Öko Créations has just delivered its first batch of washable menstrual panties to Jean Coutu.

Please note: not washable at Jean Coutu, but on sale at Jean Coutu.

They will appear on pharmacy shelves by the end of April – an important milestone for the small Boisbriand business.

The 4200 panties in three sizes, printed with a delicate pattern, were made in his workshop.

“We do everything from A to Z. We do the graphics, we make the patterns, we create the patterns that go on it,” informs Karine Létourneau, co-owner with her cousin Marie-Noël Beetz.

The company employs 18 people, all of them women – without that being a goal. It is inspired by the humanist philosophy of Patagonia.

“One of our goals is to ensure that the work is really positive for our employees, specifies the co-owner. We have yoga, we have plants everywhere, it’s sunny. It’s the anti-sweatshop. »

Öko Créations was founded in 2009 by sisters Marie-Noël and Mélanie Beetz, who shared an interest in couture and an environmental sensitivity.

“Mélanie had children and she was always missing products,” says Karine Létourneau.

A young family can never have enough layettes, nursing pads, baby wipes, bibs… “Melanie was looking for eco-friendly items in organic cotton and there weren’t many things on the market. My cousin Marie-Noël, who is very good at sewing, made several for her. It gave them the idea to offer these products to everyone. »

Quickly, reusable sanitary napkins, therefore washable, were added to their production.

“One of our first retailers was Terre à soi, in Montreal, and the owner made labels herself to sell our products,” says Karine Létourneau, to illustrate the fragile beginnings of the adventure.

Karine, who was then making a career in video games, gave her cousins ​​an occasional helping hand.

“It started with my maternity leave. Marie-Noël also had young children. She would tell me, for example, “I need to take some pictures to put a little more love on my website.” We took a morning together, and we did that with our little friends who were playing around. »

Enthusiastic and emotionally engaged, she joined the company in 2018.

“The ideas were there, were good, but just a little something was missing to put the company and the products in a good light,” she says.

“I did the branding, did the communications, and then really put the spotlight on the business. »

At the end of the 2010s, Öko Créations launched a series of zero waste products: hemp bread bag, coffee and tea bag, bulk bag…

It was during the pandemic downturn that the idea came to add menstrual panties with a washable insert to the range of sanitary napkins.

“We saw that there was a business opportunity in pharmacies because there were no washable menstrual panties made in Quebec,” she explains. There really was a niche to exploit. »

“My cousin and I went to our drawing boards, and we were like, ‘What do we do and how do we do it?’ »

Good questions…

The two cousins ​​tackled the problem during the summer of 2022.

“What’s interesting with menstrual panties is that the protection stays really well in place and the insertion is really made to go over the panties”, points out Karine Létourneau.

Theirs is made from organic cotton and hemp. “Hemp is very durable, very absorbent, and naturally antibacterial,” she argues.

“The sizes of bosses, it’s my cousin Marie-Noël and one of our employees who worked on it. I worked on the visual, that is to say on the pattern that was going to be on the panties. Flowers and bees, like Hindu mandalas.

“But also on the presentation visual, because when we presented the idea, the panties weren’t done yet,” she adds with a laugh.

“It’s the leap of faith. You have to believe in your business. Then I have visual talents, I can do a lot of things with Photoshop and 3D software. »

She concretized in 3D image the pattern on which her colleagues were working and she provided her visual material to their distributor.

“Our distributor was already convinced that we were going to make a good quality product,” she said. They sold the idea, and it didn’t take long. »

Yep: “They’re women, too.” »

The agreement with Jean Coutu was concluded in the fall of 2022. The first order was for 1,400 units for each of the three panty sizes, with the corresponding inserts, to be delivered in early 2023.

Now they had to be made.

The first samples were tested by the owners and their employees.

“How do you like it?” Ah, it’s too high here, too low there…”, describes Karine Létourneau.

Production was launched at the end of the year. Cutting, assembling, sewing, packaging: everything is done in the workshop of the small business. “Our seamstresses worked really hard,” she says.

Marie-Noël Beetz designed the pattern for the packaging, whose graphics were designed by Karine Létourneau. “We called our families and they all came to help us put it together. »

They were delivered in January.

“If sales are good, Jean Coutu could reorder at the end of April or around May. »

The door is open.

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