You don’t need to be a beauty buff or tech nerd to know who Sharmadean Reid is. The founder and CEO of Beautystack has made a name for herself not only in her respective industries but also as a mentor and advocate for female empowerment.
For the first instalment of Health On Your Terms, we spoke to Reid about her relationship with western medicine, listening to your body’s needs, and how her demanding life as a CEO and mom led her to have a more intuitive approach to health.
Yes, when I was a child my Jamaican grandparents would use various natural remedies whenever I was ill. Even today my grandma will have a pot on the stove with comfrey leaves (vitamin B12), lemons and garlic.
Yes, I seek experts in their field. I don’t believe in a one size fits all situation. I love seeing someone who is passionate and up-to-date in the latest developments in their arena whether it’s acupuncture, massage or nutrition.
I think it’s funny that we call it ‘complementary medicine’ when it was the original medicine, and modern medicine as we know it is a few hundred years old, whereas medicine as traditional people know it is several thousand years old. So I wouldn’t call it a ‘rise’, it’s a return.
I’m just not familiar or comfortable with hospitals. I see them as a place for where the sick go to be healed and I didn’ t see pregnancy as a sickness. I wanted to have a quiet space to meditate and concentrate on my breathing. I didn’t want to be distracted by strangers, I wanted my son to enter the world in his future home, surrounded by love, not fear.
Definitely. I’ve become wholly more conscious of what I put into my body and into his. His little brain is growing so fast, I was thinking, “how I could help nourish that human growth, not take away from it?” I’m also more conscious of everything that was processed, manufactured, packaged up for a quick mom sell.
I’m Jamaican. We know about sex.
None. I tried taking the pill at 16 and felt sick. I had an implant for 6 weeks and took it out as it made me feel so ill.
I have low iron levels, like many black women, so around my period I try to up my iron intake while not overloading my digestive system with red meat. I try to exercise to keep my energy up but essentially I just listen to what my body is telling me it needs and indulge it regardless.
I developed it over time as a preservation mechanism. It’s really easy to burn out and when you burn out it’s because you’re not listening to the responses in your body. I used to have really bad chest pains that I didn’t know for a long time were anxiety attacks, and then the minute I understood what my body was going through I decided to listen out for the twinge of that attack and control it and respond to it.
I just try and live moderately. I eat what I want, I exercise at least once a week although my ideal would be three times. I’m in bed by midnight and I don’t drink that often. I need to maintain my energy to achieve everything I need to do in a day!
I don’t use any fertility apps, I just use the period tracker in Apple Health just to know when my period is coming. I use the Moody Month app for regular insights into my cycle and how it affects my hormones. If I’m in a mood, it’s nice to know it’s because my period is coming! Usually, my mood is changed and I’m looking for reasons why, so my period could be one thing but it could also be my diet, lack of sleep, lack of exercise. I use Daylio as a journaling app.
Daye is a new brand for female health products designed with women in mind. The company’s first product is a CBD tampon that helps tackle period cramps as an alternative to traditional painkillers. Daye products are a well-needed wake-up call to the stagnant tampon industry. Read Vitals, Daye’s female health educational content platform, for all things health, culture and innovation from Daye.
New gen bosses is a new series created to guide and inspire more people to go out there on their own, either as new business founders or freelancers. And what better way to do that than to ask the ones that already succeed at it? We want to know about big fuck-ups and even bigger successes, and the risky decisions they had to make along the way. We want to be the last little push you needed.
Job title: Founder & CEO
Industry: Female health
Company founder or freelancer: Founder
Company name: Daye
How long have you been doing it: 2 years
Location: South London
What pushed you to start on your own?
The breadth of the mission of Daye. From the impact we have on local communities by employing women, who used to be in the prison system; to reducing the reliance on pain-killers to deal with menstrual cramps; to removing plastic from the supply chain of tampons—the ambition of everything we want to achieve at Daye is what inspired me to plug my nose and dive into entrepreneurship.
