Welcome to episode 7 of the Aunt Flo Show, where I interview Amanda Wilson, founder of Voxapod (a new menstrual cup). You can listen to it here:
Or, check it out on YouTube:
Episode 7 Show Notes
Check out the interview with Voxapod’s founder, Amanda Wilson (voxapod.com). We talk about a range of things, including:
– How Amanda became interested in menstrual cups
– Why she created the Voxapod and the extensive testing process she went through
– What sets this menstrual cup apart from the rest of them on the market
– The Tampax Cup and the future of eco-friendly period products
– How menstrual cups have the potential to change the world for the better
– Plus lots more!
Tune in for this interesting interview with a pioneer in the menstrual cup movement. It’s a can’t miss episode for the Aunt Flo Show.
You can find Amanda online here:
And, you can contact the Aunt Flo Show, submit your TMI moment, or check out all the episodes here:
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Where to Find the Aunt Flo Show?
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Aunt Flo Show Episode 7 Transcript
Jackie: Hi everybody, this is Jackie and welcome back to episode seven of the Aunt Flo Show. So we have a special episode today, Tracy’s not here with us, but instead I have Amanda Wilson who is the founder of Voxapod. It’s a new menstrual cup that’s just come onto the market in the past couple of years or not the past couple of years, couple months actually. Sorry. But I think it’s been in the works for a few years. So welcome to the show Amanda.
Amanda: Hi, thanks so much for having me Jackie.
Jackie: And so can you please just introduce yourself and just let us know kind of why you got interested in menstrual cups and what your history is with that.
Amanda: Yeah. Well like you said, my name’s Amanda and the Genesis story of Voxapod is actually kind of entertaining. So I’m a scuba school dropout. But my instructor was amazing and her and I connected. I called her, I said, look, this is supposed to be recreational for me and I’m having like anxiety about three feet. And it was not the pool water, but all the scuba gear. It’s all the equipment, everything that goes on your face. And then you know, the regulator and trying to breathe underwater.
Anyway, her and I were hanging out one day. We decided to be friends even though I didn’t complete the course and, but I was thinking about her profession. She owns a dive shop and she’s a dive master. And for those of you who have not scuba dived, I really don’t think there’s any sport on the planet that requires more equipment. You suit up and you get this wet suit all on. It would not be very convenient to have to go change a pad or a tampon.
Jackie: I actually used to be a scuba diving instructor and it was a former life in Asia like in Thailand and South Korea and the Philippines and places like that. So I know all about the gear and then also all about the period problems when you’re stuck on like a tiny little dive boat and there’s no bathroom and you have your period. So it’s like, I hear you when you’re saying these things for sure.
Amanda: And she would go out and certify. So she’s in this dry suit for, I don’t know, 10, 12 hours or something. And I just asked her, I’m like, and I was bodybuilding at the time. I still lift a lot, but I was having trouble with tampons and I said, Gretchen like what do you do when you’re suited up and you’re out there certifying, how are you changing a pad or a tampon? She said I’m not. I said, what do you mean you’re not? She goes, Oh I use a cup. And it was the first time I had heard about it and first of all, the word was slightly off putting to me. Because the thought of like a cup in your vagina. It didn’t sound great. But I remember asking her more about it and then I wasn’t totally convinced.
And then the following, about two weeks later, I was at the gym. I had just finished swimming laps and I had that oversaturated tampon experience where you have like diluted bloody pool water running down your leg. And this woman came into the locker room and she was chatting with me and she walked away, and I looked down and I had this like, you know diluted bloody water. And you know, I’m 37. I’ve had children, I’m very familiar with my anatomy. I was not embarrassed, but I was very annoyed because I had a white towel from the gym and now, I had to figure out how I was going to, you know get 15 feet to the toilet to try and you know, without leaving a trail.
And I’m like, that’s it. I’m going to try this cup thing. And the concept was so brilliant to me. I’m like, how have I not heard about this? Why has nobody told me about this? I’m very, very active. And so kind of what ended up happening for me as I tried several different cups and ultimately the concept is really brilliant, but there’s always one or two things I wished I could change about the cup to either make it more comfortable or more effective or to like be able to keep up with my active lifestyle.
