Female Disruptors: Lene Elisabeth Eide of CleanCup On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry


“Don’t absorb criticism from people you wouldn’t ask for advice.” This advice came from a mentor of mine who noticed that I was getting bogged down by negative feedback from people who weren’t experts in my field. She reminded me that not all feedback is created equal and that it’s important to consider the source of the criticism before taking it to heart. By following her advice, I’ve been able to filter out unhelpful criticism and focus on feedback from trusted sources.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lene Elisabeth Eide.

Committed to creating sustainable- and comfortable- solutions for menstruators everywhere, Lene created CleanCup in 2018. Using feedback from real users, she and her team of women have been refining the CleanCup based on prototype runs. Her company is officially launching this month, and you can be one of the first supporters!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this important segment. My journey towards becoming the CEO of CleanCup began when I first discovered the menstrual cup. I was mind blown that I hadn’t heard about this practical and sustainable alternative to pads and tampons sooner. With our Kickstarter launching globally this month, we’re so excited to be bringing an impactful product to market and are confident it will change the game for menstruators everywhere.

As I learned more about the negative impact of disposable menstrual products on the environment and people with periods’ health, I became passionate about the idea of creating a reusable menstrual cup that was not only eco-friendly, but also more accessible.

I noticed that the design of most existing menstrual cups weren’t really incorporating new knowledge about our anatomy into their designs, and got to work to design the most comfortable menstrual cup out there.

CleanCup was born out of this passion, and I’ve been working hard to revolutionize menstrual health ever since. While it hasn’t been an easy journey, seeing the positive impact we’re making on the environment and our customers’ lives makes it all worth it.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Certainly, I’d be happy to! At CleanCup, we’re disrupting the menstrual product industry in several ways.

Firstly, we’re tackling the taboo and stigma surrounding menstruation head-on by openly showing red period blood in our marketing and educational materials. We believe that by normalizing the natural process of menstruation, we can help break down the barriers that prevent women and menstruators from accessing essential menstrual health resources and information.

Secondly, we’re committed to creating a product that is inclusive of all individuals who menstruate. We understand that not all who menstruate are women and that menstruation can be a sensitive issue for transgender and non-binary individuals. That’s why we’ve designed our packaging to be gender-neutral, ensuring that everyone can feel comfortable and confident using CleanCup.

Finally, we’re disrupting the menstrual product industry by creating an ethically and sustainably produced product with well-researched materials. Our menstrual cup is made from medical-grade silicone and is free from harmful chemicals. We’ve also taken steps to ensure that our manufacturing processes are ethical and environmentally responsible, so our customers can feel good about the impact their purchase is making on the world.

Overall, CleanCup is disrupting the menstrual product industry by addressing taboo topics head-on, promoting inclusivity and sustainability, and creating a high-quality product that is both effective and ethical.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the funniest mistakes I made when starting CleanCup was ordering too many menstrual cups for our first production run. The delivery arrived at my home when I wasn’t there, and my roomie had to bring them inside, which left us with menstrual cups scattered all over the place!

While it was a comical experience, it taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of having a logistics partner for storage and distribution. It made me realize that as a small business owner, I can’t do everything myself, and it’s essential to have reliable partners to help with important tasks like inventory management and shipping.

After that experience, I took steps to partner with a logistics company that could store and distribute our products for us. This not only freed up my living space, but it also ensured that our products were being handled and shipped faster than I could have myself.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Absolutely! While I’ve been fortunate to have several amazing mentors throughout my career, I have to say that some of the most impactful guidance has come from our customers and community. As a startup, we face many challenges and setbacks, and it’s often the support and encouragement of our customers and community that helps us push through the tough times.

Our customers and community are the cheerleaders that make all the difference, and their feedback and input have been invaluable to our growth and success. They have been instrumental in shaping our product and our mission, and their loyalty and passion have helped us build a strong and supportive community around CleanCup.

One story that comes to mind is when we first launched CleanCup back in 2019. We wanted to create a marketing video that would challenge the stigma surrounding periods, so we decided to feature red period blood in the video. However, this decision sparked a lot of backlash and negativity from some individuals who felt uncomfortable or offended by the imagery.

Despite the criticism, our community rallied around us and showed their support and encouragement. They understood and appreciated our message of breaking down period taboos and were vocal in their appreciation for our efforts. Their positive feedback and encouragement gave us the motivation we needed to keep pushing forward, even in the face of criticism.

Their support and feedback have continued to be a driving force behind our success, and we’re grateful for their ongoing support and encouragement. In many ways, our customers and community have become our mentors, and we’re constantly learning and growing from their input and feedback.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

In the menstrual product industry, disruption can be positive when it challenges outdated and harmful practices and introduces new and innovative solutions that benefit menstrual health. For example, the introduction of menstrual cups disrupted the traditional disposable menstrual product industry and provided women and menstruators with a more sustainable and cost-effective option for managing their periods.

However, an issue with disruption in the menstrual product industry is that regulatory guidelines can’t always keep up with the pace of innovation. This can lead to a lack of oversight and regulation, which can be negative for customers who may unknowingly purchase products that are not safe or effective.

As a company in the menstrual product industry, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure that our products are ethically and sustainably produced, and that they adhere to the highest safety and quality standards. We work hard to stay informed of regulatory guidelines and industry standards, and we are committed to transparency and providing our customers with accurate information about our products.

