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Ruth Marsden is the founder of The Better Company, a brand that sells reusable period products on a one-for-one donation model.

Ruth joined me to discuss her journey from an actress to an entrepreneur, creating a business that not only sells reusable menstrual products but also gives back to communities in need.

Ruth’s story is rooted in Zimbabwe, where she discovered that many girls miss school because they lack access to period products. Ruth decided to bring menstrual cups to this community, enabling girls to stay in school and improving their quality of life.

I loved hearing about what inspired Ruth to start her business, about her business model, the process of manufacturing an aesthetically appealing safe product,  and how Instagram videos, press outreach, and educational content were crucial in demystifying and promoting her product.

The Bring Your Product Idea to Life Podcast  – Best Business Podcast Award, Independent Podcast Awards 2023

USEFUL RESOURCES:

The Better Company Website

The Better Company Instagram

Ruth Marsden LinkedIn

This episode is sponsored by Cara Bendon Brand Consultancy

If you need branding & packaging for your product, Cara is my go-to. She and her team create beautiful and unique branding so that your product will impress retailers, stand out on the shelf and look great online.

They also offer packaging and e-commerce website design, so that you can get everything set up and ready to launch, confident that it looks brilliant.

Cara is fantastic at helping guide you through the process and has been a guest on this podcast twice. In fact, she even designed this podcast artwork for me when I worked with her on my branding back in 2021, and I can’t imagine not having this brand now!

If you’d like to chat to Cara about branding for your business, she’s offering a free no-obligation call with any listeners. You can book your free 30-minute call here

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Transcript
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Welcome to the bring your product idea to Life podcast.

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This is the podcast for you if you're getting started selling products, or if you'd

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like to create your own product to sell. I'm Vicki Weinberg, a product

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creation coach and Amazon expert. Every week I share friendly,

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practical advice as well as inspirational stories from small businesses.

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Let's get started.

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Today I'm talking to Ruth Marsden, founder of The BetterCompany,

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a brand that sells reusable period products on a one for one

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donation model. Was really great to speak to Ruth about her brand. I

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actually didn't know much about reusable period products, so I definitely felt

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educated following this conversation, as well as a lot

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more about what's in the, let's say, traditional period

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products that some of us may be using. I loved hearing about

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what inspired Ruth to start her business, about her business model, and

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actually the process of manufacturing her product as well. Because while it might sound

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like something that's very simple, there's a lot of thought that

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goes into everything that Ruth does, as you'll hear from this conversation.

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As always, this is a really interesting and inspiring

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interview and I cannot wait to now introduce you to Ruth.

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So, hi, Ruth. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for having me.

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It's a pleasure. You're so welcome. Can we start with you? Please give an

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introduction to yourself, your business and what you sell. Yes. So

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I'm Ruth. I am mum to three little ones

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and we live just outside Brighton. And my

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business is The Bettercompany. So it started when

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I, after my second baby, I found

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tampons got significantly more uncomfortable.

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Wasn't getting on with them at all, but it was a bit of a kind

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of better, the devil you know type situation where because you're used to them, you

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just crack on. And then a sister, one of my sisters,

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swapped her menstrual cup, got on really well with it. I gave it a

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try, having really judged them beforehand

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and also loved it. And I'd always, in the back of my mind, had the

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idea that I'd love to start a business but didn't have the business idea.

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And once I tried them, I thought, this is. There's obviously a real

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gap in the market because I think someone like, I'm your kind of typical

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customer that you'd expect to be targeted with

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marketing and ads for reusable period products. And I felt like they'd really

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passed me by. So I, yeah, started The

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Bettercompany. And we sell menstrual cups, called The Bettercup. And we

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also more recently have branched out into reusable pads as well. So we sell

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better pads. And all our products we sell on our one for one

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donation model. So we donate one product for every

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product we sell. Oh, that's amazing. Thank you so much for that

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overview. I've got so many follow up questions. Let's start with. It's going

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to sound like a really basic question, and I apologize, but I think we will

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have so many listeners who are also in that market that should be getting targeted

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of these ads and probably aren't. Can you start by just explaining

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what, what a menstrual cup is? Because I think that's probably a really good place

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to start. Yeah. So a better cup

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is a silicone. I mean, I should have had one here, shouldn't I? But

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it's a little silicone cup that is

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foldable and bendy, so it's really easy and

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comfortable to insert. And in a way, it's like

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a tampon, but it's also the complete opposite of a tampon.

