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Meet the Founders: Divine

  • by Patricia Stangner

Divine was born in Baden-Württemberg as a passion project between the two founders, Tobias and Andreas. Tobias had heard of his wife's struggles with finding the perfect quality menstrual cup. He had an idea, why not design one for her?

Read their full story and get to know all the answers of the most frequent questions from our community here.

How did you two meet, Andreas and Tobias?

Tobias: I've actually known Andreas since I was two years old. We both come from a wine-growing community with just under 1,000 residents. At Christmas, he would visit our family as Knecht Ruprecht or St. Nicholas, which was always the highlight of the year.

Andreas had his advertising agency with 40 employees in Freiburg, while I started my own business. During this time, we never lost sight of each other. Andreas always said to me: "You always have to keep your eyes and ears open. If you have a good idea, just approach me. I'm always willing to explore new avenues."

At some point, I became aware of menstrual cups because my wife used one and was always snipping away at the cup stem herself. I'm a trained toolmaker and mold maker, and the subject just stuck with me.

Over the course of two years, I took the cup out of the drawer every now and then, looked at it, and had the urge to say, "We can do better than that.”

That was my driving force. At the same time, Andreas sold his agency, so I approached him and said, "Hey, look, I need someone with advertising experience and ideas for menstrual cups."

Ultimately, it was the motivation to produce a more sustainable product and to give back to the environment because we both realized pretty quickly what a menstrual cup means in terms of saving waste. Andreas discussed the idea with his daughter Lisa and then everything actually happened relatively quickly.

He said "Tobias, on Monday I'll definitely tell you if I'm in or I'm out." And what he then did that weekend is practically commission a complete market study from a doctor friend of his, who analyzed the potentials and waste savings and so on. And on Monday, he called me right away and said, "I'm in!”.

Divine Founders
On left Tobias Schueber and on right Andreas Kiesewetter


Over the course of two years, I took the cup out of the drawer every now and then, looked at it, and had the urge to say, "We can do better than that.”


Was it uncomfortable for you to talk about menstruation with your wife or daughter?

Tobias: In the beginning, yes. I say that quite openly. Because it is still a taboo subject or it's a no go in Germany for most men and also for some women. You are sometimes rebuffed when trying to talk about the topic and many don't want to know anything about it.

Andreas: With my daughter Lisa it was uncomfortable, once she started talking about the topic it was mainly around sustainability. That was also the most important thing for me because when you've had 30 years of success you want do something where you can give back. But of course, I also wanted to do something that is scalable.

I then talked to gynaecologists and had everything explained to me in detail. And that was perhaps the point where I learned about what topics women want to know about in menstruation. Tobias is the absolute expert when it comes to product and form. I had only one condition to him, I wanted the best quality and that everything is produced in our region and home with partners we know and trust. This may have slowed us down for the first three quarters of a year, but then we had the better product.

Two men starting a menstrual cup brand is relatively unusual. Did you have any concerns about starting Divine without a female co-founder?

Tobias: Nope, not really. We are both seasoned entrepreneurs, Andreas working for 30 years and I being self-employed for 10 years. But of course, we have a great woman in the background, Lisa, who has gently steered us in one direction or another. But concerns? No, we are both pragmatic and solution oriented. When we do something, we do it right or leave it alone. We follow through and go our own way. It was already clear to us that it leads to success because if there is passion involved that inevitably always leads to success. We've worked with women from the beginning, from Divine’s graphic design to community blog.

Andreas: Especially when it comes to language, it was important for us to have the right communication. From the first line to the current line, you can see that the product is 100% a product for women because our ideas came together with women’s ideas from color to communication and website content and messaging.

Divine Menstrual Cup

We've worked with women from the beginning, from Divine’s graphic design to community blog.


What was the biggest challenge in founding Divine?

Andreas: Tobias and I had very high expectations for the product. We didn't want a product manufactured in China and we also wanted the packaging to be made in Germany. It was not so easy to find the right local partners for this who work climate neutrally, produce the right silicone pattern... that was very exhausting. But it has been worth it to date.

The second challenge was that we actually thought bigger from the beginning. We want to do everything very precisely. That always slows us down a bit. We would have solved the product faster otherwise, but we decided against it.

The third challenge was to hire employees quickly. Up to that point, we had done everything ourselves, but larger and larger orders kept coming in. Then came the point where we only answered community questions at night and were stressed. From our network we won Gloria, Jenny (Gloria's sister) and my daughter Lisa for the team. Gloria and Jenny are also both mothers. And my daughter is strongly connected to many women’s communities and tells us “We need cups also for women in sports and the colors have to be more feminine”, or “That's not possible like that, it’s much too promotional”, etc. These are the things we had to learn in this constellation and today I am quite happy about it.

And yes, the issue of growth has also been a challenge. You get bigger and you have to make sure that you retain your core values, such as sustainability and high-quality standards, and the culture of the company. You don't have to be everywhere and serve every market. We've had requests from South Korea to buy cups by the container and we didn't do it.

How big is the team and what makes you so unique as a dream team?

Andreas: Tobias and I are, so to speak, managing partners - Tobias with a focus on product creation, who looks after our "Coca-Cola formula", and everything construction related. My subject is strategy and corporate development. Lisa does design and content for us. Gloria is our 360-degree force. Plus, Jenny, who handles areas like packaging and customer service.

What is your vision and mission today and in the future?

Andreas: By the end of 2021, we will have new distributors, including in Belgium and Holland, where we have really great, dedicated people. Then we have the partnership with Einhorn, a really incredible friendship relationship. Together, I hope, we will launch a new trial in the summer, which will revolutionize the market from our point of view. But we don't need or want growth by hook or by crook. We want to grow gradually so that we can keep quality high. Our goal is to support our partners in their work and their path to success. That brings success together in the long run.

What added value does the Divine Cup offer compared to other menstrual cups? What makes the Divine Cup so unique?

Tobias: You can't pin it down to one specific point. We varied with the size because I know that every woman is unique. There is actually no perfect cup for every woman. You always have to try out which cup fits you best. And I think that's what we do, my wife has tried several cups and then we created an in-between from all cups and hit a match.

Divine Menstrual Cup Sizes and Colors

 

And it's also what we always recommend to our customers and also communicate quite openly: every woman is unique! 


Andreas:
Actually, every woman should have her own individual cup, but that comes at a luxury price. Nevertheless, something very exciting in the future!

Some of our female customers wonder whether a menstrual cup is the right period product for them. Since many of them have never tried a menstrual cup before, they are unsure about what size to take, whether it is safe to wear a cup for several hours, and most importantly, how to take it out without leaking. What specific advice would you give our customers?

Tobias: We simply go by our chart for sizing, but you can also go further. We ask quite clearly “Are you a bit firmer built?” or “Have you given birth?”. Some might find our questions uncomfortable, for sure, but on the whole, they are accepted and answered quite openly. Then we give our recommendation. I have also learned a great deal from Andreas here. Andreas simply has the absolute best service mindset, and service is our top priority!

Our cup is definitely a bit softer. That has to do with the thickness of the material. But what advice can we pass on? Practice makes perfect and don't get discouraged after trying it the first time.

How did the name "Divine" come about? What is your brand promise?

Andreas: We wanted a name that could be understood worldwide and wouldn't have any major problems with socio-cultural differences. Together with a Swedish designer and Gloria, we came up with the name Divine from the Latin word for “the divine.” Because the female body is divine! And the male body is actually just the accompanying form. We want to help women feel better and make their life a little more divine.

Learn more about Divine's cups here at the Femacy!

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