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A blog from the women of GladRags and our customers too.

Discussions on menstruation, environmental living, women's health, relevant politics, and other interesting matters - we like to go with the flow around here.


I originally titled this post “4 Reasons I Like my Period” but then realized that “like” is not exactly the right word in this situation. Do I really like the feeling of the mild cramps signaling my upcoming period? Do I like the deeper, more raw emotions I’ll inevitably experience each month? Not really, but I’m grateful for my period and all it brings. Here’s why.

1. My period makes me listen to my body.

When I treat my body poorly throughout the month, PMS symptoms worsen. Ate a bunch of sugar all month long? Hello, awful cramps. Didn’t get enough exercise? Here’s some bloating, enjoy. My body uses my period as a way to communicate with me–I just have to listen.

2. My period forces me to slow down.

I have a tendency to overbook myself, to bite off more than I can chew, to not say “no” to something even when I really need a break. My period reminds me that I need to practice self-care, especially during this time of the month. For tips on self-care during your menstrual cycle, read this post about reflection and ritual to honor your cycle.

3. My period makes me listen to my heart.

If something’s bothering me during the month, my menstrual emotions will force me to deal with it. Crying at the drop of a hat? There’s something deeper going on that can no longer be ignored. And that’s a good thing.

4. My period connects me with the cyclical nature of life.

What do the phases of the moon, the changing of the seasons, and menstruation have in common? They’re all cycles of rebirth and death, fallow and fertility, activity and introspection. How cool is it that our bodies follow the same natural rhythms? And: have you ever considered syncing your menstrual cycle to the moon?

How about you? Why are you grateful (or not) for your period?


About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.


“Education, of course, creates many opportunities. In Kenya, for most people of my generation and after, a high school education or a college degree is a guaranteed ticket out of the perceived drudgery of subsistence farming or the cultivation of cash crops for little return.” From her book Unbowed:A memoir by late Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Mathai.

Nobel laureate Late Wangari mathai

Nobel Laureate LWangari Maathai

My passion is to empower girls through education. I inform them the importance of education and the opportunities that come with it. I want them to complete school and become better people in the society. Be great citizens who are able to make better decisions in life. I do this by holding motivational talks with the girls to inspire and boost their self esteem to propel them and to challenge them to work on their goals. We also have a mentorship program where we connect girls with mentors to guide them through especially when making career choices. The mentors are role models in their lives. We want the girls to believe in themselves to have a positive mindset. We encourage the girls to develop their talents and work on them, because these are gifts that have been instilled in them to help them achieve their purpose. I believe the girls need role models who are doing great in their lives, people who have succeeded in different sectors in the society. We want our girls to know that it’s possible they too can make it in life just like we did.

The girls are seeking role models whom they can emulate. Of late I have been seeing women posting nude photos on social media just to get more likes on Instagram and Facebook, more followers on twitter. But at what cost? What message are we sending to our girls? That all these values we have been advocating for are not working? Thus we have to show people our bodies for them to like us? Because they too will want to do the same. I know it’s a free world; we can do what we want with our lives, but let’s think beyond ourselves and before we post that picture or comment think of the young people in our lives.

I remember when I was growing up, I wanted to be so many things depending on the kind of people that came across my life. I wanted to be a journalist because I liked how Beatrice Marshall of then KTN presented herself she was smart, eloquent and confident. I wanted to be a lawyer: I had seen how Agnes Murgor had won her court cases. She was confident, intelligent, and straightforward. I wanted to be an environmentalist just like late Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Mathaai; she was a fighter who believed in herself and was passionate about the environment. I also wanted to be a nurse like my mother, Christine Muthengi, just because of the seminars and workshops she attended in many countries as a senior nurse. And there are many others who shaped my life.

Let us remember we are role models to our young girls and boys and teach them values that will help them grow. Values they will stand by and work with in our society. Let’s not forget we are nurturing leaders of tomorrow and teach them to believe in themselves, live with a purpose and passionately fulfill it.

