5 Min ReadBusiness 06 April 2020
I first met Mary at school in New Zealand when we were 11 years old and we've been best friends ever since.
Like many besties, we often talked about going into business together but never really had the 'lightbulb' idea that suited both our skills. Mary has spent her career working as a nurse while I've worked as a newspaper journalist and in public relations.
We started Hello Cup after realizing there was a need for reliable, comfortable, reusable period care. Menstrual cups are absolutely amazing and have revolutionized the period industry in the last few years but not all cups are made equal. From the outset we wanted Hello Cup to be the best menstrual cup on the planet but at the same time, we wanted it to be a fun and kind business. Our cups are medical-grade, silicone-free, FDA registered, and fully hypoallergenic.
From the start, we believed so much in the Hello Cup. We both have experienced terribly heavy and painful periods over the years, so we knew firsthand that Hello Cups could change lives for the better. And they have. Success for us has been the amazing feedback we've received since we launched. Every day we get emails from customers saying they will never go back and that they wished they'd made the switch to a Hello Cup sooner. That is how we measure success.
Initially, we thought we'd be a small online business but not long after we started we getting requests from retailers wanting to stock Hello Cups. We are now with Urban Outfitters, Doll's Kill, and hundreds of other amazing stores and pharmacies across the world. It's crazy.
Our reputation grew really quickly. I think a large part of our early success was the fact we designed Hello Cups ourselves based on what we didn't like about existing cups on the market. We wanted Hello Cups to be the world's most comfortable menstrual cups available because we felt that many cups on the market had been designed with no thought for what they would be like to actually wear. Strange, but true!
We chose to make our cups from medical grade thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) because most cups on the market are made from silicone and some people have silicone sensitivity or even allergies. Our TPE is medical grade and top of the line — the same material used in catheters and IV lines. Using TPE means our cups are hypoallergenic. The material is also really comfortable to wear because when it warms, it will conform to the shape of the body. Another bonus of TPE is that it is recyclable — which we currently do at our factory in Napier, New Zealand. We are developing a send-back program, which will incentivize our customers to return their cups once they are at the end of their lifespan.
Both Mary and I have teen daughters and they were definitely part of the motivation for us starting the company. They are the future, and their generation is going to have to work hard to undo some of the terrible things the generations before them have inflicted on the planet, especially in terms of waste. We know that for some, old habits die hard, even when it comes to outdated single-use period products. But the younger generations are much more environmentally aware of the choices they make. They think about the impact that the products they use have on the environment far more than previous generations.
We now have girls using Hello Cups from when they first get their period which is amazing because their period-footprint will be virtually nothing. A single Hello Cup will save, on average, more than 2,160 single-use sanitary items. Each cup will last around five years. The average person with a period will use around 432 single-use items per year and globally it's been estimated that at least 45 billion tons of sanitary waste end up in landfills each year. It's horrific. But at our company, we can contribute to changing that, and it feels amazing.
One thing we found challenging early on was the fact that periods have been traditionally marketing solely toward females. We have friends who have periods who don't identify as female. Non-binary and Trans men get left out of the period conversation and that didn't sit well with us so we made a commitment to try to talk about "people with periods" rather than "women." We also recently introduced a black cup to our range, which has been particularly welcomed by people in the gender nonconforming community with periods who don't want something "feminized" (ie pink). Getting feedback from those often marginalized groups has been amazing.
Our biggest challenge to date, like most other businesses, is what is currently happening in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives and the world is facing shortages of everyday items that we've always assumed would be available. As a result, we are seeing more inquiries and sales from people who are looking for alternatives to single-use sanitary items — motivated by the fact they are suddenly hard to buy. A single menstrual cup will last for years, it's one thing you don't need to worry about "running out of."
Now, more than ever, it's vital that we are here for anyone who wants to talk to us about what Hello Cups are like to use and how they work. Change can be scary, and forced change even more so, but we wouldn't be in this business if we didn't believe 100% that menstrual cups are the future of period care. In our opinion, there are no disadvantages to them at all. They hold around three times more than tampons, they last for years, they save you money, and they're better for the environment. You can sleep, swim, run marathons and binge watch Netflix while using a Hello Cup — so they give you complete period freedom!Hello Cup turns three in December 2020. We can't believe how far the business has come and best of all — we've built a business we are super proud of whilst still remaining friends!
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist