Oohsi Period underwear is owned and run by two inspiring business women; Kati Ernst and Kristine Zeller. I first came across the concept of sustainable menstrual underwear when I was introduced to Kati and interviewed her on the eve of their product launch. A year on and with an established and flourishing company, I’m delighted to bring you an updated version of my original exclusive interview.
Kati Ernst, is a purpose driven entrepreneur who spotted a need and is following it through creating a product that is of real benefit to the modern woman. Periods, menstruation, The time of the month has long been a taboo topic, far to much just ‘a women’s issue” to garner much interest or innovative thought in a predominantly male led consumer product industry. The disposable, non-renewable nature of health products provided in this area has also not encouraged interest in researching sustainable alternatives, but with statistics showing that the average women uses 12,000 tampons during her lifetime, the need for alternative thinking is evident. Oohsi is trail blazing in Germany and has already been featured on ZDF and in Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Stylebook, Der TagesSpiegel and on my site Silberzahn Style.
Profession/What do you actually do?
I am co-founder and co-CEO of Ooshi. We are a female health company and launched Germany‘s first period panty in September last year. Over the past year its’s become apparent that alongside the production and distribution of the product we would also have a new mission; to tackle societal change! We are now working on actual policy change, challenging mindsets and bringing this women’s and environmental issue to a broader spectrum of people.
What motivated you to start your own business?
The idea behind ooshi period panties and the impact it can have really gripped me. On entrepreneurship in general: I want to be able to pursue a fulfilling career and strive towards lifelong learning – while maintaining the flexibility I need to take care of my family and myself. I can’t see this option in traditional companies.
What’s your biggest entrepreneurial challenge?
When we first launched, our main topic was growing our reach and telling women in Germany that ooshi period panties exist – and how wonderful and empowering they are! Now as mentioned, it’s also including changing peoples mindsets to the use of this type of product and pushing for policy change, education and awareness within the female health tech industry and beyond.
Does sustainability play a part in your work and how would you define the concept?
Yes, very much so! Each women uses about 12.000 tampons in a lifetime – imagine the amount of rubbish! Ooshi period panties help massively reduce the use of one-time-use sanitary products for the better of the planet.
What’s your advice to fellow entrepreneurs?
Be aware of how important your company values are and discuss and mould them as you build your company. I’m so happy that Kristine and I discussed ours up front and that they guide our every move every single day.
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Keep going, stay true to your beliefs, it’s going to be worth it! In fact, we recently launched our sub brand ooshi Teens and I’m so proud of what we are now doing for young women.
Huge thanks to Kati, for taking the time to catch up and share more insights and inspiration from her entrepreneurial journey.
Check out Ooshi with the following links, empower your life and order a pair or 3!