, and welcome to this, a very special edition of the Invisible Women newsletter. Special for me, and hopefully for you too!
As regular readers will know, I am trying to find ways to make this newsletter financially sustainable. I love doing it, but obviously the time I spend on this takes me away from other work. I also wanted to develop this amazing community but while the newsletter was unfunded I didn’t feel able to justify that time away from paid work.
The first step was creating a membership option for those who feel able to support the work that goes into producing this weekly newsletter – and a heartfelt THANK YOU to those of you who have already signed up. You are making this work possible and it’s been so amazing getting to know so many of you over in the members’ area! I’m so excited about what is already happening in that space 💪
Today marks another step: a partnership with Elvie
– a name readers of Invisible Women
Like so many companies that produce products actually designed around female bodies, Elvie was born out of the frustration of one woman: Tania Boler. After Tania had her first child, she quickly became fed up with the lack of innovation in tech solutions for women. She also felt frustrated with the cultural norms that stop women from talking openly about their bodies. And so, in true GFP fashion, she decided to do something about it. That thing was founding Elvie, a company that produces tech that women actually need and want by doing that revolutionary thing: asking women what they want and need.
‘There’s never been much innovation in consumer electronics for women,’ [Boler] says. ‘It’s always focused on a very superficial aesthetic level: turn something pink, or turn something into a piece of jewellery, rather than taking account of the fact that technology can solve real problems for women.’ The result has been a chronic lack of investment, meaning that ‘the actual technology that’s used in medical devices for women is sort of a kickback from the 1980s’. (IW, p.172)
I first came across Elvie when I was researching Invisible Women and looking for female founders of companies that developed products for women. Tania Boler, the founder of Elvie ticked those boxes and kindly agreed to speak to me about the challenges she faced getting her smart pelvic floor trainer to market, from the lack of data on vaginas to funders who thought 50% of the world is “niche”.
Fifty per cent of the population have a vagina,’ [Boler says], ‘and yet there’s hardly any journal articles about this part of anatomy. Three years ago I found about four articles done decades ago.’ (IW, p.173)
So imagine my excitement when I discovered there were ACTUAL REAL LIFE GFPs WORKING AT ELVIE! One such GFP replied to my newsletter back in July when I launched my membership scheme
wondering if I had ever considered being sponsored. Which, yes, I had, but I had no idea how to go about it, plus I knew I couldn’t be sponsored by just anyone. I only wanted to promote companies who really do use data on women to design products for women – and as we know, that’s a small select bunch. But luckily for me, I didn’t have to go looking for Elvie, because they were already here! Hurrah!