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 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 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.