As a girl, periods and conversation surrounding it has been part of my life for a long time. But I cannot recall the last time when menstruation and menstrual hygiene has been such a hot topic in casual conversation and I could not be happier. Ask any woman and she’d tell you the same thing. Of late, when me and my girlfriends get together, we end up having the “cupversion conversation” – the trials, troubles and success stories of migrating from using sanitary napkins and tampons to menstrual cups. While each person had a different reason for switching to cups, they all had the same story to tell; that once you get past the initial hurdle of figuring out how to use it, cups changed their life.
While menstrual cups have been in existence since 1930s, but the last decade is when it truly became popular. This rise in popularity could be because of its easy comfort and because it has proven to be more cost efficient, Eco-friendly and practical. There are a number of menstrual cups currently available in the market, in varying sizes and at varying price points. Among this, Gaaia is an Indian menstrual cup brand based out of Bangalore that claims to be catered to the first time cup users. They are made of FDA approved 100% medical grade silicon and are softer and more flexible. We caught up with Yashas Alur, the 29 year old founder of Gaaia to know more about the brand and the story of its creation.
Give us an introduction about Gaaia and about yourself?
I’d like to believe I’ve always been inclined to entrepreneurship. After my bachelors in Finance and Economics,I started an online customized clothing business. A few tough lessons and a couple of years later, it was obvious that I needed a whole lot more grounding to really back myself. After working in a digital marketing company for a few years, the entrepreneurial bug bit me again, The idea for Gaaia in fact came about during a visit to a conference on direct to consumer businesses that I was fascinated by at that point.
The Gaaia menstrual cup is a revolutionary period care product - a reusable soft silicone cup that collects your monthly menstrual flow as an alternative to pads and tampons. Gaaia was created for the first time cup user. We’ve only just launched but it is now one of the fastest selling menstrual cup brands on Amazon.
How did your interest in your current field begin?
Having an older sister built my awareness towards menstrual products and menstrual care. I believe I was more sensitive to and understood what women go through better than my peers purely due to this exposure. My sister primarily used sanitary napkins and often complained of rashes. However sanitary napkins were the most prominent and widely used products that came recommended by mothers to their children.
During the mid 2018, I was first introduced to the idea of a menstrual cup. The awareness about the product and the fact that it was available on supermarket aisles was very interesting to me. The more I read about it and spoke to women about it, the more intrigued I was.
When was the point you decided to start your brand?
After my conversations with women about menstrual cups, I really felt that there was a need to build a sustainability focused menstrual care brand in India. This industry had not seen any innovation in many years and the more you see our planet deteriorate, the more you see a need for better products and companies. After this realization, the search began to find the right manufacturing partner. Thus began the prototyping and sampling phase.
What do you think makes your products unique from others in the market?
We started Gaaia after surveying hundreds of women around the world that have tried, stuck to and not stuck to menstrual cups. As a market with a very low penetration for the product category, the idea was to launch the ideal ‘beginner’s cup’ for India. Besides the fact that our silicone is 100% FDA approved medical grade, the primary difference is that Gaaia is also made using a specific type of silicone with a lower resistance ratio, thus making it softer and more flexible. We worked very closely with our manufacturing partners for months together to design, prototype and develop the Gaaia menstrual cup. We work with manufacturers that also produce for some of the leading cup brands in the world
What were the challenges you had to face while starting out with your venture?
The biggest challenge (& also the opportunity) we currently face is the lack of awareness about menstrual cups. As it is a new menstrual care product, the learning curve is quite steep and women have many concerns related to the product. As the usage is more like a tampon as opposed to a sanitary pad, Indian women need to pass a mental hurdle before giving it a try. India has primarily been a consumer of sanitary napkins as opposed to tampons and hence the idea of menstrual cup is new to the consumer. Gaaia aims to help spread the word about menstrual cups and the various advantages that it offers not only for you but for the environment as well.
What has the response been like for your brand?
We’ve only piloted 50 days ago and the responses have been very encouraging. We’ve quickly pivoted from being DTC & Website-only to an Amazon plus strategy and we’ve already become one of the fastest selling brands on the platform. We’ve received early positive reviews and our customers have provided us with valuable feedback that helps us improve as a product and company.
What are your hopes for the brand in the long run?
Currently we are working hard to be available on various channels that our customers are present on and shop from. In the long run we hope that Gaaia becomes the go to menstrual care brand for women in India. The need for a change from sanitary pads to menstrual cups is extremely evident. The positive effect that it can bring to the environment is necessary and we wish to be at the forefront of that. Apart from building Gaaia into a mainstream brand and product group, we also have ambitious plans to develop a social conscious business where we are actively contributing to the menstrual care and education in rural regions of India.
You can purchase Gaaia menstrual cups directly from their website or through Amazon.
While a menstrual hygiene related renaissance is happening in the nation, we are glad to have learn about brands like Gaaia that are changing the playing field. If you know any such brands of note, do let us know.
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