EPISODE 123

When our guest, Elise Joy, a network news producer, was blindsided by a painful and mean-spirited layoff, she picked herself up and turned it into an opportunity. Actually, it was her two teen-age daughters who helped her write her next chapter. Volunteering at a food pantry, the three of them were shocked to learn that food stamps could not be used for personal hygiene products. The girls put two and two together and realized that they had classmates who were missing school a few days each month because they couldn’t afford the supplies they needed.  An idea was born and a foundation was started, Girls Helping Girls. Period. Their remarkable teen-powered story of reaching out with something so simple yet so essential is an important one. Join us for the full episode.

 

Jodi KatzHey everybody, welcome back to Where Brains Meet Beauty™. I am so excited to be sitting across from Elise Joy. She is the mother of the founders of Girls Helping Girls. Period. which is an organization that Base Beauty and Where Brains Meet Beauty love supporting. Welcome to our show.
Elise JoyThank you so much. I'm thrilled to be here.
Jodi KatzI called your title, the mother of, but you do a lot of things, but I want to honor the girls.
Elise JoyI appreciate that. I am in fact the executive director now, but please by all means, my daughters are fantastic. So thrilled to honor them as well.
Jodi KatzYou came in the room and you said you were pissed off at something that happened in Florida, so I want to hear about it.
Elise JoyLet's start there.
Jodi KatzYeah.
Elise JoySure. I was reading this morning that there is legislation pending in Florida. It's been proposed in Florida to require products, pads, tampons be available in school bathrooms, which on the face of it sounds fantastic. Except in the legislation, there's a line that says the products, the monies can be gotten through grants or through community groups like mine. I feel so strongly that the school board, if we want these ... if the legislature recognizes that products should be available in schools ... You can't recognize the problem and say that we need to do this, but then not take on the responsibility for paying for it. Schools shouldn't have to turn around and go find grants or find groups like mine. In fact, I have made it part of just our mandate that we don't donate to schools who won't also fund it themselves. We'll help you pick up the gap. Sometimes it can be costly, but it's really not that costly.

Can you imagine if we had legislation that said, "Toilet paper is required in the school bathrooms, everybody bring your own or go find a grant to pay for the toilet paper." We would never do that. I just think you've got to put your money where your mouth is. If you recognize it's an issue to the point where you're going to propose legislation, then put the couple hundred thousand dollars behind it in the school districts across your state. It's really not a huge amount of money, and solve the problem.
Jodi KatzSo as executive director, tell us what Girls Helping Girls. Period. is?
Elise JoyWell, it started out just as a project that my daughters and I were doing to help a local food pantry. We just started collecting products to donate to the food pantry because we had heard that these products are not covered by SNAP. We were horrified by that, and we started doing a little bit of research in our town and found that in fact in our own school district, which is middle income, there were very high income people there. There were people in our own school district who were leaving school, missing school, not coming to school because they didn't have the products they needed. We thought that was crazy.

We did this one project. It was so well received that we asked some friends to do similar kinds of things, and within a couple of months we had 50,000 products in our house. It was overrun with products. It smelled very fresh in my living room for a long time.

After we gave away all those products we just said, "We can't not keep doing this." It made such a difference to the people we helped because we gave the products, not one at a time, but we did our best guess at what a year's supply was. The families we gave them to were so touched. It just took a huge problem off their plate for a whole year. We just kept collecting. In time we collected enough money and enough products that we felt like we needed to create a nonprofit, and Girls Helping Girls. Period. was born. We give away maybe half of our products in the ... still in the one year supply. A lot of our clients now are in shelters. They are in elementary schools. We have students as young as, we have a second grade client now, couple of third grade clients.

