Tell us about yourself and your background.
I’m a farmer’s daughter. When I was young, I was a keen horse rider and loved being outdoors. You would never see me in a pretty frilly dress, it was always jodhpurs or jeans and wellies. Growing up on a farm was amazing, but tough. There was always something to be done and little rest. That work ethic has stayed with me as an adult and has helped me become the successful businesswoman I am today.
How did your career begin?
I spent the majority of my twenties as an air stewardess for Gulf Air in the Middle East, but after the birth of my first son, I wanted to find an occupation which allowed me to work from home. Back then, there weren’t many roles like this, so I decided to set up my own business and become my own boss. It was 1988; the AIDS crisis was a growing cause of concern that spread worldwide, so I decided to dedicate my first business to selling condoms. Demand was high, and despite being in a male-dominated sex industry, I managed to get my company away from the kitchen table and off the ground. Around this time, I also had a conversation with a friend who was a Psychosexual Therapist, who helped couples regain their sexual intimacy. There seemed to be a gap in the market between the distasteful sex toys of the late ‘80s and what couples were comfortable using, so I began to source sex toys to use in psychosexual clinics. Passion8 was born.
Where does Kegel8 come into things?
Soon, I began to realise that many women were relying on sex toys to address physical dysfunctions (or loss of intimate sensation) caused by childbirth or the menopause. And no one was addressing the root cause. After extensive research, I realised the difficulties women experience getting their bodies back to its pre-childbirth condition…and many never do. I found a medical device (which is now Kegel8’s core product) that was being used in hospitals and clinics to tone and strengthen the pelvic floor but wasn’t available for use at home. This was my light bulb moment. I could sell this automatic Kegel device to women directly for those who preferred to use them in the privacy of their own homes, at a convenient time. The problem was, they were big things that looked like curling tongs – not at all feminine, and not terribly effective either. So, I made the decision to re-design these clinical products, making them more attractive and discreet, under the brand name Kegel8.
And since you launched how have you seen the business and the industry change and develop?
Since launching Kegel8 I have never looked back. The company has grown from strength-to-strength, with three office moves since 2008 to keep up with the demand. Back in the 90s, there was no such thing as FemTech. But over the past 10-15 years the industry for female health products has exploded, helping to break down the stigma associated with sexual pleasure and dysfunction, menstruation, fertility and the menopause. At Kegel8, we’ve been responsive to these positive changes and over the years, have expanded into many different product categories, including health supplements, sustainable sanitaryware such as a menstrual cup, and pelvic floor devices for men too. Since I first launched Kegel8 back in 2004, there is both greater scientific knowledge about the complexities of the pelvic floor and how sexual sensation is closely connected to it, as well as growing public awareness around issues such as incontinence, prolapse and sexual dysfunction.
Tell us about the importance of kegel exercises?
Approximately one in three women suffer from pelvic disorders worldwide, and lesser percentage of men. It’s our mission to educate and empower more people to look after their pelvic floor muscles early on to avoid the associated problems in later life like loss of sensation, prolapse and bladder incontinence. Just like brushing your teeth or getting your 5-a-day, looking after your pelvic floor should be an important part of your daily routine. Kegel exercises strengthen the core muscles that support your pelvic organs such as your bladder, bowel and uterus. Kegel exercises can be done manually, by lifting and holding the pelvic floor muscles, but these can be tricky to locate and strengthen by yourself. A pelvic toner can help you regain and maintain control of your body quicker by acting as a sat-nav for your pelvic floor muscles, exercising them even if you can’t feel them yourself. Electronic pelvic floor toners come with pre-programmed sensation, exercise and pain-relieving programmes, and deliver electrical impulses internally via a probe, or externally via pads, to stimulate a contraction within the pelvic floor. It may sound scary, but it’s not!
What do you do to switch off?
I have a busy and very fulfilling working life, but when I need to relax and unwind I turn to my yoga practise. When I first got into yoga, I thought it was all about improving physique and regaining strength, but what I have found after 10 years is that it is all about calming the mind.
What are you listening to or watching right now?
I’ve been hooked on series three of the BBC drama Killing Eve. It’s wonderful to see two strong and complex female characters playing the leading roles.
The best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Do It Now!' Rather than putting something off, it is always best to get on and get it out of the way. I find this especially relevant with tasks that I don’t like, I prioritise them, so I have the ‘nice’ tasks to look forward to.