What ultimately kind of tipped that iceberg or tipped that over for me into action was I was climbing Mt. Saint Helens and I had another brand cup in, and I saw another user’s like tampon debris on the mountain in this, you know beautiful conservation area. I was like, that’s it. Like I just, I’ve got to create something that active women or you know, women can use. And if the cups on the current market aren’t, you know fitting all of my needs, then they may not be fitting everyone else’s needs. I want to run a test group and have lots of women informed the design of this cup. So that’s what we did.
So we started about two and a half years ago and we ran a test group for 18 months. Believe it or not, you can’t rush that process. You actually cannot make women menstruate faster.
Jackie: Yeah. There’s like limiting factor for sure.
Amanda: And so that’s kind of how it started. And then in addition to that, it was really important to me that the brand and the company and the product were used to create impact particularly around making sure that marginalized girls have access to safe period care so they can stay in school.
Jackie: Also what kind of programs does your company have related to that?
Amanda: Yeah, so we are a benefit corporation and right now we have one vetted partner that we work with fem international. They’re located in South East Africa. And we work specifically with them because we feel like they’re addressing the problem systemically, which is what we want to be doing. And by that what I mean is they’re not just making sure that girls have access to safe products and whether it’s our product or a pad, we don’t care. But they are using sustainable products.
So it’s biodegradable pads or they’re giving girls you know, access to different menstrual cup brands. And we appreciate that they give these girls that option, cause it’s such a personal choice. So that piece is really important. The fact that they’re using sustainable products, they’re not just providing product, but they’re providing menstrual health, education and advocacy. So these girls actually stay in school. And the idea of being that, you know, we know statistically if a girl complete secondary school she will marry later or she’ll have fewer children, she’ll earn higher wages.
Women often reinvest 90% of their earnings back into their local community. And then their children ultimately do better. So it’s really addressing that systemically by not just meeting the immediate need and doing it in a way that’s ecofriendly, but doing it in a way that actually catapults this young girl’s life on a track of economic development where she can have a higher quality life and improve her community as well. So that’s what we’re looking for. And the other systemic way that we look at creating change is through policy reform.
We’re getting ready to launch like a, it’s called voxavoices, but it’s an ambassador program just to help mobilize the conversation around people making more conscious choices and policy reforms specifically around you know, eradicating the luxury tax on period products.
Jackie: Yes, The pink tax.
Amanda: Yeah, the pink tax, because I had a girlfriend say to me, Hey, I’m going to go treat myself and buy a box of tampon. That’s a luxury. Those are really the two main areas that we are set on focusing our impact work is around keeping girls in school, particularly marginalized girls in the developing world. And then policy reform around accessibility and affordability of safe period care products.
Jackie: Yeah. I’ve always said menstrual cups have the potential to change the world for the better. And there’s just so many reasons, like the ones you mentioned, helping girls stay in school longer and yeah, just like it is cheaper for everyone no matter where they live or, and in some cases, I guess in North America it’s often not a case of like not being able to afford period products or not having access to them.
But I mean for like people on low incomes, that can even make a huge difference not having to pay for tampons every month. And yeah, just thinking about the environmental impact and also does, it’s better for your health I think, because they don’t contain toxic chemicals and things like tampons use.
So yeah, I’m all about menstrual cups. Definitely I’m sure my listeners will know that by now if they listened to a few episodes. I’m maybe a super fan of the cups. So let’s just go back to you telling your story about that test group that you did for 18 months. So what were some things that you discovered in that process and like what were people unhappy with about their cups that they were trying before?
Amanda: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s always the obvious things which are, well, I insert the cup, but I couldn’t tell if it was fully opened or I was experiencing leaks because I didn’t get a good seal. From a product design standpoint, the way most cups resolve that is by making the silicone firmer or losing a hudder what’s called durometer. But then what you lose some of the pliability and comfort of the cup. And so there’s this real limbo of, you know they wanted a leak proof seal.
