FEMPO: Period-Proof Underwear Made in Sciences Po

FEMPO are the first period-proof underwear made in France. When Fanny Abes, at the time a third-year student in Vancouver, met Claudette Lovencin, the idea for the product was born. They are now both Sciences Po graduates. We met with them to speak about their career paths and business.

What made you decide to start up a business producing period-proof underwear?

Fanny Abes: Claudette and I started out by thinking how we could help people. It was only in the second phase of development that we really thought about problems specific to women. I think that it was only natural that we were drawn towards a venture aimed at people like us, people who share the same needs. We released a product linked to menstruation to help women reconnect more positively with their bodies, their biology, and their cycles. The goal was to turn the tables: to no longer just put up with our bodies, but rather, to better understand and make them our allies. Today that has happened through creating period-proof underwear, but it could take different forms in the future.

Claudette Lovencin: Creating period-proof underwear was about creating something relevant to women, or at least menstruating women, so perhaps our business has feminist ends at its heart. But we don’t want to be simply put into that box, it is more about finding autonomy. 

Fanny: Yes, we prefer to talk about regaining autonomy as a process of conquest.

Claudette: Today we have created period pants but our project’s philosophy is to allow us to better understand our bodies, as they are, whatever their needs may be. We were not looking to take a political stance by doing this, even if it might be seen as a feminist, or even a humanist matter. 

Fanny: What we are looking to do today with FEMPO is to give individuals the means to emancipate themselves. But that has not stopped us from seeing that there are collective political and societal battles still to fight.

How did your internships at Sciences Po help in the development of your product?

Fanny: Maxime Marzin, the head of Career Services, helped us a lot. He gave helpful advice on our project and that helped us to structure and launch FEMPO. 

Claudette: I minored in gender studies at the University of Concordia. I gained two years of experience there and then I started my Master’s in public policy at Sciences Po with the strong academic background from my time in Canada at the Société Elizabeth Fry, which helps marginalised women.

A few months ago, Sciences Po launched a committee for women entrepreneurs, led by Anne Boring. Has tackling something which targets a solely female market helped you as female entrepreneurs?

Fanny: I think that being women and responding to women’s needs at the same time added credibility to our project. The way I see it, being a woman today doesn’t restrict you in any way. Of course, we had our fair share of problems, but whether that was because we were women or just young and starting out in the sector, I don’t know. Anyhow, I personally didn’t feel discriminated against because of my gender. 

Claudette:  I agree, it is difficult to say. It is a bit complicated nowadays to isolate the reasons why such problems do or don’t occur. Often female entrepreneurs say that they have trouble getting financial backing, but we have been pretty lucky. I think that the original nature of our project worked in our favour - we didn’t go unnoticed. Today I encourage anyone who wishes to set up a business to take full advantage of the help and the tools offered by Sciences Po. Fanny and I started out with next to nothing; FEMPO originated from very humble beginnings. 

Fanny: Yes, we started out with 250 euros and my mother’s sewing machine.

Claudette: I am convinced that you should back your own ideas and see your idea through to the very end so that you know what it might lead to. You have nothing to lose by trying!

Learn more about starting a business:

Related links:

My Coral Garden: A Start-Up Made in Sciences Po Aims to Save the Oceans

“After ten years in banking, I wanted to do something good enough to put my name on”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Louis Schweitzer elected Interim President of the National Foundation for Political Sciences

Louis Schweitzer elected Interim President of the National Foundation for Political Sciences

The members of the Board of Directors of the National Foundation for Political Sciences (FNSP), meeting this Wednesday, 13 January 2021, wished to express their shock and unanimous condemnation of the accusations brought against Mr. Olivier Duhamel. They wished to expressed their support for the victims of these criminal acts. They also took note of the severity of the resulting crisis for the institution.

More
Plausible Norms of Warfare: Interview with Richard Beardsworth

Plausible Norms of Warfare: Interview with Richard Beardsworth

The December 2020 issue of the European Review of International Studies (ERIS) on the Ethics of War offers an original range of contributions on the norms of warfare. The guest editors—Richard Beardsworth (POLIS, University of Leeds) and Ariel Colonomos (CERI – Sciences Po)—have attracted among the best authors in the field and have co-authored the introduction to the issue, available in open access. Professor Richard Beardsworth, the new director of the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Leeds, answered our questions on the special issue. Interview by Christian Lequesne and François Rocchi.

More
2020 at Sciences Po: Recap of an Unprecedented Year

2020 at Sciences Po: Recap of an Unprecedented Year

All began as usual, with full classrooms, attentive students, hallways humming with many languages, packed schedules, fresh new year’s resolutions. In January, Ban Ki-Moon spoke as a featured guest at the Paris School of International AffairsYouth and Leaders Summit 2020. Then, as part of our climate Make It Work initiative, Sciences Po welcomed traditional Amazonian leaders and Isabelle Autissier [FR], the president of the World Wildlife Fund France to campus. However, in mid-March, France went into lockdown, emptying our university of its students, professors, researchers, and staff. Nonetheless, our essence and mission remained steadfast.

More
Le Havre Campus At a Glance

Le Havre Campus At a Glance

Hosting the Asia-Pacific focus programme of the Sciences Po undergraduate degree, our campus in Le Havre is situated on a wharf looking out on the water while remaining steps away from the city centre.

More
Marie Mawad is the New Dean of the School of Journalism

Marie Mawad is the New Dean of the School of Journalism

As of January 1st 2021, Marie Mawad will become the new dean of the Sciences Po School of Journalism. She succeeds Bruno Patino, President of Arte France, who directed the school for 14 years. Supported by the Executive Director, Alice Antheaume, Marie Mawad will carry out the projects initiated by the school’s academic and audiovisual teams and will have the mission of making the school a beacon of developments in journalism.

More
The Nancy Campus At a Glance

The Nancy Campus At a Glance

A stone’s throw from the city center, the Sciences Po campus in Nancy is nestled in an ancient Jesuit seminary dating back to King Stanislas. It hosts Sciences Po’s undergraduate college programme with a focus on franco-german relations and the political, economic, and social aspects of the European Union.

More
Sciences Po’s Research Magazine Analyses Migration from Multiple Angles

Sciences Po’s Research Magazine Analyses Migration from Multiple Angles

Migration, Diversity, & Mobility, the latest November 2020 issue of Sciences Po’s research magazine, COGITO, covers a timely and important subject. Sciences Po’s Migration and Diversity group, which brings together Sciences Po researchers from multiple disciplines, contributed to the publication. The articles culminate in a multifaceted analysis fitting for migration’s diverse forms. Overall, the publication compiles research that sheds light on migration issues of the past and present, so as to better understand them in the future.

More