Jane Adamé is a girl boss on a mission.
It was less than a year ago that Jane and her business partner Andy Miller were running a Kickstarter for their new menstrual cup, the Keela Cup. Inspired by Jane’s own experience with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), the Keela Cup is specifically designed to be easily removable (you can read about how it works here).
And now, Jane has joined forces with the FLEX Company (home of the flex menstrual disc) to bring the Keela Cup to even more people than ever. FLEX officially acquired Keela in October, renamed the product to the FLEX cup, and is now preparing to mass produce it for only $40/each. The cup is still in production, but you can currently pre-order the special “Discovery Kit,” which includes the FLEX cup and two FLEX discs.
Below, we caught up with Jane and found out what she’s been up to the last couple of months.
Congrats on joining the FLEX family! Can you tell me a little about how the FLEX acquisition came about?
Lauren, The Flex Company CEO, reached out at the conclusion of our [Kickstarter] campaign and offered to take us out to a celebratory dinner for hitting our goal.
It was so refreshing to talk to another FemTech founder. She was quite a few steps ahead of me, having established her company a few years prior. It was amazing to be able to speak so candidly with her about our triumphs and challenges and she really understood because she had been there.
One of the first things Lauren and I talked about when we first met was the importance of choice— why aren’t there more known options for menstrual care? Most people only know of tampons and pads, because that’s what has been advertised to us, and that’s primarily what’s on store shelves. Together, we could change that and offer new, innovative choices under one brand.
Once we finalized the details, we hopped right in. FLEX is helping us pack and ship our Keela orders, and together, we’re preparing to produce the cup in its new form, FLEX Cup.
Can you tell me a little bit about your new role at FLEX?
My official title is Senior Brand Strategist, but like any start-up with a small powerhouse team, I’m definitely switching hats quite a bit. I write a lot, which I love.
My primary goal is to carry forward our mission of listening as a means of innovation, so creating an open door environment for current and potential FLEX customers to interact with us and let us know what we could be doing better and what they want to see happen next.
You mentioned that FLEX has been extremely accommodating of your needs as someone with a disability. Can you expand on that more?
When we were first negotiating the acquisition, making sure I could take care of my body was the most important thing to me. I have an amazing care team here in Oakland who help me access everything I need to have the best possible quality of life. So, the first accommodation was being able to work remotely from home in Oakland, even though FLEX is based in LA.
I work with a team of doctors through Kaiser Oakland, and when we started, Kaiser wasn’t a part of FLEX’s company insurance. They pushed forward to have Kaiser added off-cycle of the standard enrollment period, which I’m sure was costly and time-consuming, but doing so made me feel really secure and supported from the start.
For me, being so front-facing with my disability with this project has given me a voice to speak up about my needs. FLEX knew when hiring me that I would have different challenges than most employees, and they were prepared to do whatever it took to make it work for me.
A lot of people with disabilities really struggle with how to talk with their bosses about it. Do you have any suggestions?
Interviewing for a new job can be so scary, and it’s that much more intimidating for those of us with disabilities. Do I “out” myself, or do I wait until I’m hired? And whether you’re already hired or not, asking for accommodations feels risky. That’s not really our fault — we live in a society that correlates dollars with minutes, and contribution as an entity that can be weighed in bulk and measured against your peers.
I would love to say to everyone that you should be upfront about your disability from the beginning, ask for the accommodations you need, and turn down any job that doesn’t comply — but that’s not always possible. In order for that to work, we need more employers to see the value folks like us can bring to a company and make the space for us to participate.
I’d rather offer advice to employers than disabled job seekers and employees: (1) Celebrate efficient work, not long hours, and support your workers in every way possible so they can do their very best. (2) Build your teams with people that are excited to execute your mission, and allow them the autonomy to get the work done. (3) Give all of your candidates and employees space to voice their needs and find solutions together, rather than placing the burden of requesting needs on the employee or paternally applying a solution to them.
What’s next for you and FLEX?
Femestella readers, you tell me! Join me in The Uterati (our secret-but-not-really Facebook group) and let us know what you want to see happen next.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.