We decided to ask Brenda Tootell, the creator and owner of Juju cup Australia a few questions to better get to know her product and business.
When did you begin manufacturing the Juju cup in Australia?
JuJu became available on the market in July 2011 after 2 years of research, development and gaining the necessary regulatory listings with Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia.
Why did you decide to begin manufacturing the Juju cup?
I couldn’t understand why menstrual cups were not available to Australian women when they seem to be widely available and a popular choice overseas. It seemed that Australian women didn’t have the same range of alternatives available to them. I wanted to provide Australian women with a healthier, greener and more cost effective alternative to disposable pads and tampons. It was also important for us to manufacture in Australia in order to control the quality of our cups and support local manufactures.
When did you first hear about menstrual cups, and what were your first thoughts about them?
I first heard about a menstrual cup in 2008. My first thought was ‘Oh my word, why have I never heard about these before’. I was intrigued and jumped online to place an order for one as soon as I got home and researched the different brands available.
How has awareness of your brand predominately spread?
Brand recognition is still predominately by word of mouth. We have our loyal customer base to thank for our continued growth. A trusted referral from a friend or family member is still the most valuable referral for us. Women really trust the opinion of other women in their circle – especially for such and intimate product.
What do you love most about your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is getting feedback from women saying they couldn’t believe a cup could possibly make such a positive change in their lives. To hear someone say they no longer dread their period or that they now have the freedom and confidence to enjoy an activity they previously used to worry about when they had their period is so rewarding.
What do you consider to be the greatest challenge/s to menstrual cup manufacturers and distributors within Australia (if any)?
Getting the word out there is our primary challenge. Women will only be prepared to make the switch if they are aware the product exists, are aware of the benefits of using a cup and are confident will work – we need to educate women about these things because so many women still don’t know about menstrual cups as an alternative to disposables. The second challenge I find isn’t specific to menstrual cups as such but it’s to do with the taboo around menstruation. Sadly, many women still feel embarrassed or shamed by their periods rather than something to be celebrated as a sign of health and fertility. There needs to be more open discussion around menstruation to reduce the stigma.
What do you consider to be the greatest benefit from using a cup?
This is an interesting question because for me, personally, I see the environmental benefits as being the greatest and this is true for a certain percentage of our customers. Many other customers report convenience as being the primary benefit of using a cup for them. The fact they can wear it for longer and not have to worry about running out to buy tampons or pads is what these women see as being the main benefit for making the switch. Then there are other women who report the health benefits as being a huge plus for them. Many women seem to experience less cramping and lighter and shorter periods when using a cup. So I do think the benefits are different for each individual.
What do you think it is the greatest/most common challenge first time cup users encounter?
Our anatomies all vary and so too do our first time experiences. Some first time users have no teething problems at all from day one whilst others seem to find it a little more difficult to transition. I would say the thing the majority of new cup users with issues struggle with is the removal of the cup. It’s like many things though – it can take a little practice to get the knack of it and we often forget there was a learning curve associated with using tampons too.
If there was one thing you could say to a woman contemplating trying a menstrual cup, what would it be?
Give it go. It’s highly likely you will wish you’d made the switch earlier. I always recommend practicing inserting and removing your cup a couple of times a week in the shower before your period starts so it’s not such a big leap when you have your period. It can take a couple of cycles to get the hang of using a cup so be kind to yourself and don’t get upset if you don’t get it on your first day. Use your cup in conjunction with a pad (preferably cloth not disposable) if you aren’t confident at first.