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So they both sit inside the vagina and they both collect

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your menstrual fluid. But actually, the similarities kind of end there

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because a tampon absorbs the blood, and so it's

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also absorbing other bodily fluids and it's other bodily

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fluids that are actually really essential to your body. And you don't want to be

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leaving your body because they can kind of affect your ph levels, can leave you

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feeling really dry. Whereas a menstrual cup sits and it doesn't

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interfere at all with your body. It just collects as the blood is ready to

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leave. It collects that blood, so it's not absorbing anything else other

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than what actually wants to leave the body. So people tend to find once

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they make the switch, that menstrual cups really help with their period

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pains, helps often with the length of their period.

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They're not being left feeling all dry and uncomfortable. You know that feeling when you

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take a tampon out after a really light period and it's kind of eye

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watering? There's none of that. Menstrual cups are much

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comfier, much fit more nicely inside your body as well

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because they bend, they kind of move. So your vagina is like a

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muscular tube, and the cup sits inside that tube and

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moves around. As the vagina moves, the the cup moves as well. It forms a

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seal, which is how it doesn't leak, but it moves

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as well as you move. So you can run, swimming, horse

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ride, whatever your activity of choice. And you

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can also leave it in for up to 12 hours at a time because it

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holds a similar, similar to about

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three tampons, but really kind of a bit more. Really.

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You can leave it in for up to 12 hours safely, then you just take

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it out, empty it and pop it back in and it's just so much

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simpler and easier for your period experience. And then

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the kind of clue in the name is the idea that it's better for you

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was the idea behind naming it better cup. Thank you

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so much for explaining all of that. And I assume as well that, you know,

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it's something that you clean and then put away until you need it in a

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few weeks or months or, you know, whenever it is that you have

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another period. Yeah. So you sterilize it. At first you put

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it in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then you

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give it a quick rinse and insert. And then each time you take it out,

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you just empty it, give it a rinse in cold water because cold water

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stops, helps prevent staining, because if the silicone is

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warm, then it kind of more naturally wants to absorb the blood.

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So you give it a quick rinse in cold water, reinsert, and then

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right at the end of your period, when you're completely finished with it, you sterilize

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again and store till the next month. So sterilize,

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rinse, sterilize, store.

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So effectively, you're buying one product that you can use for,

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I'm assuming years and years. Yeah,

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yeah, years and years. So it's a better cub is 20 pounds.

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And we say on average, without, you know, everyone's

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period is different, but we say generally that's about six months worth

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of you buying period products. So after six months,

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your period is then free and you wouldn't need to buy another better cup for

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years and years. Oh, wow. And as well as the financial

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savings, I'm guessing that there's lots of environmental benefits to using a

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reusable sanitary product as well. Yeah,

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completely. Again, that was kind of the idea behind the name. So

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the heart behind better cup is that it's better for you, better for

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the planet, and because of the donation, it's better for others. So in

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terms of being better for the planet, tampons contain

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plastic, pesticides, all sorts

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of harmful chemicals, and also the process of,

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the process of making and manufacturing tampons is hugely

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polluting. And then we use that tampon once, you know, an

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hour or two, and then that tampon is finished being

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used. But the lifespan is so much longer than that. And

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tampons often end up in our oceans, washed up on beaches

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or applicator sticks, which are just pure plastic, they end

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up all around the world. And, you know, you see the awful

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images of, you know, a turtle with an applicator

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stick and it's just, it's horrendous. But

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I am also passionate, just as a side note, I'm really passionate about the kind

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of guilt and the onus, I don't think should be put on the consumer. I

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think it should be put on the brands and the pressure should be on these

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big brands. They need to be doing better and they need to be creating

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better products. And I think as women, there's enough going on with our periods and

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I would never want a woman to feel like she should change what she uses

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out of guilt. But again, that's the kind of heart behind better cup is

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actually, we're saying this is, this is better for you, it's brilliant that it's better

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for the planet, but it is actually a better product for you and your

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period. But yes, it is much better. So the manufacturing

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of silicone isn't a polluting,

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doesn't cause any pollution in the process. And then once you're

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finished, you can either recycle at

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silicone recycling

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plants, but you can also, to be honest, you can actually just burn

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it in the fire because it doesn't release any

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harmful chemicals into the air. It's really

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safe to dispose of in that way. So, yeah, the

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lifespan of a menstrual cup is far less damaging

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than disposable products. Thank you for

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sharing all of that, Rafe. And I really like what you say about the owners

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being on the companies that are manufacturing the products and on the consumers.

