The (f)lowdown on Period Cups
Who is behind The Hello Cup?
My best friend Mary Bond and I (Robyn McLean) are the founders of The Hello Cup
Where are you guys based?
We’re based in different parts of New Zealand. I’m based in Hawke’s Bay – where Hello Cups are manufacturers and Mary is based in Wellington where is have our distribution office.
What are your backgrounds?
My background is in journalism, PR and marketing. I worked for years as a newspaper reporter and feature writer before moving into PR and marketing. Mary is a registered nurse, who specialises in palliative care. We now both work full-time at The Hello Cup but Mary also still does some nursing shifts because she loves it some much.
What’s it been like working together as friends? So far, so awesome. We have been besties since we were 11. The best things about working together is probably being able to recognise each other’s strengths and play to those. I know they say it’s dangerous to go into business with friends, but it’s worked well for us. It’s important to let each other have a ‘patch’ which is ultimately their domain but that said, we still consult each other on pretty much everything. It’s been fun to build a business together from scratch and we’ve learnt so much and it’s a fun journey to be on with someone you have known for so long.
Tell us about when you first discovered menstrual cups?
When I tried a menstrual cup for the first time, it truly was a life changing moment. I’d heard about them but I was too scared to try one because I didn’t know anyone who used one. Then one day I decided to bite the bullet and as soon as I put it in I knew my period life had changed for the better forever.
How did you find using it? I thought it might be uncomfortable but instantly I realised that, while they can look intimidating, it was more a case of just getting my head around something that looked different. Once it was in – I found it to be so much more comfortable than tampons because I couldn’t actually feel it. Like most people who are about to try a cup, I was worried it might be messy to remove – but they are not. The whole process is just so easy.
When did you realise you wanted to do business in this space? As soon as I tried my first cup I started researching other brands. I thought the one I had was functional but ugly. It was kind of like the socks and sandals option of the menstrual cup world. I wanted something that was still comfortable but would stand out from the crowd. I was also keen to find a cup that was made in New Zealand or Australia. I couldn’t find one so picked up the phone and said to Mary “I’ve got a business idea for us…”
Why a menstrual cup over other options? Menstrual cups are the way of the future. A single cup lasts for years, and Hello Cups are also recyclable and also hypoallergenic. They hold three times more than a tampon and can be worn for up to 12 hours. You can sleep, swim, run – do anything when you have a Hello Cup in. You don’t feel them and you are never caught short. Girls can wear Hello Cups from when they first get their periods which will save them a fortune over their lifetime compared to the cost of single use sanitary items not to mention the amazing environmental benefits cups offer. Tampons and pads can take up to 500 years to breakdown in landfill. It’s a statistic not many people know and when they are told they are horrified.
How long as The Hello Cup been going for?
We launched in December 2017 – and the demand has been crazy since day one. We timed it right and our design is different from other cups of the market.
What are they made of? They’re made from German, medical-grade ‘thermoplastic elastomer’ which is a fancy type of plastic. We chose this over silicone (which many other brands are made from) because it makes them fully recyclable and hypoallergenic, which means women who have sensitivities to silicone can use Hello Cups with no issue.
Are they tricky to use? Not at all! You simply fold them and insert. Once folded they are no bigger than a tampon. Insertion is easy because the smooth surface helps them to glide in and, unlike tampons, they are not sucking every bit of moisture out of you at the same time. Once inside the top pops open and you give the base a tug to form a seal.
How has running a business been compared to what you thought it might be? To be honest, it can be overwhelming at times but in a good way. It’s so amazing to learn the ins and outs of running a business. We’ve both learnt so much but we’ve also been conscious of doing things in a way that suits us. We haven’t followed any rules – we didn’t start out with a business plan – we just started. The business plan is something we need to look at doing now as we are growing so fast but I think sometimes start-ups get bogged down in ticking boxes and spreadsheets. I guess we are quite non-conventional in our approach and try not to be too grown up and serious about life. The main thing we care about is ensuring our customers get what we think is the best menstrual cup on the market and also a level of customer service than means they can email us anytime and we will be there for them. The main thing that has surprised us I guess is the volumes we are selling. We started out thinking Hello Cup might be a bit of a hobby business and we would have time to work on other things if we wanted to. That’s not the case, but we love it so much, we are very happy with the status quo.
Branding things to do with periods can be tricky but you guys have nailed it. What was the inspiration behind your branding?
We wanted to create something that we would buy ourselves. We didn’t overthink things, we just wanted something that was cute and would encourage people with periods to give menstrual cups a go because our messaging was fun and not threatening or scary. Our logo is ‘hello’ with a full stop after it to signify ‘hello period’. It’s a play on words because the American term for full stop is ‘period’. We wanted to be positive about periods and saying ‘hello’ was a way of welcoming your buddy who comes one a month back into your life. We wanted it to appeal to younger customers as well to show them the benefits of using a cup from as early as they felt comfortable.
Why do you think the conversation around periods is finally changing? Yes, as humans I think we are better at opening up in general and it’s awesome to see period talk being normalised and finally something that no longer needs to be talked about in whispers. Half the world gets a period so they need to be talked about so we can help each other find the best ways to manage them.
What’s your advice to someone wanting to use a menstrual cup but is worried about trying it? Don’t be scared. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. We have an FAQ section on our website www.thehellocup.com which covers a lot of the common concerns and questions have before they first try a cup. My only regret when it comes to menstrual cups is that I didn’t know about them or try one earlier. Learn from my mistake people!!!