The time has finally come to share a secret that I’ve been keeping for over a year. Your girl Kim has teamed up with Hello Cup to design a very special new menstrual disc and you can be one of the first to try it as a Kickstarter backer. Proceeds to exhale with total relief that *I can say this out loud!*
Update: Hello Disc is available to order from Period.Shop and you can read Kim’s Hello Disc Review
First, Hello Disc basics
Hello Disc has been designed with real disc users in mind to address many of the pain points that exist with other reusable discs on the market today.
- Smooth outer rim
- Recessed double-loop tab for easy removal
- Finger-sized holes that stretch
- Variable wear styles – 4 styles to meet every cervix height and preference
- Generous capacity (50 ml)
- One-Size fits most diameter (68 mm)
- “Just right” firmness to fold, insert, and wear comfortably
- Secure and less or even mess-free removals
Since we’ve worked so hard on the Kickstarter content to explain why Hello Disc is so amazing I won’t cover it all in this post. Instead, I’d love to share with my readers more about how this collaboration came to life and my inspiration for the design.
How can I make this better?
I’ve never had the desire to start a menstrual cup line, or a menstrual disc line, or any brand. I truly love my work and feel that our industry needs an expert who can guide people to a brand without bias. It was never my intention to design a disc but the more I thought of ways the disc could be improved, a design just started taking shape in my mind. It began as just “what are the pain points that need solving?”
Not a smooth rim – the only disc at this time with a removal aid (Lumma) had a stem attached to the rim, I personally found it uncomfortable so I trimmed it off. So users either had to cope with some level of potential discomfort to keep the stem, or trim it off and be left with a regular disc lacking a removal aid.
Hard to grab – all discs required reaching high into the vaginal canal, with the exception of the Lumma (at the time,) but this was difficult for some users to accomplish. Most people were pinching the rim to remove and this added to the mess when spillage would leak onto the thumb and finger at this part of removal.
Messy to remove – no matter which way you slice it, discs were some degree of bloody to remove. Even as a very experienced user I would find it mess and I preferred to remove a full disc in the shower.
While these issues marinated I had a bit of an inventor’s epiphany while drinking a soda. A double loop pull tab attached behind the rim could solve every disc problem. At first, I just let the concept form in my head without any desire to act on it. Finally, late in the summer of 2020, after imagining this concept over and over I drew it on my iPad. I mimed removals in my brain (harder than you’d think!) and it seemed this design really had potential. Removing with the tab also covered hands and shielded them from the mess. It prevented the pinching of the rim that usually spilled blood. The loops would fit the finger securely to prevent dropping.
The loops would also have the additional benefit of making it easier for people with disabilities or reach issues to use. I have been suggesting discs as a better product for this reason (suction-free) but the loops would really add another dimension of accessibility! A huge part of my job involved listening to others’ menstrual product issues and offering advice. I’ve learned a lot through others and it was clear that a menstrua disc with the right design could open up the reusable period care category to more people who needed a better option.
Conceptually, I imagined the longer looped tab could be worn “drooping” for a high cervix and stay tucked under the disc and follow the shape of it for a low cervix. The more I built upon the design the more excited I became that it could completely solve the issues with other discs.
I’m not a 3D artist and I don’t understand scale
I still wasn’t entirely sold on this being worth pursuing but I also couldn’t get it out of my head. I wanted to know how far I should take it and if it would be just another “cool idea” of many I’ve had, or is this really something special? First, I taught myself how to use a free 3D program called Blender. I made a crude 3D model and then another one, then another. My earliest attempts make it clear I am not a “to scale” designer. My husband pointed out that a finger wouldn’t fit in my earliest models, oops. Finally, I had a 3D concept and it just felt like I was on to something. I still didn’t want to start a brand and didn’t want the conflict that would present. So what next?
I was also starting over and building my new businesses. I was no longer a recognizable “brand” but my expertise was still unquestioned and I had great relationships with a number of manufacturers in this space. I decided to contact my #1 brand choice, Hello Cup. I messaged and said I had a menstrual disc idea, would they be interested in hearing more? They replied that their brand had THAT VERY DAY secured a manufacturer for their disc. At first, I was like “damn, they don’t need my idea they’re already set.” Turns out they started with the manufacturer and didn’t have a design.
We met on Zoom the next day and I presented a full pitch deck with my 3D renders, wireframes, etc. They immediately recognized that this design had promise, and they trusted my experience. We inked a deal that I’m really happy with (a girl’s gotta eat) and we got to work taking it from concept to product.
It turns out that on paper my idea was fantastic but creating a manufacturable product was going to be difficult. Luckily, Hello Cup had the design chops and manufacturing experience to overcome them.
The first issue? A recessed tab attachment. Injection molding this unit was going to be hard. I won’t bore you with the specifics and I don’t even understand them all but some design compromises had to be made. A scallop was added early on to allow the plates to meet which reduced capacity slightly but was the only way.
The next issue? Curved tab. Getting the tab to follow the shape of the disc was the next challenge that was also related to manufacturing via injection molding. In fact, this was the challenge that ate up the most time in our design process to solve. Enough space between the other sides needed to exist and the tab needed to retain its shape.
