The global feminine hygiene market is a big one. So big, in fact, that it is expected to reach $42.7 billion by 2022. But cashing in on a piece of such profits is not what drove Brown to invest their life savings in the development of a better menstrual cup design after discovering this little-known type of period product back in 2011.
"I was an immediate convert," Brown recalls "It was so much better than pads or tampons. But I have a critical social thought background and was always thinking about design modifications that would make the product even better. Fast forward a few years, and I saw that [none of the manufacturers] were making any improvements, even though a search of comments online showed they were clearly needed. As the existing companies were not going to address those needs, I set out to create a better product myself."
Brown explains that Kind Cup's patented menstrual cup design puts the customer experience first. "I incorporated over 20 different design elements to provide a positive experience to the end consumer," Brown continues. From the adjustable, elongated removal stem to the product's overall shape, "it's designed so they don't even have to think about it. It's comfortable. It's effective. And it's easy to use."
It was important to Brown that Kind Cup's products were of a higher quality and more sustainably produced than other menstrual cups on the market as well. They chose the best California-based medical device contract manufacturers they could find and source all materials within a two-hour radius. Each cup is made with 100 percent medical-grade silicone that meets FDA regulations and conforms to biological testing protocols for system toxicity, intracutaneous toxicity, and seven-day implant.
Since launching in November 2019, the company's product has since sold out twice, and Brown says there are some "really exciting expansions in terms of product options" on the way.
California consumers can find Kind Cup's menstrual cups at a few local retail partners. Consumers anywhere can place an order on the company's website. "We're currently restocking, and In our next stage, we're reaching out to strategically partner with other retailers who align with our values," Brown adds. "We're not interested in the big box stores at this point."
Challenges: "Awareness," Brown says. "I still have conversations with people who do not know what a menstrual cup is. Beyond that, our challenge is ensuring that we can stay on top of the demand along with the [production] lead time as a medical device and the material shortages out there. Hopefully the raw material will continue to be available, or that's something that would impact everyone in the space."
Opportunities: Brown says the company has the opportunity to both grow and change lives for the better. "The more people who try our product, the greater our opportunity for positive impact," Brown continues. "That, for me, is what keeps me going. This is a life changing product. Sure, there are other cups out there, and they may work fine for a lot of people. But no one should have to settle, and there was room for improvement and a better experience."
Additionally, as the company grows, it can increase its efforts to reduce period poverty and the financial burden of securing period-related products. A 2019 survey of 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 55 found that nearly half have faced a lack of access to sanitary products, with 60 percent stating they've had to budget in order to afford sanitary items and 79 percent reporting they've made sacrifices in order to afford these necessities.
"Periods show up whether you want them to or not," Brown adds. "Our menstrual cup can provide that security for up to 10 years when cared for properly." Though it carries a price tag of $40, the expense is minimal compared to $6,360 spent on pads and tampons over the average reproductive lifetime.
Needs: Market awareness is the company's biggest need as well, and Brown has recently hired a PR firm to help with marketing. "We're also being strategic in terms of the retail partnerships and additional marketing channels we explore," they note.