Sustainable period care is the future – there’s no doubt about it and the soaring popularity of sustainable period care such as menstrual cups and washable pads shows that consumers are wanting products that are better for them and the planet.

Did you know that a tampon can take over 500 years to break down in a landfill? It’s crazy the amount of waste periods generate and the next generation are so mindful of the impact humans are having on the world which is why we are seeing such incredible growth in brands that offer ‘greener’ solutions. 

When we first started Hello Period in 2017, we had no idea what to expect. There were definitely some who questioned whether people would change from traditional single use. 

Our first inkling we were on to something was when we did our first capital raise. We hit our target fast, extended it twice before closing at $2.4 million – leaving numerous investors disappointed they hadn’t moved fast enough. 

Today Hello Period is the only sustainable period care brand that offers a full range of products for everybody from period underwear, and reusable pads through to menstrual cups and our best-selling menstrual disc (now Google’s top rated period disc).

Essentially our products replace single-use pads and tampons. Like a lot of other single use consumer goods, increasingly people with periods are wanting options that are better for the environment and are reusable.  

Mary and I didn’t start Hello Period because we had a burning desire to be menstruation entrepreneurs – we started the business because we were frustrated by the lack of progression and innovation in period care. We wanted our daughters to have more choices than we did growing up, most importantly, more sustainable choices. But starting a business from scratch is no walk in the park. 

We knew from the start that if we were going to succeed our products needed to perform better and be more comfortable than the status quo. 

We launched with a menstrual cup range and immediately landed on the radar of retailers in the US. We were approached by Urban Outfitters and Antropolgoie who wanted to range our cups, which were recently named Best Menstrual Cup by Cosmopolitan. 

Interestingly, the US market is very progressive when it comes to sustainable period care. Major retailers like Target and Walmart have ranged sustainable period care for years. But while the US was a focus for us initially, Covid threw a curveball and with it a lot of learnings around not being afraid to pivot if you need to. 

The beauty of being a small business means you have the ability to test new markets and while we had good sales in the US, the costs were up there. Post Covid, the cost of freight was eye watering and continues to be.

Increasing demand from Australian customers felt like a sign that maybe we should narrow our focus. We are currently ranged nationwide in TerryWhite ChemMart and retailers such as Mr Vitamins. While we ship directly to customers from our website, we know consumers like to be able to shop period products in store. In New Zealand we are ranged in Woolworths, Chemist Warehouse and leading pharmacies. 

Our Hello Disc, a menstrual disc with patented design, is our best-selling product currently. It’s rated the number one menstrual disc on Google. We designed it in collaboration with the world’s leading sustainable period care expert via Kickstarter which was a great way to generate hype. We reached our goal in three days and so knew we were probably on to a winner.

We often get asked about our key learnings and, not surprisingly, there have been a lot but the main one was not listening to people who said ‘don’t go into business with your best friend’. In the early days having my best friend working alongside me day in, day out helped not just me but also the business. We were able to laugh and cry together and it never felt lonely. Mary doesn’t work in the day-to-day business anymore – she is the most amazing nurse and the world needs her. 

When Mary and I founded Hello Period we were flying blind and I actually think if we’d known the challenges of starting and growing a business, we might never have done it. At the start, and still today, we’ve been motivated by wanting to make high quality products to make managing periods easier, more comfortable and better for the planet but it would be fair to say that starting from a naive place has worked for us and I’d always encourage other entrepreneurs to ‘just start’.

If you overthink things, you might scare yourself out of giving it a go and the beauty of the world we live in today is you can start a website and a business relatively cheaply so it’s much easier to test the waters than it was in the pre-Internet era. 

Having a good team around you is vital. In the early days you want to look to hire people who are happy to muck in and be willing to occasionally do things that might be outside their job description. In the last two years, appointing a COO has been the best decision we’ve made. She brought all our systems up to a professional standard and ensures that things run smoothly. It’s been pivotal to ensuring we can deliver on expectations. 

I’m so proud of how far we’ve come and I’m excited about the future of Hello Period and the next stage of growth for the business. As more people around the world make the switch to reusable period care, we want to be right there with our retail partners continuing to innovate, empower and educate.

Robyn McLean is co-founder of Hello Period.