#SWAAYthenarrative
Tiffany Staten

PCOS and Hormone Imbalances Don't Define My Beauty or My Life

5 Min Read
Self

Building London Grant Co., a beauty-forward wellness brand, is the last thing that I saw for myself. I'd struggled with skin and weight challenges brought on by hormone imbalances for what felt like an eternity. Years of seeing "I-woke-up-like-this" flawless skin and naturally thin bodies projected in the media impacted the relationship I had with my own body. I thought, "Who am I to tell anyone about clean skincare?" But, after years of taking control of my well-living journey and overcoming those negative body images, I've realized that I'm just the girl for the job.

I was well into my adult years when a gynecologist casually told me that I had a classic case of something called "PCOS." I'll never forget the way that she said it because it was as if she assumed that I already knew. Thanks to Doctor Google, I had actually researched PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, for years prior to that day, so it didn't necessarily knock me off my chair. I felt a rush of relief, thinking "Oh, so that was it all along." But then the questions flooded in with the chief one being "But does this mean that I can't have children?"

For anyone struggling with hormone imbalances, know that you're not alone. Western society has made it taboo to openly discuss anything related to female reproductive health.

PCOS is a fairly common endocrine dysfunction that typically presents during reproductive years, although it can be present in adolescence. Studies show that 1 in 10 women have PCOS and typically develop symptoms like irregular periods, hair thinning, severe cystic acne, weight gain, and even hirsutism or male-pattern facial hair. Many women go years without a proper diagnosis, and nearly 80% will experience infertility.

My OB/GYN was right—I am a fairly textbook case of PCOS. What I didn't realize was that PCOS was a symptom of a bigger picture of my overall health. I'll turn 34 in August and I've spent nearly 21 years of my life battling these inexplicable hormone imbalances.

I had conditions ranging from depression, thyroid disorders, full-body eczema, acne, chronic fatigue, and alopecia, or giant patches of hair loss. There were days when I couldn't get out of bed or I'd wear jeans to the beach to cover the rash scars on my legs.

One day, against my endocrinologist's advice, I stopped taking my thyroid medication. I started working out with the little bit of energy I could muster and incorporated a primarily plant- and seafood-based diet. I felt better than I ever had in my entire life and realized that I could actually treat the underlying cause of my condition, rather than just addressing individual symptoms.

So while I'd begun detoxing my body internally, I knew that I needed to detox the world around me.

My Oprah "Aha!" moment came when I started seeing a functional medicine practitioner. At this point, I was completely vegan, which was making a huge difference in my body's ability to self-regulate. My periods were normal-ish, my skin was clear, and I was able to maintain a healthy weight. But anxiety and depression seemed to be coming back to the forefront again. With functional medicine, I was finally able to get a holistic picture of my endocrine system and the ways that testosterone, estrogen, insulin, and progesterone were all playing together—all of which needed to be supported.

Much like 2020, my health has been a long and winding road. The bliss that makes it all worth it was becoming "naturally" pregnant with my second son after receiving reproductive and fertility support during my first pregnancy.

When I had my first son, I started to laser focus on everything I put in and on my body. I felt a strong urge to protect and care for this life growing inside of me—it wasn't just about me anymore. Well, maybe it was about me a little bit. My pregnant belly seemed to double in size every day, and all I could think about was "How do I prevent stretch-marks?!" I realized that the products I thought were natural and safe were filled with chemical preservatives, known to impact our hormones. During that time, I learned that women are exposed to an average of 160 to 500 chemicals in their daily routine, with women of color being exposed to even higher levels of toxic chemicals.

While I'd begun detoxing my body internally, I knew that I needed to detox the world around me. It started with creating my own belly-loving and truly natural body butter. It was my saving grace, which would later become the London Grant Co. hero product. I progressed into a focus on removing toxins from our household cleaning products and decreasing our use of plastics.

When I launched London Grant Co., I wanted to focus just as much attention on what we left out and what we would put in. I used well-researched, plant-forward ingredients that delivered real nutrients to the body and left out harmful synthetic stabilizers and preservatives. Because we know that 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies, London Grant become more than a beauty brand—we're truly rooted in well-living.

In the days of 12-step beauty rituals, I advocate for a "less is so much more" approach to skincare and overall health. I believe that there's so much joy in shifting from the perfect skin and body narrative to one rooted in a balanced relationship with yourself. For anyone struggling with hormone imbalances, know that you're not alone. Western society has made it taboo to openly discuss anything related to female reproductive health.

Some ways that I support hormone balancing are to engage in plant-based eating to reduce inflammation and taking supportive supplements and herbs such as adaptogens, probiotics, magnesium, and B-12. It's also helpful to take inventory of products you're using on your body, skin, and home. I like to start with the small step of observing and removing synthetic fragrances and preservatives. After all, how great is the uplifting scent of eucalyptus if it's actually harmful to your body?

In many ways, I believe that we have been sold a glass skin dream. While achievable for some, for others, a good skin day is the one where you love what you see in the mirror, knowing you've made decisions that were best for your whole body.

For those struggling with acne-prone skin, I love the practice of oil cleansing. It promotes good bacteria, protects the natural lipid layer of the skin, and regulates excess oil production.

Above all, I always suggest seeking out a functional or holistic medicine practitioner that will support your overall wellness goals.

It's taken years to overcome the emotional and mental strain of having such complex skin and hormone difficulties. I can truly say that perfection is no longer my personal standard, and I spend a lot of time with our customers advocating for their wellness.

In many ways, I believe that we have been sold a glass skin dream. While achievable for some, for others, a good skin day is the one where you love what you see in the mirror, knowing you've made decisions that were best for your whole body.

While they are things that I have to monitor and actively manage for the rest of my life, PCOS and thyroid disorders haven't beaten me. I have a beautiful son and a new baby on the way—something I never thought possible. I have less brain fog and fatigue, and my cycles are more regulated. I'm able to manage my weight, and I feel more energetic (as much as any pregnant mama in the middle of a global pandemic could, that is).

I now focus on bringing joy into the lives of others. Every bottle that I package and ship out feels like a hug that I'm sending to a friend. My hope is that I can encourage others to reimagine how they care for themselves. We all deserve a life lived well.

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.