Hollywood Stylist Karla Welch is Making Sure Your Period is the Star
On every Oscar or Met Gala carpet, you’ve probably seen Karla Welch’s work — whether you’ve realized it or not. As one of the leading stylists in Hollywood, celebrities have been wearing her work and styles on every red carpet, sometimes two to three styles in one night! But it’s what you don’t see where her hardest work and passion lies. Underwear. Period underwear, to be exact. Welch co-founded The Period Company and spoke exclusively to SheKnows to tell us how she’s trying to change the conversation around periods, help end period poverty, and just make periods easier for all.
With period underwear, Welch, though unintentionally, married fashion and periods. And why did she decide to make period underwear? Welch explains, “My own child got their period really, really early. Like 10 or 11 years old… and I was like, ‘How can this little kid deal with changing their pads?” It was a bit of a nightmare, I was like ‘How can my kid be having a nightmare period? I’m like this strong feminist mom!” She continues, “At the same time, I was looking at my own period, God this is so wasteful, this is gross the amount of garbage that a period occupies… I was bummed out. Nobody’s thought of anything better?”
Welch confesses she knew that period underwear was already on the market. But she says, “It was so expensive, it was for what we call a posh period — for rich women who could afford $40 for a pair of underwear. At the same time, I didn’t think they were really that great.” That was the moment that changed everything for Welch. “I had a real lightbulb moment, to be honest. ‘Oh, that’s what I am going to do with my life. I’m going to completely change the way that people on the planet period.’” And just like that, The Period Company was born. Welch says she and her co-founder, Sasha Markov, wanted to make “sustainable options affordable – and get people to flow.” To make period underwear even more attainable and affordable, Welch and The Period Company have even partnered with Walmart to get period underwear into more hands without the sticker shock.
Welch and Markov decided the star of their company was the period. They didn’t want to come up with some cutesy nickname. They want to end the shame around talking about something that 50 percent of people go through. Period. Welsh explains, “The period is our star. People are always like, ‘Are you going to have ambassadors?’ We have one ambassador, it’s your period. Let’s kind of reimagine that periods are awesome.”
Welsh also confesses she wishes she herself had been spoken to about periods in a better way: “I’m at the end of my period life, if I had been told for the last some 30 some odd years had been told my period was great, I’d have a different relationship with it. And now through period underwear, I have a really kind of remarkable relationship with my period.”
Even though, there was no plan to have official ambassadors, sometimes when you are manifesting periods being awesome into the universe, the universe helps you out. Last year, actress Caitríona Balfe posted an Instagram photo where she was wearing period underwear. It was another lightbulb moment, as most people never talk about the fact that people get periods, much less post about it on social media to your two million+ followers.
Balfe’s honesty and vulnerability opened up a whole new conversation online with her fans. Suddenly, from one Instagram post, people were chatting about what they used to quite simply, period. Balfe raved, “These are not only amazing for a sustainable period but they saved me for my postpartum recovery.”
Balfe wasn’t the only one to wear and post about period underwear. Actress Sarah Paulson and Busy Philipps also posted. Welch’s other career is helping her amplify her other passion. In fact, The Period Company matches donations, and give a portion of the proceeds to organizations that fight period poverty. When Balfe posted, Welch explains, “Caitríona’s got mega fans — I mean we donated like thousands of pairs (of period underwear) that day.”
Ending period poverty is another of her company’s main goals. “There’s such little research done on periods… There’s all this conversation about (women’s) equity, and staying in school… Why aren’t we talking about periods? Like ever?” She adds, “Periods are this huge thing that we don’t talk about, that can really make or break us.”
A stylist by day, and a purveyor of making periods easier for all, Welch is trying to end period poverty, while also marrying fashion and period care. So can we expect to see period underwear in an Oscar or Emmy gift bag soon? Welch likes the idea, and with all of her clients, it’s bound to happen. So you could say, from one red carpet to the other red carpet, Karla Welch is changing what you wear. Maybe even one day, someone will be wearing period underwear on the Met Gala red carpet… and they won’t be ashamed to admit it! One can dream.
May is Period Awareness Month, so celebrate by getting some period underwear and not being embarrassed to say the word, “Period.”
Before you go, check out the period products we love:
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