5 things we can do to help reduce period shame

The older I get the less concerned I am about the little things, but still the idea of bleeding through my pants in public is enough to ensure that I am always prepared for my monthly. Because I remember very clearly that first day I got my period. I was in church with my dad wearing a white skirt, and my period leaked all the way through. I was devastated and embarrassed beyond reason! At age 11, getting my period wasn’t on my radar. Even my mum didn’t believe me when I told her, and she made me show her my underpants.

These days, I think of New Zealand as being very progressive, yet attitudes surrounding periods haven’t changed that much since I was an adolescent. Each month I stand at a market stall selling period undies and without fail there will be multiple young girls, dragged over by their mum, who are way too embarrassed to even consider the word period, let alone talk about it!

This happens for several reasons. It’s normal to feel shy and apprehensive about getting your period. It’s a big change and for many girls it can be unexpected and emotional. For some families, talking about periods is no big deal, while for other families it may cause complete anxiety. What creates even greater period shame is a lack of understanding (for both girls and boys), negative attitudes towards periods, and a when teens and preteens are shown that it’s normal to talk about periods in hushed tones, or while blushing or looking embarrassed.

The problem with period shaming

The problem is our young girls are getting bullied at school and made to feel shame and embarrassment by getting their period. Shaming can come in many forms. From being teased and picked-on to having others openly whisper about them. Period shaming can lead towards to body-image issues, anxiety, and self-hate.

Ways to help reduce period shaming

I believe we all have a role to play in trying to reduce period shame. Here are some ways that can help.

  1. Try not to shy away from conversations about periods. Instead, create a space for girls and boys to talk about periods openly.
  2. Girls and boys need reliable information about periods. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your kids about periods, make sure they have other ways to access this information. Maybe watching a video or reading a book together would be easier.
  3. Try talking about your own experience with periods. It’s easy to forget your experience as an adolescent. Before you swiftly dismiss any feelings you may have had of pain, cramps, embarrassment or cultural expectation, pause to reflect, and then share.

You may be a parent, aunt, or family friend. We can all do our part to help open the conversation surrounding periods.

  • Girls starting their journey into womanhood is something to be celebrated! In order to create open conversations, we need to increasingly discuss what we need to get through our periods. For me, I like some extra alone time at the start and sweet food. It’s important to listen to your teen or preteen, so that you can help her sort through her feelings until she is more comfortable with menstruating.
  • Boys gain so much pride from getting pubic hair or growing taller. Yet girls are made to feel embarrassment, shame, and fear. It’s not fair. We can help change this by instead sharing body positive messages. Such as –

‘You are becoming a kick-arse woman! Let’s celebrate by getting take-out’.
Or ‘Owww, how exciting, it’s the start of your next journey!’

  • It’s important to help our daughters understand that they too can help smash the stigma, by talking to friends about their period. The more they talk about it, the more confident they will become. The more confident they become the less concerned they are when people try and shame them for something that is completely natural.

Take the pressure off your teen or preteen by ensuring they are prepared for when the time comes. Both with products and information! Try Vivo Bodywear today.

This month, I’m running a special on my Happy Camper Period Pamper Pack. Check it out today!


Am I too old to make a career change?

There I was, earning a great wage, with several senior executive positions under my belt. I had two happy children, a relaxed home life and we took wonderful family holidays each year. Life was easy. But it was also becoming quite predictable. My work wasn’t challenging me anymore. The kids were settled. My husband and I had a good routine. All was fine…

I could have left it like that.  

But when I reached my 40’s, I started to gain more perspective on life. I had less concerns about the little things and greater awareness about what I needed to make my life more complete. I think many of us reach an age where you know you have a solid foundation of skills and confidence within yourself, to be capable of doing many things.

I reached a tipping point just prior to Covid lockdown. It’s like the stars aligned. I was ready for a change, I knew what I was passionate about (due to a wee issue), and lockdown provided a timely pause in my life, which set the wheels in motion.

However, I was not prepared for the ups and downs I would face. While I had confidence in my ability to overcome obstacles, I was oblivious to the level of learning that I would be required to undertake. The set-up stage alone required all my problem solving, planning and strategic skills to be on overdrive. I loved the creativity of it all and stimulating my brain and challenging myself again was fantastic, but some days I found that my mental capacity wasn’t as agile as it once was. I needed to be so much more diligent and organised about how I saved my documents. I needed to consistently make, and follow, a to-do list. Most of all, I needed to be prepared to work hard again. I had given my previous career 20 years and for some reason I thought that I would be competent enough to take on a new profession and master it straight away. I instantly gained a new appreciation for all those people owning a small business. 

It was when I started selling products that I first queried if maybe I was too old to start a new business. It was trying to get my head around so many aspects of social media and digital marketing that made me question myself. I had to Google what the difference was between an Instagram Story and a Reel. I still thought that I was young at age 46. But clearly this is not the case. E-commerce is a cut-throat world and now with the pandemic continuing, it feels like a mission every day to just get one sale. I am constantly hustling, and I can see why 96% of small NZ businesses fail within the first two years.

