Julie Colan, Founder and Campaigner, Secret Whispers
Julie Colan is on a mission to better the health of men and women by helping them to improve their pelvic floor strength. Julie talks to The Industry Leaders about the work her company Secret Whispers does and tells us how she found herself in the UK's House of Lords leading a Kegel exercise!
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
In January 2018, I read an article that said 'regardless of how great you may think your pelvic floor is, the likelihood of developing an issue goes up by 50% with the onset of perimenopause. I remember thinking, 'I am 40 next year, and this can't happen to me. I have been doing my Kegels since I was 14 (I assumed every woman did, but soon found out that this wasn't the case), and I knew that I needed some sort of weights to challenge my pelvic floor.
After not finding a suitable product, I designed my own. This was how Secret Whispers was born.
What kind of work does your role involve?
My biggest role is spreading the education on the importance of the pelvic floor and why Kegels are so important. I am a small business owner, which means I have to wear many different hats each day. When I started Secret Whispers, customer service needed to be number one, and it most definitely is. We support women from pre-purchase of our Kegel Kit to offering a private Facebook group where women can come together and support one another. I am currently working on a TV shopping channel project which will be a huge opportunity to reach more women.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The biggest excitement for me is every time a woman tells me she is leak-free! I literally do a little dance around my office because I know how life-changing this is for women. At least 50% of women suffer from weak pelvic floor issues, and being able to help reduce these numbers is my mission. My goal is to get pelvic floor education taught in high schools for girls and boys from 14. This is the only way to help reduce these huge statistics. It starts with education.
It is unacceptable that for many women, the first time they hear of the words' Kegels' and 'prolapse' is when they actually have an issue. This has to change.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
The best advice that I ever received was when I had just started Secret Whispers. I was at a networking event, and a lady from FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) told me that I should enter their awards. I remember thinking, 'who am I to enter an award?'. She convinced me that I should and, fast forward a few months, I was announced as a finalist in both 'Start-up business of the year' and 'Business and Product Innovation!
This led to winning many awards for Secret Whispers, and I was even invited to the House of Lords, where I had everyone there doing their Kegels! Taking this scary step not only increased my brand awareness but helped my confidence and extended my comfort zone. Something that, as business owners, we really need to do.
What, or who inspires you?
I am so fortunate to have two fantastic, hilarious sons. They are very different personalities and are the best of friends and spend the whole time making each other laugh. Their attitude to the world inspires me.
Rosemary Conley CBE, the health and fitness guru, is another woman who has inspired me. I grew up watching her on television, and when I found out that she lived in Leicestershire, I was determined to meet her. Her accomplishments are truly exceptional. I got the opportunity to introduce myself and my Kegel Kit at an event at a local International Women's Day in Leicester. She loved my passion and my Kegel Kit. She even agreed to give me some business advice.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Networking is essential to every business to not only have that support around you, but you get the opportunity to hear what is happening in your industry and in others. I attend many different events and am a member of various groups. I also believe in investing in myself, so I can be the very best me. I have a business coach and spend time on myself to ensure I look after myself physically and mentally.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
The most challenging project I ever did was my first public speaking event. Ask me to talk about pelvic floors, and I can talk all day on stage, but when it comes to talking about your past life experience, this is a whole different story.
I remember when I was asked, my monkey brain was screaming, "Don't do it. Say no. It will be humiliating." So I said YES.
I have a motto - If it scares you and it's legal, you must do it. Push those fear barriers because either you win or learn, but you never lose!
And guess what, it was hugely scary, but I was on top of the world afterwards.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
After running up and down the road screaming, I would book an around the world holiday for a year with my husband and sons. Hire an online tutor because I am not home-schooling again. I was rubbish at that. I am fortunate that I can work from my laptop, so location is not a barrier. I would then treat my family and friends and invest some money into my goal of getting pelvic floor education into high schools.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I find it hard to switch off after a day of work because I live and breathe my business. I have so many ideas whizzing around my head all the time, I definitely have to dedicate time to 'switching off'. I love reading, especially personal development books, but these are best avoided at bedtime as it just gets the motor running in my brain all over again. I like to read fiction books at night time and development books in the morning to set me up for the day.
I also love air rifle shooting. Being focused on the targets for a few hours is really relaxing, and I highly recommend this for anyone who, like me, has a hyperactive brain.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
To see the current statistics of 50% of women with bladder leakage and prolapses reduced. Also, to see the certain propaganda ads that portray leakage as normal - and even expected - after childbirth banned from TV. So many women are suffering in silence because they believe that this is normal. It is common but most definitely not normal.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I absolutely devour books and love a good podcast too. 'The Morning Miracle by Hal Elrod is a great one. I gift this to a lot of people. Others that I recommend are:
'How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be' by Jack Canfield,
'Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers.
'The Universe has Your Back' by Gabrielle Bernstein.
How should people connect with you?
I always answer any emails or messages personally. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org, www.secretwhispers.co.uk, and on Instagram and Facebook @SecretWhispersUK where I also have a closed group.
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