It happens to us all. Middle-aged people, young people, fun people, famous people, sports people, ‘normal’ people. Over 14 million of us experience problems with our bladders, so why are we suffering in silence? This is a story about my decision to build Jude during the pandemic.
Why should certain medical ailments be mainstream while bladder health is taboo? If puberty, periods, postnatal and menopause have gained enough acceptance to be publicly aired, then why not this one?
This shocks me to the core. That's why I decided to started conversations with now thousands of women and men about their bladder issues.
After thousands of hours on the phone and hearing "embarrassed" countless times, these are the things I've taken away:
Bladder care is totally non-existent in this country. It's not preventative to start with, and it's not talked about at all. This isn't good enough!
There just aren’t enough treatment and management options you can choose from, even when your bladder malfunctions. It currently takes 5 months to get a diagnosis and 12 months to get non-surgical treatment from the NHS. This isn't good enough!
The products out there on the shelves haven't really caught up with the lifestyle of the modern-day woman. This isn't good enough!
When I see a problem that needs to be solved, I need to start a conversation.
While the state of bladder care seems gloomy, it's not the only reason that prompted me to start this company. Let me tell you a bit more about myself.
I was born in Hong Kong and went to boarding school 6,000 miles away in the UK. I'm the kind of person who thrives on finding solutions. I get energised by gaining new perspectives, and I need to find a purpose in everything I do.
The thousands of conversations I've had on the subject of bladder issues have been truly eye-opening.
When you get people started on an intimate subject (especially one that requires constant attention) they pretty quickly spill the beans.
Starting with leaks, the conversation quickly moved on to their hobbies, kids, pets, philosophies and quirks. I'm privileged to have heard their stories and get to know the personalities that shine through them.
It's these people who I want to support. I want to play a part in improving their quality of life.
I've been so inspired by their optimism. Now I want to return the favour.
People ask what drives me. It's simple: I feel privileged that so many have been prepared to open up and speak out about something that is such a hidden issue.
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Big problems need a big mindset and big action. I founded the company on my own during the pandemic. Gathering people and resources to work on this kind of subject, as you can imagine, was difficult in the beginning.
I had thousands of meaningful conversations with potential investors, but that also meant thousands of rejections, raised eyebrows and mockery (I've been called "wee lady" and "pad lady" – and I'm fully embracing it!).
Because what came before us was so patronising and uninspiring that we've had to start from scratch. It was the hardest task to find a team that truly understood our mission to bring about a change of social attitude, a complete rethink of the issue, and come up with a modern way of solving it.
Moreover, I was rejected by many investors who thought bladder care wasn't "sexy" enough to invest in!
Remember all those chats I had, and the life philosophies that people shared with me? All that positivity and optimism, the unapologetic desire to simply be who they are, and the motivation to keep contributing to their communities regardless of their own discomfort? This is what fuels me.
Jude doesn't care about being sexy, it cares about fulfilling a need – and it's needed by the thousands of people we chat to, by the 14 million people in the UK and the 400 million people globally who suffer from this problem.
What's more, I know this community would certainly have something to say to those who mocked me! Jude and I are on a mission to give them a voice.
We listen: We offer free weekly discussions with medical specialists who introduce you to options you may not know about.
We talk: We’re a gated community where women share self-care tips and health hacks. Leaks, aches, hot flushes – anything you’re too embarrassed to mention we’re already talking about.
We co-create: Our products are designed and tested by the community. We co-developed a super-safe, compostable leak pad and a bladder-care supplement programme, which have been game-changers for thousands of women.
We're not just about leaks, we're all about health. Let's make bladder care preventative, holistic and unembarrassing!