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It's time to smash the stigma around bladder care

Jude is the healthcare company turning bladder weakness into bladder care and incontinence into a conversation.

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Written by HYER NEWSROOM

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Jude is on a mission to bring bladder care into the mainstream, open up the conversation about incontinence and help people to live their best life. Sounds simple enough, right? Not so simple in the face of the serious taboos still attached to the subject of bladder care. It is this stigma, as much as the physical burden of incontinence, which Jude is seeking to address and challenge. Founded in January 2022 by Peony Li, Jude has already served more than 3500 customers with a range of products and supplements created and developed by a team of doctors and urologists.

 

Approximately one in three women, 14 million in the UK, currently suffer with bladder care issues. However, compared with other health concerns and even with previously hushed women’s health issues, the problem is still sparsely discussed.

Interview with Peony Li, Founder & CEO

“Bladder care isn’t mainstream.

We’re thrilled that periods and menopause are finally being spoken about. 

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So what’s the big deal with wee? That’s why we’re talking about it.”

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Peony Li, Founder & CEO

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Inspired by her own experience of arriving in the UK alone from Hong Kong at fifteen years old, founder Peony wanted to utilise her understanding of what it was like to feel unseen and unheard. Speaking to many women in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s while helping to distribute protective equipment during the pandemic, Peony found she recognised that same sense of feeling unseen and unheard when it came to their health.

 

For starters, the language and communications they were experiencing treated them as ‘over the hill’ - which they aren’t. There was also a tendency to lump any woman over 40 into a single category without reflecting the nuances and differences, in terms of cultural references and lifestyle. It seemed as if much of this target audience were emotionally uncared for.

 

Peony identified that many conglomerates don’t have their own users in mind when it comes to products allegedly improving their lives. She says; “Jude wants to champion people who are still so full of life, who wish to work, start new ventures, volunteer, spend time with their families and friends, travel, and do so much more with their time.

 

People who want to take ownership of their health. People looking to be equipped with information that helps them, but can’t find any genuine sources. In short, we want to champion people who are suffering in silence, suffering alone with issues that society is not ready to talk about yet.” Jude is looking to replicate the progress we have seen in recent years with the messaging around menopause and periods, and apply this to other silenced topics.

 

But why is there such a stigma, and is it that much of a big deal? People with bladder issues can suffer for 14 years on average, to then wait a further six months before plucking up the courage to voice their concerns to a GP. Adding onto that a further two to three-year delay to see a specialist such as a urologist, that’s a very long wait to solve a problem that can be life-altering.

 

In the meantime medication can be prescribed, however, research and recent studies point out that a large group of these meds increase the likelihood of dementia in 43 out of 1000 women. Around 53% of women then also come off these meds within three months due to unpleasant side effects. All in all, this doesn’t leave many solutions – and that all stems from people not discussing the issue. So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. 

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Thankfully Jude is bravely taking on the topic. While the aging process is definitely a factor in declining bladder health, it is far from the only one. In fact incontinence and bladder leaks occur the most in elite athletes, who are often under 30. This hugely contrasts with the stigma associated with incontinence, that it is a middle-age issue. Bladders are just another part of our body, much like our hearts and bones. We look at heart and bone health from a preventative angle from a much younger age. Yet we aren’t doing the same with bladder health. Throughout our lives we can do all sorts of things that harm future bladder health, from pee posture (yes, there actually is a right way to pee) to what we eat. Peony believes education on the matter should start from a much younger age, and the approach should be holistic.

 

A lot of the work Jude does goes beyond simply addressing health issues that are taboo. The first thing Peony did with the company was to set up a community of change-making, trailblazing women who have a lot to say, but nowhere to express their ideologies. Ideologies such as; how they look at their health, how they want to make new friends at their age, how they view sex at their age.

 

Community and co-creation are central to Jude’s philosophy, with both the products and the brand evolving from collaborative efforts and incorporating feedback. Jude even has its customers to thank for its name, so-called because the Beatles’ Hey Jude is a beloved anthem amongst the community. Peony firmly believed in setting up a company through a collective of amazing, proud women who had been previously unheard. This ethos gives Jude a far greater purpose than simply being a company selling products to consumers, and sets it apart from many D2C brands, whose concept of community Peony feels is not really valid.

Thankfully Jude is bravely taking on the topic. While the aging process is definitely a factor in declining bladder health, it is far from the only one. In fact incontinence and bladder leaks occur the most in elite athletes, who are often under 30. This hugely contrasts with the stigma associated with incontinence, that it is a middle-age issue. Bladders are just another part of our body, much like our hearts and bones. We look at heart and bone health from a preventative angle from a much younger age. Yet we aren’t doing the same with bladder health. Throughout our lives we can do all sorts of things that harm future bladder health, from pee posture (yes, there actually is a right way to pee) to what we eat. Peony believes education on the matter should start from a much younger age, and the approach should be holistic.

 

A lot of the work Jude does goes beyond simply addressing health issues that are taboo. The first thing Peony did with the company was to set up a community of change-making, trailblazing women who have a lot to say, but nowhere to express their ideologies. Ideologies such as; how they look at their health, how they want to make new friends at their age, how they view sex at their age.

 

Community and co-creation are central to Jude’s philosophy, with both the products and the brand evolving from collaborative efforts and incorporating feedback. Jude even has its customers to thank for its name, so-called because the Beatles’ Hey Jude is a beloved anthem amongst the community. Peony firmly believed in setting up a company through a collective of amazing, proud women who had been previously unheard. This ethos gives Jude a far greater purpose than simply being a company selling products to consumers, and sets it apart from many D2C brands, whose concept of community Peony feels is not really valid.

“A community should be a platform where people are supporting each other, learning from each other, there are peer-to-peer conversations and they are learning from the stories that get shared.”

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Peony Li, Founder & CEO

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Jude’s core internal team are very much a part of their community, participating actively in groups and events such as book clubs. Discussions include topics like “how to get over being young” - a conversation which transcends age itself, allowing for different perspectives to be shared and heard. We can learn so much from one another with this sort of inter-generational and cultural knowledge transfer, particularly younger generations learning from those older via mentoring.

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These people have so much wisdom to share, from how to overcome adversity to maintaining optimism and a sense of humour. Peony says; “Building this business is in huge part about offering our team a different, fresh perspective of “how do we do life? How do we age?” What inspires the Jude team to get up and work every day is hearing great feedback, such as one woman saying it was her fourth week on the supplement and she had donated all her pads, no longer in need of them.

“This is the quality of life impact we want to have on people. We just want them to live their fullest life. We want them to be able to express themselves confidently because they should - there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.”

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Peony Li, Founder & CEO

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Jude is thriving because it places its customer right at the heart of the business and uses them as a touch point at all parts of the decision making process. Peony tells how a customer claimed to be an entirely new woman, thanks to Jude; 

 

In three years’ time, Jude hopes to be the third largest household brand in the UK that talks about bladder health and care. Longer term, Peony hopes Jude will be a global brand, showing CPG companies and conglomerates the right way to build products, the right way to have direct connection with customers, and the right way to receive customer feedback and incorporate it into a loop.

 

Every organisation should be responsible for the people that are their customers, and Jude hopes to create a brand new way of thinking about what companies serve and put out there while tackling many more health taboos in the process.

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Article Details

  Feature with:           Jude

Peony Li, Founder & CEO

Written by Sophie Omer-McWalter on the Hyer Team

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