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However, I also think it's great that you are educating consumers so people can start

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thinking about it, because some of what you've shared with us there is pretty scary

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when you stop and think about it. And

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for anyone who's never considered this sort of issue

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before, I think it's good. Just go, okay. And just, just have a little

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bit of awareness. Well, like you say, with no guilt, but just have a little

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bit of awareness. Because I feel like,

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because, and I'm like you said, I'm in the

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perfect market to be, you know, to have these kind of products

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advertised to me. But then they hadn't been on my radar until really, really

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recently. So I think there's a lot of people in the same situation

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who is just passing them by that there is another option, perhaps.

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Yeah, definitely, definitely. And I think it's hard. As a small brand, I

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definitely feel that it's really hard sometimes to compete with these big brands

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that have these endless marketing budgets and advertising budgets

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and they can really choose their narrative. I even was just talking on

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Instagram the other day about the fact that because tampons are considered

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a medical device, so brands don't actually have to list the

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ingredients in the product. And so brands will

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really push that their tampons contain cotton and they'll push the

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narrative they want to, but the reality is the

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farming of cotton is really damaging. The farming of cotton

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involves pesticides, insecticides, and those

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are all then in the cotton that is then going inside our

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body. But they can push the positive

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spin and spend all the money making us think, oh, that's

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great, these tampons are cotton now, they're not

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plastic, but actually in reality that's not

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really any better. So I definitely feel passionate, yeah,

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about educating and because I feel that's the journey I've been

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on. I've still got a long way to go with trying to make my home

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more sustainable, but the more I learn, I just feel really empowered that

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even if you were then to still make the same decision, at least

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you're coming at it from a place where you feel educated and you actually know

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why you're making that decision. Rather than just kind of blindly going

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through and each month going and buying your tampons, you kind of know, what am

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I actually buying? And I'm making that choice to buy those.

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That's a really good point. And it's also really interesting about tampons being

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considered a medical device as well and does the same work for a better cup.

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Is that also considered a medical device? Yeah, yeah. So a menstrual cup is

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a medical device. So again, you don't have to list the ingredients,

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but the beauty of a better cup is there is just one ingredient,

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which is silicone. And obviously you can look into silicone if you

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wanted to, but you would see that that is all that is

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involved. You know, there's no farming involved and there's no other kind of

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hidden, hidden elements. I would say though,

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menstrual cups in general, I wouldn't.

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It is a slightly worrying market, again, because people

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don't have to list ingredients and it's not fully, fully regulated.

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If you went on Amazon, for example, you will find hundreds of

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menstrual cup brands, some selling as cheap as a couple of pounds.

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I wouldnt trust those, and you dont necessarily know whats in those.

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So its easy to say a menstrual cup is better than a tampon.

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But really its about the brand and knowing the brand and

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asking questions, checking on the website and not just thinking, oh,

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ill go for the sustainable option, when actually its probably

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a company that has jumped on the sustainability bandwagon

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and has made a really quick and cheap product. So it's not as simple

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as kind of menstrual cup is better than tampon, if that makes sense. Yeah,

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that does make sense and I thank you for explaining that as well because I'm

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assuming that all of them are made of silicone. They are,

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but I don't. You don't necessarily know where or how

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or obviously, you know, we care about people, not just planets.

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And so when I was researching where we were going to make

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ours, there's factories that maybe don't want to let you

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know who works at the factory or what they're paid and

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the working environment of that factory, and that's just as important. So it

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was really important to me. So we work with this lovely family run

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factory in Germany. Full transparency.

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I talked to who's making it, I talked to everyone on the team.

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I know that we get our silicone from

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the top silicone supplier in the world. There's

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no, I haven't taken any shortcuts when it comes to

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cost and quality, but you kind of have to

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trust that brands are doing that and

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some answer. It's asking those tricky questions. And I know what's nice for

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me as a business owner. I know that any question that a customer comes to

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me with, I can answer it because there's nothing to hide.

