DESIGN DIVE: Willa Stoutenbeek

The stark, brave, bold images of strong powerful women caught my eye. Clean lines forming a ‘Y’ shape used throughout the images on Instagram and on their website had me in wide-eyed design envy. I reached out to W. Green, the agency responsible for Yoni’s branding and got connected with agency founder Willa Stoutenbeek. Willa also recently became Yoni’s new Creative Director.

I had a quick chat with Willa, an opinionated straight talker who’s not afraid to show her feminine side, on the trickiness of creating content for an organic period product brand, being proud to be female, and her own sexual wellness journey.

In creating the branding for Yoni, Willa and the Yoni team knew that they wanted women to be unashamed about their periods, to own their sexuality and femininity, to not hide your period products in your fist when you’re waiting to check out at the supermarket. Yoni wants you to be proud, proud enough to display your period products on the mantel – and their beautiful packaging just makes that easier.

Suffice to say, I’m in love with this branding and its complete cohesion from web to packaging to photography and everything in between. Yoni is in the middle of a rebranding and creating content and collaboration. To say I am eager to see what the 2021 brings for Yoni, is truly an understatement.


Is it difficult branding for a sexual wellness product?

It is. Like with any sexual wellness product and brand, there are certain things you can and cannot say, and it’s a daily balancing act toeing the line between being frank and being tactful, with our images and with our words.


Where do you get your creative images from?

We love creating strong images, and we try our best work with young talented people to continue sharing our story. We are fortunate enough to have photographers to work with who allow us to use their images. All the images we use, and we create, is made by women. I love working with women and giving them the space to just create something from a brief, when the creative brief is open to interpretation and input from the artist, you end up co-creating, and the result is beautiful.


How did you encounter Yoni and started to design for it?

Mariah and I met at a TedxAmsterdam event at the end of 2013. Mariah was there for Yoni and I was there to promote sustainable fashion. At that time, Yoni was just a concept. My whole life revolves around using natural, organic everything. So out of 600 women in the room, I was the only one who knew what organic tampons were. That evening, we had dinner with a couple of the other speakers. The 3rd quarter of 2014, that was when we got in touch again, and May 2015 was when the brand was launched.


Do you have a personal interest in female/sexual wellness products?

I have a background in the regular fashion industry – and after 10 years in the fashion industry (my parents are in the fashion industry). My father’s family business is in fashion and my brother also works in fashion. After 10 years in the industry, I realised I couldn’t really stomach processes in the fashion industry anymore and took that on as my personal mission to clean that up. 10 years ago, it wasn’t possible; you had more sustainable innovation in food. When Yoni came along, I thought it was an interesting way to raise awareness for sustainability too.


I get an alpha-female feeling from Yoni, would you say you are an alpha-female?

I was raised by my mom, a single mother; she was running her own company and raising children. Back in the day, to have your own company as a woman was difficult – to get a bank account, and to get respect. Although my mom wasn’t a loud feminist, she definitely has the determination to do things her way, and to do them herself. And that’s what I got from her. Though I am definitely more outspoken, when you put two and two together, I suppose I am an alpha-female!


What was your sexual wellness experience growing up?

I could go to my mom anytime, but I had to initiate the conversation, there’s no doing right or wrong in this sense, my mom was more like if I had an questions, she would be super to it, she never made me feel shy for asking – she did have a catholic upbringing, so when it came to topics like abortion, it was a little tricky. However, she was always there for me with everything. I was quite the rebel, sometimes I wonder if I was completely owning my sexuality and if it came from a place of female empowerment, or compensating for the complicated relationship I had with my father. I have a son who’s two and a half years old, and he’s kissing girls without permission; is it too soon to have the #metoo conversation with him?


Look at Yoni in our Branding and Design section.