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

Vivo Bodywear - reusable absorbent underwear for bladder leaks and periods. We don't need one person doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.

 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. And 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 made that decision, I would regret it. Because if I couldn’t do it now, then I would never do it. I thought to myself - here is your chance to make a positive contribution to life. Because I am not perfect in living sustainably, but I do try. Yet, anything that helps reduce the amount of single-use sanitary products going to landfill (where they may sit for 500-800 years) is worth doing. 

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. 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.

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 business start-up 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 energizer 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.

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