Welcome back to our Founder Stories series, where we sit with inspiring and influential women to dive into their entrepreneurial journey and discuss all things business (and wellness). Today, we speak with Ruth Marsden, the founder of period care brand Bettercup.
Ruth originally went to drama school and worked as an actress for a couple of years before having her first child. She was already struggling to find work before having her baby and after it became even trickier, and so during the newborn sleepless nights she started a blog which slowly turned into a job for the following 3 years. Then her work shifted slightly again with the birth of Bettercup in 2019.
FLAURA: What inspired you to start Bettercup?
Ruth: Back in early 2019 I was at the beginning of a journey to make our family home more environmentally friendly, reducing our plastic use and waste. The process got me thinking about how much waste my period was causing each month. I’d heard of menstrual cups previously but always thought they sounded odd and a bit ‘icky’. It was my sister making the switch that encouraged me to give one a go myself and it was amazing! I couldn’t believe what a better period experience it gave me. Menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone and last up to 10 years, unlike tampons which are disposable and made up of a concoction of chemicals, plastics and other synthetics. Menstrual cups are so much better for your body as well as being better for the planet.
It was around that same time I was chatting to another sister who lives and works in Zimbabwe, at a rural farm school. She was telling me about the issue they have with keeping students in school during their period. The girls there tend to end up missing a week of school every month as they have no suitable sanitary wear.
The dream to start my own business was already in the back of my mind and in that moment the idea behind Bettercup was born. We would create ethically-made, beautifully-packaged menstrual cups and for each one sold we would donate one.
F: What makes Bettercup different to other brands?
The idea behind the name is that we want a brand that is truly better for everyone involved. A better period experience for the user as well as being much better for the planet than disposable products and better for those in need through our donation programme.
F: What has surprised you most about the entrepreneurial journey so far?
Starting a business on your own can feel quite lonely, there are constantly huge decisions to be made and I hadn’t expected the weight of that responsibility to fall so heavily.
F: How do you keep your team motivated?
With anyone that I’ve worked with throughout the Bettercup journey so far I just try and focus on what would make me work best. I need to feel trusted and encouraged and given space to do what I’m good at and so that’s what I also try and offer. You are hiring someone because of a skill they can bring so my aim is to just give them the space and whatever they need to do their job.
F: How do you define “success”?
I think success can be a dangerous concept. The illusive, unattainable goal. I try and celebrate every small success of Bettercup. To take the time to acknowledge the small wins rather than just moving on to the next problem that needs solving. But I don’t have a specific goal of success in mind as I think the reality never lives up to the idea. I really want to enjoy the journey of running a business, rather than focusing on a finished ‘success’, I want to enjoy it for what it is each day.
F: What’s the most rewarding part of your day now?
By far the best thing is receiving messages from customers. There is NOTHING better than getting an email from a nurse to say a Bettercup has transformed her shift when on her period. Or from a mum to say that she no longer dreads her period.
F: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Don’t accept criticism from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice.
F: What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own business?
Do it! If it’s what you think about as you’re falling asleep then get on it. Don’t question yourself or your abilities. Even if you just take one small step, you’ve taken a step. I was going to say earlier actually that to me ‘success’ is the fact that I started Bettercup. Even if it all fell apart I’d count it as one of my best successes because I simply started it.
Top Wellness Habits
“Drink water and get some fresh air” was my mum’s answer for pretty much any problem and I think she might just have a point.
I also do a few minutes of yoga each morning to help take a breath before the day starts. Oh and never skip breakfast!