complex to understand. Our own experience of acrobats between family, well-being and career motivates our actions. We want to change attitudes through inspiration, education and offering serious alternatives. We position ourselves as a brand that makes us feel good. Our model photos are not retouched because Libréa is a human, simple and caring brand that offers high quality products at the best price. When a customer takes the time to write to us that her day is easier thanks to the Libréa menstrual panties, our joy is indescribable... This is our true driving force!
Don't you think there is a general lack of innovation in feminine hygiene?
During a conversation with a friend, he spontaneously told me "if men had periods, we would have found a solution a long time ago"... This expression stuck in my mind because it is not far from the truth, few women enjoy their period: 83%* have already had red spots in public with, for 76%* of them, a feeling of panic and anxiety, and 27%* improvising a "MacGyver" solution in the toilet... To not to mention irritations, fungal infections, mood swings, increased fatigue and the 12,000 non-recyclable plastic protections that every woman throws away in her life... The recent testimonies of our clients are unanimous: "I discover another level of freedom and trust!", "Menstruation is no longer a concern, I'm reapplying the approach to other subjects I was suffering from to see if I can do something different", "I almost forgot I'm on my period! Thank you". This is just the beginning of our adventure! Librea is a brand created by women for women. We have more surprises in store for 2022 with innovations to achieve freedom in everyday life. Follow us on social media at instagram.
Tired of staining your clothes too? Switch to Libréa Menstrual Panties.
*Libréa survey Spring 2021 in Romania
Published on 23/11/2021 in the online press Le petit journal de Bucarest