It was 2005 and Miki Agrawal and her twin sister Radha were defending their three-legged championship title at a family BBQ. In the middle of the race Radha started her period. Both competitive, and not wanting the embarrassing mishap to nix their chances at victory, they finished (first, of course) then proceeded to sprint to the nearest bathroom stat— while still tied to one another.
As the blood was seeping out the bottom of her sister’s bathing suit, an idea struck. Miki wondered aloud how amazing it would be if they could create a pair of underwear that never leaked and never stained. One that would support women, still look cute, and absorb blood. One that would actually do the job underwear is supposed to— but doesn’t— and the one that feminine hygiene products so often fail to do themselves. It is then the idea for THINX was born. However, it still needed time to develop.
Five years later while on a trip to South Africa Miki discovered first hand the huge health issues that go on in the developing world. “Over 100 million girls are missing a week of school, and millions of those girls are dropping out because of something as natural as their periods,” she explains. “It made me think about myself, and how I really won the lottery of life simply due to where I was born.”
It made her again think about the feminine hygiene products she grew up with. Although they weren’t perfect, she at least had something. She came home from that trip inspired to make a difference. “We’re on this planet for just a short amount of time, so it’s our duty to give back as much as we can,” she says.
Miki decided to tackle the idea she had envisioned years before. “The feminine hygiene category is a 15 billion dollar market, and there hasn’t been any innovation in it for the last 50 years. In fact, throughout the entire 20th century there have really only been three major innovations,” explains Miki. “Likewise, the underwear category is in a 14 billion dollar market and there have been little to no innovations there as well. Underwear is just being made flimsier, sexier, lacier, and more see-thru.”
Women are meant to look a certain way and act a certain way so it was time to offer products that really work for women and their busy lifestyles. She developed a team and spent the next three and a half years developing new technology for underwear. Underwear that is absorbent, leak-proof and odorless. Underwear that isn’t bulky and feels totally normal. Underwear that still, equipped with all that goodness, looks like a sexy beautiful pair of lace.
Now, THINX has raised the bar for underwear. The stylish, hip, and edgy brand not only offers great alternatives for women on periods but it has created a national conversation and brought this epidemic to the forefront. (Their NYC subway ads were highly controversial… just the way Miki likes it.)
The brand’s success is bringing good to those in the developing world as well. For every pair of underwear sold THINX funds reusable menstrual pads for girls who don’t have them. They’ve helped over 50,000 girls go back to school in Uganda alone. They’ve created safe bases for girls to learn about their bodies, get menstrual products at subsidized costs, learn about self defense, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. They are intentionally creating an empowerment model rather than a welfare model, so that matters will truly change in the long term rather than just the short term.
Miki isn’t trying to fit into an industry, she is shaking it up and redefining it. She focuses on changing the culture, lifting the taboo, and getting rid of the stigma. By using innovation and design she makes her customers feel beautiful and sexy, ultimately making people feel more powerful. With THINX, her goal was to create underwear that thinks of you and thinks of girls around the world.
And we thinx she did a great job.
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest. From Tushy to THINX to Daybreaker, she “thinx” everything that comes out of the Agrawal twins’ brains is exceptional. Find Lindsay at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.