A Kiwi-made menstrual cup, the brainchild of Hawke’s Bay’s Robyn McLean and best friend Mary Bond, has become the first sanitary product to win a design award in New Zealand.

The Hello Cup, which is manufactured in Onekawa, scooped the coveted gold pin in the Colour Award section of the Best Design Awards held last week in Auckland. A finalist in a further four categories, the brand was also named on the awards night as a contender for the overall purple pin award which recognises the best of the best in product design.

The annual awards are hosted by The Designers Institute of New Zealand and showcase excellence in graphic, spatial, product, digital and motion design. The judges described The Hello Cup as “a perfect example of colour transforming a product and its packaging. Fresh, bright, vibrant hues convert a functional but discreet product into something fashionable and joyful.”

Robyn says design has been at the forefront of every decision The Hello Cup makes since the business was established three years ago.

“From the outset, our intention was to banish the dated idea that menstrual cups were something only hippies used, and design something really cool, really comfortable, and very stylish.

“Our branding, our messaging and our colour palette are deliberately different to others on the market, and the cups themselves are also a work of art, with a clever toggle on the bottom and the rim on the inside of the cup, not the outside, to make sure they are easy to use and to wear, each and every month.”

Robyn and Mary — who is a registered nurse — developed their menstrual cup in response to finding limited reusable period options for their teen daughters. Hello Cups are made from medical grade thermoplastic elastomer and replace tampons and pads. They last for years, hold three times more than tampons, are hypoallergenic and fully recyclable – making them a zero waste option.

“Since we started, The Hello Cup has saved 200 million single-use products from landfill. Over their period lifetime, a person creates 250kg of waste if they use single-use products, whereas they will only need eight Hello Cups. You can make a real impact around waste reduction and it’s an easy switch,” says Robyn.

Robyn says winning the design award is the perfect end to a big year for the company.

We know how significant this win is,” says Robyn. “It’s massive for us and it’s also a win for everyone who has a period because it acknowledges that the design of something that sits inside a person’s body is just as important as the design of what’s on their body, in their homes and in their world.

“Our intention is to make periods fun and stress-free for everyone,” says Mary, “and design plays a huge role in that. We’re incredibly proud to be the first Kiwi period product to have been recognised for achieving excellence in design – it’s very exciting to be acknowledged in such a prestigious environment and we’re stoked.”

The Hello Cup has gone from start-up to rapidly rising star of the global multi-billion-dollar health and wellness industry. With recent supply deals with US retail giants Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, and an equity share sale to Pharmapacks, the US’s largest online pharmacy housed on Amazon, Robyn and Mary’s business is a true Kiwi (and Hawke’s Bay) success story.

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