In for the Long Game

This is a special International Women’s Day episode, so get comfortable because we cover a lot of ground in this episode with my guest Madeleine Shaw. I think of Madeleine as a titan in the social impact world. She has launched and led multiple impact ventures for over 30 years. She and her business partner Suzanne Siemens founded Lunapads in 2000, and rebranded as Aisle in 2020. Their company was one of the first in the world to champion natural menstrual care products and sustainable menstrual equity, and has proudly been a B Corp since 2012.

Madeleine is also a speaker, mentor and the author of The Greater Good, Social Entrepreneurship for Everyday People Who Want to Change the World. This book, and Madeleine herself, is an invitation and support to “everyday people” to find their own way to empowerment and change-making through social entrepreneurship.

It becomes quickly apparent that Madeleine is profoundly committed to an expansive vision. She’s not just focused on creating social benefit through business, she’s working to redefine what success as a social entrepreneur means in a 21st-century world. So, settle in and listen to what can happen when you commit to playing the long game.

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Show Notes

 

Transcript 

Jalen 

You've been on your own quest for a little while. 

Madeleine 

Yeah... a little while.  That putting it in a... yeah... that's an interesting turn of phrase, considering that it's 30 years this year, to be honest, yeah. 

Jalen 

And so that brings us to the the what you know, the theme I always love coming up with the theme of being in it for the long game. And there's something about that that is, I feel like it's it's defining of a certain flavor of impact initiative. 

Madeleine 

Yeah, it speaks to. Dedication, right? Like I, I mean, I get, I think again we're living in. These times where it's like hurry. You know and scale fast. And move fast and break. And there's this kind of language and accelerators and and you know. The the idea is that. For some reason, we think that things. Are supposed to go faster. And my view is is that you know when we are engaged in something that's meaningful to us. And we are living in in accordance with sort of the more natural rhythms of nature, where, you know, we need rest, we take rest, you know, I mean, look at how plants grow. I I really feel like this whole. Cultural imperative around entrepreneurship with just hustle culture basically is the sort of the shorthand. For it, I think. It's it's destructive and to me perseverance isn't just like hammering. It's like you know, it's. The work that my business partner and I Suzanne have done with Lunapads and Isle. Has been kind of Co creating with something whose time now has come you. Know this whole. Idea of menstrual equity and sustainable menstrual care and all those things that we've been talking about for 30. Years are now very present in the media and very present in the public imagination and. And and and I'm. I couldn't be more thrilled about it. But I don't think it could. Have happened any sooner. If you know what I mean. 

Jalen 

Yeah, some things take time and the people takes time. Culture takes time. 

Madeleine 

Yeah, the trees take time like nothing like, you know. No, no plant or is going. I've gotta hurry. Up and grow. You know, I gotta. I gotta be bigger. I gotta. You know, it's like. This is this is how they. This is a natural pace of. I mean, I was listening to an interesting Ted talk the other day by an economist called Kate Raworth. And she's the author of a book called Donut Economics. And she points out that the only thing in nature. That grows with. This like infinite exponential scale, is cancer. And I thought I just sent me back on my heels. I just thought, why are we forcing ourselves or why are we glorifying a growth pattern that only exists in this one super destructive way like I just, I just don't understand it. So yes, perseverance in the long game, it's a wonderful theme and thank you for helping me. To craft that. 

Jalen 

You're welcome. I'm curious to hear about a, let's say, a recent watershed moment, because I'm sure there's been. A few over the past three decades. Right where you had, I don't know. Epiphany or like it was. Like a big. Shift in in an area where you have felt resistance. 

