In the Spotlight: Diva International
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Photo Credit: Divainternational.ca
We recently chatted with our friends over at Diva International about their journey on how their company became so successful.
Diva International is a revolutionary company fighting to end menstrual poverty and educate the world on menstrual health. Diva International was first an idea to push for menstrual equity and then became a product, the DivaCup. The DivaCup is an eco-friendly, reusable menstrual cup, and the top selling menstrual cup in the world. Diva International is more than their game changing period products. They are a global company advocating for menstrual equity through their social impact program, Diva Cares.
Catch up on our inspiring conversation and learn more about Diva International here:
What inspired the DivaCup? Take us on your journey pre-DivaCup.
My mom Francine spent her whole life searching for a better, more comfortable, and environmentally friendly alternative to tampons and pads; she found it in the modern menstrual cup and knew she was on to a winner. We saw this as a great opportunity and immediately launched ourselves into creating the DivaCup, making it the first re-usable menstrual cup that took the world by storm! We knew we were improving the menstrual care game by creating a user-friendly, environmentally responsible and reusable period product that could be easily accessible around the world. What we didn’t know was that we were revolutionizing the way people who menstruate relate to their periods, their bodies and themselves.
We entered a competitive and male-dominated menstrual care industry and our competitors were fierce. We were designing cups and packages from our kitchen table, committed to changing the period status quo. We were laughed at and rejected, pushing our product at sales shows across Canada and the United States, making some progress in the natural industry and independent retailers, but finally after eleven years we landed our first national retailer!
I can’t believe it’s been almost twenty years, and Diva International is now an internationally recognized brand and household name. More importantly, we’ve made the period experience better, safer, and more dignified for people who menstruate all over the world.
What challenges did you face during the birth of the DivaCup and how did you overcome them?
We faced a lot of rejection and resistance in our journey, which at the time was very disheartening. We were two women entering a male-dominated industry with a completely radical idea. We were literally laughed at in board rooms and out of trade shows. But we persevered and supported each other. Our commitment to revolutionizing the period game kept us going. The positive responses we were getting from our early customers made us believe that the DivaCup was a game changer.
Where do you find your motivation to continue to build the DivaCup brand?
In the past it has not always been easy to stay motivated, especially when times were tough. What really kept us going is our customers and their love of our products and brand. We were told how the DivaCup was life changing for them and this still excites me! Today, we are so inspired by the evolution of the whole category and how much enthusiasm there is around reusable menstrual care. The DivaCup has also become such a recognized brand and household name. This was something we could have only dreamed of in 2001 when we first started.
Another major motivation is our philanthropy efforts and DivaCares program. The energy around the change we are helping to incite, fuels me in ways I never imagined. I know that we still have a lot of work to do in addressing period poverty globally, but we are motivated more than ever to continue this important work. We even created a full-length documentary entitled Pandora’s Box: Lifting the Lid on Menstruation to raise awareness for the global issues surrounding menstruation. Unfortunately, due to COVID19, people who are at risk for period poverty have been hit hard and need everyone’s help to be able to menstruate with dignity. We continue to create new products, reach more people, and develop innovative strategies so that everyone in the world who menstruates can have an empowering period experience!
What is something you wish you knew in the early stages of building DivaCup?
I wish I knew to trust my instincts more often. I’ve always been a very trusting person, believing that everyone has the best intentions for me and my business. Learning to listen to what my intuition tells me about others, business, and the world has been a learning curve. If I knew to listen to that inner voice more often when we were first starting Diva, it may have saved some personal and professional pains. Trusting my instinct, especially with people, has been a crucial part of becoming a seasoned business leader, and also, a big part of my personal growth.
I love how Diva has helped thousands of women in period poverty. Do you have any future initiatives planned to continue to fight this fight and further build menstrual equity?
Absolutely! Our DivaCares program is the social impact initiative of our company and something that I am personally very passionate about. We have been doing social impact work from the very beginning and decided to create a wing within Diva International that is dedicated to developing partnerships and programs across the globe. We work with female, BIPOC, and queer led organizations that relieve the impact of period poverty through product donations, financial contributions, and educational programs. We increase our programs every year – in 2019 alone we donated over $600,000 in product, diverting 3.6 million in disposable period product waste. We invite everyone to learn about DivaCares at divacares.com.
What is a piece of advice that you can give new entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
The best advice I can give is to be patient, everything worth doing takes time. For us the journey was very slow and it seemed to be 2 steps forward, one step back. But we stayed the course and were truly unstoppable, despite the setbacks. I still can’t believe how far we have come and what is even possible when you never give up.
Be sure to keep up with Diva International’s empowering journey here:
Diva International & Divainternational.ca