“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.” - Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Mathaai

I believe mine is to empower girls. What is your little thing?

Have a lovely day.

Maureen :)

 About the author of this post:


Maureen runs Donate A Pad Initiative, and is a Mandela Washington Fellow 2014, Young African Leader. She is passionate about empowering young girls to complete education and is a mentor. She loves telling her story to inspire people to reach out to their dreams and be more. “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”~Aldous Huxley

I took a poll on reusable cloth pads on my Facebook page. The comments I got were rather interesting. Some of my friends knew little or nothing about them. Some (especially men) sent me messages telling me this is a private issue and if I want to talk about it, I should call a meeting with the girls and women rather than posting it in public. Shouldn’t we talk of issues that affect us?

Menstruation is seen as women’s issue in my country. The men don’t involve themselves in this issue unless they are in the health sector or selling them. Its a taboo to talk about menstruation in public, when you raise the issue people shy away from contributing. They’d rather send a private message warning you not to post ”such issues” in public. When will we talk about issues that affect us, especially when girls miss five days of school because they cannot afford sanitary towels? Shouldn’t we talk about it? I believe talking creates an awareness and shows people there is a need and will be compelled to focus on dealing with the issue and help keep our girls in school.


Teacher Esther and girls from Misyini Primary School


Chief Ndoo accompanied us to Kivulu Primary School

What I have learned during my stay here in US is to speak out, create an awareness and not be afraid of what others think. I speak menstruation matters because I am concerned about the girls who miss school and am looking for a sustainable way to provide for them sanitary towels. People out there don’t know what is going on out there. People don’t know girls use unhygienic methods during their menstruation. Well, it’s about time I speak on their behalf and ask people to donate sanitary towels. To tell girls and women of the options that are out here, options that are safe, clean and sustainable. Let’s involve all stakeholders, leaders both men and women, to support our girls.

I like the way we talk about anything in GladRags, talking about periods is seen as normal. I must say at first I felt uneasy talking about periods at my workplace. Here people are open and won’t criticize, people respect your opinion.

So let’s start the conversation about menstruation matters till every girl and woman can afford sanitary towels, not just any but has a choice to choose that which is safe and healthy for them. Let’s make sure they live a stress free life any day of the month :)

Have A Lovely read!



About the author of this post:


Maureen runs Donate A Pad Initiative, and is a Mandela Washington Fellow 2014, Young African Leader. She is passionate about empowering young girls to complete education and is a mentor. She loves telling her story to inspire people to reach out to their dreams and be more. “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”~Aldous Huxley


Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

This week’s Period Piece comes to us via the Society for Menstrual Research, one of our favorite sources for women’s health information. On the surface, the advertisement below for Kotex’s appears to be just like most other ads from the era–promising the “utmost daintiness of a person” who uses the product, featuring stylish women in lady-like dresses, et cetera–but thanks to the smart folks at SMR, we get to see another layer.

kotex nepenthe


Check out the name of the ship, printed on the the life saver hanging on the ship’s rail: Nepenthe. As the SMR points out, “nepenthe” is a literary nod to a magical potion that makes the user forget his woes (see: The Raven and The Odyssey for references to nepenthe) . These smart women appear to be setting sail on Kotex’s soft, deodorizing pads to forget their menstrual woes–really, to forget they’re on their periods at all.

What do you think of this advertisement? Should menstrual products make you forget about your period?

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.


We caught up with Jaime, the woman behind the much-buzzed-about Schmidt’s Deodorant–I’m wearing some right now!–to share the story behind the fresh ‘pits.

Hi Jaime! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Jaime Schmidt, owner of Schmidt’s Deodorant. Living in Southeast Portland, I’m also a happy wife and mom to the sweetest 4 year old boy, Oliver.