We give away a lot in schools, but we've just feel like with the younger students, we don't want to give them a year supply of product and ask them to manage it on their own. We don't know how involved their families are. We work with many school districts to give away products in the way they feel works best for their students. We work with two universities and through their food pantries, many other community food pantries and social services agency agencies. Since 2015, we've given away about 600,000 products.
Jodi KatzWow. How old were the girls when you started working on this project?
Elise JoyEmma is 19 now and in college, so she was about 14. Quinn is 16, a junior in high school, so she was 11. Yeah, and it was really remarkable actually because it was pre-menstruation for one of those girls. Sorry. She still was all in. She understood the issue. She felt really strongly about it. We found that at her middle school, so did the students and the staff; but one of the greatest things was the number of boys who supported her when we started doing this. They were all in. We had a logo made for ourselves and a friend gave us that as a gift, and we had stickers made. The boys took the stickers and put them on their skateboards. We just thought that was the coolest thing, because there is such a want for education from everyone: those who are without, those who have, but don't realize that there are so many people in every community across the United States who are in need of our help.

The boys who are not getting the education that they knew need to support all of the population, the men who visit the food pantries where we go, who when we offer products ... I work with translators at these food pantries so we can talk in their language about whether they have someone in their home who would benefit from feminine hygiene products. They kind of sometimes look at me with a blank stare. When I open the bag and I show them what it is, still a blank stare. These are grown men who have families. There's just a lot of education that needs to be done. We're happy to be working on that.
Jodi KatzI love the notion of this in its simplest form because as a woman who gets a period, I know that the best thing I can do is be prepared, right?
Elise JoyYeah.
Jodi KatzBecause if you're not prepared, you know what those days look like and it's not pretty. What you're doing is you're giving somebody not just the tools they need, but the confidence to know that they'll be prepared.
Elise JoyThat's right, yes.
Jodi KatzBecause I don't know why we walk around or, I mean this is the way I used to and I'm starting trying to stop doing it, like hiding my tampon or hiding my pad as I'm going to the bathroom. I'm a woman. I get a period, like there's this ... This is not a big surprise. I love the fact that you're empowering women and giving them more control over how they deal with life.
Elise JoyYeah. No one hides the toilet paper when they go buy that at the grocery store.
Jodi KatzRight.
Elise JoyI am finding now that with my daughters and with their friends, they don't do what we used to do. We all had the trick of like you know stuffing the tampon up our sleeve.

How many times did the tampon actually fell out because you got stopped in the hallway, and you forgot it was there, and then you went to walk and you're like, "Oh that's mine." They're much more open, which is really fantastic. There's recent study that came out that said with each generation something like 84% of generation, what's the last one, Z, are comfortable talking about it, talking about sexual reproduction. They feel that it is important that men be included in the discussion as well.

The millennial, I'm trying to think of the generations. Millennials, it was something like 75%. I go back a little bit farther than that. We were not talking about this. We were all hiding this in school. We wouldn't talk about it with ... Maybe with a boyfriend or maybe with my dad. I didn't have a problem asking my dad to go get products. But now it's just very much out in the open in some communities, not everywhere. It's definitely, I think a cultural thing. But I think the more we talk about it, the more it just kind of numb, and that's not a bad thing. We're numb about talking about toilet paper. Who cares? It's just you do, you get it. It shouldn't be a big deal.
Jodi KatzRight, we see dancing bears on TV commercials.
Elise JoyYes, yeah. Those dancing bears tackle a really sensitive subject in a goofy cartoon way. I'm not sure I necessarily need to see that on television with tampons and pads, but certainly we can't ...

We shouldn't have to worry about saying, "Oh, I've got to go to the store and get them," and anybody should care.
Jodi KatzRight. I wanted to let people in on the fact that I know you personally. I'm in your community. We see each other around. I'm super happy to bring this story to the podcast because I love the work that you're doing with your daughters.
Elise JoyThank you.
Jodi KatzI think it's so important. Not only are you helping people with filling an essential need, but you're also reducing the stigma around these things that we're talking about, which is like these are our human bodies, this is the way they work. We should feel free and open about them.
Elise JoyAnd thank you, you have been a supporter from the very beginning when you first ... We were just starting when you approached us and offered to mentor the girls in marketing. You were so helpful and so inspirational. It's like one of the girls was babysitting the other day and she was the big girl with the little girl. She was like a rock star.