But something that was a little more soft and malleable, so when they’re moving and going about their day or sitting or in different positions, virtually can’t feel the cup right. So what we did is sort of a combination between the two. We use a firmer structure that helps the cup open up and create that perfect seal. But the body of the cup is still really soft and malleable. So it contours and move with your body. We heard that women were having a hard time with removing the cup or breaking the suction. So the advantage of getting a good seal is then you don’t have leaks.
The challenge then is if you go to remove it and you can’t break the seal, it can be kind of painful to remove. And so we innovated ribbing that goes along the side of the cup towards the suction hole. So when you pinch at the base, it automatically pulls the whole wall or site of the cup in to break the seal and give you that like pain-free removal.
Jackie: I mean the best cups definitely strike a balance between the two being firm enough that it’s easy to insert and just pops open, but then yeah not being uncomfortable once it’s inside to you. So yeah, definitely it’s interesting to kind of hear about the production side of it. It’s like consumers just get the, you know product and they don’t really necessarily even think about it.
Amanda: And I would say the other thing that we heard, and you know, it varied from, there’s no user that’s the same, believe it or not, nobody’s vaginal canal is shaped exactly the same.
Jackie: I believe you. That one for sure.
Amanda: You know, they didn’t want something that was hard that would poke. And you know, I think the shape of our cup was really informed by trying to eliminate the harder stem or the more conical base. If somebody has a pretty high cervix, I think they can use a more conical shaped cop and it’s not bothersome at all.
But if that’s not the case or depending on how your vaginal canal is shaped having something that has a more rounded base and a softer stem where you don’t experience that poking, whether it’s, you know we have testers that would say, Oh my gosh every time I would sit at my desk with this other cup, it would poke me. And this one just not. And so yeah, there were multiple things. What was actually probably the most fascinating thing about running the test group though Jackie was the qualitative data.
So we’ve got a lot of quantitative data which was you know informed the design of the cup. But then there was a lot of qualitative data, which was just what was happening psychologically when women were either first learning to use a comp or switching from one brand to another, or just some of their internal fears that they had about using it. And they would even say it, logically I don’t know where this is coming from because I know it can’t get lost or stuck in there.
Jackie: I know I say that all the time to people.
Amanda: And it took her several cycles to get past that fear. And what she did, she was you know a total convert. But yeah, the qualitative data was very fascinating to us as a brand and a company. And also just as you know we’re, the majority of our team is women and we really, we are also users, the experience of this menstrual cup. And we want to have a good experience. So, and we want other people to have a good experience with it.
So I think that’s reflected, but that really stems from being able to listen first and hear what people want and what they need and what’s going to work best for them. And you can assume and make assumptions, but that’s never a good way to make decisions. You should always ask your customers or your potential customers first what it is that they want and need. And that’s what we really tried to do. And design based on that.
Jackie: My background a little bit is in like building websites and that kind of thing. So I took a class at university about user experience and we talked about a lot about user centered design. So if you’re designing something, the worst way to go about it is to say, here’s this product, everybody uses it. And then figuring out who can use it or like how they can use it.
Where what you did, going to your customers first, potential customers first and asking them, what do you want? How can we design a product that works for you and that you need and that will be better than the competition? It’s refreshing, I think the companies that do that. And yeah, it sounds like a really valuable process I think that you went through.
Amanda: It was, it requires a lot more patients and you know, funding and time just because you know, we could have been quicker about getting to the market and there’s been a lot of brands that have hit the market in the last two, three years. But I don’t regret the time that we took to listen to our market and try and create something that we thought they would want and that would meet their need.
Jackie: So then after that process, after those 18 months were done, where did you go from there? Like to get it manufactured? And you guys had a Kickstarter campaign or something like that. So how did that all work?
Amanda: Yeah. Crowdfunding is a beast. It’s not for the faint of heart by any means. And we went that direction very strategically because we’ve been selffunded at this point. The seed money that we used was my retirement money. That’s how much I believe in the work that we’re doing. It’s very intersectional from an impact standpoint. And to me, it was worth that investment. But then we got to a place where in order to get our tooling and move to the next phase of manufacturing we needed more funds.
