Pyramid Seven makes boxer briefs for periods. From the get-go, this genderless brand reimagined boxer briefs to support people on their period–period. They added seemingly no-brainer features to help prevent leaking, but their product continues to sell out. Why are Pyramid Seven’s in such high demand? And what drove founder Zipporah Jarmon to launch the brand? Find out below.
Q: What was your initial idea?
Zipporah Jarmon: I initially came up with the idea when I had leaked (period blood) on my pants at work and no one told me–which is very annoying because it’s just part of human nature. So I went home, and I was very frustrated about the fact that no one told me and because I had to wear feminine underwear (because I was on my period) and it’s not what I normally wear. So I thought, “What if someone made boxer briefs for periods?” I started thinking of ideas on how that could work.
The deciding factor for me was when I met someone who knew how to sew. When I pitched her the idea she said, “Okay so when do you want to do this?” And I’m very much an idea person but not much a let’s-put-it-into-practice person. But she ended up kinda giving me a deadline. At first I thought oh we could do it in five years and she was like, “Five years? We could do this next year.” And I was like cool, let’s do it.
I love it. I mean, name someone that hasn’t leaked and that person just hasn’t had their period.
Zipporah Jarmon: The funny thing about that is, it’s 2019. We have self-driving cars but no one has created a product that doesn’t leak. Pads, tampons, menstrual cups, sponges. The only company that’s really on to something is Thinx.
Yea because they are like, “Here, leak on this.”
Zipporah Jarmon: Totally. I thought about this when we were building our prototype. What’s a preventative measure we can take, knowing there will be leakage? We put this leak-resistant feature in so it would catch leakage. So you wouldn’t have to be walking around at work with bloody pants and no one telling you (laughter). It’s funny, we’re so behind in the reproductive conversation…but we literally have cars that drive themselves.
Q: Your tagline is “Periods are for boxer briefs not gender.” Why is it important to have that tagline?
Zipporah Jarmon: I developed our tagline while I was making my business plan and thinking about what it is that we do. We make boxer briefs for everyone. And I was thinking of the people that aren’t normally thought about. Initially I was thinking about masculine presenting women. Butch. Studs. Bois. All of those people. And I was posting on different Facebook groups like, “Hey if there’s masculine people who menstruate then hit me up we need models” type of thing. And I started getting all these people who like, I didn’t see as masculine–not by my definition. So I was like well, how can I tell somebody that they aren’t masculine enough? When this whole time we’ve been (especially masculine people, trans people, GNC people) told that we’re not woman enough to be represented in any of these period brands. So that’s where the whole idea for the tagline came from.
Q: To me one of areas Pyramid Seven really drives impact is helping to further period progress, care and access. I mean 36 states still tax menstrual products. That’s messed up. What change would you personally like to see?
Zipporah Jarmon: When I was in Art College I took this advertising class. I remember they were talking about this period brand in the UK somewhere and how there was this guy who wrote them a letter like, “Dear Brand X, I’m really upset because I grew up watching your commercials with this woman talking about how her period was this great thing. When I was a kid I wanted a period. Now I’m an adult and I realize that menstruating brings a lot of pain and suffering. I feel like I was lied to.” Then the brand did a commercial response like, “Hello John”. And that’s super funny but it also shows the lack of conversation around periods and menstruating and how companies pushed to make it seem like this luxury experience. It’s not as bad as it once was, but it’s not anything close to great.
If there were just more open conversations then a lot of this fuckshit wouldn’t be happening. Me, I check minority boxes for days. It’s a horrible joke but it’s also like damn. When it comes to the period market, it’s like equity. It’s being shown not as the token. People saw trans as the token. People saw niche market. I’d like to see people represented as whole, full, complex people just like white men see themselves. Once we understand and acknowledge people as full complex beings and as we see ourselves, then biases will go away. Policies will go away. We won’t have have a “period tax”.
Q: What’s your reaction to people referring to Pyramid Seven as the “period-friendly” boxer brand for trans men?
Zipporah Jarmon: When it comes to us being coined as the trans brand it’s literally just the fact that we have advertisements with five people; one is cisgender, at the time one was non-binary, there was a transgender guy who was on testosterone for one year, there was a trans person who was on testosterone for one week, and someone who was androgynous. We didn’t use words like trans or hetero, we just showed representation of people and used our tagline. It was definitely the media who was like oh look at this company who makes boxer briefs for trans people. I was like yes we do. But we also make them for cis people and cis straight women who want to wear boxer briefs or non-binary people who want to wear boxer briefs. Or gay femme who want to wear boxer briefs. Literally everybody.
