The period poverty-battling Hey Girls take a giant leap forward in their fight this week as their products hit the shelves of supermarket giants ASDA and Waitrose.
A £50,000 investment and mentorship from Big Issue Invest’s Power Up Scotland programme has helped bolster the social enterprise’s ability to grow and allowed them to purchase the stock needed to supply the stores, with products hitting shelves from August 13.
Founded just eight months ago by Celia Hodson, 57, from Dunbar, East Lothian, with the help of her two daughters, Kate and Becky, Hey Girls sells sanitary towels on a ‘buy one give one’ model – meaning for every pack purchased another is donated to a woman in need.
“It all started with a heated discussion between myself and my two daughters that results in a big hairy audacious goal,” Hodson told The Big Issue. “We simply wanted to work out if we could fix period poverty and what that would look like.”
“The supermarket listings prove that social enterprise can get into the mainstream while at the same time making the society we live in fairer and more equal,” said Kieran Daly, Scotland manager for Big Issue Invest.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Aberdeen Standard Investments, The University of Edinburgh, Scottish Government and Brodies LLP. This unique partnership has brought creativity, technical skills and mentoring to early stage social ventures like Hey Girls, which adds value beyond the funding they receive.”
And it was down to the Power Up programme’s mentorship and financial support that allowed the enterprise to grow.
“We wouldn’t have been able to scale up Hey Girls without the support,” Hodson said.
“Not even just the money but the mentoring, the training and the connections we’ve been able to make. With contracting advice, mentoring from top firms across the country, we’ve been able to become a more solid feeling organisation.”
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: “We’re really proud to have supported such a dynamic social enterprise. We rightly saw great potential in Celia’s vision and not only invested in her business but ensured Hey Girls products were available to buy from the Big Issue Shop.
“This inspiring social venture will put right a long-standing economic injustice, puncturing the poverty premium.”
Hey Girls is the latest Big Issue-backed product to make its way into supermarket giants. The poverty-busting coffee from Change Please was introduced in more than 300 Sainsbury’s stores across the country in September last year.
Hey Girls is also working closely with the Scottish Government to combat the issue of period poverty. They have been holding a series of round table events with those who work with women and girls who may be affected by period poverty, including teachers in schools and those who work in homeless shelters.
Celia said: “At Hey Girls we believe it is so very important that we educate everyone on understanding menstruation. From teachers in schools to Dads bringing up daughters alone, it is crucial that people are armed with knowing all they can about periods so they can support the women and girls in their personal or work lives.”
Bridging the gap between activism and retail, the enterprise is also a key partner in the Scottish Government’s period poverty roll-out with free sanitary products to be made available to an estimated 18,800 Scottish women through foodbanks, women’s shelters and community centres.
Hey Girls products will be available in 80 Waitrose stores and 265 ASDA stores across Britain from August 13, with charities and organisations local to these shops benefitting directly through each sale.
You can pick up a multipack of the no-leak, chlorine and bleach free sanitary pads at http://bit.ly/TBISHeyGirls. For every box of pads purchased Hey Girls gives a box to someone in need.