We didn’t set out to save the world—we just wanted to keep our pants dry.
Cathy and I had worked together for almost two decades and had co-owned a successful technical writing company for 13 years before we ever talked about incontinence.
That changed one morning when I called her in frustration. I’d been lifting weights at my local gym, and I’d leaked urine while doing heavy squats. Cathy confessed to being increasingly annoyed by occasional urge incontinence.
We grumbled over the available “solutions” on the market, which led to more grumbling: about the lack of resources in general for active women, the infantilizing of older people in the media, and the realization that no one had prepared either of us for the possibility that we could pee on ourselves at any moment as we started to age.
We vowed that we could do better.
researching what it would take to create a solution that met the needs of the women we knew. That research turned into a fledging business idea, then into a viable one, which we named WeWarriors. (WeWarriors was not our first choice—you would laugh if you heard some of our early ideas for names.)
The more we learned about urinary leakage and its effects on one in three women worldwide, the more we realized how debilitating and isolating it can be. What we first thought was an effort to meet our own needs really turned out to be about empowering all women.
So many events out of our control can shrink our lives. A new baby keeps you home alone when you most need reassurance that you are doing a good job. Children grow up and leave, and you lose touch with fellow parents who shared in your battles with teenage will. You retire, even if just from an office setting, and stop having daily conversations with people of different ages, religions, or politics. Your spouse dies or moves to skilled care, and you no longer go dancing or out to dinner.
And each time your world shrinks, you leave yourself more vulnerable to decline. We realized that fear of incontinence is often enough to keep someone from joining a new club, stopping to chat with a new acquaintance, or even walking the dog farther than a few blocks.
Urinary leakage, even mild, can further shrink your world. We wanted to help women expand their worlds, so we began asking questions: If we could make something that gave women renewed confidence, what would it look like?
What if we created a solution that really addressed women’s health? What if we made something that was soft, simple to change (even away from home), clean, discreet, easy to reuse—and that saved people money?
Could we make our products in the United States? If so, could we pay workers a living wage? Could we make a profit and still be able to give back to programs that empower women?
Every question helped us further define our convictions about the solutions we wanted to offer, and the company we wanted to create.
We also wanted a product that wouldn’t contribute to daily landfill use. We initially thought of that goal as separate from helping women. As we’ve gone down this path, however, we now realize that eco-friendly products and empowering women are intertwined. Our customers want to take care of the earth as well as themselves. They are active, vibrant, aware, and willing to forgo a little bit of convenience every day for a long-term reduction in their carbon footprint.
Just like us, they want to keep their pants dry. And together, we will do our part to save the world.
Amy Edwardsis co-founder of WeWarriors, a company making incontinence solutions for women.