And so we ran a crowd funding campaign. And that was a huge learning curve for us. But the idea was that the market would either want what we have or wouldn’t and it would validate the work that we were doing and say, yeah you know, we want this or if we didn’t, and then we would figure out what next steps were from there. But we had a really great Kickstarter campaign. We had nearly 1200 people preorder and support the campaign, most of whom we didn’t know. Which was really refreshing. And just to get the positive feedback from them.
Manufacturing did not go smoothly at all. Any challenge that could have possibly arose did. We’re really grateful for our backers for being so patient while we sort of ironed through that. The bulk of that was completely out of our realm of control and even some of that was out of the realm of our manufacturer’s control. And so we’re actually right now in the process of retooling and moving our manufacturing to California. So, which is where we originally were going to be. But it just, there’s so many variables that take place and a lot of people don’t realize this, but a menstrual cup is a class two medical device. And so it does need to be in compliance with FDA regulation.
Even though all brands aren’t doing that, it should be. And what that does is it just ensures that the end product that a user’s getting is the highest quality and the lowest risk of you know, health wise. And really there’s virtually no risk with using menstrual cups in comparison particularly to disposables. But still if, you know you’re not using the highest quality silicone or the manufacturing processes are not done well etc., that can impact the end user. And so that was something we were never willing to skimp on, which just meant the journey took a little bit longer.
Jackie: Yeah, It’s a bit of a wild West in terms of like things like FDA approval. And then obviously each country has their own similar body or similar regulations. And in very few places are they actually regulated well. So it’s kind of a case of like, buyer beware what you’re actually getting, which I certainly wish that wasn’t the case. I wish the government had some sort of, you know, like you have to use medical grade Silicon and etc. I guess that would be the main thing.
But yeah, I hope that will change at some point in time. I think that would be better for consumers if they just knew that everything, they bought on amazon.com or every menstrual cup they bought there was safe to use, like high quality are made from like medical grade materials. That would be so refreshing instead of people getting confused and like not being sure exactly what they’re getting.
Amanda: And sometimes that’s not disclosed. You know, sometimes you go hunting on some, you know, at these brands websites and you can’t even tell what silicone they use to make it. And so yeah, it’s really important to make sure that you’re checking that and looking at the quality and the certifications of the factory that it’s being made at because they can go out of business if they’re not, you know, and they’ve got a lot of money riding on it.
These manufacturers do cause it’s all of their, all the businesses that they’re making products for. So they have to be in compliance. But if that’s not being disclosed anywhere, that’s a red flag for a consumer. But you’re right, and sometimes I think the transition of switching from disposables to a menstrual cup can be somewhat overwhelming. That might even be an afterthought for some people. You know, what’s the material like? What’s the quality of the material and what do you mean medical grade? There’s different grades of medical grade.
Jackie: Yeah, it’s true. There’s words like I always tell people that read my blog or listen to my podcast, there’s things like platinum grade, diamond grade, food grade, all of those things just avoid, the only word you’re looking for is basically like medical grade and anything that’s not, is not okay to put in your body. I’m not a doctor of course. So it probably might be okay, but it’s like, it’s not actually the highest quality. I personally wouldn’t do it.
Amanda: Yeah. It’s not been tested for biocompatibility where the higher levels of medical grade silicone like plus 6, which is what we use. That’s actually the highest grade. Is the most biocompatible because it has been tested and is actually used for implants. So, you know, there’s less, just less risk of anything. But also if they’re using that level of silicone it’s more likely too that the facility it’s being made in is you know, clean room and you know, there’s not going to be any contaminants or anything and you’re getting a really safe, healthy product that’s going to last a long time.
That’s the other thing is the grades of silicone, the higher the grade you can tell it’s higher. I mean, you could just feel it in your hand, and you can tell it’s better Silicone. Just the malleability of it. The durability of it. Like, I mean, we’ve [21:46 inaudible] tests and we do insane things. I mean, it’s actually kind of fun.
Jackie: And how long do you tell your consumers that your cup last or do you avoid saying something like that?
Amanda: No, our language on that is very careful because it used to be that you could say over 10 years. But now the FDA actually in the United States requires that we say they should be replaced every two to three years, which I don’t love saying that because I know that with proper care you can use a cup for years. And so that is actually what we say.