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And I know that at every point I've made the best decision. I can

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forget the customer and the,

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therefore the product quality. But

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that's not necessarily the case across the board, even if it is silicone they're

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using. That's really interesting. Yeah. I can't speak on behalf of

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others. Yeah, of course. But I think what's really great is not only can you

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answer any question, but also part of the reason you can answer any question

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is because you're really close to it all. It sounds like,

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you know the ins and outs of every

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part of the process. So, as you say, from sourcing the material

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through to the manufacturing, you know, you've got a really good sort of in

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depth knowledge of it as well, which I think is also really important.

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And I would love now to pivot a little bit and talk about so how

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you got from, you know, deciding that you wanted to launch a business and

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coming up with the Better cup. And so what was involved in

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going from that to actually having a product, because I think that will cover some

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of those elements about knowing so much about the, the materials.

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And I'd love to talk about how, you know, how you found acidicone

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supplier and a manufacturer as well. Yeah, I

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always say if I can start a business, anyone can start a business,

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because I had no, no previous experience. I went to

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drama school. I worked as an actress for a couple of years and then had

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a baby and kind of fell out of work and really, really

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struggled to find the balance between motherhood

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and work. And like I mentioned earlier, I'd always loved the idea of

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starting my own business, but didn't have that business idea,

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which is integral to starting a business. So, yes, when

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I swapped to the menstrual cup, obviously, again, as I

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said earlier, thought that would be an interesting business opportunity and also actually, at that

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same time, a different sister. I've got. I'm one of four girls. Another sister

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was visiting the UK. She lives in Zimbabwe, works at a school

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in Zimbabwe, and we talked about how the girls there tend to miss a week

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of school each month when they're on their period because they don't have adequate period

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products to be using. So we were chatting about what we could do, and I

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was explaining menstrual cups, and we were thinking, this could be a really

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great solution because you're not relying on

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donations each month. Give them one, and they're kind of sorted for the rest of

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their schooling. So that was when I made the decision to start the business. The

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one for one was kind of the real instigator to start,

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and I felt really overwhelmed. I have no business experience, and

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so I just booked a day when I knew I had

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childcare, I went to my local coffee shop with my laptop and I just

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took off. Any, any pressures, and I

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just said to myself, I'm just going to get flat white and I'm

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just going to research silicone. Oh, no. In fact, it wasn't even silicone at that

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point because I didn't even know what menstrual cups are made of. I was like,

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I'm just going to research. What are menstrual cups made of? Who

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makes them? Where do they make them? Would I be able to make them in

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the UK? That's kind of going into it what I'd hoped to be able to

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do and long term would still like to do. How close to home

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can I make these? How do you make them? And, yeah, I just

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spent that whole first day just researching. So quickly discovered what they're made of, then

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started researching what factories make,

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use that, use those materials, started

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researching other leading brands, where did they make or if. And that

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was another, that kind of took me down the route of how transparent a brand,

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because I found that really interesting that day, specifically going on all these different

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menstrual cup websites sites and seeing how much do they actually tell you and what

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can you actually find out about their products. And then I

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put together a list of all the brilliant women that I could think of in

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my life that have different skills, so friends that are in

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branding, friends that are also sell and

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so would know about supply chain or manufacturing. And

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I just kind of pulled all resources I could

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possibly find and just feel very lucky. And I'm sure, as we

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all are, when you, when you give it a quick think, we're all surrounded

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by so much knowledge. So I, yeah, I just

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pulled in every favor, every clever friend that I could and asked them so many

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questions. And I think one thing I found really important was

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not being afraid of looking silly or asking silly questions. So I was

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asking very basic questions with nothing, no

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need to prove anything, no need to prove that I was a good business owner,

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because at that point I wasn't and, and still ask very

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silly questions. But that helped me really fast track my learning.

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Yeah. And then it just kind of slowly went from there. So the more I

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discovered, the more I was able to pursue and,

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yeah, came across this factory in quite a funny. We kind of

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fell upon each other weirdly. It ended up feeling quite serendipitous

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because someone was suggesting to me

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the machinery used to make silicone and they

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actually sent me the wrong email address. And it was the email

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address of the factory that had bought that machine rather than the machine

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manufacturer. There's a funny mix. And so then got in

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touch with this factory. Yeah. And it's all just kind of gone from there. I've

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always just taken it one day at a time, one email

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or phone call at a time, and I've never kind of over thought it. I

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think we can. If there's anyone out there listening that has

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a business idea, but thinks, oh, not me,

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if it's not you, it'd be someone else. And so I would always say,

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just go for it. Just start. Start with one small half an

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hour of researching one topic of that business that you're

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interested in, and then you've started. It's like writing that first sentence of an essay.

