Thinx founder and former CEO Miki Agrawal is trying to salvage the good name of her period underwear startup.
Agrawal founded the heavily marketed and feminist-branded company, which took over subways with its ads for "people with periods," but stepped down as CEO a week ago.
After her departure, Racked published an account of what it was really like at the buzzy startup: producing marketing that co-opted feminism, with terrible maternity leave policies and other kinds of less-than-feminist workplace behavior behind closed doors.
A lot of criticism also centered on behavior from Agrawal herself: taking credit for others' work, requiring "smiles" and "exclamation points" from her staff, and offering substandard salaries without room for negotiation.
— Shane (@shaneferro) March 14, 2017
This Thinx takedown is an object lesson: you can't use feminism to sell a product & not practice it https://t.co/WUSHec5Q0O
— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) March 14, 2017
Agrawal finally responded to her employees' accounts with a Medium post on Friday afternoon.
"When I started, like any entrepreneur, I was fighting for the life of the company, the clock was against us and I needed to make sure that we didn't close our doors after 1 year like 60%+ of businesses do," she wrote. "I wanted to make sure my employees got a continuous paycheck and our shareholders saw growth. I was maniacally focused on top and bottom line growth and on our mission to break the taboo. And under my leadership, we did it. We got out of the red, we never missed payroll, and we made a name for ourselves in a really tough, taboo category. THINX was on the map."
She continued: "Then, things grew and they grew fast. Hockey stick growth fast. Beyond my wildest dreams fast. Like any Co-Founder/CEO, all I did was the best I could under these crazy circumstances. Yes, I have made a TON of mistakes along the way but I can proudly say that our company has grown from an idea in my head to an innovation that is worn by millions of satisfied women globally in a few short years."
Agrawal also responded to specific complaints about the Thinx workplace by outlining her startup's history with its human resources department, or lack thereof. She said she "didn't take time to think through it" and emphasized the improved policies Thinx has in place now.
She added that stepping down as CEO was the right decision.
"I'm actually more excited than ever to get a 'professional' team in place so we can build this thing to its deserving potential and I can focus on what I do best: shouting from the rooftops about why period underwear is the bee’s knees," she wrote.
Even though she won't be CEO, Agrawal will still be involved in Thinx. A "professional CEO," as Agrawal said she planned to hire, will hopefully make sure that the kinds of complaints employees recounted won't happen again.