I think the girls were like, "This is somebody who lives in the world of marketing." You were so generous with your time in helping them at the beginning, it gave them a lot of confidence, and your company has been so supportive of us. We appreciate it very much.
Jodi KatzWell, I want to talk about you now if that's okay.
Elise JoyOkay.
Jodi KatzBecause you've had a really interesting career, and you probably would not have known that it would lead to executive director of an organization [crosstalk 00:09:20] that focuses on periods, so I'm taking you back to the newsroom.
Elise JoyYeah. I had every intention of being a veterinarian. That did not work, but I do have the cutest cockapoo ever. That's my attachment to that. Yeah, I had a really fantastic experience in school where I had two really influential professors who pushed me in a direction. One in particular pushed me in the direction of learning, public speaking. He encouraged me to get an internship, and then he helped me apply to journalism school, which was something that was never in the cards for me. I hadn't even thought about television news. It had not occurred to me. I got into a really great school. I went and got a master's degree at the University of Missouri broadcast journalism program, and started out anchoring and reporting.
Jodi KatzWhat market were you in?
Elise JoyI was in Syracuse. I was in Columbia, Missouri where the school was, and I worked for KBIA radio, an NPR affiliate and KLMU, the NBC affiliate there; and a shout out to my people in a mid Missouri. Then I went to Syracuse as a producer, but I was able to fill in a little bit anchoring, reporting when they needed, which is where my heart really was. I wanted to do investigative reporting. I was really into law, criminal justice, but very quickly I saw that I was actually a good producer. I think others saw that as well. I was a perfectly fine anchor reporter, but I was a good producer. I had the ability to hear 12 things at once, and do 40 things at once, and be listening while talking, and doing those kinds of things.

I did well there. I had a fantastic mentor in the executive producer at that station in Syracuse and I went to New York two and a half years in looking for an associate producer job in New York wanting to get to New York, and I spent an entire day at WNBC interviewing for an AP job, and by the end of the day they had offered me a editorial director of the six o'clock news and producer of the six o'clock news.
Jodi KatzHow old were you at this time?
Elise JoyI was in my late 20s, 27 maybe? 27. I was younger by decades than the person I was taking over from. It was a really difficult learning experience for me.
Jodi KatzWhen they offered you the job were you're like-
Elise JoyOh my God, actually no. My mother will probably laugh to this day. I said, "Oh, thank you so much. I'd love to think about it."

I went home, I called my mom and she said, "Are you crazy? They just offered you so much more than what you were making. What is wrong with you?" I was like, "Well, I can't call them now. It's like eight o'clock at night." She said, "You track them down."

I'm like, "Okay, cool. Okay." In the morning I accepted the job. I had while I was in town, I had also interviewed at what was going to be MSNBC, and hadn't heard back from them and in the meantime, took this job at WNBC where I was for two years. I worked with Sue Simmons, and Chuck Scarborough, and Al Roker, and had a fantastic time. I loved it.
Jodi KatzWait, did you say six o'clock news?
Elise JoyI did the six o'clock news for a year and then I did the five o'clock news, which was an hour, which was actually sort of a promotion because it was a longer newscast. I did that for an hour. Then I hooked back up with the person that I had interviewed with at MSNBC.