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Don't think about the whole essay, just write that first sentence. And I would

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so encourage anyone that's listening just to take that one

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small step towards it. And then you've begun. And

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that's exactly what I did. Thank you. Thank you so much for

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sharing all of that. And I think you're totally right, because there is no

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pressure to launch a business in 90 days or six

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months or whatever. I think the time scales usually are pretty arbitrary.

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It's just the pressure we put on ourselves. And I think it's really good advice

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to just start and it takes as long as it takes. And

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I'd say that I really like your approach because it seems like it was more

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about getting it right than doing it fast. Yeah.

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And that really comes. That really comes across

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that, you know, you. There's a lot of care and attention and, you

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know, attention to detail. And rather than rushing through and

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going with the first factory you found, for example, it sounds like you're

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really deliberate in, you know, finding the best

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solution. And I think, yeah, there's a lot to be said for that. And I

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also think that something, as I reflected when you were talking, is that it sounds

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like you've found a great manufacturer. And I was thinking about how important that

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is as well, because I think once that piece falls into place, did you find

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that that made things a bit easier once you had someone you could

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speak with? Yeah, definitely understood the product.

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Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Someone that I could trust and we work

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together and, yeah, it was. I feel very lucky that I found them

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because they. They're actually, they. Excuse

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me. They were very experienced in

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plastic manufacturing and wanted to move into silicone. They were actually

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quite new in that field. And I think for that

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reason, most manufacturers didn't really give me the time of day because my

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minimum order quantity was too small for some. You know, there was

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one factory I was talking to, and the minimum order was a million.

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It's just like that, I think, as well, because it's.

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Silicone is often used in medical equipment. You

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know, they're making, like, little kind of silicone bottle tops for hospitals,

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and so they're going to be making just such vast quantities of

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units. And so when someone like me comes along, they're just not interested. So it

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was just. Yeah, it was. It was just a happy kind of

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pairing that they were moving into silicone, and so were happy to start a bit

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smaller, but with the real experience from their previous

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manufacturing. And then I was coming in. Yeah. Willing

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to kind of take a risk on them, but they also weren't really a risk.

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So it was a really good, really good pairing.

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Yeah. And I'm thinking that. I'm also thinking that, I guess.

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I think it's probably a simp, straightforward ish product to

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manufacture because it's presumably one piece

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of silicone. How is that in reality?

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Like, how do you know how to. How to make

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a menstrual cup? Yeah, I found it

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extremely complex. Maybe it's not. Maybe in a few

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years I'll look back and realize it wasn't. But for me it was very

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complex. So, I mean, it's started very basic of just

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buying every brand under the sun. And my

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poor vagina tried every menstrual cup,

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so I tried everyone. I kept notes, I compared, and

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I started putting together my own design based

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on what I had found worked and didn't

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work, didn't work about all different brands. Then I started

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using sisters, close friends to try as

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well, because I obviously, as well, that's just my one experience. I wanted to get

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other people's experience as well, just to make sure I was onto the right thing.

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Yeah. And then you basically put together a CAD, which is a kind of

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3d drawing when you're making a 3d product and was working with the

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factory, and again, they were so patient and great with me, so we

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had a lot of Zoom meetings working this CAD down. And then you

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do prototypes, which then you can't test on yourself,

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but it just in terms of look, feel, flexibility,

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that kind of thing. I was able to test prototypes, kind of went back and

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forth a few times, and then the actual

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a mold is made, which is what the main part of the

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machinery. And then, yeah, the silicone is put into the mold. The tricky bit

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then is that you don't want any seam on your menstrual cup

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because obviously it needs to form a seal, it needs to be completely smooth.

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So that's quite a tricky process of how to make a mold and

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fill. You'd normally make, like, if you're making a cup, you'd see

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there'll be like a seam on the cup because you'd make two sides and put

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them together, but you can't do that with a menstrual cup. So it was working

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out how to make one full cup. Anyway, this is a lot of detail.

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It's really interesting. I find it fascinating, but. Well, I did, that's

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why I asked the question. I was thinking, how on earth do you do that?

