We love doers: entrepreneurs faced with a challenge who pave the way towards an innovative solution – especially when the solution is good for people and the planet. That’s why we love Rachael Newton of nixit – a woman making many dreams come true for those that menstruate. In fact, about 1.8 billion girls, women, trans men, intersex, genderfluid, and non-binary people menstruate each month around the world. Not only does that create a lot of single-use period product waste, but it’s also a lot of bodies generally looking for the same thing: a product safe and easy to use, an opportunity to save money, and a sign that menstruation should be celebrated – not shamed.
Cue, nixit: the reusable one-size-fits-all suction-free menstrual cup designed to protect from leaks for 12 hours and allows for mess-free period sex. On top of all that, it’s one of the few menstrual cups made in Canada and approved for sale by Health Canada. It’s uncomplicating period care and nixing many things along the way: waste, leaks, strings, toxins and chemicals, and most importantly… stigma. Rachael is set out to normalize menstruation and open the conversation around the topic.
So, we’re getting a glimpse into Rachael’s world to find out more about how nixit came to be.
Going back in time, can you walk us through how nixit came to be and the gap you felt in the menstrual care market?
I was living abroad and became really conscious of the waste that I was producing. I had reduced our household waste but traditional period care products weren’t something that immediately sprang to mind. Living so close to the sea, I became more aware of the impact that these products have – tampon applicators are the 5th most common source of waste washing up on UK beaches. I was staggered to discover that I would use over 11,000 tampons in my lifetime and that these would take 500 years to biodegrade each.
When I started looking into alternative options, I was really confused by all the different sizes and shapes of traditional cups and when I did try them I found it really hard to create a seal and have the cup fit properly. nixit answers these issues as it is one size fits all – due to its unique design it also means that it holds double the blood compared to a traditional cup, it’s suction-free and you can have mess-free period sex when you are using it.
What were you doing before this entrepreneurial endeavour? Has menstrual care always been top of mind for you?
Before I started nixit, I worked as a lawyer in the UK specialising in Hedge Funds, Exchange Traded Funds and Exchange Traded Commodities. Until I started researching menstrual care, I had not given it much thought and had used tampons and pads without question. It was only when I began to dig deeper that it became something that I focused on and now I cannot imagine doing anything else – I was never this passionate about the law!
What is something you wish you knew about menstrual care while growing up?
I wish I knew that it wasn’t something that I had to hide or keep quiet about. I’m so open about periods now and I’ve never had someone tell me that I shouldn’t talk about them – they are a remarkable process and should be celebrated, not shushed.
Everything from nixit’s one-size-fits-all design, to its reusable packaging and genderless branding is very carefully thought out. Can you tell us about the process behind making these decisions?
I was just so nauseated by all the period products covered in flowers, swirls and varying shades of pink. I wanted something bold and clean – premium finishes with direct messaging. We’re very intentional to refer to people with periods rather than using gender as it’s so important for us to be inclusive for all people who bleed and to make their experience a good one.
We were focused on packaging nixit in a sustainable way, but also in a way that celebrates periods and makes people genuinely excited for their period to arrive! We get daily messages about how people are actually looking forward to their period for the first time in their lives and that makes me so happy.
For those using single-use menstrual care products, what are the benefits of using nixit? What are the benefits of its Health Canada approval?
If you’ve ever closely looked at a box of tampons, you will have noticed that there is no ingredients list. We are all so conscious nowadays of what we put into our bodies and yet many of us use tampons monthly without question (myself included until I made the switch). Vaginas are one of the most absorbent parts of the human body – the tampon is absorbing your menstrual blood (and other fluid), but you are also absorbing from it. As they are absorbent, tampons can also be very drying, resulting in tiny tears in your vaginal lining which can also lead to UTIs.
And of course, there are the environmental benefits – a package of sanitary pads contains the equivalent of about 4 plastic bags. Worldwide, it’s estimated that over 100 billion menstrual hygiene products are disposed of annually – they all go to landfill. Using nixit will reduce your period waste by around 94%.
Being approved by Health Canada means that we are ISO 13485 certified – this is an internationally recognised standard for the design, manufacture and distribution of medical devices and very few menstrual cup companies have it. The approval by Health Canada means that nixit complies with the very important standards and processes that Health Canada believe should be implemented from the ideation of the cup right through to the selling process. It’s easy to forget that despite the simple nature of the product, they are still sitting inside your body for long periods of time. You should want to feel secure that the product you are inserting into your body has met those standards.
What is the craziest menstrual cup myth you’ve heard? Can you debunk it for us?
That you can have sex with a traditional bell-shaped cup. Please don’t do that.
Paint us a picture of your perfect world and where nixit fits into it. What impact are you aiming to make with nixit?
I would love to see period conversations happening openly and as part of our daily life. Normalising periods empowers people to make the right choice for their bodies – whatever that might be. Of course I want nixit to be a part of that conversation, both in terms of our users who love it, but also by showing people that having those conversations doesn’t have to be taboo.
If only 10 per cent of tampon users switched to a menstrual cup, that would stop 10 billion menstrual products from going to landfill (100 billion are disposed of annually) – so far nixit users have saved around 400,000 lbs of period waste from landfill. I’d love to say that in 10 years, we have saved 20x that number – I think we can!