The thing is though, now I am home every day when my kids finish school and I get to hear about their day while it’s fresh in their mind. I don’t spend 2hrs each day commuting, and I am being creative again and using a range of old skills and new talents in harmony. I’m stimulating my brain again and it’s glorious! Sure, it’s hard work and I’m unlikely to make a profit for many years, but I also don’t need as much as I use to. I don’t need a designer wardrobe or expensive make-up. I don’t need to eat out in fancy restaurants, and I don’t need a monthly massage (although – I do miss that the most!)

What I have found is that I’m doing something for me… and that feels worthwhile. I’m no longer living predictably through the days as I head towards retirement. I am showing my children and myself that personal happiness and fulfilment matters.

My new business inspiration all started as a result of having two ginormous children that came out the size of toddlers and demolished my pelvic floor muscles. Over time I started a nasty habit of wearing disposable pads/panty liners every day to catch any bladder leaks when I exercised, laughed or sneezed. Sometimes I would need them and sometimes I wouldn’t. But the waste continued. I started to realise that I could do better, both for the environment and for myself. It was then that I started to wear reusable absorbent leakproof underwear, but every style I tried wasn’t absorbent enough, or the top layer felt damp, or I heard a plastic rustle sounds when I walked. I thought, surely us women shouldn’t have to put up with that!

I think my tipping point was discovering that it took 500 years for sanitary pads to decompose. I knew then, it was time for a change! And so began my journey to create Vivo Bodywear the most absorbent reusable leakproof underwear you can buy. Since then, not once have I walked down the sanitary products aisle at the supermarket. Instead, I now run again, and jump on the tramp, and laugh with friends without a care in the world! It is liberating!  

Should you feel like joining the revolution, try Vivo Bodywear today – they are simply perfect for replacing pads, liners and tampons. You will be amazed at how great these are! Not only are they stylish, comfy and environmentally friendly but they are also infused with anti-odour and anti-bacterial properties, so you will feel fresh and dry all day long! 

If you’d like to read more about the things I did and didn’t do well when I made my career change, then check out this article Key tips on how to survive a mid-life career change.

Key tips on how to survive a mid-life career change

Starting my own business was exhilarating. It brought out my creative side and made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile with my life.

With it – also came self-doubt. Because it’s hard to know if you are making the right decisions, especially when you are going it alone. I asked myself many times if I was doing the right thing. And while it’s still early days for me, it’s always timely to spend a moment on reflection.

I must first tell you that I have never owned a business before, and I have no experience in designing a product. What I do have – is lots of motivation, dedication, and passion. But that alone is not enough. I’ve made mistakes and I will continue to do so. It is my mid-life learning journey. The question is – is a mid-life career change right for everyone?

When started my new business, in my mid-40’s, I did some things really well and there were other things that I would have done differently if I had my time again.

For those who are keen to grab some tips, here are the key things that I would have done differently in hindsight:

Firstly, I would have undertaken more research and asked more questions about what would be involved in the day-to-day operation of running of a business. I was so focused on setting up the company and developing the product that I gave little thought to how I would sell the product. I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard. E-commerce is a cut-throat world, and it requires skills in many different areas, particularly if you don’t have the cash to employ experts to do it for you. Social media marketing and using influencers can be hit-or-miss. One month I posted to the Chooice NZ Facebook page (a buy local sales platform) and had the best few days of my new career! The sales came in thick and fast, and I was on top of the world! It was pure delight mixed with relief that I hadn’t made the wrong decision in changing careers. Then exactly one month later I posted on Chooice again. I prepared in advance and overstocked all my products and then waited excitedly! But alas, I made zero sales. I was devastated.

Hindsight lesson one – look beyond the start-up phase before you begin and gain a good understanding of the workload involved in the day-to-day running of the business.

There are many sayings about how everyone has million-dollar ideas, but not many are willing to take the steps to turn the idea into reality. When I was ready for a career change (because life had become too predictable), I turned to the thing I was most passionate about at the time. Something that impacted me hugely and negatively. My issue was bladder leakage. And I couldn’t find anything in NZ that was reusable and comfortable. It made me feel like I was the only one in NZ who had bladder leaks but also cared about the environment. Just think it through, a little sneeze here, a laugh there, every little dribble creates waste that will sit in landfills for 500+ years.

Long story short, my passion was to not only to create the most absorbent reusable leakproof underwear I could, but also to reduce the shame surrounding the topic of bladder leaks.

In hindsight however, I had no experience in running a small business, nor any experience in manufacturing underwear. I wonder, if I had my time again, would I choose a new career that was so different to the previous 20 years I’d had in policy and strategy.

Hindsight lesson two – it is said that you should always focus on what you are passionate about, but it wouldn’t hurt to explore other possibilities more aligned to your experience, when pondering a career change.

Another thing I would do differently is try harder to find a business partner to share this journey with. Someone who I could bounce ideas off. Someone with skills different to mine. Someone who is like-minded and has a similar work ethic/style. Small business can be a lonely journey when it’s just you.

