Doing Business with Friends with Robyn McLean & Mary Bond, The Hello Cup

May 7, 2020

Robyn McLean and Mary Bond are two friends who always dreamed of going into business together. When Robyn made the switch to menstrual cups to manage her painful periods what that business could be became crystal clear: The Hello Cup, a sustainable menstrual cup manufactured in New Zealand.

In this episode:

  • What sparked the idea to create the Hello Cup 
  • How the conversation around menstruation has become more positive 
  • The environmental benefits of using reusable menstrual products
  • Why Mary and Robyn insist on having The Hello Cups manufactured in New Zealand 
  • The challenges of global growth and exporting
  • What it’s like to have the support of a group of women entrepreneurs to ask for advice and help along the way
  • Doing business with friends

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Show Notes

Transcript

Robyn McLean:

When I first told my daughter what we were doing, she was like, “Oh mom, that’s just disgusting. There’s no way I will be part of that.” And then, of course I was like, “Well, we really need you to try it out.” And now, she said she wouldn’t, this is two years down the track, she would never, ever use a tampon ever again and all her friends use Hello Cups and they’re our best advocates because they are our future and they are true target market because, for them, if they start using Hello Cups at their age, they will only need about seven in their lifetime.

Robyn McLean:

And you compare that to 11,000 tampons or pads that they would go through if they were going down the single use road. It’s nuts. And even if they didn’t recycle those seven cups, their footprint is so small in comparison, but if they do recycle them, then it’s a zero waste.

Vicki Saunders:

Welcome to SheEO.world, a podcast about redesigning the world. I’m your host, Vicki Saunders. In each episode, you’ll hear from SheEO venture founders, women who are working on the world’s to do list. These innovative business leaders are solving some of the major challenges of our times. Sit back and prepare to be inspired.

Mary Bond:

Hi there. I’m Mary Bond and I’m co-founder of the Hello Cup.

Robyn McLean:

Hi, I’m Robyn McLean and I am the other co-founder of Hello Cup. Hello Cup was founded by myself and Mary in 2017. Mary is a registered nurse. I’m a former journalist and we started Hello Cup because we found that there was a huge gap in the market for a fun, quality-made menstrual cup. So Hello Cup is a menstrual cup and Hello Cup is made from medical grade TPE, which is a type of plastic and we chose it because it allows us to recycle our cups, which was really appealing.

Robyn McLean:

So they last a long time but the recyclable element also makes them zero waste. They’re also hypoallergenic. Yeah, just super cute.

Vicki Saunders:

Amazing. Well your branding is off the charts and let’s just be clear too where are you from with your beautiful accents, ladies?

Robyn McLean:

New Zealand.

Mary Bond:

We’re from New Zealand.

Vicki Saunders:

New Zealand. Yay. All great things come from New Zealand. Awesome. So let’s step back in time a little bit. So journalist and nurse meet and of course, create a menstrual cup. How did that happen?

Mary Bond:

Robyn and I have been best friends since we were 11 years old. We went to school together and we’ve been best friends ever since. We’ve lived in different cities and different countries a lot, huge part of our lives that we’ve always remained close. And we had our first babies, daughters, within a year of each other. They’re now almost 17 and almost 18.

Mary Bond:

We had always talked, since they were born, about going into business together and we’d thought about all sorts of things like baby’s clothes and cute things like that. But then, one rainy Sunday, I remember it clearly, I got a phone call from Robyn saying, “I know what it is, I know what it is, I know what we should do, what we should do for our business. We should make menstrual cups in New Zealand.”

Mary Bond:

And I think there was probably a little bit of silence from my end while I digested that concept but Robyn and I have all both had pretty shocking periods over the years, difficult to manage periods, and when we were growing up, menstrual cups were never presented as an option for us.

Mary Bond:

Robyn, in desperation, went into a pharmacy in Hawkes Bay in New Zealand and talked to a pharmacist there who suggested that she try a menstrual cup. She tried it and just was absolutely blown away by what a game changer it was and how easy it made a heavy period, how much easier it made to manage. But nobody at that point was making them in the New Zealand. And so, the idea was on.

