Get to Know De Lune's Founder, Mimi Millard
Posted by Saeng-Fah Graham
Sep 04, 2018
Saeng-Fah Graham leads De Lune's community education initiatives. She is a Menstrual Doula with a passion for empowering humans through knowledge of their menstrual cycles.
Mimi Millard is the founder of De Lune, which creates evidence-based solutions that improve the lives of menstruators everywhere.
SF: Let’s start with the easy questions. Can you introduce yourself and what you do?
MM: My name is Mimi Millard; I am an artist, an engineer, a menstruating human, and the co-founder & CEO of De Lune! I earned my degree in Environmental Engineering from Cornell University, and since then have worked in the fields of design thinking education, sustainable architecture, horticulture, and femtech entrepreneurship. Through De Lune I have made it my mission to improve the lives of people with periods.
SF: Can you talk a bit about your De Lune journey? What inspired you to create your first product?
MM: De Lune was born out of necessity; I desperately needed a product that didn’t exist. A product that would alleviate my debilitating period pain but without the negative side effects I experienced from conventional painkillers.
I’ve always considered myself a conscious consumer, and felt frustrated in the past with the lack of transparency and naturopathy that was apparent in the medicine I had to take for my cramps. That very frustration inspired me to create alternative options, which ultimately became De Lune.
The goal was to create a diverse range of solutions for painful period symptoms that actually support menstrual health systematically. The name “De Lune” roughly translates to “of the moon”, which I chose to convey the importance of finally embracing my natural monthly cycle.
SF: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had while creating De Lune?
MM: The biggest obstacle with De Lune has definitely been education. Periods have long been a taboo topic, and many people are still not ready to openly discuss them. On top of that, we have the obstacle of educating consumers that alternative solutions can work just as well as conventional ones, if not better.
SF: What lead you to realize that nutrition could play a key role in your menstrual experience?
MM: When I first started experimenting with alternative medicines and prototyping De Lune formulae, I was astounded at how powerful nutritional supplements were in eliminating my period pain. Different combinations of herbs and minerals could stop my cramps as quickly as ibuprofen. I now believe wellness starts with nutrition.
At De Lune we take an integrative approach to medicine; this means we make use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, using natural, effective, non-invasive methods whenever possible.
Addressing menstruator’s nutrition first is one of the ways we stay true to our integrative approach. When people have the information and product options to supplement their own nutrition in a targeted and effective way, it is empowering. It allows people to control what they consume, even when they’re in pain.
SF: How do you feel about the current state of menstrual research and awareness? Is enough being done?
MM: Sadly, there is a frightening lack of menstrual health education and research being conducted in the world. I know I was never taught about my own menstrual cycle in school, and this is the reality for many kids. It makes menstruation a scary and confusing time for young people.
How can you know how to care for yourself if you don’t even understand what’s going on with your body? Clinical studies on period symptoms and treatments are also in shockingly short supply. De Lune not only draws from the most cutting-edge research available today, but also supports the researchers personally and contributes to their ongoing studies. Our interview with Professor Payne of UCLA was a great example.
SF: What makes you optimistic about the menstrual movement?
MM: We all have the power to create and spread more knowledge about periods! As we continue to grow an online community of people who want to share their period experience, we are all participating in global knowledge sharing! It’s pretty incredible, considering the stigma around discussing periods.
Underneath that stigma, people are really longing to share their stories and swap information. I’ve been particularly impressed with the work of LOOM, a reproductive empowerment community based in LA. They have a beautifully warm and inclusive approach to this kind of knowledge sharing, and I believe that is the way forward – to a menstrual health revolution. Let’s normalize these conversations together.
SF: Who are some of your biggest role models?
MM: These days I’m particularly inspired by Serena Williams, Ida Tin, and Deane de Menezes.
Serena Williams, while consistently showing the world how to be a graceful and fierce champion, is also such a powerful example of a woman in complete control of her body. She knows how to both honor and push her own limits from athletic competition at the highest level to new motherhood.
Ida Tin is the brilliant founder/CEO of Clue, my favorite period tracking app, and her dedication to data collection and analysis in the femtech industry inspires my own work.
Deane de Menezes is the young Mumbai-based founder and leader of Red is the New Green, an organization that provides menstrual hygiene supplies, education, and awareness in areas of India where such resources are sorely lacking. She is a role model for me because she knows the importance of her work at such a young age and has already been able to make systematic change in the face of an overwhelmingly large problem. (Keep an eye out for our interview with Deane!)
SF: Any advice for fellow entrepreneurs looking to make a difference?
MM: Gather your team first. Sharing your ideas and doubts and questions with people you trust can only move your agenda forward. Never be too shy or overly protective to share your ideas. Instead, try to gather as many diverse perspectives as possible! The more feedback you have, the better your chances of truly making a difference.
SF: You’ve talked a lot about ‘period positivity’ over the years. Can you explain what that means and describe its importance to you?
MM: To me, period positivity is about inclusivity and empowerment. People with periods are constantly marginalized and taught to hide our pain. I envision a period positive world in which menstruators are acknowledged and included in every aspect of society – given access to the education, awareness, and treatment options we need.
When I first got my period as a kid I was upset, shameful, and terrified; no one had told me about it or prepared me. I believe menstrual health education and community building is a critical part of empowerment in the period positive movement.
SF: How can readers support the period positive movement?
MM: Regardless of whether or not you have a period, you can be period positive in your daily online and in-person interactions. A few suggestions on how to do this:
1. Educate yourself and your friends (especially young menstruators!) about how menstrual cycles actually work and try to normalize this topic in your everyday conversation.
2. Understand and acknowledge when others need to excuse themselves from work or social activity due to their cycle.
3. And support the health of your own menstrual cycle (if you have one) through self-care and nutrition. I'm very proud that every De Lune purchase supports the period positive movement as 10% of De Lune’s profits go towards much-needed menstrual health research.