At Aunt Flow, we work with students all over! Recently, we teamed up with Irina Cantos, a varsity tennis player at The Ohio State University. Through her hard work and determination, she helped implement 34 Aunt Flow Model E Dispensers in OSU’s Department of Athletics locker rooms, effectively impacting the lives of her fellow student-athletes. Read below for a firsthand account of her process and journey!
In 2019, I moved to the United States from Spain and began college at The Ohio State University, where I became a Strategic Communications major. To this day, I also compete for the Women’s Tennis Varsity Team.
During my junior year of college in February 2022, I started applying for summer internships. One that especially caught my eye was Serif Creative. Serif is a production company based in Columbus and seemed to be everything I wanted in an internship. After a rather lengthy application process, I received the call that I had gotten the internship. I was elated! What I wasn’t expecting from accepting this call was everything that occurred afterward.
I spent the first month at Serif Creative having an absolute blast. I especially loved the people I worked with. My first-ever production day rolled around, and I was incredibly excited. We were producing media for Aunt Flow. I had not heard of it before, but I was immediately intrigued. As the Producer’s Assistant, I was able to help everyone on set out with whatever they could possibly need. This is how I met the wonderful Claire Coder, the founder of this company called Aunt Flow. I had the opportunity to listen to everything she stood for and what she had been fighting for, for years.
The Initial Outreach
That day I went home feeling tremendously inspired, thinking of ways I could implement this within my community, which in this case is the student-athlete body at Ohio State. I vividly remember calling my coach, Melissa Schaub, and telling her, “Hey, I know this might be crazy, but I have this idea, and it needs to happen.” I wrote an email to the Athletic Directors that night.
I did not think this was something that could wait one more day. I wanted to get the process rolling as soon as possible. When drafting this email, I was thinking of all the ways I could cover the questions or doubts our Athletic Directors might have. Most questions I received were budget-related. The answer is quite simple; budget-wise, like Aunt Flow says, if toilet paper is provided for free, period products should be as well.
I thought of every time one of my teammates had forgotten a period product at home or someone had unexpectedly started their period, perhaps even during a competition. I thought about every time our hectic practice schedules prevented us from going home or going to a nearby pharmacy to get products. I thought about every single time a good practice, game or match turned into a highly stressful situation because of the lack of readily available period products.
Later that month, I was able to meet with one of our Athletic Directors, Mike Penner, who was extremely keen to listen, which was more than I could ask for at that time. I wanted to ensure everyone I spoke to understood that the first step in getting this done was to start normalizing what is still considered a taboo subject. I tried to get that part of this process through by speaking on it, educating folks who have questions, and having an open mind. From then on, I continued reaching out, finding other athletes to advocate with me, and keeping the conversation flowing. It became one of the most significant topics in my life; day in and day out, I thought of ways to support this project if no one else would.
Working with the Aunt Flow Team
Throughout this process, I met the Athletics & Entertainment Manager at Aunt Flow, Zac Dykan. When I wasn’t able to be a part of certain conversations, Zac always represented my voice and advocated for my needs and the needs of my teammates. Zac’s enthusiasm and support have been unmeasurable. I truly don’t think I could have done any of this without him and the Aunt Flow team having my back at all times.
The past few months have been filled with hard work, hope, and exponentially better news until we finally made it official in the last week of October 2022.
I was actually shopping with my teammates, Kathleen and Isabelle, when I received Zac’s confirmation email. As I read, “We did it!”, tears formed in my eyes. I felt pure joy and disbelief that this worked the way I had been picturing it for the last six months. It took less than a week to have dispensers placed in our locker rooms and bathrooms and just a couple of days for them to be stocked with Aunt Flow period products. I don’t think I have ever taken as many pictures of an inanimate object.
Thinking of the impact that this might have on our student-athletes at this school is a feeling that is hard to describe. I am very excited to see the lives of so many student-athletes change for the better. Athletes will be able to compete with a sense of relief, knowing that their school and Aunt Flow have their back.