Hindsight lesson three – before you start, attend some entrepreneurial start-up networking events to see if you could partner with anyone. Partnership is like a marriage. You need to find a good fit. But try hard because it’s worth it!

On the plus side, I have done a few things well and I would repeat if I had my time again.

  1. When I first established my business, I gave myself a set timeframe and certain amount of money that I was happy to spend/sink. This three-year timeframe set a clear boundary around my career change decision. Every time my dad would ask if I was going to get a real job again, or my husband would ask if I made any sales that day, I would remind myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Success doesn’t often happen overnight. For some it does! But for most, it’s something you need to be prepared to put the effort into. So I take deep breaths and try not to panic when I have a day without sales. Because I believe in myself. And I know, you can’t learn a new profession overnight.
  2. One more thing I did from the start has worked really well, was collect every email address I could, from people who tested my sample products through to people who gave me advice. Then every month, without fail, I would email out a newsletter that shared the highlights of my journey (good and bad). This group are now ‘my people’. They are helpful, encouraging and regular customers!
  3. Lastly, the thing I’ve done best, is use my time wisely. Because when I know what actions to take next, I move faster. Having a plan also removes anxiety and me keep focused. I started with a 6mth plan broken down into tasks for each month and as I waited for my products to arrive, I prepared everything I could so I could hit the ground running. I had my website ready to go. I prepared automated responses for things like ‘abandoned carts. I sorted packaging, branding and new product designs. You name it, I did it. It was a huge learning curve, but I was enthusiastically dedicated. The thing is, it’s easy to get distracted on tasks that are fun but ultimately will not progress you forward. Instead, I remind myself constantly to prioritise tasks that are most productive. I rarely aim for perfection because it’s in finishing that last 20% where I waste the most time.

Starting a new business in my mid-40’s was, and continues to be, a rollercoaster. If you feel uncomfortable learning new things, or you are not ready to put in the hard yards, then starting a new business may not be right for you. Alternatively, learn some tricks to help you change your mindset asap. Because with new business ownership, learning new things, along with highs and lows, is a daily occurrence. But in my opinion, it’s totally worth the ride!

Should you know anyone who needs these tips, or who could benefit from some amazingly comfy reusable absorbent leakproof underwear for periods and bladder leaks, then please recommend Vivo Bodywear. It simply perfect for replacing pads, liners and tampons. Allowing you to Live life with confidence, freedom and control!

Will a caesarean protect me from pelvic floor complications such as bladder leaks?

The joys of motherhood!

When preparing for childbirth, you can receive a lot of advice. But what is often not discussed during pregnancy or pre-birthing classes is the topic of incontinence post birth. Yet, women who have delivered a baby vaginally are twice as likely to develop stress incontinence compared to women who have delivered via caesarean[1].

Stress incontinence results in urine leakage when you laugh, cough, sneeze, jump, or lift heavy objects.

While caesarean births may reduce the risk of stress incontinence by protecting your pelvic floor muscles to some degree (particularly for first time mothers), they do not make you immune to challenges like incontinence and prolapse.

This is because pregnancy itself adds a heavy load on the pelvic floor muscles – increasingly stretching them. Added to that, the more frequent visits to the bathroom, tend to weaken the pelvic muscles (because when you don’t use them – you lose them). And for the trifecta – hormonal changes can affect muscle strength in your pelvic area, resulting in a loss of bladder control. All of these changes are experienced by women who give birth via c-section.

Some women receive the added bonus (NOT) of having to push during labour, only to then have a caesarean due to complications. Meaning, your pelvic floor muscles are strained and then layers of adhesion are required to close the C-section, which can impact a body’s core function, including that of the pelvic floor muscles.

Because apart from nerves and connective tissues, other muscles help the pelvic floor work. Including your diaphragm, your glutes, the adductors, and your abdominals. These all need to be strong, coordinated and flexible to help your pelvic floor muscles work their best.

Five key take-aways:

  1. One in three women, who have given birth, will experience bladder leakage.
  2. The stress of pregnancy and childbirth weaken your pelvic floor muscles.
  3. There is no guarantee an elective caesarean will prevent incontinence.
  4. Pelvic floor exercises are important both pre and post birth, because healthy, fit pelvic muscles before the baby is born will help the body mend more easily after the birth.
  5. Bladder leaks happen. They are pretty common. You can work to improve your pelvic floor muscles, but it’s not a quick fix.

Due to the joys of childbirth (among other things), sometimes we all need a little back-up protection. And that’s ok! Live life with confidence, freedom and control with Vivo Bodywear’s reusable absorbent underwear. 

Don’t let bladder leaks stop you from living life.

[1] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160223074738.htm

Why does my bladder leak when I’m coughing?

Alas, just standing on two legs puts pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. When you increase that pressure, through activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, and lifting, then it puts even more stress on the bladder and urethra, resulting in – you guessed it – bladder leakage!

Did you know?

That your pelvic floor muscles support a trifecta of goodness!
Yes indeedy! They support your bladder, bowel and uterus.