Jaime Schmidt, founder of Schmidt's Deodorant

Jaime Schmidt, founder of Schmidt’s Deodorant

How did Schmidt’s Deodorant get started?

I’ve always pursued natural beauty products, and several years ago I began making them for my family. After a couple years of R&D and testing the highest-quality ingredients available, I finally perfected the deodorant recipe in 2012. When Schmidt’s Deodorant hit store shelves, people were shocked that it worked so well–they couldn’t get enough of it. Now, thanks to our devoted customers and some very talented employees here at Schmidt’s, we’ve grown quickly into the brand we are today.

Can you tell me about the ingredients in your deodorant? What makes it effective?

It’s always been a top priority of ours to source the absolute highest quality ingredients and incorporate the specific functions of each by using very exact ratios. The production not only requires a specific combination of ingredients, but a very careful and “secret” process that gives us the great consistency and hand feel we’re looking for.

Some of our favorite summer beauty essentials

Some of our favorite summer essentials, including Schmidt’s and the Moon Cup!

Why is it important to use a deodorant like Schmidt’s instead of a typical antiperspirant?

People tend to be frustrated with conventional deodorant options. They don’t always work, often have a sticky feel, and they clog the pores–not only that, but many are loaded with harmful chemicals. Schmidt’s allows for the body’s natural process of perspiration–we don’t include those chemical ingredients that are designed to keep you from sweating–rather, we use plant-based powders and top-quality baking soda to absorb the wetness if you do sweat. These ingredients help to balance our body’s natural odor with a more health-conscious deodorant option.

What advice do you have for women who want to make their personal care routine more natural and healthy?

There are so many high-quality natural beauty brands available on the market today, making the switch to healthier alternatives an easy one. Beauty blogs are a great source for discovering some of the best.

What’s it like being a woman in business? Have you encountered specific obstacles or opportunities?

I think being an entrepreneur brings specific challenges regardless of gender. I do know there’s an abundance of resources available for female business people. Luckily, I’ve not encountered any discrimination that’s directly affected my ability to do business. I’ve been supported by men and women alike, and I’m very grateful for my network of friends and business relationships.

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

Universal education is one of the millennial development goals set to be achieved in the world by 2015 — we have less than 500 days to go. According to UNICEF, there are 31 million girls of primary school age not enrolled in school. How can we achieve this goal when girls are not enrolled in school or drop out due to early child marriages and other cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), poverty, lack of school fees, sexual violence and lack of SANITARY TOWELS.

How can we achieve this goal when girls miss close to 5 days of school because they cannot afford sanitary towels? Girls from poor families use unhygienic methods during their menstruation such as old pieces of clothes, tissue papers, cotton wool, feathers, and old goat skins. Others end up engaging in transactional sex in order to get money to buy sanitary towels. This exposes the young girls to risks of getting HIV/AIDS and some end up pregnant, thus dropping out of school. There was a feature aired by citizen media in Kenya in 2013 showing the dire need of sanitary towels in rural Kenya. Sad how something that should be considered as a basic need is assumed to be a luxury.


Pic courtesy of UNICEF

According to Ministry of Education in Kenya, there are 2.5 million girls aged between 9 and 18 years who need sanitary towels in Kenya. The government only caters for 568,925 girls from primary school (class 6-8) from 7,141 schools in 142 districts, which is only a fraction leaving out close to 2M girls who are in need, the demand is high.

Due to this gap I founded Donate a Pad initiative in December 2012 to try and help in my community. The initiative is mainly run from my salary and a monthly contribution from my best friend Mona Manani. Every month I buy sanitary towels and donate to 200 girls who cannot afford sanitary towels in the rural area in 9 schools in Kitui, Kenya. Basically girls who cannot afford sanitary towels miss school close to five days in a month hence affecting their performance and lower their self esteem hence affecting their confidence in school.

