Inspiring Women, One Cup At A Time
Wednesday Sep 02,2020 | Startup News
Are you ready for a topic that will leave you feeling inspired? We had the pleasure to interview SMU alumna, Vanessa Paranjothy, Founder of Freedom Cups. We have to say, the topic of our interview opened our minds and left us feeling free. The topic of this article? Periods.
Vanessa insists there should be no discomfort while discussing a very natural process that 50% of the population goes through and we think she’s right!
What are Freedom Cups?
Have you heard of menstrual cups? They are small cups made of medical-grade silicone that can be folded and inserted into a woman’s body during her period.
Freedom Cups are menstrual cups and Vanessa’s version is not only great for one’s body and wallet but is also great for the planet! They can be likened to reusable tampons, are leak-free 10-12 hours a day, and can be used when swimming / diving. They cannot be felt once inserted, and each cup is reusable for up to 15 years. Think of the pads and tampons a woman can save!
Together with her two sisters, Joanne and Rebecca, Vanessa co-founded Freedom Cups, a feminine hygiene company operating a “buy one, give one” model that provides women in underprivileged communities with menstrual cups.
Ideal for women in areas with no toilets, electricity or running water, as well as reducing waste that alternatives like tampons and pads can create, for every Freedom Cup purchased here, they provide one to a woman from an underprivileged community.
Why Menstrual Cups?
Vanessa and her sisters grew up in a girl’s school where they were encouraged to be open and strong, yet the society in Singapore is very close-minded about certain topics such as periods and the menstrual cycle.
The aim of starting up Freedom cups is not to make sales or to become millionaires. It’s to start a conversation.
“Women are still uncomfortable talking about their periods. For example, some of the common questions we get are questions like ‘will it get lost or stuck’, or ‘Can I pee or poop with it in?’
The first hundred times we get this question might make us laugh, but after that, it’s actually alarming that so many don’t know basic things to do with their own body!”, said Vanessa.
Having been told about menstrual cups in 2013, Vanessa and her sisters thought it was revolutionary.
Rebecca being the ocean conservation and marine science buff figured out that tampon applicators are among the Top 5 most washed up items in the ocean and together with her sisters figured out a way to reduce the environmental impact.
They commenced on doing research and came to the conclusion Freedom Cups would be great for both women and the environment.
“We decided to set this up together three and a half years ago and we have not looked back!”, said Vanessa.
Yet, this experience has not been an easy one.
As Vanessa confided to us, running a start-up is hard, but running a start-up about periods is even harder, especially in the part of the world where Singapore lies.
The Way Forward...
The best part of the Freedom Cups journey according to Vanessa, is that it has been so much fun talking about periods.
Being certain their vision is the future, Freedom Cups also runs a curriculum (which teacher sister Joanne handles) that allows them to work with different communities to ensure essential information goes out to women in those areas.
Working with NGOs across the world, Vanessa and her sisters aim to use their platform to benefit women all across the spectrum.
We are so proud to stand in solidarity with Vanessa and the Freedom Cups Team to work towards fixing a problem of the past.
Freedom Cups is incubated at Business Innovation Generator (BIG), an incubation programme at Singapore Management University designed to nurture entrepreneurs through knowledge transfer and a strong support infrastructure.