Madeleine and Suzanne's Transition: Coming Full Circle
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Madeleine and Suzanne's Transition: Coming Full Circle

by Aisle Team
Madeleine and Suzanne's Transition: Coming Full Circle

As with all of nature’s cycles, change is inevitable. Today we are honouring a once-in-a-lifetime transition in the Lunapads/Aisle story: our groundbreaking co-founders Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens are moving on from the company’s operations.

Suzanne and Madeleine have had a singular impact on the sustainable menstrual care space, not only as product innovators, but also as menstrual health and equity activists. Their legacy as leaders inspired a generation of activists and entrepreneurs and laid the foundations for a flourishing industry.

Long before the term menstrual equity was brilliantly coined in 2015 by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, Suzanne and Madeleine were championing inclusive menstrual health care and education and opposing period stigma with bold marketing campaigns. Since 2000, the Lunapads co-founders have been dedicated to increasing access to sustainable menstrual care for everyone who needs it, partnering in dozens of programs all over the world from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to The Caribbean to South Africa.

We have compiled a timeline of some of their proudest achievements as social entrepreneurs and sustainability innovators and leaders in the menstrual health space.

  • 1993. Madeleine creates the first collection of period underwear and cloth menstrual pads, writing the first business plan for Lunapads as a student in 1994.
  • 1996-1998. Madeleine launches her garment manufacturing business, everyware designs, while building Lunapads’ distribution in natural products retailers across Canada. 
  • 1998. The first Lunapads website launches.
  • 1999. Madeleine and Suzanne meet at a community leadership course.
  • 2000. Lunapads International Products Ltd. is incorporated. Lunapads begin to be produced by the Wu family in East Vancouver, beginning a relationship that continues to the present day.
  • 2002. Lunapads launches its period underwear online - the original period underwear line!
  • 2008. Suzanne and Madeleine are approached by Paul and Sophia Grinvalds to mentor the startup of Uganda-based AFRIpads, whose earliest pads were inspired by Lunapads. 
  • 2011. Lunapads updates its website and marketing materials to be gender-inclusive  and becomes an early thought leader about why inclusion matters and why we need to stop using the term “feminine hygiene” products. 
  • 2012. Lunapads becomes a founding Canadian B Corp
  • 2012. Madeleine and Suzanne visit AFRIpads first factory in Kitengesa Village, Uganda, sparking the beginning of a lasting partnership and Girl Talk collaboration.
  • 2015. Madeleine receives the inaugural Vancouver Board of Trade Wendy McDonald Award in the category of Entrepreneurial Innovation.
  • 2015. Canada ends the “Tampon Tax” by removing the GST from period products thanks in no small part to the #NoTaxOnTampons campaign (and hilarious video), supported by Lunapads.
  • 2016. Lunapads joins the United Way of BC’s Period Promise Campaign. Madeleine becomes a founding member of the campaign’s Community Action Group, where she serves until 2024. 
  • 2016. Lunapads earns Best for the World B Corp status, a distinction bestowed upon the top 10% of B Corps worldwide, marking the first of its four future accolades.
  • 2017. Lunapads receives the Pacific Region EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for Social Entrepreneurship.
  • 2020. Lunapads rebrands as Aisle.
  • 2020. Aisle receives the prestigious CanWaCh award for Canadian Excellence in Global Health and Gender Equality.
  • 2021. Aisle partners with the Menstrual Health Hub to create the Re-Indigenizing Menstrual Health video interview series.
  • 2021. Aisle receives the Trico award, Canada’s most prestigious distinction for social entrepreneurship.
  • 2021. Madeleine’s book, The Greater Good: Social Entrepreneurship for Everyday People Who Want to Change the World, is published.
  • 2020. Aisle becomes the first menstrual care product company to complete a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a rigorous process that assesses the environmental impacts of a product’s entire life cycle. LCA impact data can be found on the Aisle website for all pad, liner and underwear products.
  • 2022. Aisle co-creates the Planet-Positive Periods suite of free educational materials in partnership with PERIOD. and Green Periods.
  • 2021-2023. Suzanne and Madeleine consult with multiple Canadian public leaders as part of the federal government’s groundbreaking Menstrual Equity Fund (MEF) Pilot initiative and collaborate with Joni and BFree Cup to form the Sustainable Menstrual Equity Coalition (SMEC) of Canada.

Madeleine and Suzanne at Food Banks Canada distribution location

What’s next? 

Madeleine is excited to deepen her writing practice (you can follow her on Medium), while joining the teams at Simon Fraser University’s Charles Chang Centre for Entrepreneurship as a Mentor in Residence, and Purppl, a social entrepreneurship incubator, as an Entrepreneur in Residence. As always, she continues to enjoy gardening, travelling, yoga and all things cyclical. She can be reached via her website or on LinkedIn.

Suzanne is planning to take some well-earned time off to relax and enjoy trail running. You can connect with her on LinkedIn to explore opportunities for consulting and advisory services in Business and Marketing Strategy, Financial Planning and Social Entrepreneurship.

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