EVERY MONTH WE ASK WOMEN IN OUR COMMUNITY TO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH ALL THINGS PERIODS. THIS MONTH WE’RE SO EXCITED TO INTRODUCE YOU TO DEVON.
Name: Devon Lawrence
Occupation: Founder and Principal, Clark Lawrence Consulting, Inc.
Tell us a little more about your journey to doing what you do now
Starting my own company was something I had envisioned for my future, but I always thought it would happen much later in life. My first job was in the NYC art world working at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Like most first jobs, it was a great experience, but no clear path for success. From there I went on to start my career in Development at the Robin Hood Foundation, New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization. That was a great experience and where I learned the best practices around running a nonprofit and how to effectively fundraise. After Robin Hood, I worked in the Development Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art overseeing all Capital Campaign Events and The Met’s luxury travel program. From The Met, I took my first big career jump to be the Development Director at the Lowline, a project to build the world’s first underground park using solar technology to allow trees, plants and grass to grow below the city streets. It was a very interesting project and I learned a lot from the experience, but the project reached a point of hiatus and I was for the first time without any immediate plans in sight. It was through connections that I was introduced to consulting. I never really understood what consulting meant, and then after meeting with people and learning that there is a serious need for nonprofit consulting support and that my skills would be in demand, I decided to start my own company. I work with organizations in need of support with development operations, event fundraising, database systems, and project management. It has almost been a full year and I have had 5 clients ranging in focus from youth-filmmaking to arts and culture to human rights and social services.
Can you fill us in on why you feel a company like ilo is important and what their message means to you:
What makes ilo stand out to me is the focus on community. It is far too often that I talk to other women and whether it’s complications with pregnancy, the real struggle of parenting, annoying periods problems or just the body changes in getting older, there is always a discovery moment of, “I thought it was just me” or “you went through that too?”. It’s insane that women don’t share more about the realities of being a woman and that there isn’t a space or environment for us to share our stories and support one another. To me, that is what makes ilo so special and unique, something I have never seen done by another feminine product brand.
How do you feel about your period -has this changed over the years, did your first experiences affect your thoughts towards it etc?
I am happy to say that I am at a good place with my period, but it wasn’t always the case. Growing up I had terrible cramps and would sometimes get lightheaded and faint. I had to stay home from school frequently and I can remember laying in bed with a hot water bottle and taking Midol just waiting for the pain to go away. I even had one time that my period didn’t stop for 3 months and it resulted in an iron-deficiency. So my youthful period days basically sucked! I would say that by 18-19 my cramps lessened, but I still had to take Midol or drink extra caffine every month and then by my 20’s is when I became regular and rarely have cramping anymore. I can say now that my period and I are friends :)
What’s your first memory of your period and how do you feel it’s affected your relationship with your period over the years:
My mom definitely gave me the low down on periods growing up, so I was well aware of what to expect and what to do if it came on. I think she was open with me each month when she had hers and would share how she was feeling. I definitely remember her telling me stories of when she was younger and how she also got really bad cramps. But a standout memory is when I first got my period when I was 12 and my mom was away from work so I was home with my dad. I went to the bathroom and saw that I had blood on my underwear, but since my mom had had been open with me about it I knew exactly what to do and was not scared at all. I knew exactly where she stored her pads and I nonchalantly went and put one on. I remember going downstairs to tell my dad, who was on the phone with a friend, and he freaked out a little bit and didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t that he was afraid of a woman’s period, but more that a girls first period is a moment that’s usually meant for the mother and he didn’t really know the “right” way to emotionally handle it. I told him to everything was fine, and I said just go out and buy more pads. He came back from the store and said how impressed he was at how well I handled my first period, and then I told him how his reaction was priceless and something I will never forget.
Do you keep track of your cycle and if so what do you use or if not why?
When I was younger I kept track of my cycle by righting a secret code on my calendar. I think I would either do a red dot or a “P” on the day that it was supposed to come on. It’s been a while since I’ve done that, as I’ve been on the pill for 11 years and that has made me regular. At some point, when I am ready to start a family, I will need something to help me track my period and ovulation, so I am very open to an ilo period journal.
Have your periods changed over the years or maybe you haven’t noticed?
My teenage years were terrible with cramps and I wasn’t always regular. During high school and college things were a bit better, but it was always the frustrating not knowing what was going to happen each month. Sometimes it would be fine, and then other times a struggle. Now I’m regular and very rarely do I have cramps, but even if I do it’s slight and maybe only last 1-2 hours.
Do you think it’s important we start to talk openly about our periods and why, if not, why not?:
Absolutely! Women should be more open about being women! We talk about everything else, including emotions, sex, pregnancy and labor, but talking about ones period is almost an after-thought and is only mentioned in passing. There is no need for this and we shouldn’t feel ashamed of anything!
What sort of period products do you use (tampons, cups, free bleeding etc):
I use tampons only. I grew up wearing pads because I had a terrible experience with tampons, but once I switched I have never gone back.
What are you favourite female empowerment accounts on social?
I wish I had an answer, but I don’t follow a single woman for empowerment on IG, which could be telling that there are still women out there who need to be connected to more inspirational women.
FINALLY LIGHTNING ROUND:
When you have your period you feel …healthy..
You crave…heavy and filling.. Food when you have your period.
Favourite song to listen to when your bleeding……………… don’t have one :(
What’s your favourite season of your period and why…I don’t know about a favorite, but I HATE having my period in the summer or on a vacation to a warm place. Having to worry about changing your tampon while wearing a bathing suit and being in the water is THE WORST……………
What’s one thing you can’t live without when you’re bleeding…tampons!!…
How long does your cycle last…3-4 days max.
What are the three things (yoga, breathing etc) that connect you with your cycle: it used to be breathing, but it’s actually a pressure point on your feet that connects to your uterus area. When I was younger and had bad cramps, my godmother taught me about the pressure spot, and ever since then I also rub my ankles together during my period, even if I’m not cramping.