We say with proper care, your cup is reusable for years. However, the FDA requires us to tell you that your cups should be replaced every two to three years. So you know, within that you can make your own discretionary decision. But as a company we have to share that. But I feel like we share it in a way that allows you to think for yourself.
Jackie: Yeah, I love that. I love that. For sure. Yeah. It’s like the big company’s kind of take different approaches. The diva cup says every one to two years at least That was a few months ago the last time I checked on that. But then a big company like the Lena cup for example, I honestly, I was doing a review of their product and I like scoured their website. Like, I honestly think I spent like two or three hours looking at basically everything, how long does the, or how long can you use this cup before replacing it? And they just didn’t answer that question, which I thought was super interesting.
So I guess, so companies take different approaches to that for sure. But I like your approach of just giving people kind of the facts or like the honest information and then they can use their own discretion or yeah. Think for themselves, I guess related to that.
Jackie: Okay. So if someone goes to Amazon or your website or they’re just doing some research about which menstrual cup to buy, what are just a few quick reasons why they might consider the Voxapod over say like the diva cup for example? Or not the diva. I’m not picking on the diva cup or the Lunette Cup or the Lena Cup, whatever the competition.
Amanda: You know, there’s a lot of great brands out there. And I have some mad respect for some of them because I think some of them are really doing a lot of things right. Not just their cup, but also as a company with their values, their supply chain. You know, so I actually have a lot of great things to say about some other brands, but I think some of the differentiators, like differentiators for Voxapod is we’re one of the shortest cups on the market without compromising too much in volume.
Our cup is clearly, it’s one of the only utility patents pending design. So for those who don’t know much about patents, there’s two kinds. There’s design patents and there’s utility patents. And a design patent is basically you take a design that already exists in the market and you may be tweak something on it.
So maybe you change the look of this stem or you change the lip of the cup or maybe you make it a little bit more colorful or a little bit more bell-shaped. And then you can get a design patent for that. So you’re not actually changing the way that the cup functions. You’re just changing something about the appearance of it. So there’s most cups on the market that you see are design patented.
Ours is utility patent pending and that’s because the features that we’ve created with Voxapod actually impact how the cup functions and is designed to be the most comfortable cup and to give you the most security in having a leak proof seal. And we do that cause there’s several features. If you go on our website to the how does Voxapod different, you can actually see visuals of how it’s different. But we’ve got the ribs that allow the suction to be broken more easily, which I kind of referenced earlier.
There’s also a center belly band where the silicon’s a little bit thicker around the circle, like the center circumference of the cup. And what that does is it helps aid the cup in popping open once it’s inserted. So you kind of get that very clear, distinct, Oh, it’s open. I can feel good about that. I’m not going to run out the door dress clothes and have a leak in an hour. So and then we have pinch grips at the base that are ergonomic.
And there’s also a little bit of a cavity where the stem is attached so that if you’re someone who has a lower cervix and you want to remove this stem, you can actually trim up inside that cavities so that you have a really smooth, flush, rounded bottoms. So you’re not getting any poking. You don’t have any jagged silicone at the bottom. If you’ve ever tried to cut silicone, you can’t really get it super smooth.
Jackie: I honestly never thought about that actually for that is genius actually. I think yeah, it’s just was like, I’ll just cut the stem off. That’s what I tell people. But yeah, I love that there’s, I’m actually noticing that right now for the first-time kind of the recess in there to make it more comfortable.
Amanda: Yeah, those are some of the main features. I mean, and then just having a flexible stem, a lot of cups have a harder stem or they’re more conical based at the bottom. Which again, it just kind of depends on your body shape, but that may not be the most comfortable. So, you know ours has a rounded base and a flexible stem with comfort sort of being you know, the highest priority. Obviously, you want a cup that works, but if it’s not comfortable, it doesn’t even matter if it works.
Jackie: Yeah. That’s so true. Yeah If you get like, yeah, whatever cramps or like the stem is sticking out of you and you’re kind of walk, yeah, it’s not great, it’s not great. And actually I have your cup in my hand right now. You sent me a sample and it actually, I felt like held all the cups in my hand. I think I get samples from all the companies for my website to review. But yours is certainly very different in design than the other ones. So I definitely recommend people head over to your website, which I think, is it www.voxapod.com?