Experiencing bladder leakage while coughing is often related to having stress urinary incontinence. This is different to having an overactive bladder, where you get a sudden urge to pee and can’t control it before you get to a bathroom. This is caused by an abnormal contraction in the bladder, and it’s called urge incontinence.

One in three women who have given birth experience bladder leakage, as the stress of pregnancy and childbirth can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. But women are not alone. One in ten men also don’t have full control of their bladder for a variety of reasons.

It’s not just childbirth that can increase the risk of urinary incontinence. There are a number of other elements that put extra pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, which in turn increases the risk of bladder leaks. Including:

  • constant straining with number two’s –a big No No!
  • going to the toilet just in case (or too frequently), can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, because you are not letting your body use these muscles. Use them or lose them!
  • having a pelvic prolapse
  • carrying extra weight, which strains your pelvic floor muscles
  • smoking, which can lead to frequent coughing
  • lower back pain.

In addition to straining your pelvic muscles, there is the added joy of aging, which brings other issues into the equation that increase your likelihood of having bladder leaks, such as:

  • hormone changes
  • menopause
  • arthritis
  • dementia
  • diabetes etc.

And let’s not even get started on how consuming bladder irritants (such as caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and spicy/acidic foods) can irritate your bladder! What a minefield!

Another tricky element is that bladder leakage is rather unpredictable. Which is very unhelpful.

But there are some things that you can do to minimise bladder leakage. Check out last week’s article to find out more. Just tap HERE.

Should you need a little back up protection while strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, then try Vivo Bodywear! Hands down – the best bladder control underwear you will find!

How to prevent bladder leaks

The hardest thing about pelvic floor exercises – is remembering to do them! Try these tips for creating a lasting habit

I have an embarrassing problem. My bladder leaks when I run, sneeze, or even just walk too fast. And because I love food – I need to run to burn some of it off (ok so running is overselling it. I lightly jog.)

But also, I sneeze a LOT – if its not hayfever, then its cats, if it’s not cats then its dust – you get the picture right. And because I grew up in Melbourne, I have a tendency to walk fast. Got to keep up! But all this fast walking results in bladder leakage. And I haven’t even started on the days when I’m trying to be good with my water intake!!! 

It all started many years ago when I had my first son. He was 10lb and boy did he have man-boobs. My second son, two years later, was as 12lb. He came out looking like a toddler – which was not ok. My boys are the joy of my life, but my pelvic floor muscles have never been the same. I guess this is my biggest problem. I’m told that I should be able to fix my pelvic floor muscles. Mum sent me a brochure about a wave machine I can sit on. And my friend told me about electrodes that pulse when I put them up my girly parts. I tried very hard to get the mesh surgery. But after three operation postponements (due to hundreds of women having issues with faulty pelvic mesh implants in Australia resulting in multiple lawsuits), I decided that the universe was trying to tell me something, so I temporarily gave up on that.

Instead, I have decided to work on my pelvic floor muscles. See previous blog post for the: 4 steps for how to do your pelvic floor exercises correctly.

I understand how to do my pelvic floor exercises, but my problem is REMEMBERING to do them!

The trick I have discovered is two-fold. Planning and exercise.

Here are my 4 key tips to help make the habit stick

  1. Start small. Try with one set of pelvic floor exercises every day for one week and then aim to increase. It takes on average more than 2 months before a new habit becomes automatic. It’s good to build up to it and set yourself a goal to do them for a minimum of two months.
  2. Link the exercises to key trigger points in your day when you are more likely to create a joint habit. For some people, it works to link the exercise to brushing teeth every morning and night. For others it works to do the exercises on the daily work commute. Linking them to regular and familiar triggers is key. For me, I wake in the middle of the night. Regardless of the fact that the night waking is a bad habit, I find that because my mind is more relaxed and I’m not rushing, it’s when I remember my exercises the most.
  3. Consider your habits, lifestyle and routine and then mentally schedule in the times for when you will do your pelvic floor exercises. You need to make it work for you.
  4. Share with a friend that you are doing them. You can then do them together! Make it a fun activity that you both can remember and do together. Because when 1 in 3 women experience bladder leaks, you quickly discover that bladder leaks are more common than you think. So we all could benefit from a little pelvic floor exercise.

Excitingly, you are never too old to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. So start today!

Pelvic floor exercises don’t work for everybody. Should you need a little back up protection – try Vivo Bodywear! Hands down – the best bladder control underwear you will find!

12 ways to help fix or alleviate bladder leakage!