He came a calling and said, "We could really use a senior producer over here in the morning. What do you think?" I went over there and I started going getting up at one o'clock in the morning because I had to be in by about three. My staff came in at five. We were on the air at six. That was a long two year slog, but maybe some of the best time in my career. I was free to do all the breaking news. The Today Show was on, and then MSNBC when it launched was kind of the ... a little bit deeper dive on what the Today Show was doing, but live guests, and things were crashing and burning, and all the things that were happening. I was responsible for six hours of live programming. It was chaos every day.
Jodi KatzWait, so this is the time period where we started to see the breaking news banner at the bottom of the screen.
Elise JoyVery, very, very beginning of that. Yeah. At the time, it was all new. We were making it up every day. Our editorial director constantly ran into the control room to go, "Uh, let's try this." I mean literally, "Uh, take their jackets off. I think it'd be be more casual if their jackets were off. Okay now loosen his tie. Now we're going to stand on stools. Now we're going to stand."

We were making everyday with something crazy, but we were very aware that we were figuring it out on the air. It was this brave new world, and it was exhausting because no one ever slept because even though the regular news cycle when you're doing a six o'clock news never stops, it does. It does stop. You're on the air for like a couple of hours a day in the morning, maybe a noon newscast, and a six o'clock, and an 11. This was 24/7 and we were all trying to figure it out. We all had come from local news and we were all trying to figure it out.

Even when I got up at one, I was there at three. I was off the air at 12. I planned until about five. I went home, watched nightly news at 6:30. I had a call with the assignment desk at like seven, and then I crashed at eight but I had to be back up at midnight. It was crazy.
Jodi KatzDid you have kids at this time?
Elise JoyI didn't. I didn't. I did it for the first two years before I had Emma. I actually almost had Emma at MSNBC because I was like a hundred months pregnant in the control room at MSNBC. I remember everybody saying, "Please go on maternity leave. You're making us very nervous." But the doctor said, "No, you're fine. Go work. You're fine. You'll get to the hospital." And I did, and it worked out fine.

When I came back from having maternity leave, I decided that schedule was not conducive to breastfeeding, and sleeping, and surviving. They were just launching a long form group at MSNBC. They were fantastic filmmakers associated with this group, but they didn't necessarily have the right team to get them on the air quickly. Filmmakers like to have six months or a year or two to put their one hour together. I was used to coming in at nine o'clock and if God forbid a plane drops out of the sky, you get something on the air immediately. I worked with them to crash and did that kind of stuff and did special projects for the first two years or so that I was there; maybe the first year I was there.

September 11th changed everyone's world, including the world of 24 hour news. We went to all live news, all just all about everything that was happening in our world and the long form programming that we were doing, which covered everything from terrorism to cosmetic surgery. We were all over the place. All of that stopped, and we went back to being live.

I actually for probably six months, I guess, I ran the graphics department because they just needed another editorial voice in the graphics department because sadly so much graphic stuff was coming through the newsroom. Eventually that group was reformed, very small. It had been a very, very large team and there were two of us who stayed of, I think there were almost 80 people. There were two of us who didn't lose our jobs, sadly, because the other people were ... They just did different things. They were long form filmmakers and that was not the mission anymore.

We did some live specials. We did some really big specials with all the big NBC anchors. We did two hour specials that were live on cutting edge, cutting edge medical technology, digital technology. In fact Jeff Bezos before ... when Amazon was just starting to sell books. What came in was a guest on our show where he talked about like, "I have a vision for a different kind of Amazon." We were like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever."

Jodi KatzThat's so funny. I just told my kids the other day, I'm like, "Guys, did you know when Amazon started, they just sold books?"
Elise JoyYeah, "Books, what are those?" Yeah, so we did some big shows. We talked about Wall Street and investing. Then we settled back into doing long form programming, more documentary programming, some theatrical releases. I helped launch a development group at MSNBC, and became the director of development while also executive producing some of the programs.