Donate A Pad ensures that the girls are in school by providing sanitary towels, their self esteem and dignity is restored. Since I started we have noticed the performance of the girls has improved and they are more confident. I also provide mentoring programs by connecting the girls with mentors to guide them through their education and career choice. The girls write to me sharing their dreams of what they want to be in future and how Donate A Pad is helping them in achieving their dreams. It’s so fulfilling to see girls excited about education. This inspires me to do what I do to make sure the girls are in school. No girl should miss school because they lack sanitary towels.


Teacher Esther distributing the sanitary towels


Chief Ndoo, Edna, Maureen and Kivulu Primary School with their Sanitary Towels.

So I have a plan in the near future of starting a manufacturing firm that will use agricultural waste materials such as banana fibers and papyrus to make affordable sanitary towels that will cater for the demand of sanitary towels as well as keep the girls in school. Am also doing a research on other sustainable alternative options such as cloth pads and menstrual cups that can be used to cater for this lack. We are also thinking of growth and soon we will be in Kisii, Meru, and Lesotho I will keep you posted as the plans unravel. Hopefully one day we will be able to donate to all the girls that need sanitary towels.


Maureen at Makerere University displaying the biodegradable sanitary towels

As of now you can donate a pad and help keep a girl in class. Did you know with only KES 396 ($4.50) you can keep a girl in school for the whole year?

I believe if you educate a girl you educate the whole community, and Nelson Mandela summed it all by saying “Education is the only weapon we can use to change the world.” 

Have a lovely Read,


About the author of this post:


Maureen runs Donate A Pad Initiative, and is a Mandela Washington Fellow 2014, Young African Leader. She is passionate about empowering young girls to complete education and is a mentor. She loves telling her story to inspire people to reach out to their dreams and be more. “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”~Aldous Huxley


dream girl banner

Women in business is a topic near and dear to my heart, for obvious reasons, so you can imagine my excitement about Dream, Girl: a film all about showing what female leadership looks like. I caught up with Dream, Girl creator Erin to chat about her film, why lady bosses matter, and more. Read on for a mini interview and to learn how you can get involved!

Introduce yourself to us and tell us about Dream, Girl!

Hi! My name is Erin Bagwell and I am the Founder of Feminist Wednesday and the Executive Producer/Director of Dream, Girl. Dream, Girl is a documentary film redefining what it means to be a boss by telling the stories of female entrepreneurs and CEOs.

Erin rockin' a Dream, Girl tote

Erin rockin’ a Dream, Girl tote

What inspired you to begin working on the Dream, Girl film?

About a year ago I started a feminist storytelling blog called Feminist Wednesday. Through the blog I was meeting so many amazing women and was particularly drawn to the stories of female entrepreneurs. There is an amazing startup community that is happening here in NYC and I was really impressed with the levels of support that women entrepreneurs are creating to start their own companies. I go to some really cool networking events, breakfast clubs, and happy hours that are all dedicated to spurring along the growth of female entrepreneurs. As a videographer, I felt really inspired to capture that on film.

Why do you think it’s important to have more women in business?

I think having more women at the top and running their own companies has an amazing trickle down effect for empowering the next generation of leaders. Women are 50% of the population but only run 22 of the Fortune 500 companies. That means that the majority of companies we buy from and messages we are consuming are driven by a male dominated perspective determining what women are supposed to want. This can be really harmful. Women should have the power to create and control their own image and put new products and perspectives out there that are more towards their likeness. I also think having so few examples of women in leadership is harmful because it makes women and girls feel like they shouldn’t be leaders.

Hear, hear.

Hear, hear.

As a woman, what kinds of opportunities or obstacles have you encountered in your film production?

