Inspiring Women: Tania Boler - Elvie Founder
Throughout March we're celebrating the power of women by showcasing some of the most inspiring women. Being a mother and an entrepreneur sounds difficult but Elvie founder Tania Boler makes it look easy. We asked her about female empowerment, why she's connecting women & how she's challenging the norm.
- Elvie started with the trainer that helps pre and postnatal women with their pelvic floor for better bladder control, faster postnatal recovery and increased sexual pleasure. What inspired you to start talking about taboo women issues? And why do you think it’s important to push past the stigma?
I’ve always been passionate about women’s health. Before Elvie, I worked in the UN and with various charities across Africa and Asia on everything from sexuality to HIV prevention. But it wasn’t until I became pregnant myself that I realised there were so many women's health issues that are often just swept under the rug andcompletely neglected by technology. I never planned to start a tech company, but I realised there was a massive need for innovative and empathic technology to support women, and so I founded Elvie.
Whether it’s incontinence, postpartum depression or female pleasure, women’s bodies have been shrouded in taboo for centuries. We need to celebrate and encourage women to talk more openly about womanhood so that we can recognise and create solutions to the issues that matter most to women. For many women, using Elvie Trainer is the first time that they have really thought about their intimate health and that opens the door for them to start having honest conversations about their bodies and experiences.
- You’re dedicated to connecting women. How does a strong support network help to empower and encourage women?
No woman is an island! It’s all about shared experiences - women need to feel comfortable having candid conversations with each other to realise that what they’re experiencing is usually completely normal and they are not alone. If we were less afraid to talk honestly about our experiences then we’d probably be a lot better at asking for help!
Women are often the harshest critics when it comes to other women’s choices so it’s great to see more and more women supporting other women - whether that’s in online communities or in person.
- What does female empowerment mean to you?
It’s about equality, choice and the opportunity for women to lead.
- How will you teach your little ones to be an advocate of female empowerment?
I think it’s important that our children see examples of strong female leaders. At a young age, they’re learning mostly by observing so I try to be aware of how the choices I make impact what my kids learn about the world. It’s not always easy, but as a parent to both a boy and girl, I try to make sure that they have access to the same choices and avoid talking about certain sports or subjects at school as more or less girly.
- If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be
Don’t beat yourself up! We can all be hard on ourselves but women are often the worst at this. There is no such thing as perfect. Striving for constant perfection just means you will never feel content.
- What challenges do you feel females are still facing currently?
The tide is turning but there are so many structures and beliefs that are built on outdated assumptions and ideas about women. We’re just scratching the surface - there’s still not enough women in leadership positions or STEM subjects. We need to have female decision makers in these areas if we want to see progress that reflects women's needs.
- If you could change one thing about the perception of motherhood, what would it be and why?
There’s this idea that motherhood should be blissful and that everyone else has their stuff together. But no one does - that’s why we need to talk about it. Your body and life go through a complete transformation and it’s natural to be uncomfortable with some of the changes. If we’re completely honest, it’s really hard to feel positive about the extra flesh in your midsection or deflated boobs after you’ve had a child but it’s so refreshing to see a new wave of influencers embracing them and making it okay for the rest of us to do the same.
- Elvie is focused on normalising breastfeeding, which ties in with the amazing silent breast pump you recently released. Why do you think there is so much controversy around breastfeeding? And how do you think we can start to change thoughts about this?
I think for most mums it’s pretty obvious when your boobs no longer feel like your own property - they’re there to feed your child, not just for you and your partner's pleasure. But women's bodies have been so sexualised and suppressed that even the most committed feminist can feel uncomfortable feeding or pumping in public!
A lot of women in the UK are put off breastfeeding because it’s not as seamless as they expected and the attitude is very all or nothing. Breast pumping has the potential to allow women to feed their child breast milk if they wish to return to work, have difficulty breastfeeding or just want a bit more independence. But pumping is often an isolating experience, relegated to stationary cupboards and toilet cubicles. Women (especially sleep deprived moms) don’t want to spend hours plugged into a wall or cleaning tubes.
Elvie Pump is the world’s first silent wearable breast pump. It’s worn discreetly inside their bra and allows women to pump anytime, anywhere - whether that’s at home, at work or on-the-go. We’re offering women more mobility and choice so that they can get on with their days without feeling as though pumping, or motherhood more generally, is a burden.
- Are there any brands that you feel are showcasing strong women and helping to improve the lives of women around the world?
Sport England did a ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in 2015, which had such an empowering message that encouraged women to get involved in sport and it really struck a chord with lots of women. I also love what Nike and Mothercare are doing in their latest campaigns to empower women. It’s important that we have big brands behind these messages but it’s usually the smaller brands that are doing this long before. Knix and Billie are normalising postpartum bodies and body hair in a way that is really unapologetic and bolder than most brands would be willing to.
- Finally, who is the most empowering woman or women in your life?
I just finished reading ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. It is such an incredible book and goes to the heart of what it means to go from unempowered to empowered. She is a real survivor and learned how and when to adapt to society’s expectations, as well as when not to!
Why not discover a little empowerment yourself with the Elvie Trainer? If you're looking for the best way to pump, you can also check out their silent Elvie Breast Pump.