Vicki Saunders:

Amazing. Okay, so Robyn, is that how you remember things?

Robyn McLean:

Yeah. The first feeling was utter devastation really, because that I hadn’t been told about menstrual cups or used one when I was a teenager, because I hated having my period at school, and I’d taken a lot of time off when I had my period because I had terrible period pain or that my flow was really heavy. And so, as soon as I tried a menstrual cup, I thought, “God, all those things helped by using a menstrual cup.”

Robyn McLean:

For a lot of people, they help with pain as well, for some reason. I don’t know. We don’t really know why that is. Whether it’s that some bodys react to the chemicals that are in tampons. It really was that light bulb moment.

Robyn McLean:

From that conversation, it was all go. We just never stopped to draw breath because we were like, “Okay, we can make it out of this, and we can have the tagline bloody brilliant, and we can have a tagline no strings attached.” And the only thing we got stuck on really was the actual name of the company, what we would call the company.

Vicki Saunders:

Well, so how did you get to Hello Cup? How did that happen?

Robyn McLean:

We had a big ideas board and we had lots of names. At one stage we had, Fanny as the leading contender. In New Zealand, it’s a colloquial name for vagina, but in the States it’s somewhere else. So we had to rule that out pretty quickly. We got really stuck. And then Hell came up as a positive, welcoming phrase.

Robyn McLean:

A lot of other cup brands use names that are to do with the lunar cycle and we just wanted something that wasn’t negative in connotation. Not that other cups necessarily were, but we wanted the conversation around periods to change, and so hello was like, “Oh hi, welcome back.”, the way you would talk to an old friend and not that whole, “Oh God, I’ve got my period. I hate my period.” More like, “Hi, I’ve got a great solution for you. Here’s a Hello Cup.”

Robyn McLean:

And so, we’re, Hello with a full stop after it, which my 16 year old daughter suggested. So we’re Hello Period, with not period, the word, just the full stop, which obviously, again, in New Zealand we call them full stops, but because of the emergence of American language and ways, especially with things like Netflix over here, and so most younger people are also aware that a full stop is also known as a period.

Robyn McLean:

So whether you get the double entendre or not doesn’t really matter because hello is still a nice welcoming name. But if you see Hello Period and get the hidden meaning then that’s good too.

Vicki Saunders:

It totally is. Your branding is just spectacular and I can’t help but step back and think, “So I’m 55 and I don’t have my period anymore. Thank God. And yay. For those who do, there’s just been such a huge shift in this space, right? Massive. From never talk about it, hide it. The curse, I think is what my mother’s generation called this, to people out talking about everything.

Vicki Saunders:

And you have so many people on your Insta posting pictures and talking about how to put this in and it’s so beautiful and celebrated. And so, Mary, from a nurse’s perspective, have you seen a lot of shifts in this space in your work? And how are you helping with that dialogue and narrative?

Mary Bond:

So there’s a couple of ways. When we started, we’d be invited to go and talk to schools anywhere from 11 to 17 year olds. And when we started, often we would go in and it would be giggling when we would talk about a menstrual cup or people hadn’t heard of them. And we’re not even talking two years ago, we’re talking 18 months ago.

Mary Bond:

For a lot of those teens we were introducing a concept. But actually what we’ve found really quickly is, especially in New Zealand, they all know what a menstrual cup is now. So it’s not just about choosing something which is better for your body, but there’s a huge movement towards something which is a much better option for the environment.

Mary Bond:

And we’ve found sometimes with older people, they’re not so interested in the zero waste aspect. They’re more interested in, it’s more comfortable, it’s easier to manage my periods, especially traveling, or what have you, and I save money.

Mary Bond:

But for teens it’s all about not using single use products which end up in landfill. So that change and actually the knowledge that a menstrual cup is a first option, I mean, it’s changed in a really short space of time, especially we found in the New Zealand and the Australian market that it’s happened really quickly.

Mary Bond:

And we specifically designed, it wasn’t one of our first products, but we knew right from the beginning that we would produce a smaller cup, which could be used as soon as somebody got their period. And at that stage, I think there might’ve been one other company that produced a cup that was small enough to use as a beginning product.