What was the very first thing you needed to do to set everything up?
User research. It’s always been incredibly important to me that we see our users as co-creators of our products. So the first thing I did was to set up shop in the tampon aisle in Planet Organic and observe consumer behaviour around tampons.
What was the riskiest decision you had to take?
I think it was the decision to start Daye. It was the riskiest, because it meant I would be dedicating my entire life and sanity to one thing. It meant I was agreeing to lose sleep and friends and make a million mistakes. Starting Daye was like committing to a marriage with someone you don’t really know—I had never been an entrepreneur before. But I’ve enjoyed how steep the learning curve has been!
What was a skill you didn’t foresee needing that you had to learn?
I had to learn to recharge my own batteries, so I could charge the energy of those around me.
I was raised by a mother who worked in a bank, and worked such crazy long hours that she had the same security clearance as her office building managers—she would work so late, she would often lock up for the night. Having her as an example throughout my childhood years taught me many valuable lessons—discipline, selflessness, that working hard can get you out of most unpleasant circumstances.
And while I still disagree with the saying ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ (I think it’s a marathon with many sprints), I now force myself to find time and purposefully switch off.
When I first started Daye, I had an idea of what entrepreneurship would be like that entailed working around the clock, all-consumed with email and speed of execution. Two years later, I’m more conscious of harnessing my creative, not just operational, energy. I didn’t anticipate that learning to have my mind focused on things different from Daye would require much more discipline than learning to work like a dog.
At what moment did you realise that this was going to work out?
Two moments. First, when the first tampon prototypes worked on me and my friends. And secondly, when I read the results of our first clinical trials—one woman had likened Daye tampons to walking into a sound-proof room after being at a rock concert (the tampon had turned the volume down on her cramps).
Everywhere around us, new gens are founding businesses and redefining their careers. New gen bosses is here to inspire those who might want to do the same, this time with extra tips, some lols from those who have been there, done that, and £20 in your new ANNA business account if you dare to take the leap.
What did you spend your money on?
Building a team, building machines for our production, completing clinical validation, building a strong creative brand for Daye.
Also spent too much on legal fees in the early days of Daye, I should have been a more stringent negotiator with legal firms.
What was your biggest fuck up?
I speak my mind too frankly and often not in the right context, which means I frequently end up saying something too direct in the wrong setting. I do like to think that my strangeness lends legitimacy to disavowed sides of the people I spend time with.
What was your biggest success?
Launching a medical device to market, 12 months post first fundraise. Setting up manufacturing in the UK. We’re launching Daye in 8 Planet Organic stores in March and it feels poetic that we’re going back to where Daye originated.
What do you know now that you didn’t know then?
The saying ‘this too shall pass’ applies to the moments you feel glorious, just as it does to the moments you feel like crap. The most important quality in a leader is consistency—this includes not letting the highs sweep you off your feet, or the lows put you down.
What are three tips you would give someone who wants to start on their own?
One: Enjoy the early days. Even though they are the most uncertain and painful ones, they are the time of pure creation and they pass by incredibly quickly. The early days of building a startup are like the early days of motherhood—there’s only so many months in which you can do things like breastfeed or watch a baby learn how to crawl. In startup building, like in motherhood, we’re always looking forward to the next phase, to the next milestone, which means we forget to enjoy how fleeting today is.
Two: Persistence is key. There’s no challenge you can’t solve with persistence. I’ve noticed that in the UK, a lot of people shy away from persistence for fear of being branded ‘pushy’. Own your grit and dedication.
Three: Read the great Eastern and Western philosophers when you get stuck. I find that between Matsuo Basho and Donald Winnicott, I can find answers to all people and strategy challenges I face at Daye.
Want to discuss taking the leap with other new gens? You’re in luck! We’ve created New Gen Bosses, a Facebook group to continue and expand the conversation started through this new series.