Mar 07 2017
International Women's Day marks the day to celebrate acts of determination and strength displayed by women around the world. Throughout this week, we will be featuring various female entrepreneurs who have taken step to #BeBoldForChange and created businesses to improve the lives of others.
When we first listed Freedom Cups, the team has many questions and interest about it, so much so that we did a review to soothe our curiosity for this product. Freedom Cups works on a Buy-1-Give-1 scheme where every Freedom Cup purchased allows them to give a menstrual cup to a woman in an underprivileged community. What this menstrual cup does is beyond its size - decreasing the use of non-biodegradable sanitary products in the developed society and helping women in developing communities to gain access to proper sanitation for their monthly flows.
And that is why Vanessa from Freedom Cups was one of our shortlisted female entrepreneurs for this series. Read on and find out how Freedom Cups came about and what challenges she has met along the way.
Naiise (N): What were you doing prior to starting Freedom Cup?
Vanessa (V): I graduated from SMU and worked at a recruitment company for about a year and a half before taking the plunge.
N: Tell us more about the moment that felt right for you to start Freedom Cup.
V: It's the moment I tested out version 1.0 of our Freedom Cup. Like most people, I was doubtful, and slightly nervous when I first saw the cup. 'Oh it's huge!', 'No way that's gonna fit', 'This project is doomed', 'Are you sure they got the right size?!' were some of the thoughts that initially raced through my head. After trying it for the first time, however, I knew it was the right moment to start Freedom Cups. I realised this is both the future as well as period heaven. The cup is light, comfortable, sanitary, long-lasting, leak-free, and eco-friendly. It also suits my busy lifestyle and allows me to swim/dive with no worries.
N: What was the boldest decision you have made to make Freedom Cups happen?
V: As a bootstrapped start-up, and a bootstrapped start-up trying to do good, we have had to make many bold decisions. Often times to stop something that hasn't been reaping results to start something else that might. The boldest decision we have made to date was to make Singapore our home market. Where tampons are not common, and women (and men) are not comfortable discussing anything period-related, who would take to a menstrual cup? While we have had our fair share of nay-sayers, Singaporean women surprise us pleasantly time and time again.
N: In the process of making Freedom Cups happen, have you given up on anything? What are some of the things you have given up on?
V: I have definitely given up the comfort of a full-time job. The salary, the stable, predictable life, and the perks of being employed by someone else (CPF included). But giving those things up has been nothing short of amazing. I find myself in places I would never have dreamed off, with people I would've never crossed paths with otherwise, doing something that makes my heart smile everyday.
N: Has anyone discouraged you from pursuing Freedom Cups? How did you take it?
V: Many people have discouraged us. And continually do so. There are people who literally scurry away or glare at us after laying eyes on the words menstrual cup at our booths. People who believe that periods are a 'taboo' topic that should be kept under the rug. People who think pads and tampons are the best and only options for periods. We take it in our stride. We will continue to reach out and educate in the hope of getting women to realise that there is a cheaper, cleaner, more eco-friendly and comfortable option.
N: What were some of the setbacks you have faced along the journey?
V: Setbacks to us include villagers who choose not to take any Freedom Cups because they do not think inserting something into the body is modest. Judges and panelists who do not believe periods are still a problem in the 21st century. Women who do not think decreasing their ecological footprint is something important.
N: How has Freedom Cups helped the society to improve individuals' lives?
V: The Freedom Cup betters lives of individuals in our society by helping them save money and the earth. For every woman who switches to a Freedom Cup, they save thousands of dollars while saving the earth about 12,000 disposable pads and tampons. For the underprivileged in society that we distribute the cups to, young girls use it to deal with their periods at schools with no toilets, electricity or running water, mothers use it to work the fields through the month instead of being confined to the house for 5 to 7 days, women have cleaner periods during the dry months where there is little water to wash and clean their old rags, and women report lower incidences of urinary tract and fungal infections.
N: What's the happiest thing that made you realise pursuing Freedom Cups is the right decision?
V: The happiest moments lie in the ones where customers write to us to tell us their amazing experiences with the cup. How just like me, they started off doubtful, but after trying the Freedom Cup, they believe it is the best thing they have ever done for themselves and cannot imagine life without it. Knowing that we have the potential to leave the world in a better state than when we entered it convinces me that pursuing Freedom Cups was indeed the right decision.
N: Any word of advice for budding female entrepreneurs to #BeBoldForChange?
V: Keep doing the things that scare you. Only by doing that do you step out of your comfort zone. And some of the most amazing things happen outside your comfort zone.
Do your part in helping this community and make a change for yourself with Freedom Cups here.