Mary Bond:

So that was a great way of introducing teens to a menstrual cup, that there was one that didn’t look daunting, that was soft, obviously looked cute and fun. And so, the concept of it wasn’t quite so scary.

Vicki Saunders:

What are some of the stories that have been emerging from your customers as they start to use this and as you see how people are talking about things online? Do you want to share a couple of those anecdotes?

Mary Bond:

Almost all of our emails start with an apology to say, TMI, or too much information. We’re like, “Oh my goodness, there is no such thing as TMI in the Hello Cup world. Bring it on. Tell us your stories.” And we do get emails from people as young as 11 and 12 and sometimes they’ll write to us before they buy a cup to say, “Look, is this going to work for me?”, a bit scared.

Mary Bond:

And then, we get the followup emails and they’re just amazing, but we’ve has a couple of situations where, not in the teenage market, but in the older market where people have said, “Look, I’ve got a low cervix.”, Or we’ve had situations where a woman has had two cervix or issues where the anatomy isn’t what we’d call in the normal parameters and have really struggled with periods, or have had terrible cramps with endo, and then have used a cup and have come back and said that it works really well and it’s changed their life.

Mary Bond:

And so, we’re really able to then take that information and when we get another email that says, “I’ve got this issue.”, We can say, “Look, we know that these works for people with all sorts of different period issues and anatomy.”, and yeah.

Robyn McLean:

Issues aside the main comments we get are, “Thank you, you’ve changed my life.” People like me go and are apprehensive about trying something new, especially if they’ve used something like pads or tampons for the majority of their life. And again, if they’re around my age, which is older than I’d like. I’m hoping I’m towards the end of this journey.

Robyn McLean:

And so, to make a shift into a completely new product is a really big step for a lot of people. But they make it because I think we’re all trying to do better things for the environment and sanitary waste is a huge, huge, huge issue. And you think about the difference that one person can make, even just using reusable sanitary products over one period is significant.

Robyn McLean:

So they make the change and not only are they feeling great that they’re doing something worthwhile that they never knew that they could do environmentally, their periods are easier. And I think maybe a lot of people with periods towards the end of their cycle, as they head into menopause, their flows change and often get heavier. Certainly that is the case with me and I don’t know how I would have coped without having menstrual cups because they hold more. So I’m actually able to go about my day. Whereas I don’t think I would be able to, if I was still using tampons, they just wouldn’t hold enough.

Vicki Saunders:

It’s so interesting to me that this has not existed in the world before. And this to me is like a classic example of this structural inequities and the fact that it’s really hard for women to get funded and supported. And so, how old is this concept of cups? Has it been around for a long time or is it literally just something that emerged recently?

Mary Bond:

Menstrual cups have actually been around for a long time. They were invented by an American actress. I think is this right, Robyn, in about the 1920s?

Robyn McLean:

’30s.

Mary Bond:

’30s. Then in came big business companies that make single use products, Their whole business concept is that they sell a product to someone every month. So every month you have to give them money. Now menstrual cup, you ask someone to buy one, and then you don’t ask them again for five to 10 years. So in terms of a business strategy, maybe not such a great concept.

Mary Bond:

So what happened is big business just, they weren’t interested in producing menstrual cups. When I think about when Robyn and I were teenagers, the period education was funded by tampon and pad companies and you could send away a little card from a teen magazine and you’d get free samples.

Mary Bond:

So generally the samples that you received in the post will be the product that you’d buy every month. It just simply wasn’t good business practice, but if anybody asks me about, “Well, why would you have a company where actually you’re only selling one product every five to 10 years. That’s just madness.” But the fact of the matter is that our potential number of customers is absolutely massive. A.

Mary Bond:

And we’re looking at 50% of the population at some stage of their life are probably going to have a period. So the numbers are massive, but it’s just simply that these big companies, they’ve shut it down, they’ve just shut it down. So it did exist.

Mary Bond:

And there certainly have been some companies that have been around for a long time that have produced menstrual cups, but they’ve been sitting on the bottom shelf of a health food store, or buying online and there haven’t been like, “Hey, here I am. I’m a menstrual cup and I’m awesome, and I’m cute and you know you’re going to want to own me.”