1           Seek medical helpIf you haven’t sought help – put this as a priority. Go to the doctor, your local continence nurse, or pelvic health physio therapist.
2           Do your pelvic floor exercisesStart today! Squeeze and draw-in the muscles around your bottom hole and your girly-parts at the same time. Lift them UP inside – all the way. Hold them strong and tight for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times (3 times a day). But be aware, pelvic floor exercises are not for everyone.
3           Keep active and strengthen your coreKeeping active not only helps with overall health but it can also help you lose weight. As carrying extra weight will strain your pelvic floor muscles. And everything adds up! Some activities are better than others. Yoga and pilates are two activities that are great for strengthening your core and they have the added benefit of incorporating mindfulness and relaxation. This is partially helpful because incontinence is often connected with anxiety and depression.
4           Minimize bladder irritantsUnfortunately, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and spicy/acidic foods can irritate the bladder and make leaks worse. If you find this to be a hard – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 
5           Don’t strain when doing poo’sTry to keep your bowel movements regular, because being constipated or straining while going number 2’s can overstretch your pelvic floor muscles and make urinary incontinence worse.
6           Avoid liftingLifting strains your pelvic floor muscles – so avoid it whenever you can. The key is to try any avoid anything that repetitively strains your pelvic muscles.
7           Re-train your bladderYour bladder is likely to be only 60% full when you get the urge to go pee.
Train your bladder to hold more urine without leaking by delaying your pee past the point of your urge to go. First try to delay by five minutes, by contracting your pelvic floor muscles and holding the contraction. Then aim to build up to twenty minutes or more. While you wait – take a few deep breaths and try wiggling your toes, as this sometimes helps to reduce the urge to go as this sends a signal to the bladder to relax.
8           Wear something that won’t limit your activitiesReusable leakproof underwear provide helpful backup support for you to rely on while you are working on the options above. Vivo Bodywear’s reusable absorbent leakproof underwear is great, because when you are prepared, you can get active without concern.
9Be preparedYour bladder is more likely to leak when full, so while it is important to train your bladder to be strong, it is also important that you don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead, schedule your activity to occur before you have a bladder full of beverages. And make sure you pee before you head out.
10Create an automatic reflexSqueeze before you sneeze, cough, jump or do anything else that is likely to trigger your bladder leak events.
11       Surgical treatmentSurgical treatment may be required for more acute cases of pelvic floor or prolapse. Do your research as some treatments come with many mixed reviews.
12    Nonsurgical treatmentA number of internal and external treatments are available, including kegal toners, neuromodulation, medications, muscle stimulators, kegel balls, botox, laser therapy, and vaginal pessaries (removable prosthetic device).

In summary

Less straining. More strengthening. Keep active.

The solutions are often simple, but not easy – unfortunately they take time and diligence.

If needed, protect yourself with the best bladder control underwear you will find – Vivo Bodywear.

4 steps for how to do your pelvic floor exercises correctly

Do you pee a little when you cough, sneeze or are active? Then pelvic floor exercises might help.

Step 1: With steady even breathing, start with conviction. Just a few ‘good’ exercises are better than many lackluster ones.

Step 2: Without tightening your bum cheeks, squeeze AND draw-in the muscles around your bottom hole and your girly-parts at the same time. Lift them UP inside. Try to hold them strong and tight for as long as you can, whilst building up to 10 seconds. Now, let them go and relax.

Hold tight for 10 seconds!” I hear you exclaim! Trust me I know. It’s hard.

Step 3: Repeat. Squeeze, lift, then let go and relax. Repeat. Squeeze, lift, then let go, relax. Repeat. Squeeze, lift, then let go!

It’s tricky to keep the breathing steady, but it’s important – so keep trying. It’s fair to say that I still haven’t mastered it. Hopefully you are better than me.

Step 4: Aim for 3 sets of 10 lift and squeeze exercises – three times a day. This can be while walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. Each set of 10 will take roughly 2min each. So all the time you need to invest in your body is 6min per day to start off. 

Tell me – how do you remind yourself to do your pelvic floor exercises?

Pelvic floor exercises: Start today! Squeeze and lift. Hold tight for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times
(3 times a day – any time, any place).

Should you need a little back up protection while strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, then try Vivo Bodywear! Hands down – the best bladder control underwear you will find!

Please note, pelvic floor exercises do not work for everybody. Consult your doctor or pelvic health physio if in doubt. 

How creating a community group reduced my shame

My bladder leak problem started small at first. Just a little bladder leak here or there when coughing or sneezing. Then after a while, I noticed a little incontinence when running, or jumping. It snuck up on me when I wasn’t paying attention. My life was busy, so I started wearing disposable panty liners and went about my day, without giving it much thought.

It was at that moment when I should have started my pelvic floor exercises or at very least, gone to a pelvic health physio. But I didn’t. Instead, I went about my life and ignored the problem. Too embarrassed to talk about it. But it started to impact me negatively. I stopped being spontaneous and started to become less active.

It was one of the key things that made me so driven to get my business up-and-running. The fact that it was impacting my life negatively. I was on a mission to fix my problem, but also help others with the same problem.

I know that bladder leakage stopped me from doing things in life and so I wanted to empower others to feel more confident in living their life without being limited by it.

It made me want to create a product to help with bladder leakage, but also encourage a more open conversation about it, so others felt confident to ask for help. So I set out to create the best underwear I could for bladder leakage and established a forum to get others to share their bladder leak stories. Because I hoped that by creating a more open dialogue, it could reduce some of the stigma surrounding the topic.

Because NO ONE talks about bladder leakage!
And yet, it is so common!