One of the assignments that I was given was to see if I could get anywhere with a show that had been started. I think there were 10 or 11 episodes before September 11th of a show called 'Lockup.' It was a prison documentary series that was one offs in different correctional facilities. They just said, "See what happens. See what you can get." I ended up doing 250 episodes.
Jodi KatzOh my gosh.
Elise JoyFour spinoffs. We traveled to ... I don't actually remember anymore how many countries, but we were in 55 maybe different facilities in the United States, and state facilities and local jails. That's really, while I did some amazing theatrical releases as well, some bigger films that I love and I'm really proud of, the fact of the matter is I helped develop those but there were fantastic filmmakers attached to those. 'Lockup' really became my baby along with a fantastic team, and I'd name them but they all know who they are. I'm going to leave someone out and feel terrible.

While at the beginning I feel like it might have been entertainment for some people, and I think all the way through it might've been entertainment for some people. It's a bit voyeuristic. I recognize that. I have a background in journalism that I'm very proud of. I have a background in criminal justice. I'm really proud of having studied at a journalism school. My undergrad is in government.

I worked with a team of journalists. We had a fantastic team at NBC in standards and legal that made sure every show was like completely buttoned up and was something we could really be proud of journalistically. I say that only relative to a lot of the other shows out there that were more entertainment.

I don't think you'd watch one episode of 'Lockup' and say, "Oh my gosh, this is the paragon of journalism," but I do think that in 250 episodes, we were able to shed a spotlight on the warehousing of young black men, on the lack of mental health resources for so many people who end up in jails, which are not the right facilities for them. Especially in juvenile justice, we did a bunch of specials on juvenile justice, and went into some maximum security juvenile facilities. I'm really proud of the spotlight we were able to shed on those issues over the long haul.
Jodi KatzLet's go back to your time working like 24 hours a day.
Elise JoyYes. 25. It was 25, Jodi.
Jodi KatzYou were early in your career, but did you know in that time that this was insane and you couldn't do this for a really long time, or were you like, "This is great?"
Elise JoyNo, I thought this was great. I think television producers, particularly 24 hour news producers, we have some genetic mutation that allows us to like never sleep. It's very ... I am not a surgeon, nor am I a rocket scientist, but I imagine in both of those fields you have to just be able to just keep going and going and going. There's definitely some mutation to news producers who just never get tired. There's always another story. It's a rush.
Jodi KatzRight.
Elise JoyBut I got to a point when I moved over to long form, I got to a point where I looked back and had many opportunities to move to other networks, or even my own, where I didn't want to go back because I didn't really love the direction it was going in. I really don't like it today. It upsets me greatly. I feel like we are ... I don't think I'm shedding any light that we don't get along so well in our country today, and I think that those things are encouraged on television news. I think now we've got a right leaning news and we've got a left leaning news. I think at the time there was just objective news, which is what I wanted to do. We encouraged our guests to argue with each other, but it became ... It was respectful for a while, but then it became literally what we called food fights, and that became really distasteful to me. It was great TV.

I understand why people say, "Oh, it's great TV." These are businesses as well, but you reap what you sow. I think we're kind of there now, and I'm sad for where ... I'm really sad for where it is. So many journalists are doing amazing, amazing work today. I'm so proud of the field that I went into in all media. There are so many talented producers, and anchors, and writers at NBC and MSNBC. I am very proud to call them my friends to this day, but the medium itself has become this thing that I feel like kind of got away from us. Or you go into a meeting and you just forget to look at the world around you and what's becoming. I think that's where we are.