Mary Bond:

So we’re really just pushing into that space to say, “Look, it’s not daunting. It’s really comfortable. It’s really easy to use. We’re here to support you with it, and it looks beautiful. The packaging is beautiful. You’re not going to want to throw it away.” The cups come in cute colors and you’d think that something that is hidden inside of vagina, it wouldn’t actually matter what color it is, but we know it actually matters a lot and people do care. So that’s really changed the game.

Vicki Saunders:

It must feel really amazing, I can’t think of a better word right now, to be doing something that has such deep meaning. Especially at a moment in time right now where, a zero waste product in the market, amazing. And to help with all of this single use everything. I mean, I think we should just put a big X through anything single use. It’s just so brilliant.

Vicki Saunders:

Let’s talk a little bit about the business. Neither of you have come from a business background, always my favorite thing with entrepreneurs, because oftentimes when you don’t come from a business background you tend to be super-innovative and just do it your way.

Vicki Saunders:

And so, you’ve got a couple of things here. I want to talk about that. And I also want to talk about being besties and working together in a business. What does that bring up, in terms of challenges? So maybe Robyn, we’ll start with you around, what’s it like to be co-founding a company with your best friend?

Robyn McLean:

It’s actually, it’s great. It works really well. We’re comfortable with each other. We have never really had a volatile friendship anyway. I think that you can have certain types of relationships and be close. And I think because we’ve got very different skill sets that the business has fallen relatively naturally into roles that we want to take up.

Robyn McLean:

Obviously as we grow that’s becoming different because Mary and I now together need to front the business, and as we grow we’ll have staff to do the bits and pieces that we were doing. We’re also based in different cities. We talk a lot, but we’re not there so there’s no boxing ring in the corner where we can fight things out, because we talk when we need to talk and otherwise we get on with what needs doing. And that’s really helpful because we’re not in each other’s space the whole time.

Vicki Saunders:

I mean, it is amazing to be co-founding a company and building something when you’re not in the same city. That’s tough.

Robyn McLean:

It’s kind of tough, but it’s also the way of the future. Look at us. You don’t need to be in the same space anymore. You can do business globally. We wanted our cups to be made in New Zealand. New Zealand is the bottom of the world and while it’s the most awesome place in the world, a few years ago even, doing this business would have been a lot harder.

Robyn McLean:

There’s a perception that big businesses are always based in the US or the UK. And I think a lot of people actually think that we are US-based. But if we need to be in the US then it’s very easy for both Mary and I just to jump on a plane and go to a meeting. It’s a long way, but we’re fine with it.

Vicki Saunders:

Mary, talk to me about, so you both have daughters. What do they think about what you’re doing with your company and are they involved?

Mary Bond:

So Robyn’s got one daughter and a son and I have three daughters, who span the ages, so four, 12 and 17 and I think in the beginning, so my youngest daughter, Hello Cup just her normal because she spends so much time in the office. But I think in the beginning they probably… We’ve always been really open in our family. I probably, being a nurse, I would imagine about periods and sex and everything. But I think in the beginning they were like, “Oh, could you not do something else?”, something like that.

Mary Bond:

I think that lasted for about five seconds and they’re so proud and my oldest daughter, she actually, there’s a New Zealand scheme. It’s called a young enterprise scheme where you develop a business and she actually sells the Hello Cups to her school friends in Christchurch through that. So she really has had to up her game about knowledge and support around that, and that’s been amazing.

Mary Bond:

And my 12 year old is just so proud. But Robyn and I, when we were 11 or 12, we never talked about our periods. I don’t think we ever talked about our periods in our teens, but they talk about periods all the time. So they’re really comfortable with the concept. So it’s just a different time. They are awesome. I mean, they just are incredibly supportive. They love the company.

Mary Bond:

Robyn’s daughter and my daughter are best friends. So they both have input, Robyn’s daughter does a lot of art-work on our Instagram. She’s incredibly talented. So they’re all involved and they’re just really, really proud.

