GladRags is turning 30! A momentous occasion in itself, of course, but it feels even more meaningful when we look back at our beginnings, our achievements, and our continuing growth. That's right: get in the time machine, you're comin' with us!
GladRags was founded here in Portland, OR in 1993 by the brilliant Brenda Mallory, who started sewing cloth pads at home after realizing that using cloth options to replace disposable ones didn’t have to stop at her baby’s diapers. She grew her project into a small business, and if you bought cloth pads from GladRags in the 90s, here’s what your collection might have looked like:
One of Brenda’s employees down the line was Tracy Puhl. Tracy was no regular reusable menstrual product company employee…she was a super go-getter reusable menstrual product company employee! She took over GladRags from Brenda in 2011 when she was just 24, and would continue to run the business until early 2023.
Tracy earned GladRags a Benefit Corporation certification in 2012, which means we use business as a force for good - officially. We're committed to integrating environmental and social justice into every aspect of how we do business, and are transparent about what this looks like (check out our most recent Benefit Report!). For example, last year we diverted 100% of our fabric scraps from landfills, and were able to donate over $11,000 in cash and GladRags products to nonprofits and people in need.*
The past few years brought us some great opportunities. We did giveback campaigns on a near-monthly basis, using our resources to help organizations like Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, The Kwek Society, Brown Girl Rise, One Tree Planted, and many more. We also started providing educational workshops and discounted products to students, who greatly benefit from not only learning about reusable menstrual products, but being able to access them in an easy and affordable way. We're proud be a part of the fight against period poverty!
Back in 2012, Spooltown, a women-owned sewing factory, took over cloth pad manufacturing for GladRags. Field trips to Spooltown were always fun, since it was so cool to actually see how the pads were made (before being packed up and delivered to the GladRags office by bike courier…this is Portland, after all!)
And then just this year, the GladRags torch was passed once again: Spooltown acquired GladRags!
It was sad to say goodbye to Tracy, but exciting to keep looking ahead to new opportunities. There are new zero-waste products waiting to be made, and you best believe we're gonna make 'em! In fact, we've already started - have you seen our new Weekender Bags?!
It's great to be able to share our history with you. Not just because it's fun to take a stroll down memory lane, but because GladRags wouldn't be GladRags without our customers and supporters. You've continuously driven us to improve and expand our products with your feedback, helped us give back to vital organizations and people in need, and created a personal connection with us by sharing your period stories and reinforcing our values. 30 years of cloth pads means 30 years of empowering menstruators to choose a more sustainable, affordable, and comfortable period - and to shout about it if they want! We sure as heck are hootin' and hollerin' over here at GladRags.
Thank you for celebrating with us!
The GladRags Team
*GladRags retained B Corp status until 2023.