When I was in college I used to participate in a lot of film festivals (I have been making movies since I was 16 years old). The first time I did the 48 Hour Film Festival in Buffalo I took my dad with me to the initial meeting. Everyone thought he was a director and I was an actress. I was the only female team lead out of about 10 teams that year. When you are the minority in a group you feel like you don’t belong and this can raise the pressure on you to “prove that you deserve to be there.” So naturally I had to work a lot harder than of my male counterparts to prove I belonged. But I think the hardest part about being a female entrepreneur (whether you are making a film or not) is getting funding. I sit in a lot of meetings/networking groups with female CEOs and there aren’t enough women investors to back and support their projects. It’s a lot harder for a male investor to get on board with an idea he might not connect with because the product and perspective is told through a feminine lense. There are so many brilliant women who are in the doldrums as far as investing goes. It’s a real goal of mine to be able to give back one day to new entrepreneurs.

The filming of Dream, Girl

The filming of Dream, Girl

What’s been your favorite part of Dream, Girl so far?

There have been so many awesome moments from the production so far: from interviewing some amazing CEOs, to getting to work with an awesome group of women to create the trailer, to feeling so much support from the feminist community who understands the need to produce it. I think the first day of the Kickstarter campaign was my favorite so far: I got to go on FOX Business wearing a Betty the Beaver (Feminist Wednesday’s mascot) pin to promote the film, met tons of amazing women at our launch party hosted by New York Tech Meetup and Control Group, and ended the evening with my best friends and crew at a Brooklyn diner eating chicken fingers and disco fries. I think any night that ends with chicken fingers is totally successful.

How can our readers get involved with Dream, Girl?

They can check out the official trailer here! And make sure to follow us on twitter for all the latest updates and behind the scenes information.


At the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC

My name is Maureen Muthengi, also known as Mo by my family and friends. I run Donate A Pad Initiative, this initiative is merely ran from my salary and my best friend Mona Manani (she’s such a darling and very generous) contributes monthly to ensure we keep the girls in school. Every term we donate sanitary towels to 200 girls from poor families in 9 schools in Kitui County. I’m passionate about empowering young girls to complete their education and am also a mentor. I have a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree (First Class Honors) from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and a Certificate in Project Management. I work at a refugee camp in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kakuma, Turkana.


#TeamKE at the YALI 2014 Summit

In June 2014 I was selected to participate in the Young Africans Leaders Initiative that was started by US President Barack Obama to mentor young African leaders who are change agents in their communities and making positive social change. 50,000 young people from 54 African countries applied and 500 were selected. In my country, Kenya, 5000 applied, 1000 were interviewed, and 46 were selected. I am among the 500 Africans who were selected to be Mandela Fellows and we were placed in 20 best universities in USA. The thought of it makes me feel privileged and honored to be in the inaugural group of young African leaders.


Fellows I met at the YALI Summit

I was placed in University of California Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy for six weeks, which is the best public policy school in USA and the world. I took courses on Public Policy, International Affairs, Strategic Leadership, and Environmental Studies among others which broadened my perspective on leadership.

President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama addressing Mandela Washington Fellows at the YALI 2014 Summit

At the end of July we attended a Young African Leaders Summit in Washington DC hosted by President Barack Obama where various leaders, governors, business leaders and experts talked to us. We had talks with the Honorable John Kerry, Ambassador Samantha Powell, Ambassador Rice,  USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and First Lady Michelle Obama, among others. I was starstruck  and awed to be in the same room with these great leaders.


#TeamKE with US Ambassador to Kenya Amb. Robert Godec

I was blessed to be selected by First Lady Michelle Obama with 35 other Mandela fellows for a round table meeting to discuss girls accessing education in Africa. I felt so honored that she supported what we were doing to enhance girls’ education in Africa. This just gave me more energy and strength to continue supporting the girl child to complete education.


with Ambassador Samantha Powell

One of the great benefits of the Fellowship is I met Young Africans who are doing great works in their countries. I was inspired by each one of them, we talked about the challenges we were facing back at home and we exchanged ideas on moving forward. I will maintain the network, it’s very helpful especially for growing Africa to a better place. Thereafter I also got an opportunity to attend the US-Africa Heads of State summit. I got to attend meetings held by one campaign. It was great sharing our views as Young Africans, but the most important thing was that we realized we had to create our own solutions for Africa.


