The wildly creative artist and founder of period tracking app, Stardust
Where are you based?
New York City
How did you get into period tracking?
I was on birth control pills for over a decade and I wanted to see what my body was like free of synthetic hormones. I was always having side effects from the pill and was constantly switching brands. So I finally switched to an IUD and without the pill pack reminding me when I’d get my period, I wanted to know when it was coming.
What’s your best vagina story?
In college I started dating this guy and I don’t know if it was our different body biomes, but for some reason I would always get UTIs. We were together for just over two years. The first year I would get a UTI almost every month and go on antibiotics. The antibiotics would often give me a yeast infection and it would repeat the next month. I eventually became resistant to so many of the antibiotics. My doctor told me to go on a low dose of antibiotics every day and it really screwed up my health. During my summer abroad in Prague, my ex came to visit me, I got a UTI and started peeing blood. I went to the emergency room and they didn’t speak English. He said they didn't have an antibiotic I could take in the Czech Republic. So my friend had a brilliant idea to go to the Four Seasons and ask for their doctor. Their doctor (I’ll never forget her name — Dr. Mikuleska) visited me the next morning carrying this Louis Vuitton bag and I thought, “What’s in that fancy bag of yours? Maybe some amazing international antibiotics!” Unfortunately not. She told me she could order the right ones from London, but I was in so much pain that I actually had to fly home to the US to get the one antibiotic I could take. It was such a horror and I had to break up with the guy saying “My body doesn’t like you, I’m sorry!”
How would society be different if people were more comfortable tracking and talking about their periods?
It’s happening in real time. Menstrual health and wellness is far less taboo than ever. We never thought people would share their period tracking on social media but people are doing it, especially Gen Z. I wonder when we’ll see things like paid menstrual leave when you get the first two days of your period off.
A lot of women are uncomfortable bringing up that they’re on their periods so they just stay home from work as “sick”. How do you think that conversation will start to change in the workplace?
With time, I wonder if people will say “I’m on my period” as if they’re saying “I have a cold”. We have this feature where you can share your cycle with friends, but I wonder when it will be okay to share where you are on your cycle with co-workers. There are 4 different phases to the menstrual cycle and each day you have different superpowers and challenges. The first week of the cycle you’re really good at learning new things, you’re better at exercising and you’re more outgoing. The second week, your face is more symmetrical, your voice is higher, your waist is smaller, you’re better at having deep conversations and you’re literally attractive to the world. This one founder told me she only pitches and holds certain meetings the week of ovulation and she notices a real difference. The other myth is that the second two weeks you enter “a dark abyss”. But your left and right hemispheres of your brain are in better communication and you’re more introspective. You’re better at finishing tasks and working during the luteal phase. Ultimately, everything is a cycle. The five day work week and two day weekend is nice for the patriarchy but if you’re able to work within your cycle it’s so much more effective. To be able to work really hard for three weeks and take a week off would be really natural and what your body wants to do.
What’s something you wish your teenage self knew?
I wish Cheeky Bonsai existed! I wish I knew to use natural remedies like D-Mannose instead of chugging cranberry cocktail and being on antibiotics for 3 years straight. It’s also so important to be your own patient advocate and do your research.
In what ways are you unapologetic about your health?
I’m still learning but I’ve really tried to be unapologetic about saying no when I need to rest. I used to suffer from FOMO, people pleasing and had trouble disappointing people. I now work very hard to set boundaries to protect my energy.
What’s your best vaginal health tip?
I believe it’s better to eat probiotic foods instead of taking a probiotic pill. There’s this Sauerkraut from Texas called Cosmic Cultures. It totally restores your microbiome and vaginal biome (not that I put it up there!) but they are definitely connected.
As you started to build Stardust, why did you combine astrology and period tracking?
A few years ago I started practicing Ashtanga yoga. (I’ve since given up because it was way too hard!) My teacher wouldn’t let us practice on new moons, quarter moons and full moons. She also said you weren’t supposed to practice the first two days of your period. So I started to become aware of the moon cycle. I suppose I was always aware that the lunar cycle and menstrual cycle were mathematically aligned, but I never thought very much of it until yoga and meditation introduced me to the concept of manifesting with the moon. I started wondering why there wasn’t a period tracker that tracks your cycle with the moon. The moon in astrology represents the divine feminine, your emotions, yin, everything receiving, darkness, and femininity. Every indigenous culture has made the connection between the moon and the menstrual cycle. They’re each an average of 29.5 days. There’s so much beautiful historical folklore and mythology cross-culture around lunar-menstrual synchronicity.
What’s your sign?
I’m a scorpio and I feel really good about that. I know it gets a bad reputation, but Banu Guler, the founder of Co-Star is also a scorpio and I just feel like I’m in good company with scorpio artists and creators. We’re unafraid to go into the darkness and get really creative.
If your vagina were an emoji, what would it be?