Sexy Period's panty raid

Department of Defense
By NICOLE FRIEDMAN  |  August 12, 2011

TJI_julie_main
“YOUNG AND CHEEKY” Sygiel.
Stepping into Sexy Period's one-room office, I leave the imposing bricks of One Davol Square behind and enter a world of whimsy.

Pink posters of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe adorn the walls ("I'm very definitely a woman and I enjoy it," says one), and white flowers crafted out of tampons and scented sprays cover the main table.

Sexy Period's products — three styles of underwear made from material designed to provide leak protection for menstruating women — are folded next to the window with appropriately sweet tissue-paper-and-ribbon packaging.

To put it simply, Sexy Period is the cutest company I know.

The all-female workforce — co-founder and CEO Julie Sygiel, who has worked full-time on the business since graduating from Brown University in 2009, and four summer interns — are just as bubbly as the décor.

Office conversations bounce seamlessly from business decisions — an advertisement featuring a model in a nightclub is deemed "too dark" for the company's image — to chatter about the upcoming come-to-work-as-your-spirit-animal day.

The fourth theme day of the summer, this is Sexy Period's most ambitious, because the other companies in the building have been invited to participate. Most of the interns have already planned their costumes, but Sygiel is still pondering her spirit animal.

"I definitely have feathers," Sygiel says. She settles on a black swan, eventually.

After launching its first three lines in January — the black lacy Friday Night Fabulous, floral Blossoming Beauty, and purple Simply Stunning, each sold in cheeky, hipster, and bikini cuts — the company plans to introduce a thong cut in October and and a beige line by next spring.

Though many women menstruate for more than 30 years, the company decided to market to young professionals to avoid being pigeonholed as a business for teenagers or middle-aged women, Sygiel says.

Despite advice from professionals that "it would be inconsistent branding if we tried to be elegant and funny at the same time," Sexy Period strives to be just that, Sygiel says — "young and cheeky and a little bit in your face."

From the company's "Don't Cramp Your Style" slogan, to their latest advertising campaign, "Sexy Period saved my butt like whoa," Sexy Period is full of brio. But they're the first to admit that not everyone is comfortable with it.

People "either want to talk about it, or they don't want you to mention it ever again," says intern Sara Duphily, who just graduated from the University of Rhode Island.

"One of my closest friends, she won't like it on Facebook because of the name," chimes in intern Melissa Tovin.

Sygiel admits that men sometimes "start backing away" at the name of her business. But she announces triumphantly that her mother, who lives in Sygiel's conservative hometown in eastern Kentucky, finally bought a pair of Sexy Period underwear to give as a bridal shower gift.

I got a pair myself (Simply Stunning, bikini cut), wrapped in ribbon and topped with a postcard that addresses me as "Beautiful." The outside material looks like satin and feels like a bathing suit, but the inside lining is cozy.

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