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Scottish entrepreneur tackles ‘urgent need’ for menopause symptom products

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Read more in this week’s Q&A:

Name:
Jessica Watson

Business name: 
GLORIAH

Location:
Edinburgh

Business Description:

Menopause focused personal care brand

To whom do you sell?
People experiencing symptoms of the menopause 

How many employees?
Two. Me and co-founder, Isla Telfer

Why did you take the plunge?

A close friend of ours was chemically induced into the menopause in her mid-twenties. Witnessing what she went through opened our eyes to impact of menopause and the widespread lack of knowledge surrounding it – particularly at an early stage. Half the population will experience menopause at some stage, and we thought that if we, as young women with experience working in the health care, knew so little about it and its impact, then how far does that problem extend? We carried out research and were shocked at the lack of options for people experiencing menopause.

We also saw an urgent need for accessible wellness products that can help manage the symptoms of menopause. There was an immediate realisation that something needed to be done and we wanted to be at the forefront of it.

So, we set up GLORIAH, a menopause focused personal care brand that creates premium products to help people manage the first signs of the menopause. The products are designed to be less medical than others on the market, so they could sit alongside any other wellness and care products, similar to moisturiser or body lotion.

We’ve also created a safe and inclusive community that shares education and empowers other people. We are immensely proud of this – we felt that we grew and learned together with this community. We ran our first event as part of this last year, and we’re keen to do more this year.

What were you doing before?

We’re still working our other jobs. I currently work a corporate job at Sky and Isla works full-time in nursing for the NHS – I’d say working these jobs, while a balancing act, has been valuable for the growth of GLORIAH. We have a blend of business experience and healthcare that we find works really well. We’ve got ambitions to work full time on GLORIAH in the summer – it’s scary but exciting!

What do you least enjoy?

Juggling both roles and worrying I’m not giving either 100% – I always think I could be giving more to the business but feel split between the two. There’s a level of guilt like that, always wondering if you could be doing more but not wanting to burn out completely. We’ve had amazing support from our friends and family, and of course each other, but it is a tricky balancing act. We received Scottish Edge funding last year and that will help us take a massive step towards going full time. A big learning I’ve taken away from starting GLORIAH is that you can’t put a price on your own time.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

Ultimately, it’s our life’s mission to redefine the menopause space: to make it more accessible, and inclusive.

There is this stereotype of a “menopausal person” has been stuck in time for as long as we can remember, but with more and more people entering menopause early, the stigma needs to be broken – and we hope to contribute to that.

It seems ridiculous to say, as it should be already, but we want to help normalise menopause for everybody. We want GLORIAH to be a household menopause brand across Europe and the US. We like to think of GLORIAH as No. 7 for menopause, our ambition is that everybody else does too.

What single thing would most help?

Investment. Receiving Scottish EDGE Funding has been pivotal for us as a business – it allows is to figure out our next steps. We were awarded £80,000 at the end of last year, and that has set us up for significant growth in 2023.

However, you need money to get money. It eliminates hurdles about stock and going for larger sums of investments.

I’d say we also need wider acceptance and recognition of the conversation around menopause – by more people talking openly about menopause, this helps move our business forward and is very much part of our mission. 

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned? 

Ask the question and have the confidence to talk about the business.

You’d be surprised at how much of a needle mover just talking to people can be. I was in a perfume shop a few weeks ago and left with a collaboration offer – having the confidence to talk up your business is powerful.

What was your best moment?

Winning EDGE, absolutely. We’d been working towards it for so long and it felt like recognition for how much we’d done.

What was your worst moment? 

One of our first big orders arrived and about 40% of our bottles were smashed. It was awful! There’s nothing you can do to prepare for that. So much went wrong that day – a storm was forecast for our first event and the colours were wrong on the packaging. A big ‘why are we doing this’ day, but those always come along.

How do you relax? 

For me it’s running, if I go on a run I’ll always feel better. Everyone tells me that’s odd when I say that, but I’m a marathon runner and that’s how I clear my head. I just put a podcast in and don’t think of anything else. ‘Call Her Daddy’ is my favourite at the moment.

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