Madeleine 

Yeah. Well, I would point to you and I think depending on where your listeners are, but in the province of British Columbia, which is of course occupied indigenous land, but the province, the space that we know colonially as British Columbia in 2019, the provincial government announced that menstrual products. We're going to be provided to all students in schools across British Columbia as a matter of was a ministerial. Some proclamation or something like it wasn't even debated, like there wasn't even like, oh, you know, let's go back and forth on this. It was just like a this ministerial boom, like a proclamation that came from the Minister of Education and this. Like it, you know it to. A lot of people it might have seemed like kind of a blip, or maybe they didn't notice at all, but for me, as someone who you know, A has dedicated my career to. Supporting menstrual health and equity and be as someone who, in all my days as a student, including post secondary student, never in a million years would you have been given a free pad or tampon under any circumstances like you would have had to come up with that $0.25 or that *****. I was even on BC Ferries the other day and they're charging a dollar for. Menstrual products in bathrooms like just the idea. That those products should be provided. To anyone who needs them. As a matter of basic human dignity, the way that if we go to a public restroom, there's soap. There are paper towels, there's toilet paper, there's everything. That we need to. Take care of our. Bodies so that we can participate in life like no one's standing there going on. And have to pay for. That toilet paper? Well, that's been the case. For menstrual products. Like in pretty much. All of history until right now. So that's why. Moment in 2019 was important, and Suzanne and I were invited to kind of a media event. The school in New Westminster, and there were so many politicians there. There was the Minister of Education and there was there was president of the United Way and there were, you know, teachers and there were people. School boards and trustees and and and suddenly. And the room was literally filled with hats and tampons was amazing. Like they were just everywhere piles. And and and I just thought to myself like after and that was 2019, you know, so whatever, 26, seven years of doing this like like this has become something that people finally are like, yeah, well periods. Let's talk about it. Let's talk about. Products and and so I was. Well, because it was so much more than just. You know the the accessibility. It's both like menstrual equity has many components and products are only one of them, but they're vital one of them because obviously you know periods need to be managed and but the the whole idea that these these people and it did at least half of them were men and they were. Like you know, they're all. Excited and and vibrant, and nobody was. Kind of. You know, using weird language or anything and and I was like this this like to see that kind of level of meaningful change in my lifetime. Thanks in in many ways to the efforts of myself and my business partner and many of our colleagues to create a sea change so that a government is coming out and saying yes, you know. We must must do this as a matter of basic human, human rights and social justice. 

Jalen 

You don't get that overnight. 

Madeleine 

You do know it like that, and that's going from that's going from. Do not talk about it and you must pay to how can we help you, you know, and and let's go. And so and we're seeing this and you know it, it's not just BC like this is you know Scotland was famously the 1st. Country in the world. To declare that mental products should be free for. All of its citizens. So this is like there's this major sea change that has happened in the last. It probably started kicking off around 2015 that things started to get really, really interesting in this space and people started, you know, governments and legislators and they started taking state tax off and the GST was rescinded in Canada on menstrual products and, you know. Just all these these. Elements, those combination of social things and legislative things and public leaders speaking about it and and and also this kind of advent of reusable menstrual products becoming commodified, which is kind of a double edged sword. Speaking of swords. And yeah, so it it's it's I'm so thrilled because like for a long time, I mean we were we were ahead of our time for so long and and now it's kind of caught up and it's it just feels like we're in this. I it's momentous. It's a sea change and and for the most part like for 90% of that. I'm, I'm so grateful and inspired and just sort of overwhelmed with gratitude and just even watching these things change every day and it's it's amazing. So yeah. 

Jalen 

So has that Lacona victory that victory settled in enough that you you find yourself looking to what's next, either in this on the horizon of of this journey or another? 

