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A Letter Between Cofounders

Heya! We’ve heard from some friends that they want to know more about our backstory and what we’re up to now. Chica has a unique story, and we want to share it with you, so starting with this post right here, we’ll be sharing regularly about how Chica came to be and what it means to us. The format will resemble a series of letters between the two of us, so you can follow along just as if you were opening our mail. Cheers, happy bleeding and happy reading! 

ELISE: Hey My Chica,

This is the first letter I’m writing to you about our business / current side hustle / dream / baby: Chica Chocolate. It feels a little bit scary and a little bit awkward so I’ll start with an easy prompt: What Chica means to me. Oh my, I just started crying.

Chica is a conversation that began between us years ago. As I remember it, we were 13/14 and hanging out in your living room, when your dad, Marco, suggested that we could sell the jars of ganache that he, as a Chinese medicine practitioner, was mixing herbs into for his patients looking for period relief without the bitter taste of herbs. I liked the idea, a lot, but I didn’t see myself ever being a business owner. Fast forward a few years, and the idea hadn’t stopped being mentioned between us. In June of 2016, we wrote a “Bleeding Lady Power (executive) Summary,” in which you included a promise to transfer cramps to a male politician of choice. Can we keep working on that??? This initial business plan is so close to my heart because I am sentimental about the thrill of writing it with you, and it includes stellar phrases such as, “We are babies. Angel babies … The Future (it’s large and exciting and we are ready … How we gonna run this pussy party.” May we never lose our sense of humor.

Yesterday I made 250 truffles, and they taste delicious!! The Chica truffle is still our most important piece of the puzzle, but we are so much more than a business selling a product. Chica is part of a movement to end the stigma around bleeding and make menstruating less of the excruciating experience that it is for some because we know it doesn’t have to be. I want to encourage everyone to have more open conversations about our periods with our friends, family, and doctors because, for women and all menstruators, our periods are a central reflection of our health. We’re always so damn against talking about them and this negative taboo has harmful effects!! I’ve been learning about how in this crazy diet culture, many women believe that they are not fit/skinny enough until they stop getting their period. I’m not saying that everyone HAS to have a period, there are other factors to talk about, but that is scary!!!

Especially important to my heart and soul is that Chica is also a women-run startup. I cannot wait to start having periods mansplained to us! If anyone doubts that this will happen, let me just pass you along to an article about men trying to “educate” a gynecologist on whether or not she has a “healthy” vagina: My Vagina Is Terrific. Your Opinion About It Is Not. Our culture needs to stop hating on vaginas, and the rest of the parts that come with it. I love my uterus and the tissue that builds up inside it to protect my body from the potential of an invasive fetus that wants to feed off my blood (don’t know what I’m talking about? Listen to this.) It’s not gross, the tissue/blood is actually antimicrobial, so if the cultures of school classrooms could stop telling girls that they need to hide under a rock during their period, that would be great!

Anyways, that is a snapshot of what Chica is to me. What does Chica mean to you?

I MISS YOU so much, I hope South Africa is lovely, please send pics!!!

Love,

Elise

CASSIDY: To My Business Wife and My Partner in Crime,

Do you think we will also contribute to the destigmatization of crying during our journey to destigmatize periods? We will certainly expose our audience to plenty of it. After reading your letter, I’m getting a little teary too.

We’re unusual in this way—as entrepreneurs. We’re very attached to our “baby,” because Chica as the movement, not the product, is not a project we can build and then abandon. It is too important for that. For some, that looks like a weakness; that we are too myopic, too stubborn, too definite. But we are not trying to be serial entrepreneurs, and the success of Chica has infinite significance. The success of this company means a world in which periods no longer have to be a source of fear, or shame, or discomfort. It means a dialogue around menstruation that is inclusive, that holds space for non-binary bleeders and every manifestation of the period experience. It means loving a part of yourself that is—too often—simply a source of pain.

When I spoke to an aspiring entrepreneur that works in the Zamani township of Memel, he asked me why the hell we would build a business around a product that men couldn’t buy. We get that question a lot. From men, or more specifically, men “who don’t listen to women.” (In our next letter, can we puh-lease talk more about mansplaining? I love that article). Maybe he doesn’t know that many of the young women in his township miss school every month because they don’t have access to menstrual products.

For our US readers, this might seem like a distant problem. Like, that doesn’t happen to us here, the worst that might happen is I forget to bring tampons to work and have to ask Karen at the office for one. First of all, that kind of disassociation is toxic. Second of all, it does happen here. Every day. Menstrual products are priced as luxury items, and for many homeless and incarcerated women in the US, pads and tampons are just as inaccessible as they are in Zamani. (Who knows why I’m telling you this, we’re working with the awesome Period Pals Project. I’m just on a roll here).

