Heli Kurjanen is the founder of Lunette. Heli has taught me about the importance of quality design in women’s health. The default for so many years has been to put a pink flower on a box and call it a day. Heli tossed this notion out the window and produces simple, modern looking products.
Lunette is a company based out of Finland that creates well designed menstrual cups. For many women, the Lunette cup is the goldilocks of menstrual cups. Many women find this to be one of the most reliable and comfortable menstrual cups on the market. This cup doesn’t currently have the brand recognition in the United States like the Diva Cup, but Lunette is on a mission to make the menstrual cup mainstream.
Part of the mission of Ova is to reclaim shame through personal story. Would you be willing to share a moment where you were embarrassed or felt ashamed of your body? How has this moment influenced your work with Lunette?
Maybe it’s part of the Finnish sauna culture, but I haven’t really been that embarrassed about my body - ever. Since my childhood I have been going to the sauna with women of all ages and seen different shapes of bodies. I have always known that normal women don’t often look like the super models we see in ads. Maybe because of that I have always been happy with my body. The only exception was after my first child; I was under the impression I would get back to my old figure instantly after giving birth. Little did I know then…
What stories or conversations with women stand out to you as key motivators for starting Lunette? How did you know that you were meeting a widespread need?
When I started Lunette I was looking for the best menstrual cup for me and at the same time I thought that there might be some other women with similar needs. After the first test batch of cups, I was excited; there were lots of women who were really happy with the product. My initial plan was to have something fun to do and be able to stay at home with my kids while making a living. It was quickly clear that there was a need and I had to change my plans.
Entrepreneurs are often seen as risk takers. Do you consider yourself a risk taker? What is the biggest risk you’ve had to take in starting Lunette?
I would think that I’m a risk taker, but I also want to make sure I don’t take too big of risks. With Lunette, I have always been careful to take manageable risks in order to grow the company, but not fall from high if things don’t work out. I think you can’t succeed as an entrepreneur if you are not willing to take some risks and handle uncertainty and stress.
Would you be willing to share a formative experience that prepared you to launch your own company?
I launched my company in small steps. Before Lunette I was already a work-at-home mom and I had my own company making cloth diapers that I sold online. That started out really small, which gave me lots of business knowledge for Lunette. When Lunette started to grow, I had to let go of the cloth diaper business and start seeing myself as a real entrepreneur. I learned how to run a business properly and how to understand bookkeeping. I have always tried to surround myself with people who know things better than I do. I know where I’m strong, and where I need help.
How do you manage uncertainty?
This is something that I have learned during these years with Lunette. I have clear vision of where I want to be and what I want to do, but I can’t stick too narrowly to that. There needs to be openness. I think that things that happen quite easily are meant to happen. At the same time, if something feels really difficult it most probably shouldn’t even happen. I trust my instinct quite a lot.
What has been the hardest decision you’ve had to make since starting Lunette?
Some years ago there was a time when I felt I had to choose whether to push the company to grow faster, or wait, relax and spend some time with my family. I decided that I would like to still keep the company growing and at the same time focus on my family more. So, I cut out lots of interesting things I was involved. It was hard for me because I get easily excited and I want to be part of everything! But this was a good decision and I’m really happy I had the courage to let go.
Lunette’s menstrual cup packaging is the best in the industry. At what point did design become core to your business? Do you feel that this has differentiated you from your competitors? Why do you think design is important when it comes to women’s personal care products?
Thanks! The design has been really important for me from the beginning and I have a clear vision of how everything should look. I know that I’m a pain in the ass to our designers because often there will be lots of rounds before my approval. Luckily we now have people around us who understand the brand well. There are only a few other women’s personal care products that I’m happy with, design-wise. For some reason lots of companies think that all women want to have only pink and "girly" stuff. That’s not true! Design is important for everyone, and therefore I love that we have options. For me personally, colors are really important and that’s one of the reasons we offer the cup in a variety of colors. Although our cups are worn inside, I still love to use my yellow cup because it makes me happy every time I empty it.
Lunette has global reach. When it comes to innovation in women’s health how does the US differ from the other countries you support? What are some of the key differences in how you talk about menstruation between different countries?
There are lots of small differences globally but with social media I believe we, especially western countries, are coming closer to each other. In Scandinavia, women tend to be more open to new things and also their general knowledge of their own anatomy and menstruation is better. In the USA, menstruation isn’t really a talked about subject, but luckily it seems to be changing. There are lots of women who don’t know even the basics of their own anatomy and there are others who know plenty. I would like to see health education in the USA be more standardized between states, cities and schools because from my Finnish perspective girls and boys don’t learn enough in schools.
Lunette is working in many countries globally, and during the last couple of years we have noticed that women and men are talking more about menstruation. I believe that Menstrual Hygiene Day (on 28th of May) has helped a lot. In the past, menstruation was something to be ashamed of and although there are still taboos, the attitudes are slowly changing. There are less myths and more informed conversations.
In the next five years what innovation do you hope to see in women’s personal care/ health?
I would love to see menstrual cups and other reusable products as mainstream products! I know that not all women want to use menstrual cups but all women, and men, should know that there are options to disposable pads and tampons.