Long before writing books and formulating HappyPause™ Balm, Sandy Davies was born and raised in the American Midwest in the state of Kansas. After wearing many hats, the tropical idylls of Far North Queensland and a quiet semi-retirement beckoned… or so she thought.
An allergic reaction to a treatment for intimate dryness during perimenopause launched Sandy out of semi-retirement. She is now the Queensland based formulator and founder of the award winning HappyPause Balm. As a bit of a rebel who struggles taking ‘No’ for an answer, Sandy turned the lack of a simple, preservative-free natural solution for intimate dryness into her mission.
The creation of HappyPause is Sandy’s ‘Yes.’ Dryness caused by peri/post menopause, chemotherapy, endometriosis, Type 1 Diabetes, endurance training and other issues should never be a death knell to doing the active things we love, which is why creating HappyPause has brought Sandy so much joy in her second spring.
When not packaging and processing HappyPause orders and heightening menopause awareness, Sandy enjoys writing and spending time with her husband and their rescue dog Karma along the fringing reef. Her book The Power to Rise Above about resilience and teenage bullying will be available in 2023.
Tell us where your journey started
In the start-up phase fear of whether our business is going to take off or not can make us drag our feet. Dreaming about a thing in order to do it properly is right; but dreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if my practical Mum hadn’t taped this message to my bathroom mirror many, many years ago when I was an annoying teenager procrastinating over a scholarship application. I stomped back upstairs and completed the application. It was the start of the path towards success and opportunity that brought me to Australia.
Those words that made me growl as an indignant teenager still resonate truth today with any new venture. Dream about it and think it out, of course. But eventually you have to take action or it will never happen.
There are a multitude of less glamorous tasks beyond that life changing aha moment when you create a hitherto non-existent product that must be shared with others, most of which have little to do with your actual product that makes your heart soar. And you have to start ticking all the things that need to be done off the list or your product will never make it into the hands of those who need it most. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you keep on ticking things off the list every single day.
I painted a huge section of the wall in our office with chalkboard paint and created a giant list. It kept me motivated and got me moving on the tedium that we’d all rather a business fairy would magically make happen in the background.
Ticking things off that list ensured HappyPause was born.
What led you to create your business/or work in the field you are in?
HappyPause started from my own personal journey of discomfort with vulvovaginal dryness during perimenopause.
In remote regional areas, it can take weeks to get an appointment with your GP and with travel a visit can take an entire day. After multiple trips over many months, my GP’s only recommendation was counselling. Now don’t get me wrong, counselling can be very beneficial, but I never could quite figure out how counselling was going to fix my dry vagina. I am saddened by how many hundreds of women share similar stories of the disconnect many GPs have with the perimenopause experience.
The local pharmacist prescribed a multi-day dissolving vaginal moisturising pessary to which I had an allergic reaction. Multi day! If I could have flayed my skin with clam shells, I would have. I didn’t bother to read the ingredient list until the reaction— the list of chemicals was mammoth. I knew there had to be a better way.
Upon further research I realized there wasn’t anything out there entirely natural and preservative free to help us feel like our natural selves. I ordered a hemp gel from Mexico, another natural option from Europe, a product from Sweden and a bee-based option, but all were still oozey and gooey or required a large dose like the more chemically laden options. Nothing simply felt good and left me feeling my natural self.
I was baffled because the latest research reports over 70% of us from our mid-forties on will experience vulval vaginal dryness at some point, yet the shame factor prevents the majority of us from ever mentioning it. And for many that dryness will recur through the rest of lives well into postmenopause. How was it that there was not a user-friendly product that preserves our dignity out there?
It is bad enough if our vulvovaginal area is irritated, because that makes us irritated. Then if the treatment requires a panty liner and oozes creamy chunks we certainly don’t feel beautiful. It’s a cascading downward cycle that impacts our overall sense of wellness and femininity much more profoundly that we are aware. I knew I had to create something to moisturise our skin without leaving a residue that pecks away at our self-confidence.
I wasn’t prepared for people to have such a visceral reaction to the topic of vulvovaginal moisturiser. If you think menopause still has walls of stigma, add vulvovaginal dryness into the equation and the room will clear at breakneck speed! Glad I leapt unaware.
I am proud to be an active part of breaking down the stigma around menopause and getting the message out there to moisturise our vulva and vagina as a part of our daily care routine. Dryness is not just about discomfort during sensual pleasure, it is about being able to sit still through a movie or an arduous work task, not suffering microtears from toilet paper as our skin thins and feeling good at our core. I truly believe if we feel good down there, we feel good everywhere.
What are you passionate about & what are you hoping to achieve in the future
This time around I’m older, wiser. And much more zen. I’ve learned not to push quite so hard and trust the universe that some things need to evolve on their own timeline rather than the hurried hard-paced freight train approach I insisted on in my twenties.
Even though I’ve opted for a slower more balanced path this time, I feel like we are already on our way to achieving the thing I am most passionate about: ensuring we are seen and heard. Not just patronised, but truly visible with a voice that is respected.
Our generation are redefining the narrative. Take menopause for example. When I started struggling with perimenopausal symptoms, neither I nor my GP had adequate resources. Now we do and we are having conversations around our peri and post-menopausal expectations that are changing workplace policies and the experiences of people going through menopause.
In the future I want to keep on finding joy in my happy place—our lab for batching HappyPause. And, of course, bringing soothing comfort to other women one jar at a time.
I hope my joy and happiness continue to be contagious and loudly stand as a reminder that we are never too old and it is never too late to live our dreams and make a difference to others.
What advice do you have for other women 40+ who are wanting to make an impact in the community or the world?
Leap! Have a go.
Whatever it is, pretend you’re the star of a 1980s Nike ad and ‘Just Do It’.
Don’t let self-doubt or any negative inner chatter dissuade you. We’ve hit that sweet spot in life where our lived wisdom is invaluable. Even if we feel we’re lacking in a particular skillset, all of that can be learned; but the intuitive knowledge we possess at this stage in life is pure gold. Share your treasures. The world needs all you have to give.
Beware. There are still sharks in the water, as I learned first-hand when I re-joined the business world to launch HappyPause. They’ll circle a vibrant wise woman on the assumption she is cashed up and easy prey. Mind you, you’ve been fine-tuning your intuition for decades. So in the first moment that your intuition nudges you, listen to her. Do your best Tom Hanks imitation and ‘Run Forrest, Run!’
You will find your like-minded ethical tribe. For me, I dreaded having to sacrifice my time and make social media a priority to grow our business. However, developing social media platforms and being genuinely present on socials to grow HappyPause turned out to have the best silver lining: I found my tribe. On Instagram! True. I never expected to find my tribe on Insta, but I did. You’ll discover your tribe where you least expect.
I always thought my favourite quote of all time was by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain. Turns out I was wrong, it was penned by a woman. No wonder I love it so much:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did. Throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
-Apocryphal Mark Twain, most likely the words of Sarah Frances Brown
Leap and throw off those bowlines. It sure beats regret.
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