Madeleine 

Yeah, I mean. We are still in it. That's The thing is like, I mean in real time we're we're running a business and we're, you know, just coming out of COVID and. Got hit with huge like all the things that every other business dealt with in COVID. So, you know, huge supply chain issues and shipping cost increase and a third of our staff deciding they wanted to do something different or move somewhere, I don't know. Like like just. It was extremely challenging and. So I guess what I would say is. That even though. Like none of this is easy, it has never been easy. That persistence piece of things that is like, you know, the raw work of it has been and remains challenging as gratifying and as rewarding as it is materially in the marketplace. Oh my goodness. I mean, we've seen some really brutal examples recently of, you know, competitors of ours getting taken on with class action lawsuits in the period under worse space because of the presence of PFAS chemicals in their products and. So there's been just, which is really on one level incredibly disappointing because it's kind of speaks to sort of a fast fashion approach that's come into the reusable space which you know, yay it's it's it's an opportunity. It's kind of like, you know, the periods are the Klondike, I guess or the, you know, the Wild West of. Menstruation. But here we are. And so there are. A lot of people coming, like mainstream capitalism, is coming into our space because there's huge dollars in it. And so that, you know, it's kind of dismaying, but also means that, you know, an entire market is being educated about the existence of these products. And hopefully we'll be able to make choices that are sustainable like aisle products. And so I say when I when you ask me what am I looking forward to, I mean. A big part of my work right now is working with institutions like post secondary and municipalities and employers because they're taking this menstrual equity piece kind of to the next level. Like this isn't just for, you know, grade eight students on their way to a math class like this. If we truly want to achieve. In the era of climate emergency, sustainable menstrual equity, we need to be using reusable products. Instead of just, you know, telling somebody they need to find a town on somewhere every three hours like it's just not actually a practical solution. All of these disposable products on. A very practical level. So what we're seeing now is like universities placing huge orders and just giving their students for free menstrual cups and period underwear and cloth pads, and they're having workshops and they're, you know, having events. And it's just, it's fabulous. Like and, but if you think about. It it makes all. The sense in the world, it's like these are people. People who are young and therefore are menstruating. Who are busy, who don't have? A lot of money. Our entire future is riding on them. So let's set them up to be able to go to class. And manage their periods. And so they're, you know, they're not missing out on activities and they're not missing out on their studies. And it's just. It's great like there are. There's some of the young leaders right now. If you just get it. And they also get the sustainability of it. They're like, OK, well, we know that if we just want to, you know, put even more disposable pads and tampons everywhere, then all that's going into landfill. And so you know what's and then it's kind of this. Endless cycle, right? You're just sort of forcing someone to keep going and finding. The next one. And then three or four hours later. Finding another one so. On and so forth. So I I. Can foresee. I guess my big dream right now is universal. Cost free access to quality, safe, sustainable products and I think that's achievable like I I really do. And with governments getting on board, we're we're going to get a big announcement from the federal government any day now. On this topic as well. So I I think it's wonderful to be able to have a dream like especially when we're in these times of climate emergency. As I just said, where it's like, oh, like how are we going to course correct on that? Like I it's so big. Whereas menstrual equity this is achievable like we're doing it right now and so I. I feel amazing about it, and I've and in the meantime, my entrepreneurial wheels are continuing to spin just because they do. 

Jalen 

It's interesting. You talk about your entrepreneurial wheels and at some point in either. In your book. Or in conversation you talked about. Seeing yourself as like a. Regular person actually, you know, a feminist academic who decided to pick up business as a means to to an activist and. Yeah, but you've been at. It for 30 years, so I. Guess you can. Now now can see yourself as also. As an entrepreneur. 

Madeleine 

Oh yeah, 100% and. And so I was just actually was interviewed for a video earlier. And to me, as a feminist, entrepreneurship was like the wonderful way for. Women and non binary. People to be able to deploy the tools. Of business and the service of social change. Change because you're not fighting your way through these massive organizations. You know that are dominated by CIS, white, heterosexual, etcetera men and it. And so if you, you know, start your own thing, it's it's deeply creative, it's deeply independent and it's very accessible. So yeah, I think it's it's. Amazing and I and. I I wouldn't. Have like done it. Otherwise you know what I mean. Like, I don't think I would have been able to find myself in any kind of a mainstream business. Environment and and so yeah. To for me. Like feminist leadership led very naturally to entrepreneurship in that way because I just, I had zero buy in to the mainstream business world in the first place. And so I was not. Attached and yet I recognize. That there's it's a source. Of power, right? And if we just? Get back and go. Oh well. I don't want to get my hands dirty with the money or, you know, whatever. Then then you're basically relinquishing power, right? And letting the folks who've always run the show continue to run the show, and meanwhile like to go back to your point earlier. But everyday people like I had this really powerful insight in the early 1990s. That menstrual products were filled with chemicals that were giving me allergic reactions, and there had to be a better way to manage. Periods. That was. Safe and didn't give people infections and didn't and you know, didn't take 500 years per product to biodegrade in a landfill like. Come on and. So yeah, so I. My crazy wild idea that so long ago people thought was totally transgressive and outlandish and outrageous now has precipitated, you know, an entirely new market segment and. And political change. 

Jalen 

Again, you know the the fruit of being in it for a long time with free commitment. You know, and I the thing that comes to mind for me is like I talked about how challenging it has been over the years, especially sort of being a voice in the wilderness wilderness for a while, right? Where did you find the strength? Where did you find the resources to to pull it off? How did you manage it? 

