9to9 Girls: meet Lene, founder of CleanCup
Meet Lene, 22, the sustainable and feminist entrepreneur behind the genius brand CleanCup. Born and based in Oslo, Lene has put her talents as a photographer and marketer at the service of her passion for reproductive rights, gender equality and girls empowerment. I mean a true #9to9girl! CleanCup is a safe and reusable menstrual cup. The idea is genius not only for the environment but also for our bodies, as it is made from 100% safe and clean medical silicone, unlike the sh*t that our usual tampons are made of. Her mission is to give girls around the world, the freedom and opportunity to do what they want - regardless of the time of the month. CleanCup also has a fantastic humanitarian development goal, and is currently working on a pilot project in South Sudan, in collaboration with the Redd Barna (affiliated with Save the Children). The objective there is to donate one CleanCup per sold CleanCup to a girl in another part of the world.
I had the privilege to meet her at a Power Ladies event in Oslo - and despite not (yet) being fluent in Norwegian, her presentation and passion really moved me and boost me to keep pushing our upcoming business. She has also guided me a little on opening an ecommerce platform. Her girl power, feminin energy is addictive!
Where can we find you on Instagram?
At 9to9, we love side entrepreneurs and their side-hustles. Tell us a little bit about yours!
I run the Norwegian menstrual cup brand CleanCup, which is sold through my e-commerce store and several retailers that focus on sustainability. It all started when I tried a menstrual cup for the first time, and I was blown away by it. I couldn’t believe nobody had told me about it before! I’m so passionate about making the cup available as an option for all girls, so about a year after I tried it for the first time, I decided to start CleanCup.
An important part of CleanCup is the donations. Unfortunately menstruation is holding girls back all over the world, keeping them from living their normal life. For girls in Uganda and Kenya this means being home from school, because they lack access to sanitary products like pads. In India a lot of girls quit school entirely when they reach puberty. So from day one I knew I wanted to donate a cup for each sold, and this is a project I’ve worked hard on the last 16 months, because it means a lot to me.
How did it develop from there?
It’s been two crazy, busy, amazing years. I had such huge ambitions starting out, and some idea how I wanted to build the brand. So much has happened since then, I feel like the brand really has evolved, but kept the values that I started out with. My ambitions for CleanCup is higher than ever, and I’m looking forward to the next year, as there’s so much exciting going on!
Your ambition for the next 6 months?
To secure funding in order to launch my new and improved product design, AND hopefully going full time with CleanCup and quit my part time job!
We love positivity. So what is the thing you love most about yourself?
I love that I’m kind and genuinely care about others and their well being.
What holds you back in life?
Right now it’s definitely time! Would have loved a day between Sunday and Monday to catch up on social media work, writing blog posts etc.
What advice would you give your 23 year old self?
To my future self, I’d recommend to try and maintain focus. It’s easy to get lost in all exciting projects and things I want to do for my business, but I think letting the less important (but more fun) stuff wait, would greatly improve productivity and make time management easier.
Your life mantra in one sentence?
I’m trying to live by Pippi Longstocking’s quote: “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”
What is always in your bag from 9 to 9?
Pocket size calendar, notebook and my favorite pen, my CleanCup just in case, pocket size external hard drive so I can work from anywhere, phone charger, and a book or my current knitting project, insulated reusable water bottle.
What is women empowerment to you?
To me women empowerment means reducing the number of things that are limiting women from the freedom of doing what they want with their lives and reaching their potential. In every part of the world.
Name 3 women who have marked your life and why.
First of all my mom, because she (and my father) have always supported me in what I’ve wanted to do, so I’ve never really doubted that I could run a company.
Also my friend who I live with, who always remembers to look after everybody around her, even if her calendar’s full and I think we all could learn from that.
And finally Astrid Lindgren, the origin of the Pippi Longstocking quote I mentioned.
How do you create your own space, your personal chamber?
By being out in the nature. I need the silence and sense of peace that I only find deep in the forest or by the ocean, where I can sit for hours just watching the waves come and go, or listening to the wind in the treetops.
What's your approach to 'beauty'
To me, beauty is in details. Some days it hits me how beautiful everything is. I believe silence can be beauty, noisy music can be beauty, a rainy day can be beauty. We just have to notice it.
What is on your bucket list? Name 2 items
Write and publish a book and to stay awake for the entire Lord of the Rings marathon.
If you could recommend 1 podcast and 1 book, what would they be?
Right now I’d definitely have to say Stormkast, because it’s the perfect mix between business and economy talk and entertainment. I’m currently reading Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, and I have to say I really recommend it!