In response to our male critics, I would say that there is nothing stopping you from buying our chocolate. In fact, if you don’t bleed, this is a chance for you to learn more about periods and support the people in your life who do. I’m personally stoked on the idea of fathers, brothers, lovers, and friends buying Chica as a gift. Periods are a thing. For like half of the world’s population. Deal with it.

I am so excited about this project, and I couldn’t do it with anyone else. What a crazy thing we’ve embarked on, huh?

Big love from across the world (for now),

Cass

Poria

Fungus & Root

Scierotium Poriae Cocos / Fu Ling / 茯苓 Scierotium Pararadicis Poriae Cocos / Fu Shen / 茯神

Poria calms the heart and soothes nerves, helping with anxiety and insomnia. Additionally, Poria drains dampness, an excess of moisture that the body collects in the wrong places and makes us feel heavy and fatigued (hello moodiness).

Chinese Salvia

Root

Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae / Dan Shen / 丹參

Salvia root nourishes the blood and heart, and calms the spirit. Salvia works with Schisandra and Zizyphus in Chica Chill to help relieve insomnia.

Rehmannia

Root

Radix Rehmanniae Preparata / Sheng Di Huang / 熟地黄

Rehmannia root is your Yin nourisher, supporting calm and cold in your system. With its additional ability to help cool blood, increase fluids, and clear heart fire; Rehmannia is a star herb for soothing and preventing heat flashes.

Polygala / Thin-Leaf Milkwort

Root

Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae / Yuan Zhi / 元志

Polygala root nourishes the Heart, and helps soothe nerves and restlessness.

Schisandra / Chinese Magnolia

Berry

Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis / Wu Wei Zi / 五味子

Schisandra berry is famous for featuring all five flavors of Traditional Chinese Medicine: bitter, sweet, salty, sour, hot. This means that Schisandra is completely energetically balanced, promoting overall health and vitality. Schisandra helps relieve night sweats, insomnia, and hormonal imbalances. Schisandra is also rich in antioxidants that are thought to protect from free radicals and other toxins in the environment that may cause cellular damage. 

Platycodon / Balloon Flower

Root

Radix Platycodi / Jie Geng / 桔梗

Platycodon root is a neutral balancing herb, meaning it is not especially Yin or Yang. Platycodon is nourishing for the lungs, which in TCM, is the organ that supports Qi and fluid flow throughout the body.

Scrophularia / Figwort

Root

Radix Scrophulariae / Xuan Shen / 玄參

Scrophularia root nourishes Yin, drains fire, and cools the blood. Scrophularia is particularly soothing for irritability.

Ophiopogon / Dwarf Lilyturf

Tuber

Tuber Ophiopogonis Japonici / Mai Men Dong / 麦门冬

Ophiopogon tuber works with Asparagus to nourish Yin and clear heat throughout the system. These plants also provide moisture and relieve restlessness.

Stemona

Root

Radix Stemonae / Bai Bu / 百部

Stemona root is a balancing herb in the Chica Chill formula. Stemona is nourishing for the lungs, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is the organ that supports Qi and fluid flow throughout the body.

Licorice

Root

Radix Glycyrrhizae / Gan Cao / 甘草

Licorice acts as a unifier, balancing the formula and amplifying the properties of the other herbs.

Zizyphus / Sour Jujube

Seed

Semen Zizyphi Spinosae / Suan Zao Ren / 酸枣仁

Zizyphus seed nourishes the heart and calms the spirit. Zizyphus helps relieve insomnia, irritability, and anxiety.

Ginseng

Root

Radix Ginseng / Ren Shen / 人参

Ginseng root, one of the most famous herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is known for its ability to strengthen Qi and support life vitality. Ginseng nourishes the Heart and calms the spirit, helping reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Acorus / Grassleaf Sweetflag

Rhizome

Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii / Shi Chang Pu / 石菖蒲

Acorus helps relieve internal heat and is a favorite herb for reducing frequent insomnia.

Eucommia / Chinese Rubber Tree

Bark

Cortex Eucommiae Ulmoidis / Du Zhong / 杜仲

Eucommia bark balances the Chica Chill formula by offering Yang properties. Eucommia is also nourishing for the heart, and has been featured in research in Western medicine for its ability to help lower blood pressure.

Angelica / Dong Quai

Root

Radix Angelicae Sinensis / Dong Quai / 当归

Angelica root is sometimes described as the “female ginseng,” due to its fame for supporting a healthy and regular menstrual cycle. Angelica root strengthens blood and energizes circulation. In Chica Chill, Angelica root balances the herbal formula with its Yang properties.

Biota / Arborvitae

Seed

Semen Platycladi / Bai Zi Ren / 柏子仁

Biota seed benefits memory and promotes restful sleep by nourishing the heart and calming the spirit.

Chinese Asparagus

Tuber

Tuber Asparagi Cochinensis / Tian Men Dong / 天门冬

Asparagus root works with Ophiopogon to nourish Yin and clear heat throughout the system. These plants also provide moisture and relieve restlessness.