Madeleine 

I'm still working on it right now. Yeah, so. OK. So for starters, I think for social entrepreneurs, our vision and our mission, like it's everything, like, we kind of fall in love with an idea and. That's a really important feeling because you're always able to draw on it like ever since. To be honest, I've been in this for longer than 30 years, like when I was a kid. When I. Was eleven before I even started my period. I thought it would be. I thought it was so fascinating. Like how, how? Was it that the average human menstrual cycle was the exact same number of days as a lunar cycle? Like I still remember being a kid and just being like that knocked my socks off that one piece of information. I'm like, how is it? How is it that not everybody's talking about this like it seems like the most obvious. Really fascinating. Amazing mystery that we are so deeply connected to the most powerful. You know, the cyclical nature that we see in the tides and the seasons and in so many ways that we're that we are living, that that we have that, like, internalized in our bodies and. So fascinating. So, so, OK, so thing #1 having a powerful vision and mission and something that matters. But #2 it it's all about relationships. Everything is relational. So in my case I have an amazing business partner and Suzanne Siemens. We've been working together since we met in 1999 and incorporated what was then called Luna Pads in 2000 and have been working. Together, as our earlier today. We're working together and and and and in an even bigger sense, like just the people. Around you like I think about the SVI community and Hollyhock and how that's been such a huge, you know, thing for me being B Corp being involved in the coral lifts community, formerly known as CEO, this these networks of other people where you're, you know, you can. Get advice, of course, but just moral support and checking in. Because this is very human, it's a very emotional journey. Like, you're not just going, I'm going to go make tons of money and, you know, whatever. Ha ha ha. Kind of thing. Like, this is a deeply human challenge that. Takes us out of our comfort zone that will challenge us in ways that we cannot anticipate like it is like the hero's journey. Like I talk about in. The book you are accepting a very unique challenge when you become an entrepreneur and you will be tested in ways that you cannot imagine and and therefore you need other people because that. That is how those problems. Will always be solved. Always because you can never truly do something by yourself. Like, it's literally impossible, right? And so I think the more the quality somebody asked me the other day, they asked said, what are you the proudest of in your business career? And I said the quality of the relationships that I've been. Able to create with other people. 

Jalen 

That's really significant, I think, because I mean there's there's a general perception of business out there by many people of it's a it's a dirty thing, it's a, it's a not necessarily a positive thing for and I don't want to get into it too deeply, but. The whole idea of business as a force for good is that blows some people's minds. Just the fact that that that exists and but in part of it is the fact that there's money involved. Right. And money can make things strange in in all kinds of relationships and to be able to maintain a business for 30 years and be proud of the relationships. And have you know, have strong relationships that's maybe even more impressive than whatever amount of money that you might have made? 

Madeleine 

Well yeah, because thank you for saying that. And like I've got to say the. Uh, like? Practice like what we have chosen to do and the way that we've chosen to do it has not been lucrative like it has not been financially. You know anybody who thinks that we're we're making tons of money is is not correct, that's. But that's OK. I mean, we're in it for impact. Need to make enough money? The the business needs to be sustainable like I mean. That's no mission or no margin, no mission, as as a wise person once told me. But it's a holistic thing. It's like you're you're managing all these different things at the same time. And I and also money, it's reality like there's an economy out there and we're going to do anything we have to participate in it in it somehow and we certainly. Need to be. Participating in it. We're going to change it. So I mean, I too came from a place like when I graduated from university. I believed that business was an inherently extractive active. Like that was just. That, like you, were you. Were in it for the money and and I've since come to understand that these, these things, these institutions, these ideas were all generated by a person or a group of people over time and. That as such as a. Product like there are no immutable. Out there like these, you know, all of this is subject to what we actually choose to create as. As human beings. And so things like the B Corp movement and you know, we're seeing entire new like post growth entrepreneurship as another fascinating field that I love like. 

Speaker 

That is just. 

Madeleine 

Questioning this this mandate, like I I believe what we're seeing in this space right now is. Green businesses that are being asked to grow the way that you know this kind of mainstream. 10X you know we want it to be sustainable and we want to, you know we've got our SG reporting and we you know, whatever. But we still want our money and it's like I I think there needs to be a different approach because these things do cost money. Like if you want to you have really sustainable fabrics and you want all your products. To be properly. Tested for PFAS and other chemicals and. And you know you want to be truly size inclusive. And so you do a ton of product development that's very specialized around size and you like all of these things are even being like B Corp it costs tons of money and. And so when somebody's like, well, I want, I want all the green stuff and. I want all the. SG goodies. But I still want you. Know you need to be making the same kind of margins. As a traditional business like, it's just not. And I I that's something I came to terms with really, really long time ago and you know. Our returns for our investors are largely in impact and that's what they're looking for and that's what we have been looking for. And if we can create a venture that pays our salaries and helps us support our families and our, you know, whatever teammates and so on. It has not been easy and I think anybody who thinks. That like if if you really do like. If you are someone who has needs, you know, significant needs. If you're carrying a whole bunch of debt and you think that you're gonna, you know, walk into being a social entrepreneur. And be able to manage, you know, high demands financially in your life. 