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And I hadn't even considered, actually, until you explaining the process

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that different cups would of course be different.

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And I know that's such a daft thing to say, but there we

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go. I didn't actually think about the fact there would be variation. Yeah,

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no, I wouldn't have thought that until I was really purposefully looking into it. But,

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yeah, the. The top of a cup always has a rim. Some brands, the rim

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is really thick, which then I find it doesn't fold down as small for

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inserting some brands, the stem at the bottom, which is the bit that

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helps you reach the cup. Those can be much fatter or with

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ridges, which can be a bit uncomfortable. Different lengths of cut

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width. So, yeah, there is, there is. They're really varied.

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The differences are small because it's a small product, but there

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is still quite a big variation. That's really

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interesting. Thank you for explaining all of that, reef. No, not at

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all. So I'd love to talk a little bit now about launching the

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product, because obviously you've got to the point in your journey where you

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created something and you're having it manufactured. How do you go

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about thinking about how to, I guess, brand it as well? So the

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branding and the overall marketing, I guess because

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it's a product that's, as we were

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saying, we don't see a lot of ads for menstrual cups.

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So I guess I'm asking quite a lot of questions here. Let's talk a little

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bit about how you decided to brand and position it, and then we can talk

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a little bit about actually marketing it. Yeah. Yeah.

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I always knew it was really important to me that we made it really

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aesthetically pleasing, really beautiful. I didn't. I

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wanted the kind of product that wouldn't sit in the toiletries aisle. It would sit

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with the beauty products and the fragrances or

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even, you know, on your shelf, it would sit alongside a candle and someone wouldn't

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necessarily know what the product is. That was really important to me, I think, because

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there's so many hurdles to people wanting to buy. I thought, well, let's make

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it beautiful that, you know, the tube packaging is really

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pretty and you would want it on your shelf. And my brilliant

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friend Sarah, she has a branding business called Fday Studio,

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and she is amazing. And she, all credit to

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her, all the branding is her

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genius. And I think she just did the most amazing job.

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So I was so thrilled with the branding and I

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didn't want it to be, like, pink and girly. But then

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we did love the idea of the kind of blush that

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the bit more of, like, a nice, sophisticated blush

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color, because the idea as well, that was then further down the line, we'd make

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a blush colored cup. But yeah, so she absolutely

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nailed the branding and then. Oh, yeah,

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I've forgotten what your question was. Sorry. No, that's fine, because I think I asked

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a lot all at once. So I'd be interested to talk about how you sort

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of launched and positioned it because I'm curious to know,

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was there an element of having to do some education as well as,

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you know, because for lots of products, you can just say, this is our product.

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Is this a product you found that you had to do a bit of educating

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people about at the same time as marketing it? Yeah, yeah, definitely

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a lot of. I initially launched it

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on my own personal Instagram page and that,

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that worked really well because I had built up a very small

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but a little following, which then was a really helpful kind

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of springboard initially with the brand. And so I just did a

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lot of videos on Instagram with, with a better cup

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in hand, kind of just showing how to use it, just kind of

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demystifying the product, just, I think seeing it in someone's hand and seeing

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them just move and use it and just. Yeah, just kind of getting rid of

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a lot of those pre misconceptions that people have

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and then. Yeah, just sent out hundreds and

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hundreds of pictures press with

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a kind of brief overview of what the product is, how it compares

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to tampons, why it's better for you with an image of the brand,

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image of the product, and just hope for the best. And was very,

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very lucky that quite a few different magazines picked up on

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it and featured it in different lineups of

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sustainable period products, reusable period products. And that really,

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really helped. And I still actually, on the back end of the website, you can

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still see sales come through from some of those, you know, this is like four

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or five years later, you still see sales, I think. I guess

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magazine websites, their SEO is much

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stronger than mine, so when someone's typing in better cup, they might actually end up

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going via glamour and then back to me. But

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that was amazing. That really helped. Yeah. And then just a lot of

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explaining. I also, quite early on, made a few YouTube

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videos of insert, how to,

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insert, remove clean and how to. If you

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kind of, I think, frequently asked questions or something.

