Women-led startups have been upending legacy, old-school feminine hygiene brands that often don’t address what women actually need. There are now new solutions for every step of the cycle — from birth control to menstrual care.
These customers return on a monthly basis, offering brand loyalty in a nearly $6 billion industry just in the U.S.
Gwynne Hite learned how inventive women can be when they need to modify off-the-shelf feminine hygiene products during her 15 years as a nurse practitioner. They didn’t want to stop their regular activities, from exercise to intimacy, during their periods.
The one-size-fits-all mentality of CPG enterprises wasn’t serving these consumers, she says. Women often had to seek medical assistance for modified devices that had gone wrong.
“These women were not happy with what was on the market. It was reminiscent of Ancient Egypt and DIY tampons from the papyrus plant,” Hite tells Hypepotamus. “While they were in my practice, I would ask them about the reasons behind it.”
Hite kept thinking that there had to be a better solution. But when she examined the market, she found nothing.
She created 10 prototypes of what she called the Cervical Pad, and had friends wear them for eight hours at a time.
She recorded their experiences and how they compared to other feminine hygiene products.
Hite interviewed both men and women to understand the pain points they had around current products in the market, and it reverberated the feedback she heard as a practitioner.
“I was even more convinced, it wasn’t just my patients,” she says. “We had men involved in the discussions, as they’re a part of this too.”
A hybrid of a cervical cap and a tampon, the one-time use Cervical Pad is composed of medical-grade silicone with absorbent material. It sits high at the cervix like other birth control options, but is not effective as contraceptive.
The medical-grade silicone is not biodegradable, but, along with the biodegradable cotton component, is eco-friendly.
The North Carolina-based startup is currently raising money through grants and equity investors to continue moving through the 90-day FDA regulatory process. The Cervical Pad is slated for release at the end of 2020.
Once launched, Hite Health will pursue retail partner agreements to get the product in the hands of real customers.