We’re so lucky at the Menstrual Health Hub to be connected with a network of outstanding activists, entrepreneurs and practitioners in the MH space. We believe collaboration is what will increase our collective impact. That’s why we’ve started sharing interviews with period pioneers. We hope you’ll find something valuable in their experiences.
Have an suggestion for who the MH Hub should interview next? Get in touch, make a suggestion, or nominate yourself!
First up, our leadership circle – Danielle Keiser, Millena Bacalja Perianes and Mariana de la Roche – sat down and had an in-depth conversation with Ruby Cup CEO Julie Weigaard Kjaer. From startup investment to the importance of using gender inclusive language to whether they like long walks on the beach (yes, obviously), here are some of the highlights of this very interesting and intimate conversation between these two menstrual health enterprises.
On the biggest challenges in the world of menstrual health:
‘Our biggest challenge is making the world understand that menstrual health concerns everyone.’
Menstrual health affects so many areas. It has to do with reproductive health, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. It has to do with education and gender equity. So, our biggest challenge is making the world understand that it concerns everyone. It’s not a separate issue. For instance, in natural disasters, there are razors and basic essentials for men automatically included in outreach and help. And very often nobody thinks about menstrual products.
On the way technology and products can solve menstrual health related issues:
‘[The cup] promotes body literacy and better personal hygiene’
To a very large extent technology – such as period tracking apps – can reach so many people in a way that we weren’t able to do before we had these technologies. Products can also instigate behaviour change. So the menstrual cup forces people to get better awareness of their bodies. It promotes body literacy and better personal hygiene.
So although they can solve problems to a very large extent, obviously you also need education and people that are delivering the right information around these solutions.
On how they practice feminism in their business:
‘We really focus on being inclusive and try to incorporate gender neutral language as much as possible’
[Ruby Cup] had a huge learning a year ago where we had a survey that asked if people were women or men. And if they were men then they were thrown out of the survey. And then we got a transgender person that was very nice and had concrete and constructive feedback that there are people who menstruate that don’t identify as women. So since then we really focus on being inclusive and try to incorporate gender neutral language as much as possible.
Talking about women and girls is still very relevant in some of the realities we work in. In Kenya, for instance, transgender and gender neutral language is not their first concern. It’s a different audience, but we try to use gender neutral language where we can and where it’s relevant.
Also, if/when it becomes relevant to us as a company we will have equal parental leave.
On being a startup and hearing from investors:
‘A lot of experienced people asked…how are you ever going to earn money?’
When we were doing startup competitions and pitches and stuff, a lot of experienced people asked us if you can only sell the product one time and it lasts for 10 years, how are you ever going to earn money? That was the typical response. Kind of like, ‘are you sure you don’t want to just do a little charity? Do you really want to make a business?’
But we were headstrong on creating a business. There are millions and millions of people menstruating in the world and new menstruators are coming into the world every day.
On where Ruby Cup will be 5 years from now:
‘I hope we can expand and create an awesome portfolio of partners all over the world.’
Five years from now, I see Ruby Cup as being the leading menstrual cup brand in the world and expanding our impact programs into Asia and South America. We’ll have to expand our partner portfolio, which is really the strength of our model and how we’re able to scale. So, I hope we can expand and create an awesome portfolio of partners all over the world. And really have so much reach we can start to pull numbers on research and data.