Speaker 

Thank you. There are a. 

Madeleine 

Lot of trade-offs in there like I. Think the idea that you. Yeah, there's a cost to everything and I think that sometimes when in the social entrepreneurship space, there can be a bit of magical thinking and just the idea that because your intention or your vision is so good and true and amazing and impactful that therefore they will have that impact and that the, you know, somehow a magical business model. Will wrap itself around this amazing vision that you have. It's it's. It's the same as anything else. It's it's in fact, it's even harder. It's like if I'm going to build a business, you know, making a conventional extractive, I don't know, something like that. I'm not doing any sustainability, any social impact kind of stuff. Doing that is hard. Whereas a social entrepreneur, you're doing all the same stuff. You gotta go and find the right customers and your cause, and then you know. Whatever people and. Technology and so on. But you've got to do it in a way that minimizes harm. And you know, you were trying to make the most ethical, most sustainable choices at all times. And so just the volume, the amount of work that that adds to what you're doing is huge and the cost as well. So it's not for the faint of heart. But I I'm a huge believer in it and I had the most incredibly rewarding, gratifying career and I'm nowhere. Close to them yet. 

Jalen 

I'm so. Glad I'm interested about with The Walking this fine line of being a business and staying true to your vision, the the impact vision whilst needing to also be also you know managing the cultural influences of well this is what a business should look like. This is how should operate. And you know, you talk about like, well, there there aren't massive margins in in social impact business cause in part because they're not, there's not all this massive externalizing of expenses, right. And that's where the costs of the environment and to people and everything else come from. Are there any? Strategies that you and your team have used to try to. Help you? Keep to your North star in the face of. All of this. The the these tides of influence and expectations. 

Madeleine 

Yeah. Uhm ohh, there's so many. That's a great question. I mean it's uh, it's definitely A-Team effort like we. Try to be. You know, I was listening to my business partner, Suzanne conducted team meeting. Last week earlier this. About product development and it was truly like every single person. How to say? In what they thought about, you know, certain products and how they should be made and who they were for. And you know all this stuff and it was. One of the most inclusive. Democratic like she was honestly there not going. This is what I think it should be. But I'm going to hear. These people out. It was like we're building this together. And I think it's, I think leadership is huge and watching her like she's truly a kind of a, they call it a servant leader or someone who is seeking to draw the best from the group as opposed to impose her will on what's going on. And again, it's not. Like that can be a very cumbersome management. Like if you. Are truly being inclusive and truly listening to everybody and truly being democratic. As opposed to just like, oh, this is. Just what I think I'm going to do, and then I'm going. To tell everybody to go and do it like. There's there is some efficiency to that. I suppose and, but just watching it in action is is really powerful and it goes back to that relational piece that I was referring to because I think the benefit of doing it, even though it may be a bit slower and and. So on is. That you get loyalty. You get people who feel seen and valued as part of the organization, not just someone who's delivering, you know, a component of your service or whatever. It's just a different. Worldview like I think it goes back to the if you want to see. If you look around the world and you want to see something different, then it's on you. Like go and what is that thing like go take it upon yourself and and I encourage this so strongly in. The book like. You know, even if it's something that that you. Like you wish somebody would do something. About that thing. You know. Like, well, sunshine. Maybe it's you. And, like, seriously, because we I think if we're waiting for other people to give us permission or to have the right little sequence of letters after our name or to, you know, I don't know, then then nothing changes. It's like this is this is active and it's. All an experiment like there's not just one way to do this, and if anything we need to find other ways of doing things and. So I think. That's really that's what we've been doing is is just really very experimental and very, which has made it kind of risky, but it's also made it super innovative. Like we are lunapads slash aisle is like a case study for feminist business analysis like we are in every single like anybody who teaches that course, or anybody who talks about that, we are like it and. And and that's why you know, because it's distinctive and you know we're not, you know, not just adding on values on to a traditional mainstream business model, we're reinventing the business model from, you know a values base all the way through the whole company. 

Jalen 

Yeah, that makes it makes so much sense, because, I mean, you can't you. Can't just bolt. On a nice value here and there, and expect positive outcomes. 