My first step was to create a community group so together we could share stories and information and support each other. For me, the group has definitely helped reduce some of the sensitivity and shame I had around the subject. I am a lot more open about my issues now. In turn, I find that others are more open too. Because when 1 in 3 women experience bladder leaks (often due to having children), you quickly discover that incontinence is more common than you think.

Incontinence │ light bladder leakage – tips, support and shared stories

Should you need a little bladder leak protection, LIKE MANY OTHER WOMEN, don’t worry. At Vivo Bodywear – we have you covered!

My huge career change in my mid 40’s – why does it have to be a mid-life crisis?

My journey started with me telling my husband that I want to take a year off from full-time paid work to focus on my passion project. That meant – he would have to go back to work. 😊 My father called this huge change – my mid-life crisis. I call it – the best decision I ever made! I think when you hit your 40’s, you start to reflect on what’s important in life and how you want to live going forward.

My profession at the time was consulting/contracting for government agencies, primarily in policy and strategy. I was well paid, and I enjoyed it fine, but it was becoming repetitive. I wondered if I was becoming boring. Life was starting to pass me by, and I was letting it. When I thought about what I’d do if money wasn’t an issue, then I knew it wasn’t that.

When I had my lightbulb moment (see previous blog story) I thought to myself – there is never going to be a better time to make a change. It was on that day when I registered my new company – Vivo Bodywear! My intended product – leakproof underwear for pee, periods and perspiration. I was beyond excited!

I knew deep down it was the right decision. But self-doubt plagued me.

It was especially hard after Covid kicked in and both my husband and I had zero income coming in. I was tempted to change my mind and see if I could find steady employment again. But I knew if I did this then I would regret it. Because if I couldn’t do it now, then I would never do it.

I started with a business plan, and a brand strategy, a marketing approach and a project task register. My goal was to develop the best bladder control underwear I could find. However, textile manufacturers are not that common in New Zealand anymore. Not to mention, no one sold the fabric that I wanted. While I waited (rather impatiently) for fabric samples to come from abroad I focused on everything else, such as pattern making, label requirements, packaging, and learning about online sales and marketing.

I was so excited to start each day. But it is fair to say – that since I had never developed a product before, let alone sold anything online, I had a lot to learn. Every morning I would head out early for a walk/run and listen to podcasts about how to start a new business. Then at night-time, when I would normally enjoy watching a light-hearted tv drama series, I found that I could no longer pay attention to them. I wanted to be thinking about my business or watching Startup School videos instead.

My mind, which had previously been completely exhausted from working a solid 40hrs each week was now alive and in overdrive. This was a bit of a revelation to me. It was like a creative driven optimistic energiser bunny was just desperate to be free. Who knew!

It’s taken me a while to develop a product that I’m truly happy with. Because making the best washable underwear for bladder leakage requires a lot of research and trial and error. But I’m truly excited about what I have developed with Vivo Bodywear and while I’m sure there will always be improvements, I’m quietly confident that others will love my undies as much as I do.

Four essential tips for new businesses starting out

It takes perseverance to remain motivated, especially when progress is slow.

Some of you may know that this year I started my own business – to develop absorbent washable leakproof underwear for pee, periods and perspiration.

It has been an exciting yet tumultuous rollercoaster. Today I wanted to share with you my four essential tips for those who are just starting out.

  1. Perseverance is key!

It takes a lot of motivation to dedicatedly work for yourself day in a day out. Particularly in the early days you must be the ‘master of all trades’ (the CEO and decision-maker, the strategist, the product designer, the investor, the marketer, the logistics expert and so on). Some tasks are easier than others. But when things get tricky it is hard to keep slogging away at it.

I have goals to keep me on track – work wise. But what keeps me – pushing forward – is a verbalised aspiration (that I’m committed to). You see, I found that I needed to be clear about what I wanted to achieve, and by when, because my family kept asking me when I was going back to work. So here it is: my aim is to give the business two years to break-even and three years to make a viable profit.

In addition to this, I let my family know what my boundaries are, to protect myself from risk. That is, when I have spent a certain level of funding, without any profit then I would stop and go back to full time work.

Three years to achieve my first big milestone is long enough for me to think “I’m in this for the long term”, which keeps me jumping over the short-term hurdles.

  1. Clarity is essential.

I never realised just how hard it would be to find the right specially fabrics for moisture wicking, absorbency, comfort and odour reduction.

It’s been a hard learning curve. My one piece of advice for dealing with any type of suppliers, is to be as specific as possible with what you want. If that means you must ask a million questions first to better understand the lay of the land. Then ask away. There is no harm in asking. I like to lay out my requirements in clear tables, or under specific headings. I then number each question and answer. I give my emails informative subject lines so that I can easily keep track of information down the track. But importantly, I never let myself stay in a position of doubt. I clarify immediately when uncertain.

