Being the co-founder of a social enterprise has both challenged me and fulfilled me in unimaginable ways. I have the privilege of creating a meaningful impact in my everyday life while pushing a message I feel passionate about.
Having the opportunity to create change has always been a lifelong business goal of mine, which came to life when my mother, sister and I founded Hey Girls – at my mum’s kitchen table in 2018. We have since achieved things we never thought possible and expanded to become an international Social Enterprise with an HQ in Scotland, a second dispatch centre in England and now a team in Australia.
At Hey Girls our business is eradicating period poverty. We sell period products through a Buy One Donate One period products model and, in addition, run an education programme to empower people to talk about periods – ending the stigma and ensuring everyone has the information they need to manage their mental and physical health.
We believe that access to period products is a right, not a privilege – no one should have to compromise their health and wellbeing.
My mother experienced period poverty while my siblings and I were growing up. She was a single parent of three children, including two girls, and understood the struggle of bringing up a family on benefits. There was no help to cover the costs of period products twenty years ago and today there still is little support for those facing period poverty.
Before Hey Girls, I hated my job working full-time in retail and I moved around a lot working various jobs which did not fulfil me.
I was grateful to have work yes, but I couldn’t embrace the work because I lacked passion for it and my motivation never lied with businesses making massive profits. After becoming more involved in the social enterprise and NFP space, I realised I needed more from my working life.
Over the years, I’ve learned that keeping an open mind to new market opportunities and new potential customer segments is so important. By doing this, we’ve been able to donate 25 million period products across the UK alone.
When we see the difference that the 25 million donations are making, we can track a “theory of change” which is aimed at building a more positive, inclusive and equitable society, normalising periods along the way.
Following the COVID pandemic, period poverty in Australia continues to worsen. As the cost-of-living increases, the need for period product donations deepens. It was a natural progression for me living here in Sydney to take the opportunity and try to replicate the amazing social impact created in the UK.
When I moved across the world to Sydney in 2013 and became a permanent resident in 2017, I was equipped with the knowledge of the Australian community, how it would respond to our social enterprise and how we could best break into the market.
Expanding Hey Girls into the Australian market has been an interesting and difficult shift for our family dynamic. Not only in the way my mum, my sister and myself work as a team but also in having to learn how to let others into the business and empower them as a team to take lead in areas of the business we want to grow in.
It’s hard to let people in when it comes to your passion project – especially when you are from a family of perfectionists with a ridiculously high bar around brand and quality! This was one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome.
Our success as a social enterprise isn’t measured through our profit margin but by our social impact. We are constantly working to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the community by keeping our products affordable and encouraging businesses and the public sector to get on board with our Buy One Donate One programme.
Our goals are to eradicate period poverty in Australia, improve access to quality period products for everyone and increase awareness and education about period health. We believe in not only creating a social change but an environmental change through sustainable product development.
With one in five people experiencing period poverty in Australia, it has never been more important to be proactive and educate those around you. To find out more about Hey Girls Australia, please visit www.heygirls.com.au.
Did you know we’ve teamed up with our friends at Hey Girls Australia, to chat all things periods and reproductive health? We’ll kick the night off by hearing a short keynote from Georgie at Hey Girls which will be educational and informative before we get into the nitty gritty: Networking!
Walking into a networking event with Business Chicks feels like walking into a room full of friends. You may meet that accountant you’ve been searching for, that copywriter you so desperately need, or even a new friend who despises Love Island as much as you but watches it anyway! You can register here!
Bec Lovely is the Co-Founder & Head of Operations (AU) of Hey Girls. Helping launch Hey Girls at the kitchen table with Celia and Kate, Bec now leads the team in Australia, where period poverty is an even more prevalent problem than in the UK. As Head of Operations in Australia, Bec is constantly raising awareness of the scale of the problem in the land down under – where 22% of people have been forced to improvise period products due to high costs. Bec has always had a passion for activism and women’s rights and links up with community partners such as foodbanks, homeless shelters and women’s refuges to ensure all people can have a dignified period.