We just portray transgender people menstruating. It’s not a bad thing that we go coined as that, I just think it’s funny. I think it’s also how the human brain works. We want to categorize everything so even when someone gives you open land, “This is for everyone.” For us, the craziest thing we showed was a transgender guy with his shirt off wearing a packer inside his boxer briefs. You know, the media.
Q: How do you categorize your brand? Are you unisex, genderless?
Zipporah Jarmon: A genderless period brand. Just going with the option to step away from categories. If we say unisex then we would be acknowledging there are only two sex. Which is a thing but like gender and sex are two different things and we’re not going by sex. By saying genderless we’re acknowledging the gender spectrum. For us it was about making sure we’re making sure we’re inclusive to anyone that menstruates.
Q: Tell me about your product. How are Pyramid Seven boxer briefs made?
Zipporah Jarmon: Our first product launch we did hand-dying, we hand made them in our homes. It was…an experience. And then we ended up going with a company here in Chicago called Apparel Agency and we changed our fabric to a modal material which is kind of like athletic wear. It’s strong, durable, super soft. It’s cool to touch. It’s great. So we get our modal from Vancouver, Canada and then we have it shipped here to Apparel Agency. They manufacture them and then we pick them up from down the street. We noticed that on more traditional feminine underwear like panties or even boyshorts, if you put a pad on, fold the wings and go to bed or lay down, you’ll still leak in the front or back. It just happens. I don’t know why. So we thought to put a leak-resistant material called a pul fabric and sandwiched it between the two layers of modal. This is the black fabric section that you see on our boxer briefs. This prevents people from leaking through to their clothes, sheets or wherever.
Q: What responses have you received from customers?
Zipporah Jarmon: We got a Facebook message just this week from someone who was just really excited about receiving their pair. They were like, “I finally got to use my pair, it’s been a game-changer in my life. If you ever need a model or ambassador let me know.” People are happy to feel seen and validated. They can now pair their period experience, one they normally saw as negative, with one that validates them. There are times I get emails from parents that like, “My son menstruates and he has a really hard time about this, I’m so happy your brand exists because it validates who he is without making him feel abnormal. As a parent it’s good to see that my kid who has struggled with so much is able to feel like himself.” We get so many mixtures of stories like that. People email us product ideas, which is dope. They feel like they can be heard, we’re the people’s champ. When people contact Pyramid Seven, they come directly to my phone.
Q: Products like Pyramid Seven, Thinx and Lola. Books like Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement by Nadya Okamoto. Protests in India like the 385-mile long wall of women in. In the past five years we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how we’re talking and caring for our periods. There’s more awareness, access to education and a reduced stigma. What do you attribute this change to?
Zipporah Jarmon: Social media. Before technology and social media became a way to amplify voices, it was just corporate people giving their opinion, or hiring people that look like themselves to consult on what their company needs to be successful. Now people are using social media to tell businesses what they need. They are using their voice to say I’m here and I’m valid. Or question the period tax. This isn’t a luxurious experience. Social media allows conversations to happen, they aren’t dictated by one central power, like the newspaper was. Newspapers would decide what they wanted to talk about. People like Lena Waithe might post something and all these people will jump on it and talk about it. That’s really why.
Because now, these corporations are hearing what their customers want and what they feel like their missing. To my knowledge, Thinx underwear was not originally gender-inclusive until customers brought it up. It’s a tunnel that goes both ways now. And we have people that have similar experience that amplify our voices.
Q: What do you think of a curated website that features only brands created by people of color, women and LGBTQ individuals?
Zipporah Jarmon: I think it’s dope. You know FUBU, right? We cannot wait for people who don’t understand us and for people that don’t experience our lives to create stories about us and to represent us in positive ways. Now at some point should we be in a society, everybody sees each other as a full person, yes. But in reality, corporate America looks really white. Luckily the government is starting to look a little more mixed. It’s important to see ourselves in a positive light. We can only wait so long. Any type of minority person. It’s part of our duty to make and amplify stories of ourselves and our neighbors and communities. I’m here for it. BET was one of the first ones to really do it. But then people also thought CNN was crazy. I think that we owe it to ourselves to tell our stories and to create what we want to see in the world. Long story short I’m super pro a website in the like this.
Q: Is there anything else you want to share or say?
Zipporah Jarmon: We can create our universes. Our own worlds. I’m just somebody from Chicago who made a period brand because nobody thought about people like me. I want to encourage people to live in their truth and if they feel like something needs to be done, don’t wait for other people.
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