Inspirational Woman: Ruth Marsden | Founder, Bettercup

Ruth MarsdenHello! I’m Ruth, I live in Brighton with my husband and two small children.

We left the bright lights of London after 8 happy years, 4 years ago to soak up the -sometimes sunny- seaside life in Brighton. I founded Bettercup in August 2019. I was already on 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 idea to start my own business was already in the back of my mind and in that moment Bettercup was born. We would create ethically-made, beautifully-packaged menstrual cups and for each one sold we would donate one.

Bettercup has been going just under 18 months now and my current role is CEO, CFO, photocopier and tea lady (!)

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No not at all. I’ve had a few career changes along the way. I initially went to drama school and worked as an actress for a few years before having my first child. Starting and running my own company was something that always excited me but I didn’t have any ideas or inspiration for what company I would or could actually start!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Plenty! As I mentioned, my education is all based in drama. I don’t have any real business training or experience and so have made mistakes at every turn. Every mistake has taught me a lot though, it’s been an emotionally draining and yet exhilarating 18 months since founding the company.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

To be honest, just simply starting. It’s very easy to sit on an idea. Overwhelmed with self doubt and ‘what ifs’. Seeing my real life product on the shelves in shops and in the hands of customers, knowing that at first it was just an idea in my head, feels like the biggest achievement.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

The people that I have in my life. Brilliant business women friends that have encouraged and educated me and enabled me to start a business. Women that have spoken louder than my doubt.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is great. I have been mentored by others and have also been a mentor. It’s a relationship that I really value. Knowing you have someone in your corner to offer wisdom and support is invaluable. I think it’s a really healthy dynamic to have in your life, to be both supported and to offer support.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Flexible working plays such a huge part in the problem. It is still assumed that women will be the main caregiver to children which makes working to the same routine as a male peer around childcare\school impossibly complex. We need to see better setups put in place to support both men and women. So that no eyebrows are raised if a father wants to take extended paternity leave and there is an easy ability for women to work from home/work more flexible hours. I work best when I’m trusted and to me flexible work setups are all about trust.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t rush. I’m someone that likes things done yesterday. I’d just remind myself to enjoy the process, soak up and learn from the failures and surround yourself with people that inspire you to be better.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

The foreseeable future is just focussed on building bettercup. The initial foundational building blocks have been set up over the last year, now it’s time to build and have fun! And of course seeing the stories of how our donated Bettercups are working to empower young people around the world to have a better period. That really excites me.

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