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!

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:

https://www.facebook.com/vivobodywear

https://www.instagram.com/vivobodywear/

Thanks for reading! Catch you next time.
xxoo

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!  

Step 1 – in my entrepreneurial journey towards the world of ecommerce

It’s exciting and a feel silly for jiggling in my seat, but I’m also grinning with pride, because I have hit two key milestones this month.

Now I’ve got to say – there have been roadblocks. Home schooling during Covid19 lockdown for one! I have now walked around the block and played Monopoly Deal more times than I can count. Because my kids have a clear limit of patience and focus when it comes to schoolwork.  

And while I have felt pulled in many directions and have had to jump from one task to another in rapid succession, I am still moving forward. Mmmm, maybe I deserve a glass of wine!

Wine aside, the first milestone I hit was coming up with my brand name. I didn’t think coming up with a brand name would be that hard. But it was the HARDEST! Note to self – if this ever happens again – ask less people for their advice. Because everyone has a different opinion!!

The worst enemy to creatively is self-doubt.

Sylvia Plath

I reached milestone number two when I finally choose the selection of fabrics that I’m happy with to progress to the next stage (prototype development). I have now tested hundreds of fabric samples. Not only have I undertaken all the scientific tests but I also borrowed a friends sewing machine and made some very rough prototypes to exercise in. Because that is the ultimate test! Running without leakage, especially after a day of drinking tea. I was so disappointed when the first few didn’t work. My bottom lip was out and I was not happy. But it didn’t take many mishaps to realise where I was going wrong. On the plus side – I have also somewhat improved my sewing machine skills, which – if I’m being honest – were absolutely terrible. But when I finally found the right fabric layers – I was surprised my neighbours didn’t hear my huge sigh of relief!

It’s early days yet and I know I have a long road ahead. But it feels rewarding to be stepping over the hurdles just the same.

My passion project

It was 22 January 2020, when I chose to tell my husband that I’m taking a year off from full time paid employment to work on my passion project – and that he would have to go back to work. My profession at the time was consulting/contracting for government agencies, primarily in policy and strategy development. I was paid well and I enjoyed it, but when I thought about what I’d do if money wasn’t an issue/requirement then I knew it wasn’t that.

So 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, with the intention of developing leak-proof 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 very hard saying “no thank you” to the first few policy contract roles that were presented to me. And even after a month, when my husband still had no job, I was tempted to accept yet another short-term role. But I knew if I did this then I would lose momentum.

My husband and I had agreed that I could spend our savings, we would scrap the planned holiday, and there would be no more take-out or meal kit delivery. 😦 Plus we would need to take out a loan against the house for my first product shipment. This was my chance and while the since the family was being impacted I knew that I needed to have faith in my ability to deliver.

I started with a business plan, and then a brand strategy, a marketing strategy and a project task register. After that my primary goal was to develop a minimum viable product. However, textile manufacturers are not that common in New Zealand anymore. Not to mention, no one sold the fabric that I wanted. So 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.

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.

With more time available each morning (because i was not rushing off to town on the train) I would walk/run and listen to podcasts. My husband turned the garden shed into an office for me and I would work all day out there. I was so excited to start each day. 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 entrepreneurial energiser bunny was just desperate to be free. Who knew!

The exciting part is that its more than just making and selling a product. I am passionate about the subject of light bladder leakage because it has negatively impacted me for the past 12 years. I wanted to try and make a difference to somehow empower women to feel more confident in living their best life without limitations. I want to encourage others to share their stories and hopefully we can create a more open dialogue where we share information about the wide range of support and treatment available. Whilst also reducing some of the sensitivity around the subject.

The light-bulb moment that caused the passion project

One day I was on an overnight tramp with friends. We were sleeping in a Dept. of Conservation hut at the top of a gorgeous mountain, in a dorm room with single mattresses covered in thick durable plastic. The kids got to sleep fine after a long day of hiking, but I lay awake all night feeling uncomfortable, hot and with a mind full of thoughts. It was that night that I had a bit of a light bulb moment.

I had not been open with my girlfriends about my personal problem – and yet we are really close friends. I guess its because no one really wants to talk about bodily fluids – because that’s nasty!

But here I was, lying awake, thinking about how annoying it was that my backpack waist-strap had dug into my bladder all day during our hike and that I wish I had better pelvic floor muscles. Because not only had I leaked through the pad in my undies that day – but I was also dreading having to put another pad in the next day, as the only private place to do that was in the outdoor long-drop toilet, which was a haven for mosquitoes. 

As I lay awake that night there were three key fields of thought that just kept swirling around my head.

Firstly, I wanted to understand why I wasn’t being more open about my bladder leakage issue. I remembered some data that I’d read once that said only 1/3 of people with incontinence issues seek help. This felt wrong to me and I vowed then and there to be more open about my issues. But i thought – why not also see what I could do to foster a more open conversation about female incontinence in general.

Secondly, I was annoyed that I hadn’t been able to buy any leak-proof underwear in New Zealand prior to our overnight tramp. I had found some online providers overseas, but the cost of the product was out of my price range, particularly when I added shipping. So I decided then and there – I needed to do something about this too!

Lastly, I was annoyed with my husband. We’d had a disagreement prior to the hike and my inner self was telling me that something had to change. The thing is – I am a naturally positive and optimistic person. My husband on the other hand, is more of a realist, or a pessimist some may say. For the past 24 years that we have been together my constant level of happiness outweighed any negativity that he could bring to the table. But over the past year something had changed. I was becoming resentful and less happy.

Initially I blamed him – and that was what our disagreement was about. But then I realised – it was me that I could change. Not him. And that was the start of my much better life. And also the start of my passion project!