( ENSPIRE She Did That ) How Awesomeliyou Aims To Help Ease Period Distress Of All Kinds
ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabel Strickland
Stains, pains, and a whole lot of wild feelings. For many teens, 13 is the age when they’re just learning how to deal with these challenges that come with their periods. But for Aaliyah Clyburn, 13 was the age when she began trying to fix these challenges. Young Clyburn is the founder of Awesomeliyou, a brand that sells heated, leak-proof period panties of her own invention. Clyburn used her creative interests to design panties that encourage comfort and empowerment for their wearers. Her unique perspective as a teen is to make the panties with consideration for other teens struggling with their cycles.
“I hope my new product brings comfort and relief to my customers. I hope it makes them happy and most importantly confident during their menstrual,” Clyburn said.
In fact, empowerment is what the name Awesomeliyou is all about. It’s an encouraging message to customers that extends just beyond the comfort their panties aim to provide. As Clyburn explains, her mom, who helped her run inspired the name Awesomeliyou.
“My mom always said I was awesome, and she calls me Lili,” Clyburn said. “So the thought behind Awesomeliyou is a combination of the word ‘awesome’ with my nickname Li, and ‘you’ is for you, because you’re awesome too.”
Awesomeliyou panties feature a pocket in which one can place a chargeable heating pad, which is controlled by an accompanying remote. One feature Clyburn was particularly invested in was the extra lining, which makes the panties leak-proof. They are re-washable (after being worn for 6-12 hours), designed to make them a more sustainable option than disposable pads and tampons. Its nude color is achieved with natural dyes, a decision made for wearers with sensitive skin. The panties are made mostly from cotton, designed to be comfortable and breathable while also being elastic. They come in a range of sizes spanning S to XXL, with panties in styles for both teens and adults.
That last feature is one way in which Clyburn brings her unique perspective as a teenager into her Awesomeliyou period products. As Clyburn explains, periods can be especially trying for teenagers, who have not yet learned the tips and tricks adults used to deal with them. They are still learning about their bodies, and menstrual cycles are just one more aspect of puberty that can be stressful and trying.
“Basically, you’re learning yourself and now have to learn about periods. Having a period is uncomfortable for us teens because we have to learn how to wear a pad, remember that you’re wearing a pad and having to change it, the cramps, going to the bathroom and bringing your bag with you, having to go to the nurse at your school to get a pad or lay there because of cramps,” Clyburn said. “It’s a lot for a teen to deal with and it’s uncomfortable, especially if you stain yourself. It’s almost unbearable. Adults seem to forget and have no idea what we have to go through.”
These are struggles Clyburn has of course experienced herself. Staining sheets and seats and cramping up while doing basic errands can all be very difficult, especially when newly experiencing it. Clyburn has spoken many times about her experiences with the uncomfortable, messy realities of menstruation – realities that she aims to ease for others with Awesomeliyou products.
“One day when I was on my period, I woke up and noticed stains on the bed and I told my mom. We changed the sheets and as the day went by I went to my activities and on my way back I noticed a stain on my dad’s car,” Clyburn recounted. “At that point, I knew I wasn’t the only one going through that and wanted to do something about it. And that’s how Awesomeliyou was born.”
Another way Clyburn brings her perspective as a teenager is with her book, So You Have Your Period!, sold on the website alongside her products. The State of The Period 2021 report, compiled by the education and advocacy organization PERIOD. in collaboration with the Thinx period underwear company, found that 76% of U.S. students think they are taught more about the biology of frogs than the human female body in school. The study also found that 74% of students have questions about their periods and that 40% were unprepared for their first period. A 2020 study conducted by researchers at Columbia University gathering the experiences of girls across the U.S. found that “despite many girls having had a basic awareness of menstruation before their first period, they share how the extent and depth of their understanding was limited. In the menstrual stories describing their first periods, many girls reported feeling unprepared about what menstruation would feel like, and how they should practically respond to the blood flow.” Clyburn noticed this in her customer interactions.
“The inspiration behind the book was when my DM was flooded with requests from aunts and dads on how to speak to their child about periods: what to expect, things to do and not do, etc.,” Clyburn said.
So You Have Your Period! is a survival guide for one’s first menstrual cycle(s). It has a lot of things Clyburn herself wishes she knew when her periods started, like how eating habits affect cycles. The cover features a girl yielding Wonder Woman’s golden lasso, her foot triumphantly poised upon the Wonder Woman “W” symbol. Clyburn recalls it was a lengthy and trying process to create the book, with lots of editing that went into the final product.
Clyburn isn’t just an entrepreneur, but an artist and an actress as well. She got to engage some of these creative talents in the Awesomeliyou production process. For example, Clyburn drew up the product designs for Awesomeliyou herself.
“I designed my panties and the logo,” Clyburn said. “The design process wasn’t long because I draw naturally, so it was a couple of bad drawings until I landed on the one I like.”
Between editing multiple drafts of her book, drawing up designs for the panties themselves, and finding a manufacturer for the product with the help of her mother, creating Awesomeliyou took a lot of hard work. But Clyburn did it. As she explains, her youth was never an obstacle to her, but an asset.
“It’s surreal when I think of what I’m doing and the impact I have on people with my product. It amazes me,” Clyburn said. “I don’t think about my age at all cause I feel like I can do anything and I’m not going to let my age stop me.”
Now, Clyburn strives not just to provide other teens with both the tools and education to handle their next period. Clyburn is a reminder that teens don’t just have to suffer through their periods–they can take charge to make them more comfortable for themselves and their peers alike. Or to be awesomeli-themselves.