“Aunt Flo,” “shark week,” “the crimson tide,” whatever you call it, periods are a prevalent part of all our lives. As awkward as it can be to talk about, they affect so many of us in some form. When Aunt Flo comes to town, we each have our own routine as to how we deal with her chaos. Whether it’s in the form of tampons, pads, menstrual cups, or something else, every person who experiences a menstrual cycle has their own monthly tradition of dealing with the chaos… But how do we know that we are choosing the best option for our bodies and for the environment around us?
Like so many others, I spent the majority of my teenage years completely oblivious to any menstrual alternatives with the exception of the well-known tampons and pads. That is, however, up until I learned about menstrual cups. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Robyn McLean and Mary Bond— the co-founders of the Hello Cup, a menstrual cup company based in New Zealand. After hearing what they had to say, my perspective on menstrual products shifted entirely.
The dynamic duo, Mary and Robyn, have been best friends since they were 11 years of age. McLean, a former journalist, and Bond, a registered nurse, were determined to start the business after Robyn tried her first menstrual cup: “It was instantly life-changing and I picked up the phone and called Mary (who has been my best friend since we were 11) and completely over-shared my experience with her,” McLean enthused. “However, I said to Mary that I thought we could design an even better cup.”
McLean continued, “We’d always talked about going into business together but we’d never managed to come up with an idea [that] used our existing skills (and still sounded like a good plan when we were sober) until we had the idea of starting the Hello Cup Company.” Soon after, the Hello Cup was born.
“We immediately started researching and brainstorming and came up with our key tag lines ‘bloody brilliant’ and ‘no strings attached’ very quickly. It took us longer to find the right name for our company,” McLean explained. From the beginning, it was clear to Mary and Robyn that they wanted to create a brand that would yield a positive connotation to menstruation in an attempt to break the negative stigma and normalize the discussion of periods. “Eventually we came up with ‘hello.’ — a play on words to mean ‘hello period’ which we felt captured how we wanted people to view their periods. […] We wanted to encourage them to welcome their monthly cycle rather than dread it,” McLean remarked.
To many people who experience periods, menstrual cups can seem a bit daunting at first. Personally, as someone who is always looking for a more eco-friendly alternative, I’ve considered menstrual cups in the past and have chickened out due to their seemingly-intimidating nature. However, McLean advised, “Seriously –– if you are reading this and sitting on the fence about trying a menstrual cup –– JUST DO IT! I think many are put off because they look at them and think ‘how the hell do I get that in my vagina[?]!’”
McLean continued, “Menstrual cups are actually folded before you insert them so the diameter ends up being no bigger than a tampon. Also, because they don’t dry you out, they go in easily. They then pop open. If they’re in the right position, you don’t feel them at all. Unlike tampons, you can wear them for up to 12 hours.” In addition to this long-lasting wear, each cup is designed to last at least five years! From both an environmental and financial standpoint, this is an outstanding solution.
The benefits of using the Hello Cup don’t end there, however. Contrary to many other menstrual cups on the market, the Hello Cup was created with comfort at the forefront of their design. The cups are smooth, rounded, and flexible enough to insert comfortably while also being sturdy enough to keep everything contained. Moreover, McLean explained, “We made a conscious decision to make Hello Cups from medical grade thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) rather than silicone which makes them completely hypoallergenic and recyclable.”
In addition to the menstrual cups themselves, the Hello Cup company also offers machine-washable reusable panty liners called Hello Liners as well as a hand and cup sanitizing spray called Hello Go. Currently, the Hello Cup is retailed to the U.S. exclusively through their website and Urban Outfitters (online only), however they hope to expand even more in the future. “We think Hello Cups are the most comfortable menstrual cup available so our aim is for them to be the world’s best-known brand,” McLean explained.
After learning about the countless benefits of using a menstrual cup, particularly the Hello Cup, I can confidently say that my initial apprehensions in regard to making the switch from traditional tampons are resolved. I can safely say that I’ll be attempting to make the switch in the future, and I encourage our readers to do the same.
To conclude the interview, McLean had one final piece of advice for our college readers: “Buy a Hello Cup and you will have more money for beer! In all seriousness –– they are not only amazing for the environment but they will save you heaps of money. You also never get caught short. You can put a Hello Cup in before your period is due too so, again, no nasty surprises. If you’re in a dorm with shared bathrooms, cleaning a cup is still easy. When you empty it you can just wipe it out with loo paper and reinsert until you are near a private tap. Or alternatively, just take your water bottle into the cubicle with you to rinse it. Feel free to send us an email if you have any other questions! Our email is [email protected].”