Coralcone out to keep innovating

Coralcone founder Yvette Shum is an advocate for sustainable innovation in menstrual health....
Coralcone founder Yvette Shum is an advocate for sustainable innovation in menstrual health. PHOTO: AGNES GRACE PHOTOGRAPHY
In just over two years, Dunedin start-up founder Yvette Shum has prevented more than 15 tonnes of plastic from period products entering the environment.

"That’s like 15 elephants," she quipped recently.

Coralcone won gold in the feminine hygiene category at the Australian 2023 Clean and Conscious Awards, most mindful use of materials in the 2022 Best of Natural Awards, and was a finalist in The Grand Business South Awards in the emerging business and business sustainability categories last year.

The ocean has also benefited from this success, as $2 from every cup sold was given to marine conservation efforts.

But the initial manufacturing equipment was only temporary and "self-destructed" after the initial production run, and Coralcone was now on the brink of running out.

A PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help the start-up business stay afloat. By raising $12,000, it aimed to complete the final stages of manufacturing, heat and performance testing for its newly developed long-lasting production machinery.

More than $20,000 would fund the next small limited run of cups, or make any necessary repairs to tooling if testing was not successful, while any more funding would provide the necessary momentum for the business to grow.

It was during the Covid-19 pandemic that Ms Shum and product design engineer Heather Cunningham teamed up with women’s health professionals to create a product aimed at overcoming the functional limitations of conventional menstrual cups.

Coralcone cups, which have a detachable stem, were launched at the end of 2021, with the aim of transforming period care while also protecting the environment.

Ms Shum said conventional single-use sanitary products wreaked havoc on the environment, yet the lack of innovation within the menstrual cup space did not make it easy for people to use period cups sustainably.

Ms Shum said the start-up journey was hard.

But she was driven by a passion to advocate for sustainable innovation in menstrual health and more sustainable choices.

"I believe one day reusable products will become the norm," she said.