Inseam: Pyramid Seven
Firstly, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Zipporah Jarmon and I am an artist, designer, and business owner. I was born and raised in the Chicago area, and have a BFA in Graphic Design. I worked in a variety of capacities as a graphic designer before I decided to take the leap and start a business.
I own Pyramid Seven LLC, an underwear brand that makes boxer briefs for periods, not gender.
What encouraged you to start this business? Did you see something missing in the queer community/ or in clothing stores in general?
The business started from my own feelings of dysphoria that arose from having to wear feminine underwear during my period, more so than a lack of options for people in general. That being said, the more people I talked to, the more I realised that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. I even did a casual survey on a number of different Facebook groups, and there was an overwhelming response from other people who menstruate that they needed a product that was affirming, comfortable, and period-friendly. Ultimately, our boxer briefs were designed to fill a hole in the underwear market - a hole that exists because there are communities that are ignored by mainstream manufacturers - even if it all started from an experience I thought I was alone in having.
Running a small business is hard enough as it is, but starting something that doesn’t adhere to our society’s gender binary adds another layer of complexity. What were some of the challenges that you ran into since you’ve started Pyramid Seven?
Starting and running a small business is by no means an easy thing to do, especially when you’re making a product that inherently defies the gender binary! I am a graphic designer, not an accountant or a lawyer or a seamstress, but starting a business means that I have had to wear a bunch of different hats and learn how to do it as I go. I am fortunate that I do know some accountants and lawyers and folks with the expertise I need, but it has been a challenge to have to learn so many different things. The other huge challenge in starting any business is securing capital. There have been real financial hurdles since we first began developing our boxer briefs, but the solutions we have developed have often turned into the things that make us stand out.. For example when we were starting out we didn’t have the money to have our fabric dyed by the supplier. Our solution was to hand dye all of our fabric here in Chicago, and that has become something we’re really proud of. When it comes to smashing stereotypes about gender and periods, we have definitely had to strike a balance between amplifying the voices of queer (especially TGNC folks) people and not turning into the spokespeople for all LGBTQ people everywhere. We are lucky to have many teachable moments, and broaden the conversation around menstruation and gender, because we acknowledge and celebrate people, regardless of their identity, who have periods.
Is there any particular significance to the name “Pyramid Seven”?
There was definitely a bit of a process to come up with the name Pyramid Seven. I approached the naming of the company the way I would approach creating a logo for a client. First, I started thinking about the uterus, and noted that it is loosely in the shape of a triangle. I put my graphic designer skills to work and quickly transformed the simple triangle to a pyramid. Next, I started thinking about a menstrual cycle. In some aspects of numerology, the number seven is associated with a complete cycle. The average period lasts 5-7 days. Choosing the number seven gave us our own complete cycle in a way, and thus Pyramid Seven was born.
Have you had to mitigate negative responses/ feedback from folks that don’t understand that menstruation is a gender neutral concept? Did you get the response you were expecting from the public?
We were prepared for a lot of the positive feedback, since our product is needed but lots of folks, and we hoped that they would be as excited about it as we are! We were also prepared for some negative feedback from people that don’t get why our product is needed, but we weren’t prepared for the amount or kind of negative feedback we’ve received. In order to navigate and mitigate that negativity, we are selective in when and to what we respond. We are committed to standing up for who we are, our mission, our audience, and our product, and to continue to affirm people who experience various forms of dysphoria. If there is room to educate and have respectful dialogue, then we’ll engage with folks, otherwise it’s not a good use of our energy. We have also been overwhelmed by the great number of people that have spread love in response to the people spewing hateful comments, and who do a lot of emotional labour to stand up to the negativity.
What has been most surprising about this experience? What has been most meaningful?
I have been pleasantly surprised by different things throughout this journey. For me, the most meaningful feedback is the messages we receive from parents of trans and gender nonconforming kids. It’s so amazing to see supportive parents who are consciously looking for ways to support their kids and to decrease their discomfort and dysphoria. The most surprising and meaningful feedback comes from queer, trans and gender nonconforming folks who are finding multiple uses for the boxer briefs. Although Pyramid Seven started out as affirming underwear for folks to wear while on their menstrual cycle, people are finding that they address all kinds of gaps present with traditional boxer briefs.
Is there any advice that you would want to give others that are starting out a huge project on their own?
It’s easy to think “I’m the exception to the rule and everything will come easily” - it won’t. Work hard, find resources, and nurture your community. If you have a project that you truly believe in then fight for it. Having a company that you personally connect with can be the biggest driving force to your success.