In conclusion, while disruption in the menstrual product industry can be positive, it’s important to ensure that regulatory guidelines keep up with the pace of innovation to protect customers and promote menstrual health. As a company, we are committed to disrupting the industry in a responsible and ethical way that prioritizes the health and well-being of our customers.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve received a lot of valuable advice along my journey. Here are three pieces of advice that have stuck with me:

“Don’t absorb criticism from people you wouldn’t ask for advice.” This advice came from a mentor of mine who noticed that I was getting bogged down by negative feedback from people who weren’t experts in my field. She reminded me that not all feedback is created equal and that it’s important to consider the source of the criticism before taking it to heart. By following her advice, I’ve been able to filter out unhelpful criticism and focus on feedback from trusted sources.

“Start the day with planning and prioritizing tasks on paper.” This advice came from a colleague who emphasised the importance of starting each day with a clear plan and set of priorities. She encouraged me to write down my top tasks and goals for the day and to prioritize them based on their level of importance. By following her advice, I’ve been able to stay focused and productive throughout the day and achieve more of my goals.

“You don’t have to do it all right now.” This advice came from a friend who noticed that I was getting overwhelmed by the many demands of running a business. She reminded me that it’s important to take breaks and step back when needed, and to remember that everything doesn’t have to be done right away. By taking her advice, I’ve been able to better manage my workload and avoid burnout.

These three pieces of advice have been instrumental in my journey as an entrepreneur. By being mindful of the source of criticism, starting each day with a clear plan, and taking breaks when needed, I’ve been able to stay focused, productive, and resilient in the face of challenges.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We’ll be continuing to challenge the norm and push boundaries in the menstrual health industry. We believe that by challenging established norms and practices, we can promote greater equity and inclusivity for all individuals who menstruate. We’ll be working to amplify the voices and experiences of marginalized communities, and to create products and initiatives that reflect the diverse needs and perspectives of our customers and community.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

As a CEO and a woman disruptor myself, I believe that there are unique challenges that women face in the world of entrepreneurship and innovation. One of the biggest challenges is the pervasive gender bias that exists in many industries, including the menstrual health industry. Menstrual health has traditionally been a taboo subject, and the gender bias and expectations that women face in other industries can be even more pronounced in this space.

Female entrepreneurs often face additional hurdles in securing funding, building networks, and accessing mentorship and resources.

Additionally, women are often expected to navigate the delicate balance between being assertive and being likeable, while male counterparts are not subject to the same scrutiny. This can make it challenging for women to speak up, take risks, and advocate for themselves in male-dominated environments.

While women disruptors face many of the same challenges as their male counterparts, the additional hurdles posed by gender bias and expectations can make it a particularly challenging journey. By supporting and advocating for women entrepreneurs, we can create a more equitable and just world for all innovators.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer is a book that has strengthened my view on nature and the critical importance of our relationship with the natural world. Through the author’s exploration of indigenous wisdom and ecological knowledge, I have been challenged to think more deeply about the ways in which we can learn from the natural world and create a more sustainable and just future.

One particular story from the book that resonated with me is the author’s description of the Three Sisters planting technique, which exemplifies the interdependent relationship between plants and the importance of mutualism in sustaining ecosystems. Reading “Braiding Sweetgrass” has inspired me to consider how we can apply this kind of ecological wisdom to other areas of our lives and work, and to reexamine our relationship with the natural world. Overall, this book has been a powerful and thought-provoking read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring the intersections of ecology, indigenous wisdom, and social justice.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, it would be to promote the critical importance of health and our relationship with nature. At the core of this movement would be a recognition that everything comes from nature, and that our health and wellbeing are intimately connected to the health and wellbeing of the natural world.

One of the key ways in which we can promote this vision is by inspiring people to engage with nature in meaningful and impactful ways. This could involve activities such as gardening, going on hikes or camping, and promoting greater access to green spaces in our communities. By encouraging people to spend more time in nature, we can not only promote better physical and mental health, but also cultivate a deeper sense of appreciation and respect for the natural world.

Additionally, we can promote practices that are in harmony with the environment and that prioritize sustainability and ecological health. This could involve initiatives such as reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, promoting sustainable agriculture, and reducing waste and pollution. By prioritizing our relationship with nature and taking proactive steps to protect and preserve the environment, we can create a more just and sustainable world for all.

Overall, my vision for this movement is one in which individuals and communities alike are inspired to prioritize health and sustainability, and to recognize the vital importance of our relationship with nature. I believe that this is a movement that has the potential to bring about significant positive change, and I am committed to doing everything in my power to promote this vision of a healthier, more sustainable world for all.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite life lesson quotes is “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” This quote has been particularly relevant to my experiences as a woman in business and the importance of women helping women out.

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors and supporters who have helped me navigate the challenges and setbacks of being an entrepreneur. These women have shared their knowledge and experiences with me, provided me with opportunities and resources, and served as a source of inspiration and motivation.

I believe that when women help other women, we all benefit. By lifting each other up and sharing our knowledge and experiences, we can create a more supportive and equitable world for women and all individuals.

This quote is a reminder that when we support and lift each other up, we don’t lose anything ourselves. Instead, we create a positive and empowering community that benefits everyone. As a leader in the menstrual health industry, I strive to embody this philosophy in my business practices and personal life, and I’m grateful for the many women who have lit my candle and helped me along my journey.

How can our readers follow you online?

We would love for your readers to follow us online and stay connected with our mission and work.

You can follow CleanCup on our social media channels, including Instagram and Twitter.

Additionally, you can visit our website at getcleancup.com to learn more about our mission, our products, and our commitment to sustainability and menstrual health equity.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!