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How Postpartum Mesh Underwear Started My Entrepreneurial Journey

4min read
Business

"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.


It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.

My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.

Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.

I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.

My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.

Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).

They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).

Fast forward to 2018...

While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.

In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.

As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.

Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.

5 Min Read
Lifestyle

Help! My Husband Won’t Stop Yelling At Me

Help! My Husband Won't Stop Yelling At Me

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I'm a newlywed, and I love my husband very much. But whenever I'm on the phone, the way my husband speaks to me makes people think he is abusive even though he really isn't. He just has a hard time managing his voice and his energy levels when he is stressed. The next second he's back to being chill and flexible (once I'm off the phone, of course). I don't want people to misinterpret my relationship, and I do want him to change. What do I do?

- On The Edge

Dear On The Edge,

I'm sorry that you're feeling humiliated by your husband's actions. What you describe definitely sounds like a classic symptom of abuse and it is understandable that your friends are worried. The difference between abuse and a simple disagreement is that it happens every day with significant consistency. Your instinct to want your husband to change is likely rooted in the fact that you understand this behavior may not be sustainable to a healthy marriage in the long run.

You sound brave and strong, and you seem capable of distinguishing that these are his issues on display, not yours. As Dr. Seltzer, a Clinical Psychologist points out in this article, "In all likelihood, the rage says a good deal more about that person and the gravity of their unresolved issues than it does about you" Regardless, it is important to take care of yourself. Have you assessed how the yelling makes you feel personally without taking into account your friends' reactions? Does it make you anxious or affect your overall well being?

It concerns me that you are chalking up his behavior to stress. It's okay for couples to have conflict, and many psychologists agree that this can be done in a constructive way by communicating and expressing one's anger in order to work on them together. Contrary, it is not okay to be on the receiving end of your spouse yelling, and repeatedly so. Have you tried speaking to him about this issue? If so, how did he react and does he understand how his actions are affecting you? Has he made any effort to change his behavior? This could be an important first opportunity to work on a serious issue as a married couple, but if speaking to him directly isn't an option you should seek counseling. I recommended you see a professional therapist separately or a marriage counselor together. Meanwhile, if your mobile phone rings, take that call miles away from hubby!

- The Armchair Psychologist

HELP! Is Democracy The Right Path?

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I wanted to ask you about a dilemma I struggle with. I come from a country that is under an autocracy. I'm curious to learn about the path to democracy and why some countries struggle more than others. And, an even bigger question of this model, does it "fit all?" Obviously, there are three basic models that are/were widely spread around the globe, including some deviations with different blends and mixtures: monarchy, democracy, communism. Throughout history, it seems that the democratic model has been well-adapted and successful in Western countries, where cultural, social and political conditions are well suited for it. Whereas in Asia, we can observe some deviations of this same model achieving success with a blend of authoritarian rule and sometimes communism such as in China, Singapore, and South Korea (all to varying degrees). What is your perspective on this? Living in the western world, one always hears about the democratic model being the right way, but if you look at the most successful examples (growth-wise): Singapore, South Korea were blended democratic models that have achieved great results. So, should the western world deviate from its preferred model given that checks and balances are in place?

Sincerely,
Anti-nationalist

Dear Anti-nationalist,

I'm sorry to hear that you're dismayed by your country's autocracy. Living in the US under Trump's rule is feeling more and more like an autocracy for myself and many others these days.

Let's take a look at the growth rate of the countries you mentioned. The USA grew by 2.3%, South Korea grew by 3.1%, and Singapore grew by 3.6%, in terms of GDP. While it's true that the US may seem to lag behind a bit in growth, it's important to put into perspective how that growth is measured. The old saying "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics" comes to mind. But the perspective of how we measure things is crucial.

As an example, let's say you are coming out of college and you're worth $1,000 because that's all you have in your bank account. Your neighbor has $10 million. Next year, you have $2,000 and your neighbor has $12 million. Your growth rate was 100% and your neighbor's was only 20%, but does that mean you did much better than your neighbor that year? Of course not, because it's also the total amount of money you make each year that counts.

Courtesy of Y-chart

Basically, the US made around $240 billion in growth in 2018, whereas Singapore and South Korea made about $25 billion each. Smaller, emerging countries always grow faster initially but as they get larger they have to keep making increasingly large amounts of money to keep that same growth rate up, so it's no surprise that growth slows over time.

However, discussing economics alone can't answer your question, because, as many people often do, you're conflating Capitalism with Democracy. They are very, very different things. One is how you structure your economy. The other is how you structure your society. Judging Democracy by how the economy is doing is like judging an apple by an orange. The point of Democracy is not making sure you can buy that new television, it's to ensure human equality and personal rights.

You asked about Democracy and if the Armchair Psychologist believes that governments should be accountable to the people they govern. Should the population be able to remove its leadership? Are checks and balances good for a nation to keep megalomaniacs from taking complete control? Absolutely. Is it perfect? Absolutely not.

Your question may also be "is capitalism the best way for emerging societies to grow?" Most scholars would argue that America wasn't truly capitalistic in its infancy. Rather, it was about communal living, small local towns becoming self-sufficient, growing their own food, and taking care of each other. How economies grow in their earliest phases is a function of the local culture and the resources available to that country and also what infrastructure needs to be developed (schools, transportation, highways, refineries). There are many ways of improving the wealth of a country, but removing the population's control over leadership isn't a necessary ingredient to success. I hope this eases your mind; this is a difficult dilemma to work out. But, as Churchill once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

- The Armchair Psychologist

Need more armchair psychologist in your life? Check out the last installment!