Giggle Knickers

Stress incontinence. We’ve all been there. Whether through childbirth, obesity, our lifestyle choices e.g. smoking, or simply because of ageing. You laugh, cough or sneeze and do a little wee. It’s embarrassing, it’s upsetting and it’s inconvenient. Stress incontinence is a pain in the bladder. No more jumping up and down on trampolines for us. It isn’t normal and shouldn’t be accepted and you should seek medical advice for your symptoms.

In the UK alone, 1 in 3 adults, that’s over 3.5 million women, are living with this condition and the taboo’s surrounding it. From the moment we start being potty trained we are taught that we have to stay dry, to hang onto our wee until there is a toilet available. But what if we can’t simple hold on? What do we do if our leakage takes us by surprise?

The NHS recommends lifestyle changes such as losing weight, stopping smoking and cutting down on our alcohol and caffeine intakes. I have to say, since I stopped smoking cigarettes my bladder incontinence has improved, mainly because I now longer spend my waking hours coughing like a ship’s stoker. They say we should do pelvic floor exercises. Who, like me, does so many pelvic floor exercises that in theory they should have bladder muscles of steel, yet still leaks? There are surgical solutions and medications available but only as a last resort.

So, what do most of do? We turn to sanitary products. Panty liners, pads, Tena Lady’s and the like. Britain is the highest consumer of sanitary products in the EU. In 2018 it is estimated that we will consume 4.1 billion sanitary towels alone. Around half of those will go into landfill and unbelievably, the other half will be flushed down the loo, to end up in our rivers and on our beaches. Nice.

However, there is a solution at hand. A few months ago, I took part in some discussion videos based around the menopause, for a company called Esteem, who make clothing for ladies experiencing menopausal symptoms. Whilst there I met a lady called Anne, who along with her business partner Judith, runs a company called Giggle Knickers, making eco-friendly, washable knickers that are designed to securely hold onto those little leaks, whilst still keeping you dry.

Anne and Judith originally met 20 years in Henley, whilst both studying university courses. Anne was from Manchester, a mother to five and a teacher, while Judith was from London, also a mother and had a career in the fashion industry. The two became firm friends and vowed to work together at some point. That point came when one of them had had surgery and couldn’t find any suitable post-op underwear. Judith decided to try and design something that she wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen in, that was economical and at the same time kept you dry.

The next couple of years she spent researching and developing the product around the kitchen table and eventually she cracked it. Underwear that is comfortable, made in high quality cotton yet because of its hi-tech, protective panel, keeps you dry by pulling liquids away from your skin and holding on to it without pooling.  The patent pending core that she developed is designed to comfortably hold up to 30ml or 6 teaspoons of liquid. The core itself is not bulky, it feels like panty liner thickness rather than a sanitary towel, so it is lightweight and discreet.

Once happy with the prototype, Anne came on board and they started to source manufacturers. Initially they tried to find someone in the UK to make them. They even approached the knicker firm, Kinky Knickers in Manchester, who had featured on the Mary Portas TV series, Mary’s Bottom Line. Unfortunately, for the volumes involved, British producers proved too expensive and so they turned to China. Being ethically minded, they ensured that the factories they use operate in an equally principled manner, to ensure that workers have safe working conditions, are treated fairly, paid a fair wage and that no child labour is used.

In the meantime, they began a Kickstarter campaign to fund the initial production and off the back of that, they were asked to appear on Dragon’s Den. Eventually, armed with a business loan, production commenced and the first batch of knickers went on sale in November 2017.

It is early days yet, so Giggle Knickers, like Henry Ford’s Model T, only come in one colour…black and in one design. However, they come in 5 sizes, from UK 4-6 to UK 18 and cost £12.99 per pair. As business builds Anne and Judith aims to produce more colours and signs. They also want to develop a men’s range. Giggle Knickers, is a company that wants to benefit as many people as possible, so 20p from every purchase is donated to the Free A Girl India charity, which aims to fight against human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Giggle Knickers are available online, direct from themselves, with 20% off orders of 3 pairs or more.

“Don’t let a trickle stop your giggle.”

 

Photos: © Giggle Knickers. Do not reproduce without permission

 

 

 

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Kit and Kaboodal

Well, what a summer we are having. If the weather carries on like this we’ll beat the halcyon Summer of ’76. Now, I don’t know about you, but it drives me mad that the high street is already starting to put out its Autumn/Winter lines while I’m still building my summer wardrobe. Guys, it’s only early July.

God help you if you have booked a holiday in September and not got around to buying your clothes and accessories by mid-June. As for bikinis and swimsuits, forget it after the May Bank Holiday. If you leave it too late, or heaven forbid book a last-minute break, you’ll end up going away with jumpers and knee-high boots, as I have learnt to my cost in the past.

However, this year I have discovered an online clothing company called Kit and Kaboodal, who still have plenty of summer stock in and are bringing on new lines every week. They are a family run business, based in the gorgeous market town of Boroughbridge, near Harrogate. They stock Lagenlook clothing, cosy knitwear and premium linen clothing and I have fallen in love.

For those who haven’t seen the term Lagenlook before, it translates from German as layered look. A good exponent of Lagenlook fashion is Helena Bonham Carter. It is quite a quirky, bohemian look, often very relaxed and perfect for hot summers and cold winters. I love this look. It is so easy to wear, especially when your waistline is expanding through the menopause, like mine is. But, it isn’t about hiding your figure, it is about complementing it with elegant draping, asymmetry and feminine detailing. It is a celebration of all shapes and sizes and it looks good on anyone.

Kit and Kaboodal is run by husband and wife team, John and Helen Marsden and Helen’s daughters, Naomi and Laura, who between them have decades of business and retail experience. All of which has made this company a huge success, not only on the UK but abroad too. The American and Australians are particularly in love with Kit and Kaboodal clothing.  Originally started in their own home, the company now operates out of purpose-built offices and warehousing just up the road. The stock flies out so fast that they have their own in-house photographic studio, in order to shoot it as soon as it arrives. Another thing I love is that they shoot their clothes on ‘real’ people; themselves, their staff and their relatives. No stick thin teenagers, who should be studying for their GCSE’s here.  Several times a year they open the warehouse doors to the public, so it is well worth keeping an eye on their social media.

This year I have bought several bright dresses and tops, a pair of wafty harem pants, (see below) and 2 pairs of sparkly espadrilles. All of which were exceptional value. Kit and Kaboodal also have frequent flash sales, so if you sign up for their regular newsletters you won’t miss out.

But don’t just take my word for how lovely Kit and Kaboodal clothes are. Whilst writing this piece I put a shout out on the Kit and Kaboodal Members Facebook page, in order to gauge what others think about the company and their products. Here’s just a few of the replies I received:

Karen – ‘I love K&K because it’s the best way to look original and stylish – but the best thing of all is it’s comfortable and affordable.’

Elaine – ‘Best thing that’s happened to me in a long time, lovely, well made clothes, just that bit different and affordable.’

Janine – ‘It has an edge. When you wear it you know you can be an individual. It’s for those women who don’t want to be beige.’

Jane – ‘Finally found my groove.’

Trudy – ‘Have to mention the K and K staff , they are amazing and their customer service is as well, nothing is too much trouble for them.’ (Have to say I totally agree).

Kit and Kaboodal have very generously offered you lovely readers an exclusive 15% discount. Shop online at https://www.kitandkaboodal.co.uk and enter the code WARM15 at checkout. Share your purchases with us on our social media. Discount code is valid for the next 28 days.

All photography is copyrighted by Kit and Kaboodal and cannot be reproduced in any format or on any platform without their express permission.

 

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