And they'll definitely get you to think twice about your next tampon purchase.

By Lauren Mazzo
September 20, 2019
Saalt

Imagine: There are no tampons or pads to be found⁠—not just in your bathroom cabinet or house, but in your country. Now imagine this isn't just a temporary thing as a result of a natural disaster, random cotton shortage, or other one-off issue but, rather, it's been this way for years. How do you deal with the party your uterus throws monthly?

Unfortunately, this is the reality for so many women around the world. You don't even need to leave the U.S. to see the lack of accessible period care; even if they're available, a majority of low-income women can't afford period products here either. (It's a not-so-little thing called "period poverty.")

When Cherie Hoeger, a writer, editor, and mother of five girls, was on the phone with her aunt in Venezuela and found out that she was one of these women without easy access to period products, she couldn't get it out of her head: "I immediately thought of my five daughters and what I would do in that situation," she says. "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: They're more comfortable, healthier, could be worn for 12 hours (!), and 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." (Psst. She's not the only one; the period movement is a couple of years strong, and only getting stronger.)

So she decided to make her own.

On a mission to make menstrual hygiene more sustainable and accessible for everyone, she teamed up with Amber Fawson, her sister-in-law and an entrepreneur, to create the menstrual cup company Saalt, which they named to represent "something that's essential for our bodies and also natural."

Read on to hear how they built their menstrual cup movement and to glean some take-charge lessons for your own life.

What Makes Saalt Different

"Our menstrual cups and raw materials are sourced exclusively in the United States and are FDA compliant and tested for safety. For a medical device that's used in such a sensitive area, we wanted to have ultimate control and visibility of our supply chain. It's made from only two ingredients: medical-grade silicone and FDA-tested silicone dye. Silicone is a remarkable material; it's naturally safe, inherently bio-compatible, and it forms a permanent chemical bond called a thermoset when it is molded, so it can't melt or leach out any dye.

We also wanted to create a trusted brand that would make the cup more appealing to the mainstream consumer, including a devotion to helping each new cup user through the learning curve. We created beautiful packaging that flipped the stigma on its head—none of the traditional flowers and butterflies you often find on feminine hygiene products and instead used earthy tones and patterns inspired by the natural landscape to suggest a more natural period solution—and placed the cup on a pedestal to elevate the product for what it really is, a simpler, healthier, and more sustainable period experience." —Hoeger

Don't Shy Away from Stigma⁠—Face It Head-On

"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 shelves as clean personal care products while actively working to normalize periods and educate consumers." —Hoeger

(Related: How to Use a Menstrual Cup—Because We Know You Have Questions)

Start-Up Unselfishly

"We'd love to see more aspiring entrepreneurs embrace their influence to do good in the world through the B Corp model. We believe the B Corp standard is decisively the way of the future. Its focus on conscious capitalism in every aspect of the business—from sourcing products responsibly, paying fair wages, committing to honesty and transparency, and using business as a force for good—all gives us hope and optimism for the future. There's so much every business can do to maximize their social impact while simultaneously decreasing their environmental footprint. In an era where cheap and disposable products offer far more profit, we hope new entrepreneurs will instead choose better health for their customers and our planet." —Hoeger

(Related: These Amazon Buys Will Help You Reduce Your Daily Waste)

 Start Your Morning with *You* First

"I go to CrossFit and come home in time to get my kids ready for school and to make them watch educational videos while they eat breakfast (there’s less fighting with a video on!). I also get up early enough to fit in grocery shopping and one personal tutoring session each week about a subject I enjoy. I love action-packed mornings that leave my day open to focus on meaningful tasks." —Fawson

"I like to start each day off with a strong morning routine that devotes time to grounding and connecting my inner self through meditation, study, affirmations, and exercise. Then I make sure I’m fully present for my spouse and children before diving into work and the day's schedule. The work never ends when growing a start-up! When I take the time to fill my own cup before giving my time and energy to others, I find I can dive into my work much more equipped to handle each task with purpose and perspective while also giving quality time in my day to my family." —Hoeger

(Related: How to Make Time for Self Care When You Have None)

Hack Your Productivity In Whatever Way That Works

"In the past, when I was running my own chocolate shop, I found I had to allow myself to be ‘on’ most hours of the day for certain seasons of the year. I would find other months of the year to do the opposite, to work less and be more protective of my time. This binge-balancing works really well for me.

Now, as we've started Saalt and grown our team, I’ve learned a new lesson about productivity: I’ve learned to leave more open space in my week for cooperative work and networking, even in my personal life. I’ve learned how impactful teamwork and synergy can be, and how well we can all help solve each other’s problems. I am also a big fan of kick-starting projects. I personally love to start a project and leave it half-done, then move on to kick-start another project. I will circle back and finish projects on days when I’m low on energy or when a deadline is close. I love this approach and find it works really well for me." —Fawson

(Related: A New Study Revealed How Many Days of Productivity Are Lost During Your Period)

Why No One Should Discount the Power of Women Worldwide

"I’m in awe watching women who are accustomed to limited resources, insecurity, and risk, and who accept all of it and move forward. Some of the best decision-makers I know are women like this who have had a rich and varied life and career. These women can think in terms of individual people, not just generalizations, as they make decisions. They benefit from decision exposure in their workplace, community, home, church, schools, and friend groups. They pick up lessons everywhere they go because they’re always looking for small ways to improve the world around them, and their community reaps the benefits." —Fawson

"Investing in women is the fastest and most effective way of changing a community. Studies show that when women work, they invest 90 percent of their income back into their families and communities, compared with 35 percent for men. That means investing in women is the best way to spur economic progress, expand markets, and improve health and education for everyone. And I’ll add that for an investment as financially small as better period care, you can change the trajectory of a girl’s life. It can dramatically increase her ability to earn, increase her self-worth, and enable her to also care for others, which extends to her entire community. Who better to create change for women than women themselves?" —Hoeger

Advertisement