We had the good fortune of connecting with Chantil Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chantil, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Pretty Periods was birthed as a direct response to a divine calling from my higher power and ancestors. As a stage four endometriosis warrior, I have navigated many challenges as it related to sexual and reproductive health. Prior to starting Pretty Periods, I never looked at my menstrual health, how I do now. However, once I was able to serve my highest good, I was graced with enough overflow to share my outlook and resources with others, in hopes of shaping a new narrative for Black women and how we view our bodies, our menstrual cycles, infertility, pregnancy and menopause. Pretty Periods is advocacy and activism in motion. Ultimately, Pretty Periods is here so that Black women can feel good about themselves and the sexual and reproductive healthcare services they receive. Black women and how we are cared for tends to be an afterthought in many spaces, here at Pretty Periods, all we think about are Black women, and that’s inclusive of all Black women no matter how you choose to show-up. I started Pretty Periods, because Black women matter, and that’s on PERIOD lol
What should our readers know about your business?
Im proud of the authenticity my business is rooted in. Pretty Periods is what it is because of my lived experiences. Everything from the countless ER visits because of my Endometriosis diagnosis, my fertility woes, at times–body image discomfort, and dislike of my monthly cycle, is what got me here. I wanted to change all of that for myself and other women and that’s what Im doing. It hasnt been easy, but it has been worth. I haven’t always been a transparent person, as Im very very private- my business is my business, especially when it’s personal. However, I saw how advocacy saved my life, so why not speak up even more, and save the life of another. I was able to overcome because my life depended on it, literally, Black women are ignored in medical spaces, I mean look at the maternal mortality rate for us. If I stayed quiet, as the quote says, folk would think I was enjoying my pain, and that was far from the truth. It’s funny, because as a public health professional with over fifteen years of experience in integrated HIV services, I have been advocating for others from the beginning of time, but it was something about speaking my own truth that kept me guarded, Im so glad I got over that. Thats the biggest lesson I learned, getting over myself, because everything in life isnt about me, sometimes its about making it easier for the next person.
I want the world to know Im a champion for Black women and I love everything about my business, its for Black women. I dont seek to outdo or compete with any other brand, or business, I simply hope to be a brand Black women can trust, including business entities that parallel mine. Im such a girls girl, so another reason I started my brand so that Black women in business can come together in the essence of collaboration-Pretty Periods started as a line of luxury subscription boxes tailored to women’s sexual and reproductive health. We want to feature the best Black brands that make women feel good, look, smell good, you name it. Coinciding with a monthly theme, our boxes feature apparel, snacks, stationary, an affirmation card, recipe card, song of the month, self-care goodies, stationary, menstrual care products and more. We started with boxes but now we offer more, from birth working services, capacity building and curriculums, coaching and wellness parties. I want the world to know If it makes Black women live a better life, sexual and reproductive health wise, we are in the business of it!!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Im a quintessential DC girl through and through, with a hint of bad and bougie lol we would definitely get chicken wings with and french fries with Mumbo Sauce on everything because it’s the DC thing to do lol.
Hopefully this visit would take place during Cherry Blossom Season, because I love touring the National Mall around that time, and wouldnt mind lunch outdoors across the water somewhere cute after a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
A visit to DC isnt complete without Brunch. No one does brunch like DC, Pre-COVID speaking. Some Brunch spots are unique in that it goes from Brunch, to Day Party, to Night Time Turn Up!!! You could literally stay in one spot all day, so make sure you wear the right outfit lol There was Park, Bar Code, Gryphon, and Ozios that peaked my fancy. For somewhere chill I would have to say The Beacon.
Im a foodie and love a good cocktail so everything would be planned around those two things. Give me a good French 75, rum punch or swirl from Lauriol Plaza and Im the happiest girl you know lol
I would round out the visit with a trip the National Harbor to hit the Casino, and maybe a quick looksy to see what I see at the shopping outlets and take the water ferry back to the DC Warf, for evening drinks.
No visit is complete without a trip to the Georgetown Harbor because I absolutely love dinner by the water. Somewhere we would have squeezed a spa date in (Baltimore Four Seasons Hotel of course), and hike through Great Falls Park- though its a little outside of DC but the views are worth it.
Dinner somewhere between Mastro’s and The Oceanaire Seafood Room followed by a night on U Street would put a cap on the visit. I love Black people, and it doesnt get any Blacker than U Street.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am nothing without God, we can start there, next I credit my Grandma and her sisters who I affectionally call #DemThomasSisters. When I speak of my ancestors, they are frontline, and they dont play about me.
Then there is my mother is who my biggest supporter ever, she is my best friend even though she “aint one of my little friends” lol Family means everything to me, My mother and my family were very instrumental in the launch of Pretty Periods. They are the unpaid staff and unsung heroes behind Pretty Periods lol Special Shoutout to my oldest Sister Brittany and Sister Cousins Monique, Brianna, and Lauren, and Sister Soror Krysten. I talk to them about everything, they are the first to know what’s going on with Pretty Periods, and giving me input. Its the Cousins group-chat for me, with all of my cousins, they are no doubt one of my greatest supporters. It too many too name, but they know who they are.
Then there are the amazing Black women who’ve poured so graciously into my life professionally, Trina Scott, Joyce Madyun, Patricia Nalls, and Victoria Venable. Four beautiful women who’ve helped shaped my identity as a leader.
Wow, this is harder than I thought, so many people have truly been there for me, and I know I wont capture them all but im just as grateful even If I didnt mention you directly.
Last but not least, my Sister Circles (The many group chats Im in), La Bella Mafia, Shamir and Lindy, and Howard University, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, Hi Angel and Tiffany.
I promise Im wrapping up. Did I mention my Dad, cause he definitely deserves a shoutout too. He offered to sell my menstrual boxes in his barbershop, because “men need to know this stuff and they have wives and daughters” lol he was willing to do anything to see that I was successful.
Im the first to tell men to stay out of women’s business lol but these men deserve to be acknowledge, Daniel, Thomas, Ken, Malcolm and my amazing son Mason. Thanks for being the men behind Pretty Periods.
As wrap up this time for real lol I dedicate this Shoutout to anyone who believed in me, and who loved me. I appreciate you all. This is shoutout is for all Black women– PERIOD!!!
Photographer: Ashleigh Bing Graphic Design Artist: Nina Miller