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Again, yeah. I just wanted people to feel like I could be in your

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bathroom with you, kind of chatting you through how to use it, getting rid of

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any of those initial fears. You feel like you're not alone. And

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it's been amazing. So I think the most common feedback by far over the years

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from customers has been how almost

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anticlimactic it actually is using the products. I think people build it up so

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much in their mind and they're so nervous. What if this happens? What if that

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happens? And most often the feedback is, oh, yeah,

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it's great and it's kind of old news and that's your

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period sorted, but that you build it up so much. So, yeah, that was a

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big thing, was make it look pretty. So people want to pick it up off

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the shelf, they want to buy it, and then also really pushing

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the donation side. So it is 20 pounds, and

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20 pounds is a lot of money to anyone. And the idea is that

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hopefully you feel like even if for some reason it didn't work for you, you

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know, that your purchase has enabled someone else to have a better period as

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well. So that's kind of another. Another kind of hook that

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hopefully helps people feel like they could take that risk on

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better cup. Yeah. And I think that's really lovely. So am

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I right in thinking that for everyone someone buys, you donate one to the school

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in Zimbabwe? So, yes,

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initially that was another real short sight of

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mine. So hope school

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in Hamara, that's where my sister worked, and that was the

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initial inspiration. But when we

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launched the product, I think in the first

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hour, we had sold enough to donate to every girl at

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the school, every teacher and every mother.

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Amazing. Which was amazing and so exciting. And that morning,

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I launched the. The brand will forever be one of the best mornings of my

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life. Like, it was such a highlight and so much fun seeing the orders come

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through of this, you know, the blood, sweat and tears that went in for the

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kind of just over a year leading up to it.

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Yes. And then I quickly realized that morning that we were going to need to

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find more partners than just hope school. So, yeah, now we work

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with all sorts of refugee day centers,

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women's shelters in the UK, homeless shelters,

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women's kind of safe houses and,

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yeah, all sorts of charities all around the world. Really?

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Yeah. That's amazing you're able to have that much impact.

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Yeah, it's amazing. Yeah, it's a

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really important part of the business for me. When there's really hard days

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and, you know, when sales are slower or when there's

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something is. Something tricky is going on, it's amazing to be able to

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remember why I'm doing it

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and the difference that it makes and knowing that that's the real. That's the

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real heart of the business. Yeah. And

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what I think is really nice for consumers as well is the fact that,

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you know that, as you say, of course, it is a lot of money

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and, you know, especially if it's something you're not really sure about and it's

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something new, but knowing that actually I'm buying this and even if it doesn't

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work for me, somebody else is going to get one. I think that's a really.

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That's really nice. I really like that. Yeah, yeah, definitely.

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Without you needing to do anything, you are helping another,

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a real woman out there. You have genuinely made a real tangible difference

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to her. I think, especially because it lasts so long.

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There is a real woman out there that because of your purchase, she now

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doesn't have to worry about her period for years and years to come, which

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is. Yes. Really powerful. Yeah, I think so. Because obviously, period

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poverty is a real thing and we hear about it a lot and this is

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a really. Yeah, and I think this does. We all have so much

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impact. Yeah, that's the hope.

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The hope is that I put myself out of business because period poverty

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ends well. Wouldn't that be amazing? Wouldn't that be amazing if

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it was? Everyone has. Yeah, I

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think sadly, possibly we're some. Sadly, I'm not sure which way around

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it is, but we are probably some way off that. But that's really nice.

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Yeah. I do hope that they do become

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more. I don't. Mainstream is the right word,

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but I still think there's. I would love

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them to be the people's first port of call. And

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I think that's also I'm very passionate about over the next few years, trying to

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really work on education in school, because I think

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within our period education, you're just kind of bundled

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over some tampons in a disposable pad and kind of tent

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on your merry way. And I'm really passionate about education and changing

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that. So young girls are understanding what are my options and

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these products I'm being offered, what actually are the effects they're having on my

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body and the planet. So same with the reusable

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pads. We make the Betta pads totally understand that not everyone

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wants to use an internal product and that is totally fine. And that was

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a big passion within the beta company, was to make products to suit

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everyone and not, not force an agenda on people.

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So with the Betta pads, they are 100% cotton,

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100% organic cotton reusable pads. So you use them like you

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would normal disposable, but they kind of pop around the gutted of your

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underwear and then when you finished, you wash them and reuse

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them. So again, with our donations, we're able to give those. So, for

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example, at my sister's school, with girls that are starting their period at, you know,

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1011 years old and completely understandably not

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wanting to use a better cup, we can now offer them better pads.