Amanda: It is. Oh yeah.
Jackie: Head over there and check it out for yourself. It’s quite interesting actually. And yeah, all the things you mentioned, like the grips on the bottom and then that circle kind of around the middle to give a bit of a rigidity and then the flexible stem. Yeah, it’s like, and I’ve actually used your cup.
I tried it out and yeah, those things that you mentioned about like it’s easy to insert and to get it to open, it’s comfortable, it’s easy to remove. I definitely found true as well. And yeah, I mean I get all the cups, so I sample and try them, but there’s some that I just put in and I’m like, oh no, I’ll use it for like a day, maybe even like a couple hours. And I’m like, I got to get that outta there.
Amanda: I had quite a few like that. I mean I did lot of market research because I mean, and that was that is I am my consumer. Somebody introduced me to menstrual cups and I really wanted it to work, but I was like, this one’s not comfortable, or I would be mid hike and I’d have to like to stop and readjust it and, or it would move. And I’m one that has a very low cervix. And so thee longer cups for me, they weren’t even an option. I couldn’t even get them all the way inserted.
Jackie: Yeah. That’s a big problem for sure.
Amanda: Yeah. So we do offer like a money back guarantee, so it’s a risk for you to try. And we do that because we believe that every women’s body is shaped different and they should have the option to be able to try it and see how it feels and fits and if it’s, you know, if it’s going to work for their body
Jackie: Yeah, that’s, so previously after I would try the cups, I would have my like go to one that I was like, okay, I’m just going to get the one that I like. And it was the Sckoon Cup, which I really enjoy. It’s so nice. Yeah. I think it’s in some ways like the flexibility and firmness of it. It’s similar to yours. It’s like flexible and comfortable, but it’s also firm enough that it opens quite easily. But after trying yours, I was like it’s a close, it’s it rivals. So you are both sitting in bathroom and I’m like, oh which one should I try? Or which one should I use for like my comfort cup that just feels good inside my body. So yeah, I’m happy to have found another one for sure.
Amanda: I love hearing that. And you know, it’s funny too, I think sometimes, you know we get users that actually need both sizes and they might need different cups for different points in their cycle. A lot of women don’t realize that their cervix actually drops mid cycle and so they might need a bigger cup or a different shaped cup for their heavy flow day, you know, day one or two. But then when their cervix drops and their, you know, flow kind of lightens up, they might prefer a smaller or shorter cup. And so I think that’s great that you’ve got back up then an extra options and but I’m happy to hear too that it was comfortable and that it worked great for you.
Jackie: Most definitely. Okay, so let’s kind of change gears here. So I’m a little bit of a menstrual cup nerd and so whenever I go to Walmart or just like any big drug store here in Canada, I always go to the period product section and then I’m like, oh do they have cloth pads here? Or like what’s new in like organic tampons or I check out to see how many menstrual cups they have on the shelf and what brands they’re offering and that kind of thing.
So here in Canada, probably three or four years ago, there was literally like the diva cup was all you could find, which is the diva cup is manufactured in Canada. So that’s probably why. But it’s also the most popular menstrual cup probably in many countries around the world, which is also why it was there.
But recently I’ve been seeing more and more cups and things like cloth pads and organic tampons and organic disposable pads and on the shelves. And it’s a refreshing change to have choices, but perhaps the most interesting thing was the Tampax Cup. So Tampax famous for their tampons recently made a menstrual cup. This is probably, I don’t know, six months to a year ago or something like that.
Amanda: It was just about six months; I think you’re right.
Jackie: So I was just waiting, I was waiting for one of the big companies to kind of jump on the bandwagon of the eco-friendly period products. So yeah. I’m just wondering kind of what your thoughts are, and do you have any predictions about the future, or do you think you’ll see like the Tampax cup in convenience stores next to tampons? Is that a thing that will happen or do you think it will always kind of be a little bit of a like second, playing second to I guess to like tampons or yeah.
Amanda: No, I think you know, since the tampon was innovated 90 years to go, we’re seeing a total insurgence of innovative products, particularly around menstrual health. And the trend for menstrual cups is absolutely like the market trend is absolutely predicted to continue to be on the rise.
