Thinx — a company that specializes in underwear that absorbs menstrual blood while also neutralizing odor — has been going through some very public turmoil over the past few weeks. On Monday, New York Magazine ran a piece that detailed the sexual harassment claims that have been brought up against the company's former CEO, Miki Agrawal.
According to the report, the former head of public relations for Thinx, Chelsea Leibow, has filed a complaint with the City of New York Commission on Human Rights against Agrawal. In the complaint, Leibow detailed Agrawal's inappropriate behavior, which included discussing and touching her employees's breasts, changing in front of her employees, sharing nude photos of herself with her staff, and other behavior that made employees uncomfortable.
When Thinx launched, it was known mostly for its boundary-breaking advertisements (their ads were the first to say "period" on the subway). Last year, for an article about ending period shame, Agrawal described Thinx's brand to The FADER by saying, "It’s like texting your best girlfriend. Because [Thinx] talks about it without embarrassment, it gives permission to others to talk about it in the same way."
Agrawal continued, saying, "The entire period space has been so tired and so lame... [Now] it’s artful, it’s beautiful, and it’s culturally relevant.”
The sexual harassment claims are just the latest event in the last month's problems for Thinx. On March 10, Jezebel reported that Agrawal would be stepping down as CEO of the company. The report had two sources who claimed that ten people had quit the 30-person company since January.
Four days after it was announced that Agrawal would be stepping down as CEO, Racked published an extensive piece detailing the fraught working environment at the company. Former employees, all of which desired to remain anonymous, gave accounts of Agrawal's leadership methods.
One former employee said that at a meeting designated for the airing of grievances, one employee spoke up about her inability to afford birth control. "I love working here. I love working for women. But it hurts to know that I'm giving my whole life to Thinx basically, like I work all the time, but I can’t even afford birth control. And what does that mean if we're at a feminist company and I can't afford to keep myself safe and protected," the woman told the group.
Agrawal later called the meeting a "coup."
The Racked article goes on to detail the low salaries many employees took, the poor offering for parental leave, and Agrawal's inappropriate office behavior.
In response to the Racked piece, both Thinx and Agrawal herself issued responses to what had, by that point, become a major story.
This company was founded on inclusive, all-embracing principles, and we strive every.single.day. to uphold those commitments to ourselves and all of you. We are nothing without the people who show up, full of heart and humor, to break the period taboo and spark meaningful conversations about women’s health and the LGBTQIA community.
We believe in THINX and its mission. We’re dedicated to each other, and to creating positive, conscious, intersectional impact, within our walls and beyond.
At first i ignored it. It was clearly a one sided story that was not rooted in fact. Then it mushroomed into a classic "media take down". I still ignored it. But then my sweet Asian immigrant parents reached out to me from their trip to Morocco, concerned and upset. Apparently these stories reached them too. (And btw, they are the prototypical parent types who don't follow pop culture or read smut). So I wrote this, not to acknowledge the baseless stories, but to clear my good family name and simply share the truth of what actually happened. Link in bio. Hope you read with an open mind and if compelled, pls share. **this piece is by Miki, the human being, not Miki representing THINX.
In Agrawal's statement, which she published on Medium and titled "MY THINX RIDE," she wrote about she perceived to had happened at the company. In her post, Agrawal claims that her biggest "problem area" was human resources.
"When you’re a start-up and you’re growing and moving so fast... to sit down and get an HR person and think about those things were left to the bottom of the pile of things to get done," Agrawal wrote. "Those things" being parental leave, health insuance, and benefits.
Agrawal also defended the lower-than-average salaries her employees were receiving by promising year-end bonuses. "So if we didn’t offer “market based pay” upfront (#startuplife), they got paid a big bonus on the back end which more than made up for it and gave them an incentive to hustle hard with me," she wrote.
Leibow was reportedly fired five days before her bonus was scheduled to be handed out, and did not receive it. She was offered a severance payment of the same amount, but did not take it because she would have had to sign away her right to legal recourse.
Agrawal is currently staying on at the company as "SHE-EO," according to the statement she gave Jezebel. The company will be hiring a new CEO and someone to head up HR for the company.