US Secretary Hon John Kerry shook our hands after the talk :)

We also attended a ONE Campaign concert–Femi Kuti performed–that was really cool. We got a chance to meet Cabinet Secretary Hon. Anne Waiguru in charge of devolution and youth affairs just to share on various ways we can collaborate and work together on Youth Empowerment. Finally, we had a meeting with US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec. He is just a great man. We shared with him our experience in US and what we learned from the university.

photo 1

Cabinet Secretary Hon Anne Waiguru with some of the Mandela fellows from Kenya

In August 2014, I was placed in GladRags in Portland, Oregon for my internship. GladRags manufactures cloth pads and menstrual cups  and promotes positive attitudes towards menstruation. Just the perfect place for me! I will basically apply what I learned in University of California, Berkeley and also get knowledge on how I can grow Donate a Pad initiative as we look for sustainable solutions to keep girls in school throughout the school year. I believe Education is the best weapon that can change our world. If it were not for education I wouldn’t be here.

GladRags is just the best place to be, I have an awesome boss and great work colleagues. I must confess it has changed my view on reusables and this month I’ll try the Moon Cup ;) (story for another day)  In the few days I have been here I love working at GladRags as we are empowering and changing women lives by providing them with comfortable, sustainable protection.

I would be where I am today if it were not for the love and support of my family and friends. I give all the glory to God for opening doors for me. It’s not by might nor by power but by the spirit of the Lord.

Have a lovely read!

— Maureen

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Imagine you’re twelve years old, and you’ve just discovered a stain in your underwear. It’s your first period. You don’t totally understand what’s happening, so you pull up your pants and run downstairs to tell your mother. You expect a hug, a calming caress, a kiss on the forehead. Instead, she slaps you across the face when you tell her.

cartoon faces

If you were a young Ashkenazic Jewish girl 50 years ago, this may have happened to you. While it’s by no means a common custom these days, some mothers may still give a firm tap upon learning of her daughter’s menarche. The purpose and origin of the “menstrual slap” is unclear. Some traditions say that it’s to bring a quick rush of blood to the face, pulling it away from the lower abdomen and relieving a potentially heavy flows. Others see it as a harsh awakening: the transition from girlhood to womanhood made punctuated with a physical action. Either way, it’s a fascinating example of the strange and unique customs throughout history to “celebrate” a girl’s menarche.

Learn more about the tradition of the “menstrual slap” at the Museum of Menstruation.

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.


GladRags cloth pads are proudly made here in Portland, Oregon (my hometown!) so I have a special place in my heart for other companies that manufacture their products here. Portland is a truly unique place, filled with interesting people and lots of resources for small businesses. I recently discovered that our sewing team, when not creating the best reusable menstrual pads around, helps cut out tiny flowers for cat collars. I caught up with Shana, the lady behind the cat couture and the founder of Sweet Pickles Designs to ask her all about her company, Portland, and cats, of course!

Shana & Pickles of Sweet Pickles Designs

Shana & Pickles of Sweet Pickles Designs

Hi Shana (and Pickles)! Can you tell our readers a little about SPD?

Sweet Pickles Designs offers a collection of handcrafted cat collars and bow ties and was created with a vision that all cats deserve to share their unique sense of style. All products are handmade in Portland, OR.

How did Sweet Pickles Designs get started?

You can read the long version of the story here! And yes, we really did chase her along the side of I-5.

In short, after rescuing Pickles, I couldn’t believe the awful collars the pet stores and boutiques had for cats. They were so bad I didn’t even want to buy any of them after going to every pet shop in town. I did end up buying one with dragonflies printed on it so she could have identification, but I was not happy with it at all. I decided I was going to make a collar for Pickles that I liked. After several months of playing with designs and filling Pickles’ closet, I decided it was time to see if other people liked them too. On April 20, 2010, Pickles and I opened Sweet Pickles Designs.

