For those who are unfamiliar, a menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product that can be used in place of pads and tampons. Instead of absorbing fluid, a menstrual cup collects it and can then be emptied. Menstrual cups are usually made with medical-grade silicone and can be washed and reused for many years, making them an eco-friendly option.
Q: How/Why did you develop the Keela Cup?
A: The Keela Cup does not have a very glamorous origin story. It was born from me swearing in my bathroom, trying to use my conventional menstrual cup during a very bad pain flare (I have hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome). I had decided I was done with this type of product, since I was continually hurting myself trying to use it. I contacted my friend Andy, who happens to be a seasoned medical device inventor, and asked if he would be interested in making something better. I’m so glad he said yes!
Q: What is your goal for the Keela Cup?
A: My goal for the Keela Cup is to broaden access to reusables to more people. It’s about time folks with disabilities (and everyone else) had more options for menstrual care and beyond.
My goal for Keela overall is to design even more inclusive products, particularly of the reusable and eco-friendly variety. One unexpected thing that has happened since we launched our Kickstarter is that tons of people have reached out to me to share products that don’t work well for them. We want to be a listening company. We want to use that to steer where we go.
Q: What are the assistive technology (AT) devices that you can’t live without?
A: I am a sucker for “house robots” as I call them. I love being able to operate my lights, TV and heater with my voice via our Google Home Mini (and assorted other devices to make this work) and keeping our rescue animal-filled home as fur-free as possible with our Neato robotic vacuum. I’m basically always injured, so help with these tasks helps me rest whatever ailment I’m dealing with.
Q: What would you like people to know about the Keela Cup?
A: I would like people to know that it’s not just for people with disabilities like mine. Though the design was motivated by my mobility challenges, we’ve solved for problems that a lot of users have with cups (insertion and removal). Even if you don’t need this sort of adaptive tool, it’s certainly worth it to make this life chore a little easier. If you’re new to cups, we feel our cup is a pretty neat bridge between a tampon and a conventional cup, so the learning curve isn’t quite so intimidating! The most novel feature is that we added a flexible silicone pull string in place of the stiff, uncomfortable stems found on traditional cups. Our stem connects to the top of the cup so it breaks the suction seal when pulled, so it can be removed as easily as a tampon.
Q: What advice do you have for other inventors?
A: A lot of inventors work within the framework of designing for “the 90%” meaning, for the majority of users. However, if you can solve for the challenges of the remaining 10% you’ve just broadened the market. Not only that, but often times the challenges that may prohibit use for that 10% are also an inconvenience to users in the 90%. Inevitably, inclusive design benefits us all.
Q: How can we support your invention?
A: We are taking pre-orders on our website, and it would mean so much to me to have your early support. Your pre-order is the best kind of support for our small but mighty new company. We plan to begin shipping in May of this year. If you don’t need a cup but would like to pre-order to donate one (or several) we are happy to facilitate that as well! You can pre-order a cup at www.keelacup.com
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