  1. The 80/20 rule is beyond helpful.

It’s easy to waste time perfecting certain elements when it’s your own business. But taking the approach, where you keep working on something because you don’t want to risk getting it wrong, will slow you down unnecessarily. Try to accept that things will evolve rather than be perfect the first time. When you start to spend too much time on a task – STOP immediately and put some time restrictions in place. Because when you think of the time that people will actually spend looking at it, it’s just not worth your valuable and limited time. This is why it is so important that new businesses land a minimum viable product as the primary goal. Because perfection is impossible to achieve, whereas trial and error keeps you moving forward.

  1. Build a following.

As you start your business you will meet many people who will help you or take an interest in what you are doing. Make sure you add their email address to your contacts database and grow this list as you progress your business.  

It’s important to nurture this group by keeping in regular contact. One way I do this is to send out a monthly newsletter that provides a simple update on my progress and some interesting tidbits. It doesn’t matter how you keep in touch but just that you do. Your early tribe are your greatest supporters. Mine mean the world to me and I cherish their feedback and support.

If you are keen to show a fellow start-up support, I would love it if you could like or follow my facebook or Instagram page. Just go to:



Thanks for reading! Catch you next time.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 3

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series. Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1 and Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

Characteristic three:  Confident communication skills

One way of building credibility is being able to clearly articulate your views within a group situation. Below are six key components that will help you succeed in doing this:

  1. Preparation and progress

Prepare before going into a meeting. Know what the key points are that you want to make and actively listen for the correct time to contribute

Know what you want to achieve before you begin

Always ensure action points are taken and verbalised to the group – to ensure everyone is on the same page. If no actions are taken – then why are you meeting?

  1. Acknowledgement

Acknowledge other people’s contributions. This will build comradery, team spirit and motivation.

  1. Separate yourself from the product

This is a great skill to possess! In order to improve a product or service, it is important that it adequately meets the needs of the intended audience. In order for that to occur the feedback of others is crucial.

It’s essential that you don’t take that feedback personally. No person or product is perfect. Because everyone is different, others can add additional and alternative elements that could improve the product or service. It’s not imperative to take all feedback on-board– just make sure that the feedback is taken on appreciatively. 

  1. Effective communication is enhanced by active listening

Active listening helps us learn more before coming to conclusions. Its importance cannot be underestimated.

  1. Be heard and understood

Your stance and tone can make a huge difference when communicating effectively. Never slouch or mumble. If you are scared in anyway – it’s important that you take a moment to JUST SLOW DOWN. Slow down your speech, slow down your breathing, and let this ‘slowness’ steady your mind. So that you can clearly articulate your points. Depending on the situation, you may need to repeat your point in different ways in different meetings, but the important part is that you ARE contributing.

there is no point in complaining after the meeting if you are not happy with the outcome if you have not spoken up when you had a chance to. Don’t quietly tell a colleague sitting next to you your viewpoint. Have confidence to share your thoughts with the wider group.  

  1. Communication effectiveness is enhanced by how to develop your documents

Ensure documents are simple and to the point.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series.  Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1 and Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 3

Characteristic two: reputation

Your thoughts, words and actions combine to form your reputation. Hence, it’s important to focus on your reputation as a key component to being successful in leadership. Specifically, five key elements are important to master.

  1. Influence the performance of others successfully

Often frustrations are caused by lack of clarity. To achieve what is required it helps if you know how to effectively influence the performance of others. It’s not fair for you to get annoyed at someone’s output when you have been vague with your requirements and expectations. Key tips for doing this well are:

  • be purpose-driven
  • control your expectations
  • forgo perfectionism (follow the 80-20 rule)
  • set clear boundaries
  • keep instructions simple
  • focus on the key learnings/skills that the employee can gain so they feel empowered and inspired to improve.
  1. Assert yourself in the right way

You really get to see the character and weaknesses of people when they are under pressure. Watch your stance and manage yourself. It is important to keep your responses in check, particularly your email responses. Emotionally charged heat-of-the-moment responses are an easy way to ruin your reputation in seconds. When required, step away or ‘sleep on it’ to ensure you have control over your emotions and your responses. This means – leave your drama at home and/or keep your frustrations in check.

  1. Understand which tasks are worth your time

Having the awareness and ability to understand which tasks are worth your time is vital to successful leadership. Time is precious and it should be used wisely. 

  1. Build trust and relationships

Leaders build and maintain effective relationships with a wide variety of people. To be successful you can’t work a silo. Good leaders develop relationships and connection both within and outside their organisation. Importantly, you need to build trust and make positive connections with your peers and your subordinates by doing what you say you will.

  1. Confront and resolve conflict

Conflict in the workplace reduces productivity, as it distracts employees from their core focus. It’s not a fun part of the job but it is an absolute necessity that should not be avoided.

Key tips when dealing with conflict are to:

  • don’t try and ‘win’ the discussion
  • prepare yourself, be genuine, ask for their help, and establish a mutual purpose and respect
  • be aware of your biases
  • take ownership of mistakes and bad outcomes and learn from them
  • practice active listening. Wait and learn before coming to conclusions. Listen to understand and paraphrase.
  • focus on contribution and solutions. NOT BLAME.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1

How being more positive and valuing yourself can make you more successful

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series.  Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

Characteristic 1:  Positive attitude

The most important characteristic that has always done me extremely well in my career, and arguably  a key promotable asset – is my positive and proactive approach. The reason this is vital to leadership is that is inspires others.  

