April 2, 2024
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Mense, Kind Cup create menstrual product alternative 

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Left, Mense co-founder and CEO McCall Brinskele and Christine Brown, founder of Kind Cup. (courtesy photos)

In 2020 — the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic — there were already plenty of reasons to be scared for a loved one’s health. 

McCall Brinskele of San Luis Obispo had one more reason to worry about her sister, who suffers from endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

“She had been suffering from painful periods and when I say painful, I mean like, ‘on the floor of the bathroom and can’t get up to do basic functions throughout the day’ type of pain,” Brinskele told the Business Times. “And she had been suffering with that for eight years by that point.”

Her sister’s painful struggle is ultimately what inspired Brinskele to join the entrepreneurial space and try to find a solution — not only for her sister, but for the thousands of millions of women who suffer from the same issue.

That’s why while she was finishing up her master’s degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Brinskele founded Mense in 2022, a period product company.

Brinskele is one of thousands of women who have joined the entrepreneurship space over the last decade, specifically tackling the male-dominated technology and health spaces. 

Dubbed FemTech – a term first coined back in 2016 – the industry is gaining significantly more traction.

According to Statista, the worldwide FemTech market reached a valuation of $51 billion in 2021 with the potential to achieve $103 billion by 2030, reflecting an 8.1% CAGR. 

That’s because more women are joining the industry to find solutions for other women and issues unique to them and their bodies, which have been traditionally overlooked.

“In my short time in the women’s health space, I’ve seen that we all want all of us to succeed,” Brinskele said.

“And that’s because I think, just being around all these female founders, we are so desperate for these solutions that we’re just so willing to learn from one another, to help each other and that’s been amazing.”

Before founding Mense, Brinskele was doing a lot of research into the causes of endometriosis.

What she found was that a lot of the products out in the market — particularly tampons and pads — have “endocrine-disrupting chemicals” that could lead to endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, and even cervical and ovarian cancer.

That was her main motivation for finding a product that didn’t use those chemicals — and what she found were menstrual cups. 

That is currently what Mense is trying to develop: a menstrual cup as an applicator that’s as easy to insert and remove as a tampon.

“When talking to individuals about their experience with these products, there wasn’t a lot of education out there about them… but once people learned how to figure out how to use them, they describe it as ‘life-changing,'” Brinskele said.

Christine Brown, founder of Kind Cup in Carpinteria, knows what a difference menstrual cups can make for people who have periods.

Kind Cup is a period product company that offers two different sizes of menstrual cups.

Brown, who founded the company in 2017 and launched her first product in 2019, said she started her company because although menstrual cups have existed for decades, there weren’t companies out there developing those types of products.

“Back in 2011 when I first learned about cups, I couldn’t even get it online, and when I hopped on my bike I had to go from store to store until I eventually found one,” Brown said.

Now, there is more awareness around the validity of menstrual cups, which was greatly exacerbated by the pandemic, Brown said.

“Tampons and pads were just off the shelves, the supply chain just wiped them out so a lot of people were looking for alternatives and because they were home, they were looking to not only have an alternative because they needed something, but it was a great opportunity for them to go through the learning curve,” Brown said.

The main difference with using a menstrual cup — as opposed to the more popular pads and tampons — is that it is made with medical-grade silicone that does not have such toxic chemicals.

An architect at heart, Brown also knew that current menstrual cups on the market could use an upgrade on their design, so she took it upon herself to make that happen through Kind Cup.

“We shouldn’t have people going and trying and doing their best and being frustrated after months of trying what was available. There needed to be a better design that was going to actually be comfortable, effective, and easy to use,” Brown said.

The beauty in starting her own company as well was that she could be in it for the right reasons — sourcing local companies to manufacture her products while also producing them with the highest quality materials.

“We deserve that,” Brown said.

She also noted that while some companies race to profitability, Kind Cup’s goal isn’t that — the company simply wants to give women a high-quality alternative option. 

“If you’re not in it for the right reasons, this is a very challenging space to be in,” Brown said.

“People can see who are doing things for the wrong reason and who are doing them for the right and the ones who do it for the right reasons tend to stick around.”

As for Mense, May will be a big month for the team as they will compete at Cal Poly’s AngelCon for a chance at $100,000 in equity funding. 

Brinskele also said the company will be raising a seed round, which would all go toward the development of its first product.

“When I first graduated and was looking at the job market, there wasn’t any job out there that was making the difference that I wanted to make especially in the women’s health space, so I knew I had to start my journey,” she said.

“It started as a passion project, but now I can’t let it go.”

email: jmercado@pacbiztimes.com