#SWAAYthenarrative

How My Bestie And I Are Changing The Future Of Period Care

5 Min Read
Business

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!


5 Min Read
Career

How Fitness Saved My Life and Became My Career

Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da

If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.

In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.

These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.

After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.

About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.

When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.

Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.

Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.

Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.

This article was originally published September 12, 2019.