Madeleine 

Nope, no you cannot. Well, cause then you're not. It's kind of, I don't know, it's just window dressing or something. I don't know what that is, but that's not the business that we're in, but the tricky part about it is. That we are running a business in a very radically different way, in a world that does not kind of get it in a world that is basically saying, hey, you know, you should go and pitch to those guys you know on Wall Street and you should sell your company to a huge multinational CPG company. And you should. You know, whatever. And and we would be celebrated. For that. Like our competitors are doing that and it's it's kind of awe inspiring in a way like it's it's very exciting, but it's also you know OK then the products get super cheap and I don't know then they're not sustainable anymore like that's I don't know cheap period underwear or a scourge as far as I'm concerned like you know what's the point? Of producing a product that is supposedly sustainable, that is made of virgin polyester that falls apart after half a dozen washes like. That's not sustain. But that's what people or a certain kind of person wants and finds attractive. And you know that that race to the bottom in the marketplace that we've seen in so many. Segment. So anyways that's. Kind of the downside, but, and we're just going to aspect of what we're dealing with that is really interesting like I mean it's like life like nothing's just one way, right. Like it's never just. Like, oh, great, everything's fantastic. It's like we are living in these incredible times. Disruption and opportunity and pain and stress and and you know, beauty and magic. And so I I believe you know that that the change I spoke to earlier that we're seeing socially around menstrual equity that's happened at the same time as this commercialization, financialization and commodification, if you will. Define, you know, reasonable menstrual product market. So it's like those two things are kind of. Happening at the same time, they are products at the same time in history, and so to separate one and say this. Is bad and. You know separate from the other and say this is good. I think is not the accurate way of looking at it. It's like we. You know it's the good. With the bad, it's all here at the same time, and so being present all of it. And and just trying to find our footing and and maintain our values within that is what we've. Tried to do. 

Jalen 

You mentioned that the mainstream capitalist world has set its sights on the industry that you've helped, or the segment you've helped create, or maybe define even. And so that means you've got massive amounts of money fixing to to take up space in your market. Do you have any thoughts about that? 

Madeleine 

I do and. And so it's interesting. So OK, so the. But that's true. And so I mean. Anybody who, even it listens to this. Podcast and then goes on their phone. They're gonna start getting served ads on Instagram for period. Underwear for sure. Promise you that. And so that's one place the marketplace of of the Instagram and the Google Analytics and ads. And and whatever and big money coming in and and that marketplace and that's a very hard marketplace to compete in super hard. And when I look at it and. I ask myself who's? Benefiting from? This cheap period underwear and my answer to that question is Main Street venture capitalists. Google and Meta and Amazon and, you know, questionable manufacturers. Who knows where in the world? So OK, I don't think that's. A game that I want to win. Personally, it's not even a game I want to play. On the other hand, we've got this burgeoning market for institutions like governments, like postsecondary institutions like employers going hey, we care about menstrual equity, and we care about sustainability. And so we're going to invest in sustainable. Central products and give them away for free. To our students, our cities. And and so on. Our our team members. And so that way we're like we've we've got this marketplace that we have created where instead of trying to go well are carried underwear you know cheaper than yours or they're this or that you. Know it's like. All of that just kind of goes away and we're having a conversation. About sustainability reporting, which is something that we do really well because we've done a life cycle analysis on all of our products. And so when you know somebody buys a bunch of them, we can tell them how many you. Know greenhouse gases. Have been you? Know diverted and how much energy has been saved and all these things that matter to institutions. And when you do business with them, integrity makes a difference. Like nobody's gonna get away with selling them crappy products that fall apart like it just won't work. And who wants to? Who wants to burden? A young student with a product that that doesn't perform or that is exposing them to pee, fast chemicals or whatever. Like there's there's something. Reputational at stake in that marketplace where we actually do win because we have that credibility and we have done that work and we have our LCA data. There are B. Corp and you know, whatever, all those things that actually. Make a difference as opposed to the just cheaper, cheaper, cheaper world of Instagram. 

Jalen 

Well, it sounds like. It's just finding your group of raving fans of people who get you people, people who get your vision and yeah, to some degree, right? 

