Is period stigma stopping you?
Cherie Hoeger, Founder of Menstrual Cup business ‘Saalt’, discusses why some of us have not progressed far enough when it comes to attitudes towards menstruation.
As a female founder entrenched in the menstrual care industry, I have a first-hand view into the glaring needs of a stigmatised market that has stifled women’s progress for literally centuries.
Although so much period stigma stems from social taboos instigated from patriarchal constructs, I also believe menstruators themselves take a big part in perpetuating those stigmas. In developed nations like the US and UK, we’re certainly seeing progress in breaking social taboos in recent years – but as a society, we’re still taught to keep conversations around periods hush hush. When I visited the UK last year to host a booth at a London Beauty Expo, I was surprised to see just how much discomfort still existed around the topic of periods. You’d see people who were initially drawn to our booth aesthetic instantly change their demeanor and walk in the other direction as soon as they learned what our product was.
So how do we shift our mindset from entrenched norms?
It’s up to us as menstruators to set the tone for whether a conversation around periods is going to be awkward or not. Our friends and colleagues of all genders take the cues from us. If you look visibly uncomfortable talking about your period, then others are going to take those cues. Open and straightforward conversations around periods is what spurs awareness, which in turn spurs innovation and progress for all.
Saalt menstrual cup
When we started Saalt, the long-held stigmas around periods presented both our greatest challenge and opportunity. From the outset, we knew we were entering a product category that is still pretty taboo for a lot of people, so we took the stigma head-on by creating beautiful, high-end packaging that placed the cup on a pedestal and showcased the cup for what it actually is—a hands-down better user experience over disposables that’s also healthier, more comfortable, and more sustainable for the environment. Through our brand imagery and voice, we’ve been able to elevate menstrual cups to sit on the same shelf as clean personal care products while actively working to normalize periods and educate consumers.
“It’s up to us as menstruators to set the tone for whether a conversation around periods is going to be awkward or not.“
Because menstrual cups are still relatively new to the period care market, we do a lot to remove the fear-factor of something unfamiliar by educating consumers about the benefits of our products and cheerleading them on their cup journeys.
Saalt started from a phone call with our aunt in Venezuela who had gone for months without period care. The country’s political instability had halted the supply chain, leading to huge shortages of basic consumer staples like pads and tampons. I immediately thought of my five daughters and what I would do in that situation. The dependence we have on disposables really kept me up at night, and I started looking into reusable options. I was soon introduced to the menstrual cup and was sold on the benefits right away! I found that even though they were less known, they were actually more comfortable, healthier, could be worn for 12 hours, and could last up to 10 years when manufactured with premium, medical-grade silicone. I bought several to try out, but couldn’t find one that I felt was reliable enough to recommend to friends and family. That’s when I decided to design a menstrual cup that met all my ideal criteria.
Our long-term vision is to be the most recognized reusable period care company in the world, which we admit is a pretty hefty goal. We will never carry single-use disposable products but are committed to only offering reusable products that are good for our bodies and the planet. That means that in order to grow beyond our menstrual cups, we need to be continually innovating in the category. So much of my time is spent in product development, and we have a lot of exciting offerings launching within the next few months. We do have other products lines in the pipeline that we think will be game-changing for the industry. Stay tuned!
Amber Fawson and Cherie Hoeger are the co-founders of Saalt, makers of medical grade, sustainable menstrual cups. They’re also passionate advocates for global menstrual health.
Watch a review of the Saalt cup by the team at Put A Cup In It.