Julie Čolan: If it’s legal and it scares you, you must do it

Company: Secret Whispers
Job Title: Founder & Campaigner

My name is Julie and I am the proud mummy of two gorgeous sons, happily married to a very patient Yorkshire man for almost 14 years, and deeply passionate about changing female’s lives for the better. I am originally from Northern Ireland but now live in the Midlands in England.

My Kegel Kit has received many incredible awards, including the ‘Innovation in Business Award 2019’. The success and recognition has been phenomenal. Women everywhere were delighted to see someone standing up talking about this taboo subject and offering a solution.

I was even invited to the House of Lords for an award and I had everyone there doing their Kegels. A day I will never forget! 

A typical day for me: My first task of the day is dragging my sons out of bed. They love their sleep as much as I do. However, I do have a morning routine where I am up at 5:30am so as I can meditate, exercise and read personal development books. I cherish this quiet time to set me up for the day before everything takes over.

As a small business owner I have to wear many different hats. I love what I do and am always meeting new and exciting people every day. I am currently working on a TV shopping channel project which is very exciting and a huge opportunity to reach more women. I am also being featured in a UK top magazine in a few weeks!

I founded Secret Whispers after I read an article in January 2018 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 women did, soon found out that this wasn’t the case) and I knew, right there that I had found my calling. I set out to create the most innovative and effective pelvic floor exercise kit on the market, and never looked back. 

I have faced so many challenges along the way but for me I am always pushing my fear boundaries. I have a motto: If it’s legal and it scares you, you must do it. I believe that with every experience we learn so regardless of the outcome its worth trying. 

An important initiative I feel passionate about in my role is talking about the importance of the pelvic floor and why Kegels are so important. Every time a woman tells me she is leak free I literally do a little dance because I know how life changing this is for her. My mission is to get pelvic floor education into high schools for girls and boys from the age of 14 so as we can reduce the current huge statistics of at least 50% of women suffering, many of whom could have avoided these issues if they had the education early on.

I think what gave me the drive and determination to succeed was that bladder leaks are so embarrassing for many women. Knowing my Kegel Kit makes such a difference to women is my biggest motivation. Changing women’s lives and creating pelvic floor awareness is my Why. 

The great thing about being a female in my role is just being relatable! Secret Whispers is so personal and special to me as I know first hand the power of my product and these exercises. I have built an incredible community of women on the basis on understanding, relatability, support and sharing stories. This kind of connection wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t a female.

My biggest achievement in life is without a doubt, bringing two incredible boys into this world (without any damage done, should I add. Thank you Kegels!)

The biggest lesson that I’ve learnt along the way is that life is for living! Pushing your comfort zones is very scary but so worth it. It pushes you one step further to even bigger things that you can accomplish.

Luckily, within my own company, gender has only brought me tools. However, in my past career, I had the ‘audacity’ to get pregnant for the second time and the company I was working for at the time was a male-dominated engineering company. I hid my pregnancy for 24 weeks as I was due to go on a course that I had wanted for several years. I remember I told my boss I was pregnant on a Friday, and within a few hours, I had an email back telling me that I was no longer going on this course and that a new male employee who had started just a few weeks ago would take my place. I was so outraged that I walked out and have never looked back.

Outside of work, my favourite hobbies are air rifle shooting. This is the only sport that shuts my hyperactive brain for a few hours. Being totally focused on the targets and present is really relaxing and soothing for me. I highly recommend this for anyone who is like me… a Duracell bunny. 

The mantra I live my life by is ‘Either I WIN or I LEARN, but I never LOSE!’

My three tips I would give to young females starting their careers would be:

  1. Invest in yourself in ways that will help achieve your goals and this is very personal and different for everyone.
  2. If you want something… go and get it! There is nothing worse than thinking “what if I had tried?”. I have learnt that no one is out of reach, those above you and successful business owners have once been in your position and do genuinely want to help.
  3. Get a good morning routine in place!
  4. Bonus tip – Surround yourself with positive people. This is key.

The best advice I have ever been given would be to enter awards. This enabled me to sky rocket my business. Don’t wait for opportunities, go and create them!

I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing women, both personally and professionally, that have been my cheerleaders from the start. I see the amazing things they have done as entrepreneurs and that has helped motivate me and push me out of my comfort zone. Just being able to reach out and say ‘hey, I am overwhelmed and could do with your advice’ is priceless and guess what? Everyone is happy to help.

Rosemary Conley CBE, the health and fitness guru is a powerful female who has inspired me growing up. I watched 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. I then grabbed the opportunity and asked if she could give me some business advice, and she said YES! Dream come true!

My key motivators are helping women to improve the strength of their pelvic floors, banish the bladder leaks and have them back living a fuller life.  

I think things are being done by businesses to address gender imbalance but so much more can be done. With people living longer many women are now not only the primary childcare giver, working full time jobs and having to take on the responsibility of looking after elderly parents. Also, many women are leaving their jobs when they are in the menopause stage, unable to cope with the symptoms and not feeling that they have the right support in the workplace.

Some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role would be, If you want that role, go get it. It’s well known that a woman will not apply for a position if she feels she does not have just a few of the criteria asked for. Whereas a male – they don’t let this stop them. So be a YES woman! Yes You Can!

My advice for women aiming for leadership positions would be: You must lead from the front. You need to be seen by your team as doing things that are scary and pushing your comfort boundaries. 

What I would say to my 16 year old self if I had the chance would be that if it’s legal and it scares you – DO IT!

Learn more at www.secretwhispers.co.uk

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