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.