A SEAT AT THE TABLE WITH JULIE COLAN - FOUNDER, SECRET WHISPERS
Breaking the silence, overcoming embarrassment and stepping up as a voice for over 9 million UK women.
Julie Colan is a woman on a mission.
I first learned of Julie Čolan from Guest Editor Claire Winter when she showed up on FaceBook with a sign that read #DontIgnoreThePelvicFloor. Curious to find out more about the hashtag that was now steadily taking over my newsfeed, Claire took great delight in telling me all about this one-woman wonder at the head of a campaign so strong, TV and Radio were lining up to get involved. I can see how she has won so many awards (including the Janey Loves Platinum Awards, for Feminine Care, where her Kegel Kit was judged by some amazing women, including Zoe Ball, Carrie Grant and Glynis Barber). As I sit down at my computer for our virtual chat, coffee in hand, I like her immediately. Not only is she super warm from the get-go, but she's also hilariously funny and engaging and before I know it over an hour had passed, my coffee is cold, and I am in awe of my new online best friend (even if she doesn't know it yet). Her dedication to serving women is nothing short of awe-inspiring; it's safe to say she's our kind of girl.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
It was January 2018 when she first read an online article that said that regardless of how amazing you think your pelvic floor is your chances of an issue goes up by 50% with the onset of Perimenopause. Coming up to 40 years old herself, the subject piqued her interest, and she started to ask around her friends and other mums in the playground. Was this an issue for them? What she discovered was nothing short of shocking. Almost every person she asked (the ones who didn't think she was crazy!) was experiencing bladder leaks in one form or another and worse; they thought it was inevitable and final, especially following childbirth.
Further research uncovered that women the world over had stopped running, trampolining or undertaking any exercise which could trigger a leak for fear of embarrassment. Even sneezing or laughing was cause for a trip to the nearest bathroom. It wasn't just perimenopausal women either; she started hearing from teenagers suffering the same issues. Enough was enough; it was time for decisive action.
With very little on the market other than bladder leak-resistant underwear, Julie started by asking herself what she would want and use? It would have to be discreet, relatable, easy to use and affordable for sure. The idea for the Secret Whispers Kegel weight was born.
It took seven months to perfect the design and get her product to the marketplace. In that time she would visualise it sitting on the shelves of retail giants such as John Lewis. Still, even though she could see it in her mind's eye, nothing prepared her for the explosion of sales when it finally hit the market. Her first exhibition stand at the National Running show saw her sell-out entirely within the first three hours of day one. Secret Whispers was discussed on Virgin Radio by a news presenter who had her first dry run in years, and the conversations continued. Women everywhere were waking up to the knowledge that this wasn't an issue they had to 'live with' and they didn't have to give up their favourite exercise. It could be overcome, and not only that, but it was inexpensive, discreet and didn't involve horrific underwear!
READY, SET, LAUNCH
Since it's launch, Secret Whispers has gone from strength to strength. Mentioned as a top 100 Trailblazing business in the UK last year Julie was invited to the House of Lords where she promptly had everyone doing their Kegels and not only that but the message is reaching thousands upon thousands of women across the world via her army of ambassadors (including me, I love my kit!). For every woman who purchases a kit, they tell their friends and family, conversations are opening up, women are talking about it, and more so, taking back control of their pelvic floor. Runners are running again, trampolines and rebounders are finding new life and laughter and sneezing are firmly back on the agenda. And all because one woman took the courageous step, stood up and began the uncomfortable conversation. Was it easy? Absolutely not! You just have to ask her about being sick in a car park with nerves before a radio interview to work that one out, BUT she did it. She overcame every setback, every nervous interview, public speaking event and TV opportunity, and she did it all for women like us.
The success of Secret Whispers is nothing short of unprecedented. Not that I would have had any doubt, women like Julie Colan rarely miss their mark.
I'll leave you with my favourite quote from the interview, take this with you everywhere you go, and you can't go far wrong 'If it fills you with fear and it's legal, you have to do it!'
I couldn't have put it better myself.