From humble beginnings in CEO Heli Kurjanen’s home at Juupajoki, Lunette has grown known for its innovation, quality, sustainability and company values. This month, Lunette turns 15 years. To mark the occasion, we sat down with Heli to ask a few questions reflecting on the past years, her experience, and the company as a whole. Here’s what she had to say.
This year we celebrate Lunette's 15th Anniversary. What made you start Lunette?
I used reusable diapers for my children and thought that there must be a better way to handle my periods than to produce so much plastic waste from all the pads and tampons! I found a menstrual cup online and my first reaction was disgust but then I started to wonder why that was and decided to try it. After trying it out, I liked the idea but I had some issues with using that particular menstrual cup and I thought that it could be designed so much better. I complained about the difficulties to my husband who said that I should stop complaining and make my own cup. So I did! And the rest is history.
What do you remember about your first year in business?
My initial thought was to have a small online business and continue my journey as a stay at home mom. However, Lunette cups got instantly lots of good feedback and retailers started to be interested so I had to put children into a daycare and start running a real business. First year was full of lots of work and learning. I started to look for professionals around me, build the retail channels and make business plans for the upcoming years. I still remember how excited I was to get first emails from customers saying that they love our products. Those feedbacks are still the main reason why I love this work.
What do you see as the biggest accomplishments since your start in 2005?
I feel rather privileged to be able to work in a profession that I love. Since 2005 I’ve seen so much, travelled around the world, spoke at UN General Assembly and got Lunette Cups into Monki clothing stores and was mentioned in Vogue! Still, my biggest accomplishment is that we are constantly getting good feedback from our customers about our products and the work we have done throughout these years breaking the bloody taboos. It really warms my heart to see the change that has happened since 2005, now people are less afraid of talking about their periods and more open to trying reusable options like Lunette Cups.
What do you believe to be the greatest strengths of Lunette?
One of the biggest strengths of Lunette definitely is that it was created for a real need. I had some issues with the existing cups and my friends seem to have issues with them. The design changes we made for Lunette have slowly been improved and developed for 15 years now. Our high-quality standards ensure that our products are safe and reliable to use. Something that we are very proud of.
Do you see it as a strength that you have to go the extra mile in order to produce products, that without the high set standards, could be produced more cheaply?
Since the beginning we have been building a long-term business and it means that we can’t just think about the profits in the short run. Our products need to comply with different regulatory requirements and they need to be safe so people can use them for years. One thing that I’m personally not happy about, and it might come as a surprise, but menstrual products are not regulated in Europe or many other countries. I want to be sure that our company uses only high-quality materials and won’t contain any nasty chemicals.
In looking back, have you seen many changes in the field?
Yes! When I started, I faced a lot of prejudice and belittling about the menstrual cup and periods were such a taboo, that no-one wanted to talk about. Also the ignorance about anatomy and periods was shocking. Many people thought that only a hippie can wear such a product and the primary reaction was often disgust.
Periods are still a taboo and there is still a huge amount of ignorance about them, but the situation has evolved during recent years! People are talking about periods more openly and the issues around them, menstrual cups are not seen as a product that's just for “hippies”, but as an alternative for disposable products. Now people are often interested in the menstrual cup rather than disgusted.
What’s your favourite memory from the last 15 years?
One memory that I cherish is from Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. We were there visiting the schools where we provided free products and education. It was a real eye-opening visit and I remember this group of teenagers coming to hug me saying thank you. They were able to go to school and save some money because they got Lunette Cups and were able to manage their periods more efficiently and cheaper than before.
What would you say has been the most rewarding part of running Lunette?
The most rewarding part has been constantly learning more. I was only 25 years old, mother of two, when I started the company and I have learned so much during these years. And although I have run the business for 15 years already, I understand that there are still so much to learn from our team, partners, customers and fellow business leaders. There are no two days alike, and I love it!
Where do you expect to go in the next 15 years? In what ways do you expect to grow?
Menstrual cups are still a niche market and most of the people don’t have a clue about them. I want our products to be widely recognized and sold in places where people are buying their disposable period products. Lunette has always been more than a cup. It's a lifestyle. It's a community. It's the future. Besides menstrual products, we have many new product ideas and plans for the future!