Madeleine 

Yeah, it it is. And and in this. Case it's it's. Twofold, because the students themselves who are receiving the products. You know, are totally like, they're the ones out marching, you know, and showing us what? As as students saying, hey, we're going on strike for the climate and we're, you know, we're doing these things. So young people do not need to have sustainable choices, sort of, you know, explain to them or they don't need to be convinced about those things. They just. It's a matter of course. But what's beautiful is that is that these institutions are coming to understand that this is an amazing opportunity for them to exhibit leadership and also meet their stated goals. It's like, you know, like, OK, if you want to. Reduce plastic and you want to reduce your carbon imprint. Whatever, like I've got a great way for you to do it that's relevant to at least half of the population of, you know, whoever your constituents may be. 

Jalen 

Uh, it's interesting. I mean, at some level, you're you're, I think your mission was always about trying to create, you know, sustainable positive solution for, for for people who menstruate. Right. And do it the right way. But what you're actually, you know what you've come to is like a a solution to, like, a multifaceted solution to, like, 2 distinct groups that are interconnected. 

Madeleine 

I never thought that it would go this. Way like the to us, the relationship has always been person to person, like individual to individual and in this case we're talking to governments and it's fascinating. And I'm yeah, no, I'm. I'm really, really enjoying it. And the other piece that I love about it is it kind of flips the whole dynamic business like before, it was like, OK, how am I going to charge this much money for, you know, this person? But what if they can't afford it? Like what? If somebody can't afford. A beautiful organic cotton, you know pair of $50. While period underwear. Well, what if instead of trying to make our products cheaper, which you know degrades the product quality or means that one of our team members doesn't get paid as well, whatever. 

Speaker 

What if we? 

Madeleine 

Switch out who pays for that product and that to me is like that's the master stroke of genius, right there is. You're asking people who have money. To pay for products to people, for people who can't afford them to support the bigger picture of sustainability goals and gender equity. So that's what I call a business. 

Jalen 

Model Amen. So looking back, would you change anything? 

Madeleine 

I don't know. I you know what I don't. Have a good a quick. Hit the answer for that one like it's I. I guess I'm gonna. Go with. No, I wouldn't change anything because I don't. I'm not really sure that things could have. Been different like. I think the another thing that happened with Suzanne and I is we had three children between the two of us in sort of the mid 2000s and at a time in the companies growth. When my husband also came down with cancer not long after that and we were just hit with a lot of really personal life stuff. In out a period when. In a traditional business, we would have been really digging deep on, you know, manufacturing and supply chain and stuff like that. And for us, we we made a very conscious choice to really want to be present with our families and our kids when they were little and. That type of thing. Now looking back, would the business have grown? You know more quickly if we had, you know. Yeah, it probably would have if we hadn't have done that. But I don't regret that because. I just don't and I don't know. We all. There's not just one way to measure success and that's something I talk about in the book when I talk about radiance in Chapter 11 and this idea that we just measure it as you know, OK, this amount of money or this amount of, you know, this kind of an exit for example. I am. 

Speaker 

I to me. 

Madeleine 

The the beauty of the work that we've created. Is not just that kind of final outcome of. The the exit. You know, it's what we've done every single day and found joy and meaning and value in it and. I I love hard work I do. I I don't try and I don't believe in trying to find a a sneaky way around hard things. It's like there's a pleasure in going through it and I know that as a sober person now too. Like that's a really important part of my life. And and I see it really clearly. That you know, we there are. No, this mythology of quick money or an easy way out or whatever, it's like you miss. The true depth of the experience, like I'm grateful to have experienced every pretty much anything that I can think of as part of this entrepreneurial journey from the highs to the lows to the challenge to the heartbreak, to the frustration to the elation like it's all. It's all there and it is all still happening. And I just think it, it just feels really real to me and I don't think there's one particular formula for quote UN quote success or one way that you know, should be emulated by everybody to achieve a certain level of something. Like I think that we get to decide those things for ourselves and. I think that we've done. 

Jalen 

Oh, I want to personally thank you for all of the immense work that both you and your team have done on not only with the product that you offer, but with redefining business in your own way that the trailblazing I think is super important. Not everyone has that vision to see how things can be different and then once. Once you know. Once the once it's understood, then you know more people can can follow through with what it feels like. A more human way to do business or to to meet the. Needs of meet our needs. Collective needs Marshall Resources appropriately, and it also sounds like have rich and fulfilling life at the same time. 

