Ebby Weyime is the founder of the Grace Cup, a reusable period products brand: cloth pads and menstruation cups. Ebby studied Public Relations and Marketing at Daystar University, Kenya. Upon completion of her studies, she pursued an acting and modelling career in South Africa before returning to Kenya.
What inspired you to pursue this line of business and how much effort did it take for you to get where you are now?
I first got inspired by my personal needs when I relocated to South Africa. I was experiencing period management issues and that’s where I discovered the menstrual cup. I started using it and it immediately fitted my needs. So, when I went back home, I decided to start a social business selling menstrual hygiene products.
Prior to that, I used to donate a lot towards the philanthropic purchase of menstruation products. However, I realised that I was putting money into a rabbit hole because it is a continuous circle, every month I had to donate something since the pads weren’t reusable. This pushed me to establish my own business selling reusable period products.
Thus far it has been a complex journey, mainly because in Kenya people didn’t know much about menstrual cups. Period poverty is also an issue with many women not having access to dignified menstrual management products. I had to engage in a lot of educational content for the menstrual cup and it has paid off as more people are now adopting it as an alternative to the usual pads plus they are happy with the product. Word of mouth has also given me mileage with most of my customers sharing their experience with the product and how it has made their life easier. The cup is also cost-effective as it has a long lifespan thus the amount of money that women spend on menstrual products.
What are some of the challenges you faced along the journey and did you ever feel like giving up?
There are a few times I thought about giving up because I basically started from scratch. Coming back from South Africa and moving back with my parents wasn’t easy for example. It was also my first time to start a business as such in the beginning I lacked the expertise, but my vision was bigger than the challenges I was facing.
One time, I failed to sell any cups at a market despite having invested a large sum of money to showcase my products and it was one of the most difficult times in my entrepreneurial journey. Despite the challenges, my marketing and communication background helped to effectively educate people about my products and clearly explain the benefits of using reusable period products.
One of the main reasons why I did not give up was the feedback I got from clients after they tried my products. The clients’ feedback kept me going. Some felt that the cup changed their lives making their menstrual days so much easier and more comfortable. This feedback keeps me motivated every day!
Any notable milestones or achievements you would like to share?
The Grace Cup is now one of the most known brands in Kenya when it comes to menstrual cups, and this was one of my main objectives. I wanted it to be a thought leader and influencer brand. So, I would say that we are on our way to achieving this milestone. The second milestone is our new work around sexual and reproductive health: contraceptives, cervical cancer, female freedom, and the use of reusable period products. Because in Kenya even in the urban areas there is still a lack of knowledge around women’s health-related issues. Being part of this chain of change is very motivating.
Now the Grace Cup is seen as a safe place where people can learn and talk about women health.
What is the big picture i.e., where to from here?
In the future, I would like to open a physical hub where women can buy products and join conversations, not only around menstruation but also sexual and reproductive health. Especially for young women and girls who are becoming sexually active. I want them to enter the sexual world fully equipped with the right knowledge to be independent and free. The Grace Cup will be a hub where taboos around menstruation and sex are disrupted. A place where youths can freely engage in conversations around periods and safe sex, which is something that some of them may not be able to do with family.
What word of advice would you like to give to others reading your story?
Don’t let small mistakes or failures make you quit believing in yourself and your business. Some months are more difficult than others. But trust me, if you really love what you do, you will eventually get others on board and the money will just follow. It is not just a cliché, I experienced it myself.
Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself and take breaks. Self-care, mental and physical health are very important.