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And rather than the disposable and needing donations each month,

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we can give them a big bundle of pads and then they're kind of sorted.

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And so that's the same in schools as well, I think, with, with girls starting

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their period, just to know, even if they don't want to be using tampons or

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cups, that, that they don't need to be using disposable pads, which can

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be sweaty and smelly and uncomfortable, and you'll keep.

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You keep needing to buy them. So the idea that better pads are so much

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comfier and a much nicer experience for them really would love those to

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be more mainstream. And I think the misconception is people think

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that they're really unhygienic and actually they're far more hygienic

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than the disposables. But we just need to make that message

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louder than the current message.

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Yeah. Thank you. And while we're on the subject of misconceptions, Ruth, are there

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any other things that you hear? So any other sort of concerns

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or misconceptions that you want to address?

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Yeah, yeah. I think a big misconception with the

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menstrual cup is that it will get lost and you'll never

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find it again. And actually,

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so the, like I was saying before, the vagina is like a muscular

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tube and then the cervix at the top is like a roof, so nothing can

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get past the cervix. And the average vagina varies from

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about 6 deep. So

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even 10 cm, like that is not far.

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And so, yeah, so your better cup can never get lost inside you. It's not

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going to be kind of up floating around your body. Your cervix will very much

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stop it. It will sit very happily inside your vagina.

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I think also, people really worry about the leaking. I think people picture a

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cup and then they picture that cup just kind of pouring out.

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But again, because it sits and forms a seal, it

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completely holds all the blood until. So you pinch the base to remove, so you

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don't pull the stem because it's formed a seal. So you pinch, you pinch the

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base, which breaks the seal, and then you remove and empty it.

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And if you were to leak a little bit, it would just be,

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you know, the first starts of like tiny little

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drops of blood. It wouldn't be this kind of sudden leaking. You know, the whole

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cup's not going to turn and turn and pour out of you. But I think

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people do understandably really worry about that. Yeah. And

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then the other one is hygiene. I think people think it sounds

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really unhygienic to reuse the same product. And the

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irony is that tampons are so much more unhygienic with

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all the different ingredients. They leave residues of those

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ingredients in your body. So residues of plastic and pesticides are

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being left behind in your body, whereas a menstrual cup isn't leaving anything behind.

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And it's medical grade silicone, which means it's been treated to

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withstand bacteria, which again, is why when you take out and empty it,

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you just need to rinse it. That's why you're not needing to resterilize because it

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will withstand any bacteria. So it's actually far more hygienic. But,

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yeah, that's definitely a big misconception. Well, thank

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you. Thank you so much for educating us on that as well, because I think

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it's really, is really interesting to hear, and as I said throughout this

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conversation, you don't actually see that much

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about the topics. I think it's really useful for us all to hear it.

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Good. And my final question, Ruth, which is one I

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ask to every guest, is what would your number one piece of advice be for

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other product creators?

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Well, without repeating myself from earlier, I would definitely

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say just to start, I think it can

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feel really overwhelming. You kind of keep putting off and

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think, when this happens or when this happens or

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when I'm here in my life, I'll be ready. And I think you never quite

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feel ready to start a business. So just starting.

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And then I think most importantly, you just

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need to fully, 100% believe in your

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product. You need to be your product biggest

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cheerleader. I think that so many days are

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challenging and you face so many hurdles and I think if you're not

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fully behind that product, fully believing that it can make a difference

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and that it is the best that's out there,

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those hurdles will knock you back and the challenges will,

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will just put you off, I think, continuing. So,

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yeah, I'd say fully, fully believe in your product. And if

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you don't fully, fully believe in your product, brainstorm

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why and brainstorm what you need to change so that, you know, hand on heart

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that you are making the best product that you possibly can and that

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everyone needs to hear about your product.

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Thank you so much. That's brilliant advice, Rafe, and I can definitely see that you

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are that big cheerleader for your products as well.

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Thank you so much for everything you've shared. We're going to link to everywhere people

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can find you in the show notes for the episode. And yeah, thank you again.

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Thank you for having me. Lovely to chat. You're welcome.

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Thank you so much for listening. Right to the end of this episode, do remember

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that you can get the full back catalogue and lots of free resources on my

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website, vickywineberg.com. please do remember to rate and review

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this episode if you've enjoyed it, and also share it with a friend who you

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think might find it useful. Thank you again and see you next week.