Like right now, I think it only occupies close to 5% of the market and that’s supposed to just continue to go up over the next 15, 20 years. And I don’t see it hitting a saturation point anytime soon because still the majority of menstrual traders are using disposables. I think I had somebody, actually my publicist and I were having a great conversation when Tampax hit the market, because we both saw it at the same time.
It was a great thing. The reason is, and this is, I say that and that’s not a, I don’t know a lot about, I know some about their actual cup and I’ve seen it. So I don’t say that to validate the product itself, but I say the fact that a big brand that is, you know, backed with a lot of money that historically has been making money off of women who purchase repetitively every month were willing to make a reusable product and put their name on it and put research into it.
It was a win for anybody in the menstrual cup industry because what it really did is, it validated and gave credibility to menstrual cups in the market as being a product that, I mean I think you can attest to this as you having been a user for a long time, is that they’re, you know, historically menstrual cups just didn’t have the same credibility that they do now. You’re seeing it more; you’re hearing about it more. And that’s social validation, right? Which consumers want when they’re considering a product, if they’ve never heard of it. And it’s so great, why haven’t they heard of it?
Jackie: Yeah, for sure. It’s kind of gone, it used to be this underground thing that people talk about in parties. And now it’s kind of like, Oh, what cup do you use? Like it’s like a totally normal, Oh, I’ve heard about that, but I just haven’t tried it yet. Like it’s kind of becoming way more of a mainstream thing I guess from like the underground, like, Oh my God, what’s that? What? That’s crazy. Like, Oh cool. That’s like, I just haven’t tried it yet, but I want to kind of thing.
Amanda: Which I think is a win for everybody and especially if your heart’s in it for the right reasons, meaning you know, I mean, there’s trillions of disposables we throw into landfills and waterways every year. There’s 1.8 billion women menstruating globally. Like that’s a lot. And so when you think about that and you think about if they’re laden with chemical toxins that not only are horrible to put in the most absorbent part of our female anatomy, but they’re not great to be leaching into our landfills and waterways that provide our sustained living right.
So whenever we can move in a direction culturally to something that helps mitigate the environmental destruction that we have been doing as humans, it’s a win. So that’s kind of like a you know a real global, big global picture. I don’t think that at any point these big brands will move away from disposables. There’s just too much profit margin in it for them.
You know, I can’t speak to their intention, but I do know when they take a move or a step in that direction that it helps the rest of us tremendously. I was a little disappointed to see that their product comes with a lot of disposable.
Jackie: Oh, I know. I was like, you didn’t. You went 80% of the way. Why not just go a 100% of the way?
Amanda: Because that’s not actually part of their brand. I would say, you know.
Jackie: Yeah, it’s not their identity I guess, or what their…
Amanda: It’s not, it’s not, you know, when you’re not a benefit corporation when you’re just a for profit. And that’s not to say you can’t have company values, but the difference is, if you understand the shareholders, if you’re not a benefit corporation and you have shareholders, which obviously they do, they’ve had several rounds of investment over decades you have to show increased profit margin here over here. And if you don’t show that, you can be removed from your position, the board or the CEO.
Where the actual opposite is true with benefit corporations. If you’re at the helm or you’re on the board or you’re in the CEO position and you’re not making decisions that factor people and planet, and of course they want to see profitability, right? As well. But if you’re putting profitability over people and planet, you can actually be removed from your own company for those reasons.
And so it goes back to the business structure in part. Which is why it was so important for us to structure the way that we did. And I think consumers are getting smarter and smarter. But I don’t think there’s going to be, I think we’re going to continue to see innovation and not just growth of menstrual cops, but I think we’re going to continue to see more innovative products for women’s health in general as more and more women become business owners.
And that’s a whole another area that I’m super passionate about is seeing women be successful in business. I founded a nonprofit for that here in Portland to help female founders who have scalable companies.
But as we start to see more and more women in those positions, we’re going to see more and more products that are designed with a woman’s body and mind and a woman’s health in mind because we as the founders are also having those lived experiences, whether it’s seen health problems or struggles that family member, a mother, a sister friend have gone through or we’ve experienced ourselves. That informs our decisions as founders and just the type of products that we put out. So I just think that it’s, it’s just starting, it’s just beginning. It’s a $38 billion industry.