Robyn McLean:

When I first told my daughter what we were doing, she was like, “Oh mom, that’s just disgusting. There’s no way I will be part of that.” And then, of course I was like, “Well, we really need you to try it out.” And now, she said she wouldn’t, this is two years down the track, she would never, ever use a tampon ever again. And all her friends use Hello Cups and they’re our best advocates because they are our future, and they’re our true target market because for them, if they start using Hello Cup at their age, they will only need about seven in the lifetime.

Robyn McLean:

And you compare that to 11,000 tampons or pads that they would go through if they were going down the single use road. It’s nuts. And even if they didn’t recycle those seven cups, their footprint is so small in comparison, but if they do recycle them, then it’s a zero waste result-

Vicki Saunders:

Which makes me so happy. I mean, this is really when we use design to solve the challenges we’re facing and we don’t think about purely making money, but what kind of life we want to live and how we want to design for the challenges we’re facing, I mean, this is really exciting.

Vicki Saunders:

So let’s talk a bit about what are some of your business challenges these days as you start to scale? Are you still just selling in New Zealand or where are you selling in the world?

Mary Bond:

Right at this moment in time, our biggest challenge is shipping and customs. So Robyn and I are non-negotiable around what our cups are made because we want complete transparency in the process of making them, the materials that we use, and making sure that the quality is top notch.

Mary Bond:

But what that does mean is that we have to… Our strategy at the moment, is focusing. Australia and New Zealand are going really well and our strategy is around getting into the US market. It’s the getting the cups there and getting them through customs, which is not only expensive but incredibly time-consuming.

Mary Bond:

And we’ve had a number of shipments that have simply been stopped and just haven’t moved. And that happened. So we’re in Urban Outfitters online in the US which was a major coup for us, not only because we were selling them in a huge, well-known chain, but in terms of creating conversations with other potential retailers, Urban Outfitters really excites people.

Mary Bond:

But what happened is our first shipment there, which was obviously packed perfectly and we shipped it in plenty of time and it just got stopped and it didn’t ship. And we just knew that if we didn’t get it through that they wouldn’t order anymore or they’d cancel our relationship. And that continues to be a real issue for us.

Mary Bond:

And when Robyn and I were recently in New York at Indie Beauty, which was an amazing event for independent beauty manufacturers. When we were talking to people there, they just wanted to know that we had warehousing in the US. It was almost the first question. They just didn’t want to deal with the whole process of getting individual shipments from New Zealand and we are working on that.

Mary Bond:

But when you’re small and even if your growth is really fast, a lot of the third party logistics and warehousing companies, they just don’t want to know about you until you’re shifting Huge numbers. And so, that’s been really challenging for us and that probably is our number one issue at the moment.

Mary Bond:

We feel like the structure of the company and our strategy and the team that we have is just fantastic, but it’s the shifting of the products, and I think a lot of companies that are exporting, that’s their real pain point.

Vicki Saunders:

Okay, so for those of you listening, if you have a solution, please reach out to the Hello Cup ladies in New Zealand. You can find them on our website, SheEO.world. As you’re funding your venture, what are some of the challenges you’re facing as you’re bootstrapping and growing?

Mary Bond:

So we’ve always been bootstrappers. Robyn and I funded the Hello Cup. We continue to hold all the equity ourselves. When we were a successful SheEO venture, that was obviously a lifesaver because it was an injection of cash when we really needed it and we were at a point where we really needed to employ some staff, so that was incredibly, incredibly helpful.

Mary Bond:

It’s an interesting road, the whole money one. We’ve really struggled to get great support from a New Zealand bank and it’s been really hard to get in a financial support there and we continue to work on that. We were approached by some investors that we felt like were a good fit for us, but as it turned out, our philosophies were quite different and we decided not to pursue that.

Mary Bond:

We are now at the point where we are negotiating with an angel investor, a family member, which is great because we know them and trust them already, which is fantastic, so that will be the first time that we have given up a small part of our equity and we’re just really at the point where we’re really thankful to have that and that’s really going to help us grow to the next level. We’re just going to do a bit of waiting and seeing, but that will certainly give us enough money or financial support to really do the things that we want to do within the next six to 12 months.