Pickles modeling a flower collar

Pickles modeling a flower collar

Since then, we’ve released bow ties (Holiday season 2012). We are releasing flowers this month. Actually probably this week! We are in 40-50 shops now including some bigger places like Petsmart (online only), New Seasons, and Wag.com. You can see the full stock-list on our website.

Tell us a little about your product line and how they’re made.

We currently offer collars and bow ties. We are a team of 4 seamstresses (including me) making the product. Everyone currently works out of their house, which is starting to get a little insane. Besides having petals for our upcoming flowers cut at Spooltown, we make all our products from start to finish in-house (in Portland).

You recently did a photo shoot for the Oregon Humane Society. Can you tell us about that experience?

As of last summer, once a quarter we go to the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) and photograph the longest residents/special needs kitties, aka their 9 Lives Club. It’s always an incredible experience and one of my favorite things we do. I really look forward to doing it.

My boyfriend is our photographer (that’s what he does) and I am so lucky to have him volunteer to do these shoots with us. I won’t lie, it’s a lot of work (it usually takes all day) and I fall in love with every single one of the cats we photograph. We spend a lot of time with each one, it’s hard not to fall in love plus the cats are always so sweet and ridiculously adorable. Plus OHS and their volunteers are so wonderful and really help make it all happen.

Ponyo, available for adoption at OHS

Ponyo, available for adoption at OHS

It really does take a team to make these shoots happen, but I think everyone (including the cats) enjoy it. We share the photos with OHS to use however they want and we share the cats on our social media to hopefully help push their adoption. They are always wearing our collars, bow ties/flowers (they get to keep them), so sometimes I do use the photos for product lifestyle shots, but as you probably saw from the 6 cats from the last shoot, it’s really about getting a really great photo of the cat. If our products look good, that’s a bonus, but I end up choosing a lot of photos that you can’t even see our products since they happen to sometimes be the best photo of the kitty and that’s what it’s about.

All the cats from the other shoots have found their forever homes, which really makes it all worth it. I don’t know how much the photos have helped find them their home, but I like to think that they did help, at least a little. ;)

Cat bow-ties strike me as a very “Portland” thing! What’s it like running a small, quirky, business in Portland?

Well, I will say there’s never a dull day in the cat fashion world. Coming from a commercial real estate background, I would say Sweet Pickles could have it’s own Portlandia episode. The emails are I get from customers alone are pretty amazing and sometimes I do sit back and reflect on my day and just start to giggle. Like for starters, last week, we made a set of 4 matching bow ties for someones 2 cats and 2 chickens to wear at their wedding. See? Pretty amazing and I bet you just giggled. But honestly, how great is that to think that someone was able to have all their pets participate (while matching) at their wedding. I love it.

As a female business owner, have you encountered specific obstacles or opportunities?

I think the pet industry is interesting. As I mentioned earlier, I was in commercial real estate (for 10 years) prior to Sweet Pickles, and that is a very male dominated industry. That is one reason why I love the pet industry; I get to work with so many other women. I think about 70% of the buyers at the pet stores we work with are women and my team happens to be all women. I have also met a lot of other women who own other pet supply companies who have been so supportive and have actually become good friends with a few of them. I have a monthly standing call with one of the woman; she makes cat toys and we are are at similar points with our businesses. We go over obstacles and challenges we may have encountered over the last month, bounce ideas off each other and it really has become a support structure for both of us. It’s pretty wonderful.

And finally… do your bow-ties fit dog collars, too? We have two very handsome office pugs who could totally rock them.

OH YES! We make bigger dog size ones that are the perfect size for pugs! We don’t sell online, but you can custom order or you can pick up them at one of our Portland retailers.  ;)

Thanks for chatting with us, Shana!

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.