I'm happy to be doing a lot of work that's more community service based, including Girls Helping Girls. Period.. I volunteer places. I just recently, this summer actually got a certificate in college advising for underserved communities, and I'm hoping to help anyone who needs that kind of help. I guess maybe it's my way of like assuaging some of the guilt. I've always been a good community servant, I'd like to think so. But there's so much great work to be done. We're just living in a really difficult time. My friends who are in that newsroom are working really, really, really hard.
Jodi KatzHow did you make the decision to pivot from the news world?
Elise JoyIt was made for me. I was laid off about four years ago in a very ... I literally five seconds before it happened, I had absolutely no idea it was happening. I was very much blindsided. I was working on a million different projects. My layoff affected a lot of people. It affected that 'Lockup' group, all of whom, they lost their jobs as a result. They may be still working for the production companies they were working for, but that show eventually went away. It's on in reruns still, and eventually unfortunately that department shrunk, too. There are a few people, few amazing souls still working in that department. We keep in really good touch.
Jodi KatzIs that the first time you were laid off?
Elise JoyIt was the first time, which is really unusual. I had worked for like 22 years. I don't know anyone in television news who hasn't been laid off many times. I was really super lucky. I'm very aware of that.
Jodi KatzDo you remember what the person said to you?
Elise JoyI do, "We're going in another direction. Your services are no longer needed." Yeah. I think about it every single day because it was so cold and so harsh. I had spent 19 years at NBC, and had literally almost given birth on the floor twice. It was a hard way to handle me. You can hear it in my voice, but I fully recognized it was the voice of one person and the person that person ... the people that person worked for and absolutely not the voice of my team, who were really devastated. A couple of them left. We still have like plans where we are all going to somehow ... We get to back together all the time. We have a couple of reunions a year. They've all come out to my house a million times. I would love to work with a couple of them, and I'm working on some plans with two of them. But yeah, it was devastating.
Jodi KatzWhat was the most painful part about it? Was it the surprise? Was it-
Elise JoyThe surprise was really awful because you know, this is somebody I'd worked for, for a very, very long time, who I had supported through a lot of change in their life, and had worked tirelessly to allow them space to deal with some personal stuff that was not the way ... That was just not a really humane way to deal with it. So the surprise was really terrible.

I think the hardest part has been, and I'm doing fine now. The hardest part was just that ... I don't know. I don't know that I ever dreamed of how I would retire or the retirement party I would have, or the whatever, but it made it so that I was told I could leave that moment.

I said, "I have like literally two teams in prisons right now. I'm not leaving them, that's crazy." And I had a team of people that were working with me in New York. They allowed me to stay as long as I felt I needed to stay to hand over everything, which was very kind. I appreciated that. I spent another month, but I can't spend another month coming in every day having to face this person who wouldn't look at me, which was cowardly and I feel bad. In the end they were like, "Let's throw you a party."

I'm like, "This is not party worthy. I just need to quietly go away," and I just never got to say goodbye. That was horrible. That is like ... I think managers really need to think about the fact that we've worked so hard. Just a nice goodbye. A hug would have been nice. This person got up and walked out of the room.

It was just like, "Are you kidding me? I've been in your office where you've cried. I've been in your office where I've cried. We've gone through like deaths, and births, and marriages, and divorces. This is crazy." It was crazy, crazy way to handle me. It just was all very legal and sterile.
Jodi KatzHave you seen this person since?
Elise JoyNo. Probably best I really ... In all these years, I can't formulate what I would do. I can't. I can't even.
Jodi KatzCan I suggest something?
Elise JoySure.
Jodi KatzBecause I've been laid off like a lot of times, probably too many to count, and fired, and whatnot. I've also had to layoff people, which really sucks.
Elise JoyYeah, I've been on that side, too.
Jodi KatzThere's no great way to do it. You were amazing, and I'm sure you're incredibly talented at producing many different types of things. This person was probably as uncomfortable as you were. She's human, and we are not perfect. Right. It might be that this was maybe even more painful on her side.
Elise JoyMm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I can't imagine it was easy. I can't imagine it was easy, but a card afterward, or a phone call.
Jodi KatzYeah, but you know what? We're not perfect, right? She might actually in five years send you a note. It might take her that long, it may take her longer. But I feel like if, as kind of silly as it sounds, if we can have compassion for the people on the other side of these conversations, it makes it a little less painful.
Elise JoyYeah, absolutely. Absolutely. In all the other work that I do, you're really right. I think the reason that my daughters have founded this organization, that's sort of fantastic and working on similar issues in their own schools now is because we all as a family recognize that you have to have compassion for everybody around you. They're really great about doing that. So I see it. I see your point.
Jodi KatzYeah. I think I've had a lot of really interesting, very intimate conversations like this on the podcast before, and I just try to borrow everything I've learned in 12 years of therapy, and two years of business coaching, and like all the other people around me who've helped me.
Elise JoyYeah.
Jodi KatzWhen I just stop and pray for people who frustrate me, like pray to whatever God you're into, universe, the forest, whatever. Like the forest, please let the goodness in this person grow. It takes like the edge off of me.
Elise JoyYeah, absolutely.
Jodi KatzOr if I can just be compassionate for like, "Oh okay, the train's late." Well what about like having compassion for like all the people who work for New Jersey Transit.
Elise JoyOh yeah, yeah.
Jodi KatzJobs are not easier because they were trains full of people. I try really hard to let go some of my pain by feeling compassion for the people around me.
Elise JoyYou're so good.
Jodi KatzI try.
Elise JoyYou're so good, yeah.
Jodi KatzBecause I want to smile through the day.
Elise JoyAbsolutely, absolutely. Actually it's why I have ... I really have put that behind me and have been able to grow Girls Helping Girls. Period. while Emma has gone off to college and Quinn is now a junior in high school and drowning in her own junior in high school thing.