Vicki Saunders:

Great. Yeah. I think one of the things that’s really important for all of us to remember, and it’s great that you did not go forward with someone who didn’t fit your values, because that can really screw up a company, obviously. First of all, being from such a cool country and a small country, it feels like there’s so much connective tissue in New Zealand and the cohort that you’re a part of feels especially close.

Vicki Saunders:

And can you talk a little bit about what it’s like to have support of another group of female entrepreneurs around you to ask for advice and help you along the way?

Mary Bond:

So obviously our group SheEO successful ventures were the most awesome group ever, of all time, We’ll never be as cool a group, just let you know, Vicki.

Vicki Saunders:

Got it.

Mary Bond:

It’s an amazing support network. We’re really struggling to try and find a time where we can all physically get together. We’re spread far and wide in New Zealand and I know that the distances are quite small, but everybody’s just really growing and just doing amazing things and we really, really want to get together just because, even aside from being amazing support in a business sense, we really enjoy each other’s company and we’re all at similar points in our business. So that’s been absolutely phenomenal.

Mary Bond:

We’ve met some amazing people and we have got somebody in mind that we’re really keen to connect with from another New Zealand company. It’s really hard to work out. There is so much help out there and so much offered help and support and to work out, because Robyn and I, we feel like at times we spread ourselves quite thin, just working out what are the best connections to nurture? So that can be quite tricky.

Robyn McLean:

Yeah, that’s a real challenge for a startup businesses is that there are a lot of networks. We have no time. The benefit that networks can offer is potentially huge, but how do you organize your time to make those connections? And I think we’ve definitely struggled with that because if we could stay awake for 24 hours a day, we would be working on Hello Cup. But we also know we need to get out and mix in that business world.

Robyn McLean:

We’re not gun shy as such, but we spent so much time, when we were talking to these investors and when we were trying to talk to various banks about what loans we could get and it takes so much energy, and then when nothing eventuates we’re like, “Oh, okay, well, that time could have been spent growing the business.”, and it’s really tough.

Vicki Saunders:

This is one of the hardest things about, where do you put your time? Right?

Robyn McLean:

Yeah.

Vicki Saunders:

And there’s limited resources and we feel very similar. Every time there’s some challenge, I’m like, “The answer is in our network. I know it is.” And then the question is, “How do you find it without it being a whole other job?” But again, I think one of the things that’s really key is when you’re surrounded by these radically generous women, it’s getting into relationship with each other. So as much as we can actually figure that out. Have you been working with any activators to help you with any part of your business so far?

Robyn McLean:

No.

Vicki Saunders:

Not yet?

Robyn McLean:

Not yet.

Vicki Saunders:

Okay.

Robyn McLean:

But we’re really keen. I guess it’s that finding someone who wants to align with us, and I guess it’s like it’s a New Zealand thing that, oh, we don’t want to interrupt someone else’s time or take them away from what they’re doing, and we’re probably not quite as brash and up-front.

Mary Bond:

I think Robyn and I could be probably a bit more proactive but, yeah, we’re so consumed by this business that sometimes we need to stop and have a think about what our asks are. Sometimes you get lost in everything that’s going on. I think that’s why MJ Ryan is so incredible, is she does manage to get us to focus on what our needs are. And she’s absolutely nailed what Robyn’s skills are and what my skills are. And that was what was so amazing.

Mary Bond:

One of the things that was so amazing about the retreat was really identifying what my strengths were and what Robyn’s strengths were and what that left, and that was a real turning point for our company because we could really see where we needed to employ, what their skills were, and what Robyn and I needed to focus on. But there’s still quite a lot of work for us to do around that, in terms of creating those relationships to keep moving forward.

Vicki Saunders:

Yeah, I think this is one of the things that we’ve noticed. It’s a five year loan was SheEO, and so you have time, and everyone’s on a different cadence, at different stages. Some people jump right in and have time and very specific skills that they can find in the network quickly. Others, like you said, you’re buried just getting started. So many things to deal with.

Vicki Saunders:

And then, I think over time when you work with a coach, isn’t it amazing to work with a coach?

