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Fighting TABOOs while maintaining a work-life-study balance

In early 2016, my high-school best-friend Isobel Marshall and I attended an inspiring leadership conference where we were first introduced to the Social Enterprise model of business. As young people with a burning passion for social justice and equal rights, we were exhilarated to learn about this new opportunity we had to make change, without having to continuously “rattle the tin can” in a charity complex. Enthused by the inspiration we’d just absorbed, we continued to design what would soon become our company “TABOO” during the summer holidays before commencing our final year of high school.

TABOO’s social enterprise model takes advantage of the menstrual health care market in Australia which is worth more than 400 million dollars. The design of the company is proudly sustainable, the products are environmentally conscious, and our office is run by a passionate group of young people in South Australia. All company profits generated by the sale of TABOOs certified organic cotton period products in the country, are dedicated to eradicating period poverty in both Australia and abroad. Many young people around the world are having to drop out of school as soon as they begin menstruating, and poor menstrual health care provision severely affects the quality of life for many menstruators.

When Isobel and I started to lay the foundations of the company, we were very thankful for our healthy dose of naïveté, which led us to seek out mentorship and advice that could help guide us through the upcoming business decision-making processes. We were fuelled with passion, energy, and an attitude that was sustained by the strength shown by the people who had the lived experience of period poverty.

Founding a company as a young person is not the easiest load of responsibility to invite into your life and it certainly stimulated my ‘continuous learning mindset’. Choosing to start my combined bachelor’s degree of International Relations and Business was an exciting next step for me in 2018. Studying at Flinders has enhanced my understanding of international affairs, business, politics and economics. I’ve felt that even though juggling TABOO, University and almost full-time work has been straining at times, the diversity of experience and learning I’ve endured has been invaluable. Work – Life balance (and in my case, like many others, Work – Life – Study balance) is naturally challenging for most people. I’m thankful to have had the pressure applied to me from a young age to understand the importance of balance walking into the future. I’ve very fortunately been surrounded by people who share my passion, most notably the other team members at TABOO who have contributed powerful actions and conversations to our office and community.

With the heavy workload of a start-up, study and work, it is easy to disregard the beautiful experiences you’re immersed in, with a distracted mind, lost in lists and responsibilities. Of course, sometimes these responsibilities are impossible to avoid, however, I’ve found that when I’m really absorbing each and every life experience, I’m more focussed and excited on the business opportunities ahead.

TABOO certainly has an exciting future, full of passionate advocacy to eradicate period poverty, vocal support for the social enterprise model and an expanded range of period products. We hope that in the next three years, with the support from an ever-growing consumer market, TABOO can facilitate notable support for those experiencing period poverty both in Australia and internationally.

You can learn more about TABOO here

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