I'm thrilled that I've had the opportunity to now work full time. I don't do it full time, but I'm now the full time executive director and have been able to really grow what we do, and work with so many more partners because I've had the time to do it and I'm really at age 51, looking at my life in an entirely different way than I did at 45. I think about the commute. I don't actually want to spend three hours ... Sorry, but I don't want to, I know you have to. I don't want to spend three hours everyday on the train.
Elise Joy
Jodi KatzWell, I choose to.
Elise JoyExactly.
Jodi KatzRight. I choose to.
Elise JoyYeah.
Jodi KatzI choose not to do it every day also.
Elise JoyYeah. I have chosen the people I like to interact with, the types of things that I like to do. We're starting to think about like where might we live if not in our community now after our kids are gone? do we want to stay? Do we want to go? What kind of life do we want to build for ourselves that doesn't have to be 25 hours, eight days a week?

I didn't have the opportunity to step out of that at all when I was working, at all. I had a great perspective, but I had no perspective on my own personal life at all. I've really had time to think and put some things in order, which including taking that class this summer and getting certified in college advising wasn't something I would have ever had time to do. I loved doing that.
Elise Joy
Jodi KatzI think that when you're in a career where people are so ambitious, like you're surrounded by such ambitious people all the time, it's really hard to see beyond that.
Elise JoyAbsolutely.
Jodi KatzThat's how when I was working at advertising agencies, I was surrounded by like super ambitious advertising people. I had to play along because this is my cohort, even though I'm like, "I really don't care who just won the whatever business." It really didn't matter to me, but you just sort of get pushed along on this train.

You really have to put your feet down, put your hands out and say, "Stop. I want to like see what else is around here."
Elise JoyYeah.
Jodi KatzSometimes the universe does it for us.
Elise JoyYeah.
Jodi KatzSometimes we don't get to choose.
Elise JoyYeah.
Jodi KatzIt's so interesting to me as you talk about your past, the things you studied, the things you worked on early in your career. What you're doing right now is so linked to everything that you've done. Everything through Girls Helping Girls. Period. is really just an extension of all that work.
Elise JoyIt is. It is. I'm getting to do a lot of actual design work, in a way, marketing. I'm writing a lot. I'm dealing with legislation a little bit, just from afar. We have people on our board who are dealing with that. But yeah, I really taken everything that I've learned in journalism and applying it to this. It's a great outlet.
Jodi KatzAnd you produce every day. You're a producer.
Elise JoyYes, I do. Yes. Yes, I do. Much to my family's chagrin because that is the first thing my husband and my children yell back at me like, "Oh my God, can you stop producing everything?"

