Q&A with Carinne Chambers of Diva International Inc.
We love the chance to signal boost other innovative, beloved female health products. The DivaCup is definitely one of those. Founded by Francine and Carinne Chambers, the company makes a reusable menstrual cup that encourages a more positive period experience. We caught up with vice president/co-founder Carinne to learn about how The DivaCup came to be and the secret to their success. You can also read our founder Ida Tin's interview with them here.
1. What sets Diva International Inc. apart from other menstrual cup providers?
Diva International Inc. has been the world leader in the menstrual cup category since 2003. Not only are we the only menstrual cup manufacturer in the world to be certified to ISO 13485 standards, we also are cleared for sale by the US FDA, Health Canada and the Australian TGA. We take great care in complying and exceeding the requirements for these bodies which ensures that each DivaCup is the highest quality and safety for our end-users.
Additionally, in the last number of years, we have begun to invest heavily in menstrual health education. We all remember our first health class experience. These experiences can be both informative and uncomfortable for young women. In talking with health educators, we began to realize that there is very little discussion about reusable options within these settings and even less about positive period talk. As a leader in the category we feel it is important to invest our time and resources into educating, not just women and girls, but also medical professionals and educators. Through advertising, our newly released television commercial, partnership with organizations, attendance at learning-based conferences and investment in patient and student education, we are helping to ensure young women are aware of all of their period care options, while also being encouraged with body literacy and positive period talk.
2. The DivaCup is not only popular for women but also has won many awards over the years - to what do you attribute your success?
The success of The DivaCup can be attributed to a number of factors. The first would have to be our customers. For a long time, and still today, word of mouth advertising played a key role in our success. When retailers and the press hear direct from a consumer about the wonderful experience they had with a product, it changes popular opinion. The support of our natural industry partners and dedicated broker teams has also helped put The DivaCup on the map. Today, The DivaCup is available in store and online worldwide. As the product becomes more accessible, more attention is being drawn to the category and to women's health in general. Lastly, our commitment to excellence and quality assurance sets us apart in the category as a company who is invested in women's health.
3. It seems that period and fertility products are becoming more popular in recent years (including our app). Having been in the industry for 20 years, how have you seen it change over time?
There has been an incredible change in communication platforms since we first launched the company over ten years ago. Mobile and online applications have allowed women to talk about almost any topic, allowing for new conversations and education to emerge around women's health. More and more sustainable and menstrual related products and apps (such as Clue) are getting known simply because of the broad reach online marketing allows. Women can also purchase products online, direct from retailers. This is a great option for women (and men) who find buying menstrual products in-store to be intimidating.
In the last ten years or so there has also been a shift in consumer marketing habits. Consumers today are more knowledgeable about what they are purchasing, have real concern for their eco-footprint as well as cost of living. Through products like The DivaCup and Clue mobile app, women are becoming an active participant in bettering their health. Reusable options like The DivaCup also empower women with new cycle knowledge and the assurance that they are using a product that is better for their health and the environment as well as one that will save them money.
4. Do you think popular culture and society are becoming more accepting of menstrual cycle education?
When my mom and I first started the company, some of our closest friends and family members thought we were crazy for trying to market a menstrual cup. We were laughed out of board rooms, magazines were hesitant to feature our ads and stores just weren't interested. However, we knew the life-changing value The DivaCup could offer women and were determined to persevere. Today, while we still come up against resistance, our success in the industry when coupled with our amazing DivaCup fans, is changing conversations online, in classrooms, doctor's office, media settings etc.
The topic of menstrual health has definitely gained more acceptance in the popular press. In the last six months alone, articles about menstruation have been featured online at Huffpost, Bustle, The Guardian and The New York Times and Time. The DivaCup was also featured in the hit family comedy, Blended.
Conversations are happening!
In general, with any health related topic, and more specifically women's health, there is bound to be unease. In our experience we have found that the anxiety or taboo around the topic of period care stems simply from misunderstanding. Many women (and men) know very little about menstrual and vaginal health and what they do know is often incorrect or drawn from a negative stereotype. The "taboo" around menstrual talk is often eased with a little humor, education and personal testimony. The great thing about menstrual talk today is that many of the conversations are accessible online, and even trickling into public spaces. It has been wonderful to see a change in conversation and acceptance around menstrual health and The DivaCup and we cannot wait for the transformation still to come in 2015!
5. What advice would you give to a woman wanting to start her own business?
Don't let fear stop you from following your passion! If you truly have a passion for something, you have to keep pushing forward no matter what. We have experienced so much resistance and faced many challenges along the way. There were times that we wanted to give up and we were scared. Things always take a lot longer than you expected, so just be patient. Slowly you will grow your business and make progress with each small step forward. Eventually the progress starts to snowball and build momentum. We wish we could have had the power of social media when we started, but definitely use new communication tools to your advantage. Your satisfied customers are what will drive your business. Really that's what it's all about in the end…having happy customers!