Jackie: I actually did a consultation with another big company about menstrual cups and they were just in the very, very, very beginning stages of just talking about menstrual cups. And I was, yes, super interesting. And I was like, Oh, they saw the Tampax cup or like, what can we do? Or like, so it’ll be probably a year or two from now, I guess to see what they come up with. But yeah, it’s definitely starting.
I think it’s like the Tampax started like the tidal wave or the tsunami I think of other yeah, like more cups come into the market, but I think actually they’re just going to expand the total market of people not using tampons and using menstrual cups. So my prediction is actually that these big companies getting into the space, there’s still going to be room for all the small companies and it’s actually going to sell more of the smaller companies cups just cause the total market, which is just going to be, you know, from like 5% like you mentioned to like I hope 20% within like five years from now would be amazing I think.
Amanda: I think that’s a very fair prediction. You know, people resonate with different brands for different reasons. So you know, somebody that buys Tampax maybe wouldn’t be my target market and that’s okay. And they might be too, you know. But there’s plenty of room in the market for all of us. There really is.
I can’t speak to their cup like I said, but I think it was a win for everybody in the menstrual cup business or you know, promoting more sustainable period care products to see a big brand sort of socially validate the concept and create some press and create some spotlight and some talk around menstrual cups as a whole.
And then it’s up to the consumer to do research on what cup they want, you know. But it definitely, it also you know, diva cup, as you mentioned, has pioneered into the retail space quite nicely. And I think Tampax will as well. But what that does is that just whoever does the pioneering has to spend the most money.
Jackie: Yeah. I know. I hope all these smaller companies actually take advantage of Tampax cups big marketing budget. That’s actually would be my dream of this whole, this whole thing.
Amanda: Yeah. What they’re doing is they’re paving the way for some of the rest of us to breach that barrier of entry into those segments of the market. So it’s great. It’s a great thing.
Jackie: Yeah, I think it’s good news for sure. All right, so we’re getting to about 45 minutes here, so I think maybe let’s wrap it up. So maybe we can just finish off with where people can find you or where people can find your cup and yeah, things like that. Whatever else you’d like to mention at the end here.
Amanda: Yeah, so we right now are only sold on our website, which is www.voxapod.com. And if you sign up for our email newsletter, you can get 15% off. And we don’t send a ton of emails. We try to really respect your inbox, but what we do send, we feel like hopefully add some value and enrichment to your life, whether it’s educational content. We currently have a really great blog post on how to manage your menstrual cup in public bathrooms written by Jackie Bolen and myself. Yeah.
And you know, we’ll eventually be in retail. We’ve got a couple of grocery stores right now in California that are zero plastic grocery stores that we’re hoping to be in by this fall. So we’ve got some fun movement. If you’re not a menstrual cup user and, or you have one that you can also donate one to a girl in need to help her stay in school or look at or consider, you know, donating to our partner direct feminine international. We’re very passionate about the work that they’re doing and rather than reinventing the wheel, we wanted to get behind them and support what they’re doing in whatever way that we could.
So there’s lots and lots of ways to get involved. If you sign up for our email newsletter too, you’ll get to hear about when we launched this new ambassador program of voxavoices, if you’re into mobilizing the menstrual equity movement or policy reform around that, we would love to hear from you and just connect.
Jackie: And what about on social media? Are you guys active on any of the platforms?
Amanda: Yeah, we are on all of our platforms and our handle is just @voxapod. So we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We’re on a few others, but those are the three that were the most active.
Jackie: Okay. That sounds great. Thank you so much Amanda, and I feel like we’ve actually could have talked for another two or three hours, so I’d love to have you again on a future, a future episode if you’re open to that.
Amanda: I would love it. Jackie: Okay, sounds great. So thanks for checking out the Aunt Flo Show everybody. You can find us at www.auntfloshow.com. So all the show notes and we’ll have the transcripts up there and then also the contact information. And don’t forget to submit your TMI moment. Alright everyone, until the next episode. Take care. Bye.
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