I'm like, "I literally can't do it." I produce every day of our lives. That's one of those things that I'm trying to focus on now is just take a breath. So you don't get there on time. So it doesn't all look perfect, and it turns out it's just fine. It's just fine. It's actually sometimes a lot nicer.
Jodi KatzYeah, perfectionism's a tricky thing. We could spend hours on that one.
Elise JoyYeah.
Jodi KatzSo my last question for you before we wrap up. What are your goals for Girls Helping Girls. Period? What does the future look like for the organization?
Elise JoyWell, I'm in the process of working with several school districts in and around where we live. The Newark school district being the largest, most significant of all of them. We worked with them last year trying to get something some more in place with them. Our commitment really is to anybody who's in need. We have started working with people across the country from various issues, but I would ... I'm really focusing. Happy to help far away, but really want to feel like we made a dent where we are.

I'm hoping in the next couple of years, the Newark school system can send everyone who needs a backpack home for the summer so that they don't have to freak out, that they're not in school being able to get pads, or there's enough of a supply in everyone's home over the weekend that coming to school Monday is not a question.

The logistics of doing that with a hundred and probably 30 or 40 schools in the area in our county is tricky. We have learned every school does things their own way. We're trying to figure that out, but I'd like to have that in place. I would really like to continue to support ... We haven't talked about the sales tax on the products, but I would like to continue helping and working with the people who are working to to end that sales tax in the 35 States where it still exists because it's just a reminder to people every day that things aren't equal. It's just a few pennies, but it's just inequitable. That's something that we're focusing on as well.
Jodi KatzOur listeners are individuals, but they're also people who have a seat at the table at corporations. How can individuals or corporations help?
Elise JoyWell, a couple of things. If you're an individual and you've got say, $100 to spend, it's very easy to go on any of the online warehouse stores. We really liked Boxed. They've been fantastic partners of ours. They do not tax, regardless of where you live, they will not tax menstrual products, which we think is fantastic. With a hundred dollars, you could buy enough pads and liners to put in little maybe sandwich bags with a note inside, maybe 10 of each: 10 pads, 10 liners. You could make 50 bags and offer them to a school in your area that might need, and send them home on the holiday break with people who need to take them home over the holiday break because some of us take it for granted, but that 10 days is really fraught for some families. That hundred dollars also can support actually probably four or five people if you're buying it in bulk for whole year.

If you're a corporation, it doesn't matter if your employees are of means or not. The product should be everywhere. There are ways of managing them. There are machines that allow you to not take more than one at a time. We just need to say in our culture that taking care of yourself. Yeah, if you need to go to the bathroom and you need toilet paper, fine. You need these other products, fine. Then you can get back to work, and that doesn't have to be a something that takes you away from what you're doing. It's just a very subtle signal that we respect who you are.

On a much larger scale, we love partnering with corporations to get products in places that they feel are important. We've had some amazing corporate partners and have done some really fantastic work. We participated in the back to school period, poverty free period with Always and were able to help hundreds of students we wouldn't normally have been able to help because Always helped us do that. We're always looking for partners and they don't have to only be feminine hygiene, menstrual product partners. We can partner with any kind of business that wants to make an impact, which is something we've done with yours as well.
Jodi KatzWell, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and story with us today.
Elise JoyThank you, Jodi. I really appreciate your giving people, women, a voice in this kind of way, and for recognizing my daughters, who mean the world to me. I know they mean a lot to you too. Thank you.
Jodi KatzWe did try to get your daughters on the show. We just had a little scheduling problem over the summer.
Elise JoyYeah, school, you know, school. Now they're back in school.
Jodi KatzThank you for listening. If you enjoyed this show, please follow us on Instagram @WhereBrainsMeetsBeautyPodcast and subscribe to us on iTunes. Thanks Elise.
Elise JoyThank you.
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