Madeleine 

Thank you. Yeah, I mean, to me business, it just feels very creative to me it's it's an expression not just of values but of. And relationships and the creativity. And I yeah, that's how we see it. It's a practice. To me, it's not just a means to an end or once we get to. A certain level of. Sales or once we can sell to a certain kind of business then? We've succeeded. It's. Like your success or whatever you want to call it, it's like it's a, it's a practice. It's what you do every day. It's how you live. Your life and so looking back. At the last 30 years. Of having had just a whole bunch of rewarding days. That have felt. Real where I've. Done my best and really showed up. Feels awesome. 

Jalen 

What's a dramatic contrast to? I mean one late tech giant that I know. Who died of cancer and a whole lot of regret. But or but didn't happen in his life. And so I think that setting an example of a of an profoundly different pattern is is profound. 

Madeleine 

Well, thanks chalin well. And I I I guess I want to harken back though to what? I said earlier like this isn't easy. And in many. Ways what I've been able to achieve has been predicated on a pretty significant dose of social privilege, so I didn't just. I don't know like that we live in. A world that favors people who. Look like me and gives us lots of chances. And you know that type of thing. So I'm. I'm aware of that. And in a way, that's why I chose just. The approach that I did with the. Book again of like just and speak to people directly, like for people who do hold privilege in leadership positions and social impact spaces like really be mindful about that and but thank you. Because I do feel like we've taken a lot of chances. I know that Suzanne and I have been. We've mentored, I don't even dozens of people and inspired other dozens to start something and do something creative and different and to try and make a little better place. Really grateful for that too. 

Jalen 

That's something that sounds like a legacy. 

Speaker 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Madeleine 

Well, that's the thing. And we've never like. We've always done that. That's always been part of our practice and. And people have given us that gift too. It's like that's. And that goes back to that relationship piece that I was talking about, like when people share with you, it's not just their, you know, business tips and whatever. It's like they're sharing part of their story with you and part of their soul in a way. And that's what we've imparted to others as well because. Otherwise, I don't know. What's the point? You know what? Mean like? We we no longer live in times where I don't care how much money you have. I really don't. It's like if you if we do not have clean water to drink, we do not have clean air. To breathe and. We're busy killing each other. Then what's the point? So you've got more toys way to go, you know, and that's why you launched one or what a great example of somebody who could have, like, grabbed the big prize and sold out to Nike or, you know, whatever and didn't. And found a different way to take all this wealth and channel it towards supporting the planet. And and that's that's my kind of leader, that's who I live too. As someone, you know who's who, really. When the stakes were super high and everybody would have said oh, way to go, and now you get to go and have your billions and billions of dollars and whatever. It's like that he's not interested. Not what he's in it. For and, it's not what I'm in it. For now, what Suzanne's in it for, and I I I just really want to. Encourage people to. Find their way, their. Expression that doesn't have to be. The big the big story and you know the big disruptive thing that everybody talks about makes tons of money. Like, that's not actually what necessarily makes a difference in the long run, because we are talking about the long run, right and the we need a planet here in the long run, we want to raise. You know about 7 just generations. We wanna think about the future. So if just making a whole pack of money really quickly with no mind, you know to sustainability is like it's we just can't live in that world anymore. You know, we can't afford it. None of us can. 

Jalen 

No, we can't. And I think this is this is the time where where you know people need to look around and see what what corner of the of the world that they can lift up. And you know, I, as I said before, I haven't completely finished your book yet, but it's clear to me that it's a it's a great way to extend this conversation about how one, how someone might be able to find their way to making a difference. And do you have a favorite way in which people can get a hold of it? 

Madeleine 

Yeah, I mean to the extent that. People can order through their local independent bookstores is fabulous. The book, yes. It's available on Amazon. I regret to say. But I didn't have much choice when it came to that. But that, yeah. I would order it through like locally. Black blonde books and book warehouse, that type of thing and they they can get it in within two or three days. And and folks can reach me on LinkedIn. I have a website at Madeleine Shaw dot. CA with lots of ease. And greater good book on Instagram. I'm not a great social media person, but there's a nice presence for the book out there and I love to hear from readers and folks can hit me up on LinkedIn. 

Jalen 

OK, that's great. We can be sure that I'm gonna put all those links on your. Episode page so that people can easily get a hold of you, your book and all that sort of thing. 

Speaker 

Yeah, I know. I love it. 

Madeleine 

Thought you asked wonderful questions and you've been you're. So kind and. And yeah, I. I've really enjoyed this conversation so and thanks. For the whole series. That you're doing and it's been amazing and... very proud to be part of it... and yeah. 

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