The trick to retaining a positive attitude and approach come by way of five vital elements.

  1. I retain two distinctly different, but very intertwined, outlooks. Quite simply – I choose to remain grateful and optimistic in life and in my daily activities.

    Happiness is contagious! When I smile and be positive – others are too.
  1. A key enemy to positivity and creativity is self-doubt. I squash self-doubt when it starts to rear its ugly head. Because it adds no value.
  1. I don’t believe that I have been successful due to luck. Instead I have actively pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I make opportunities present themselves by being proactive, agile in the face of change, and by putting my hand up for new tasks in order to learn more.
  1. Being able to value your own worth and believe in yourself is also vital! As this provides the confidence in your ability to learn how to do something.
  1. Lastly, I believe that I control my own life. If I am unhappy then it is my responsibility to change something. Do not wait for circumstance, or others, to change your life for you. Make yourself responsible for your own happiness today!

Raising kids as a working mum

10 ways to stay sane while rocking it!

I am a happy loving engaged mum when I look after myself. But when I put myself last, that is when the shit starts to hit the fan. Below are my ten key tips for raising happy well-adjusted kids who believe in themselves and feel loved.

  1. Routine – set specific times for key activities and stick to them (e.g. bedtime, mealtimes, screen times). This way everyone knows what to expect and you are not constantly being asked questions such as “can I go on screens?”
  2. Efficiencies. Write lists for your kids to tick off their jobs. This way you don’t have to repeat yourself and it eliminates the need to hear their reaction if it’s not joy. I don’t write to-do lists for them every day (as the kids know their daily jobs) this is more for weekend tasks or travel/activity packing lists. I find it helpful because it is out of my head and the kids like to cross tasks off their list. Another way to create efficiencies is by streamlining the dinner process. My husband and I take turns to decide on the weekly dinner menu (I put it up on the kitchen wall) and I shop online for the groceries. During non-Covid19 times, when the money was more plentiful, I would also pay for a weekly cleaning lady (which was heaven on earth) and we would purchase weekly meal boxes. But alas, that is not my life right now.
  3. It’s a team effort. Make sure that your husband or partner are doing their fair share. Similar to the kids, my husband also needs set regular tasks, otherwise he will happily sit on the couch. Instead I make it clear – everyone must contribute daily i.e. he makes dinner most nights.
  4. I make time for me. Sleep, exercise, and self-care are vital non-negotiables for me. I make sure the kids go to bed at the same time each night – 8pm. My 12yr old reads for a bit, but my 10yr old needs 10hrs sleep each night otherwise he becomes irritable and annoying. More importantly, they go to bed at 8pm each night so that I can get some ‘me time’. Because when I’m well rested I am a 100% happier and a much better mother.
  5. I stay organised. I have daily to-do lists that I steadily work my way through. I try to never procrastinate because that puts me behind and makes me stressed. I finish each workday by writing down my tasks for the following day – so they are not on my mind when I go to bed.
  6. I use positive reinforcing language always. My kids believe what I tell them. They think of themselves as helpful, funny, and lovely because I’m constantly telling them that they are. They then act accordingly. For example, “you are such a great helper”; “I love it when you stack the dishwasher in-order”; “you are the bestest kid in the whole-wide world!”; “thank you for all your help today – I really needed it”; and when I see my child all dressed and ready for school – “look at you all ready – gosh you are perfect!”.
  7. I know my work life balance. I know when I’m most productive and when I’m not. For me that’s 8am-4pm during the week. Out of those hours I switch off work completely and focus on family time. By not having competing work interests, I am free to focus on family adventures and activities. This is what makes our family thrive and its not something that I’m prepared to give up.  
  8. I push away the ‘mummy guilt’. Being a parent comes with so much guilt. I’m sure you know what I mean. I unapologetically push this ‘mummy-guilt’ out of my mind if it ever starts to raise its head. Because otherwise it uses up positive and productive mind space.
  9. I don’t make it hard on myself. This means that I am comfortable with saying ‘no’. For example, not once have I let the kids sleep in my bed (I value my sleep too much). Whatever the kids can do – I get them to. So, no driving my kids to school either. In fact, I make the kids leave early for school so that they can pick up their friends on the way. This burns off extra energy and lets me start work at 8am.
  10. I use the rationale that I want to raise great men. My boys constantly need training and direction. Arguably my husband often does too. Whenever they complain about the number of jobs they have to do. Or when they roll their eyes at my guidance on how to stack the dishwasher, iron a shirt, eat with their mouth closed etc, I just remind them that it’s my job to raise them to be helpful, contributing members of society and that their future girlfriends/wife will thank me. So really, I’m doing them a huge favour and they should be eternally grateful.

At the end of the day we are all just doing the best we can. As long as we are not raising monsters who chew with their mouth open – then I think we are winning!