The final issue? Finger-sized holes. To create a tool that left holes on top of the other issues didn’t at first seem possible. Initially, the holes were going to be punched out. At the very last minute, the team figured out how it could be molded in one entire piece – holes included. This would mean the entire disc was smooth on those edges.
Such a complicated design for a disc had never been attempted and we began to understand why! The research and time spent by Hello Cup on solving problems I was sure couldn’t be solved is truly amazing. I picked the right brand to partner with. They saw the potential of this design and that it was worth the investment. It turned out to cost more time and money than any of us realized, the tool alone to make the disc will now cost 3x as much as a standard tool for any other disc.
I certainly have an even deeper appreciation for proprietary brands than I already had after seeing the long hours, costly investment, and human testing it takes to bring a truly unique concept from sketch to sellable product. SUPPORT PROPRIETARY BRANDS.
Does it work?
All along during this process, I suffered from imposter syndrome. We met bi-weekly or weekly via Zoom to discuss updates and the longer it took to solve the manufacturing issues the more nervous I became. WHAT IF my concept doesn’t even work? Other than making pretend discs with hot glue as my tab I had no idea if the product would do what I imagined it would in a real body. Only with a body-safe prototype of silicone could that answer be known.
It took 1 year to reach the moment of truth.
In August 2021 a small batch of usable prototypes was hand-cast. I worked with a small number of prototype testers sworn to secrecy, who would provide feedback. Some were admins of my group, others were personal friends and contacts who would be able to test it as representatives of various abilities, body sizes, cervix heights, and flows. I wanted to know all of it – the good and bad. They were subjected to an exhaustive survey along with my incessant barrage of DM’s for months. And of course, I would be testing it as well. It had to be perfect. The pressure for the prototypes to do the amazing tasks I promised they would was immense. I brought an entire company along on my concept. What if I was totally wrong?
When the moment of truth finally came it was clear. The Hello Disc was a winner in every way I had hoped it would be, and even ways I didn’t expect.
I was receiving messages from my testers staggered out over the next month because of course, each needed a period to trial it. Hello Cup was also hearing from their testers and the feedback was glowing. Users with a high cervix were finally able to use a disc with ease. Folks with a heavy period who didn’t find other products worked for them were finding the auto-dump function of this disc was perfect (we think because of the shallower and slanted catch coupled with the slick interior.) Mess-free period sex was happening and the curved tucked-in tab was great. Removals were in many cases no-mess at all, and in some, far less messy than when they’d used other discs. The tab was helping users who struggled with other products. Our users found the tab was staying entirely centered all day long or almost perfectly centered – assuaging my fears that it would somehow rotate. Only real human testing could answer our questions about the design and each potential issue was given a PASS.
We fucking nailed it.
When it was finally my turn to try on my period it had been an excruciatingly long wait. My period was even late! I had been dry running the disc and knew the function was there but mess-free? That was up in the air.
The first time I removed my full disc with a single finger it was nearly no mess. I had auto-dumped right before so my vaginal walls were bloody, hence my finger was slightly bloody.
The second time I removed the full disc I didn’t auto-dump and my finger was entirely clean! Never in all of my days of using discs had I removed a full disc without any blood on my fingers. And it was so easy to remove.
It’s going to change the game
That day was the day my imposter syndrome vanished. My decade of experience plus Hello Cup’s amazing design skills may just have resulted in the perfect menstrual disc. A few of our testers have even called it that!
I will continue to do the work I do even with a product that has so much of myself in it because at the end of the day, if that product isn’t the right fit for someone I can and will tell them which one is. That is why I didn’t want to be a brand. I just knew that this concept was going to change the way people use menstrual discs and it deserved to go from my brain to a retailer near you.
When can you get one?
The quickest way to get your hands on the new Hello Disc will be by becoming a backer on Kickstarter. The rewards should begin to ship out in early 2022. Next, retailers will begin stocking them which includes my store, Period.Shop.
I’d love to see this Kickstarter launch and go bananas. We’ve worked so hard on the product and the Kickstarter and now to actually share it with the world? What a dream!
Lastly, I just want to say how grateful I am to do what I do and to have people believe in me the way that Hello Cup did. They didn’t just take my concept and rush to finish without my input. We jointly worked together every step of this journey; our skill sets combined did this design justice. It looks so simple but every minute detail was pored over with a fine-tooth comb in every way. They added a lot to this design as well to make it truly collaborative and amazing.
Over the last year, a lot has changed in my professional life, for the better. While we worked hard in secret on this project I was growing Period.Shop and Period Nirvana. The brand had no idea that I’d be able to share this new design we worked so hard on with 200,000 TikTok followers. At the start of our project, I had 0 on any platform. I’m hoping that Hello Cup sees amazing success with this disc and that people using it find it to be the best product they’ve ever used. Will it work for 100% of people? Of course not. I will still be here helping people find the right product for them, regardless. It’s what I love. But if you’re well suited to a Hello Disc just know I will mention it as an option!
Update: Available Now
Find the Hello Disc at Period.Shop if you’re in the US, or through HelloPeriod.com shipping to select countries worldwide.