Mary Bond:

Oh my goodness.

Vicki Saunders:

She’s magic sauce. MJ is one of the SheEO coaches and she just has, I don’t know what it is, some kind of magic wand to help us with whatever we need when we need it, but again, having time to step back and lift your head up out of the business a little bit I think can be really, really helpful.

Robyn McLean:

Yeah, I think we’re heading towards that stage now, which is really, I think we can see the light, is we have some staff that… All our staff are amazing and that we know that if we needed to take two days out of the business now we could do that and just go, and we should actually do it soon.

Robyn McLean:

Mary and I should just go and sit somewhere and just brainstorm for a couple of days, and then work out a proper plan going forward. Whereas before, there was no way we could do that because we had to answer customer emails or send out the product ourselves. There was just no window to get away.

Vicki Saunders:

Yeah. It’s all in following the flow and not being guilty about it. It’s like, “Okay, we can’t get that done right now. C’est la vie. Let’s step back for a minute. Take a deep breath.”

Vicki Saunders:

When you start out your day, do you guys check in at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day or is it ad hoc? What kind of structure do you have in place for connecting?

Mary Bond:

We have a full team meeting on a Monday morning. Robyn and I ad hoc, possibly. We start touching base with each other probably first thing in the morning and we finish touching base with each other probably pretty late in the evening. We are actually in constant contact.

Robyn McLean:

First thing in the morning it’s about work. Last thing at night tends to be some stupid photo of a dog dressed up in a costume. We would probably speak or message, I would say, at least six or seven times a day.

Mary Bond:

Getting back to the relationship between Robyn and myself, one of the first conversations that we had about starting a business was my concern that our friendship was the most important thing to me. And it was more important than a business. And I was worried about maintaining that, that that was my priority and Robyn was like, “Oh, don’t worry, we’ll be fine, we’ll be fine, we’ll be fine.”

Mary Bond:

And we really are. We really enjoy each other’s company, even if it’s not about the Hello Cup. So that’s still the greatest. We’ve got an amazing product, we’ve got an amazing business, we’ve created this team. We’re so proud. We’re doing it together and however cheesy that sounds, that is just such a joy and we love it and we’re having a really good time.

Mary Bond:

And I’m a nurse and I love being a nurse. And there were times where I really miss being on the ward or caring for patients, which I still get to do occasionally, but I’m where I want to be and we’re doing it together. It’s totally awesome.

Vicki Saunders:

Yeah, I really do think that this is what business can be, right? It’s not some like, “Okay, put your friendship aside. Now we’re talking business.” Right? And divorcing it from the deep relationship that you have. I mean, it’s such a joy to be able to co-create together and to do something that has meaning and to have your daughters doing part of this and built-in distribution network. Well done ladies.

Vicki Saunders:

It’s cool to be able to do business this way night. So I want to thank both of you for being amazing role models in New Zealand and beyond and for being part of the awesome SheEO network. And I wonder, do you have an ask or something that you would like to leave? What do you want people to do after they listen to this podcast?

Mary Bond:

The move is into the US so connections within the US would be amazing especially around the warehousing, 3PL world, which is huge.

Robyn McLean:

It’s same, connection, but for my area, which is more that marketing side of the business would be any connections, people. I’m going to relocate next year, so in 2022, the US for a few months. We can have someone, me, on the ground to be able to meet people face-to-face because we feel that’s really important.

Robyn McLean:

Anyone who’s out there that is able to, or knows someone that we should meet basically, whether it’s media, influencers, or stores that we should be in.

Vicki Saunders:

Awesome. Well, we will definitely help with that and we can’t wait to have you over here as well. And thank you very much, both of you, for your leadership and for all you’re doing in the world.

Robyn McLean:

Aw, thank you.

Mary Bond:

Thank you so much, Vicki.

Robyn McLean:

Thanks, Vicki.

Vicki Saunders:

Thank you for listening to the sheeo.world podcast. If this conversation resonated with you, please share it with a friend and subscribe on your favorite podcast player. If you’d like more information about SheEO, please visit us sheeodot world. That’s S-H-E-E-O dot world.

 

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