De Lune started when Mimi Millard (right) and Courtney Mayszak (left) were in college. Millard was desperate to find a solution for her debilitating period pain. She had an awful encounter with pain killers and was ready for an alternative solution that would provide drug-free relief—but nothing existed. So, she asked a friend for help.
That friend was Mayszak, who was studying dietetics and nutritional medicine at the time (Millard was an environmental engineering major). Mayszak ended up formulating a first-of-its-kind herbal and nutraceutical supplement for fast-acting relief that completely relieved Millard’s awful pain. If that’s not #friendshipgoals, we don’t know what is.
Fast forward to 2017 (two years after they both graduated college), Millard and Mayszak shared their first prototype—now known as Cramp Aid—with the world. They were both working full-time jobs (Mayszak as a nutritionist and Millard as a sustainable design specialist), so De Lune was truly a nights-and-weekends passion project. Then, the five-star reviews came rolling in, and the co-founders knew it was time to take their natural period-relief business to the next level. They raised their first official round of funding in 2020, and have been putting an end to period pain ever since, all while proving that when it comes to relief, options go beyond the painkiller aisle.
We chatted with Millard (De Lune’s CEO) and Mayszak (De Lune’s CPO) about menstrual myths, being in business with your BFF and what’s next for De Lune.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned since starting your business, especially one in women's health?
Mimi: “If you’re starting a women’s health business, lean into solving the specific problem you’re most passionate about. Some investors or partners will encourage you to broaden your mission and become a more general wellness brand. Our perspective is that building a true following requires focus and authenticity. So, sometimes being super specific is important—especially in the early days. De Lune is a period health company because we feel that period symptoms are so prevalent and so overlooked that they deserve all our attention right now.”
What is one myth about menstrual pain that you want to squash ASAP?
Courtney: “We conducted a survey regarding menstrual pain perceptions, and we found that many sufferers have a deep misconception that menstrual pain is inevitable. Out of 162 respondents, 53% agreed with the sentiment, ‘Period pain is just something I have to put up with. It is what it is.’ We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to put up with it! Period pain is real pain and deserves real care. Research shows up to 95% of women experience menstrual pain, and it’s the leading cause of missed school and work in women under 30. But for basically being a public health crisis, it doesn't get very much recognition from the medical or research communities—in our opinion, due to centuries of menstrual stigma that’s seeped its way into public consciousness, including into sufferers themselves.”
Any advice for going into business with your friend?
Mimi: “Becoming co-founders is a major multi-year commitment. The responsibility to your team and your investors is intense, the leadership learning curve is steep, and the working hours are certainly not normal. Going through this with friends can be extremely helpful because you feel safe leaning on each other. Coming from more corporate jobs, we both had to lean on each other as we transitioned from employee mindset to owner mindset. Just make sure that your co-founder-friend is as committed to the work as you are, because your job security depends on your ability to work together through thick and thin!”
What's next for De Lune?
Courtney: “Our big goal is to end menstrual suffering for 1 million menstruators. We’re taking it one day at a time, living our values, doing what it takes to get there. We’re leaning into thought leadership and sparking important conversations about menstrual health. We hope to help more folks understand their cycle in a deeper way, and to relieve other burdensome symptoms with more revolutionary non-drug relief products.”
Now, onto Rapid Fire… Who are you inspired by?
Mimi: “I’m always inspired by other founders who set out to solve an urgent problem and transform themselves into incredible CEOs along the way. Having a founder’s vision and having a CEO’s tenacity are completely different skillsets, so I really look up to folks like Alexandra Fine of Dame and Jenna Ryan of Uqora who have successfully straddled both.”
How many unread work emails do you have right now?
Mimi: “283. This would have bothered the shit out of me years ago, but as I’ve built De Lune. I’ve learned to trust my own timing. The menstrual cycle has taught me that my body ebbs and flows, and that includes my emailing speed.”
How do you unwind at the end of a long day?
Mimi: “I’ve gotten really into tango dancing! After spending the day trying to plan the future of De Lune in the face of uncertainty, it’s very satisfying to just zone out and focus on listening and connecting with another individual in real time. That, and a long hot bath afterwards.”
Courtney: “I love getting lost in things like meticulous craft projects or reorganizing my closet.”
What do you look for in an employee/collaborator?
Mimi: “Passion for the problem we’re solving together. A genuine curiosity when faced with hurdles, instead of a need to be right. An awareness of their own strengths, weaknesses, triggers and boundaries. The ability to stay flexible and hold things lightly when issues arise. That’s the only way creative solutions can emerge.”
Best piece of advice?
Mimi: “‘Don’t let others make you feel rushed.’ This creates a false scarcity mindset,
and you might make hasty decisions out of fear. Breathe, communicate inarguably with your team, gather information, remind yourself of your big ‘why’ and make your decisions calmly.”
Courtney: “The best advice I’ve ever gotten is: ‘Do what gives you energy.’ If you can manage to do things that are energizing and that you’re good at, your work will fuel all the other non-work parts of your life that are important to you.”
Worst piece of advice?
Mimi: “‘Hire a marketing agency from day one.’ This prevents the founding team from finding out their own organic marketing strengths and weaknesses.”
Courtney: “An old, white potential investor literally told us the models in our lifestyle photography were too ‘ethnic.’ We did not move forward with the deal.”
What does the term 'girlboss' mean to you?
Mimi: “I’m so glad this term had a cultural reckoning. The old girlboss was a symbol of over-exertion, hustle culture and the myth that women have to be everything in order to be considered successful. To me, a modern girlboss is anyone—regardless of gender or job—who knows what they value in life and is willing to prioritize it. More and more girlbosses today are choosing to prioritize joy, rest, altruism and autonomy, and I love that for us.”