Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: a Q&A with Eliza Eliza

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. According to The Eve Appeal, in the UK over 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. It’s the sixth most common cancer among women after breast cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer, womb cancer and melanoma skin cancer. Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to spot as they can be similar to those of other conditions. Early symptoms to look out for, such as persistent bloating, pain in the pelvis and lower stomach, and difficulty eating.

We recently met with Elizabeth Rees who launched her own small business, Eliza Eliza with a purpose – to spread greater awareness of gynaecological and breast cancer. Elizabeth creates sustainable, organic cotton “bags of meaning” to empower women to get talking about their health issues and understand the symptoms that could end up saving lives.

To begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, I’m Elizabeth, mum of three boys; before having children I worked as a secondary school geography teacher. I live in a village on the outskirts of Cardiff. I love to listen to podcasts that introduce me to something new or spark inspiration in me; current favourites are ‘Conversations of Inspirations’, ‘Wardrobe Crisis’ and ‘You, Me and the Big C’. My favourite place is by the seaside – nothing better than breathing in fresh sea water air to clear the cobwebs!

When did you launch Eliza Eliza and what spurred you to do it?

I was on maternity with my first son and set up a business making and selling cushions on Etsy and social media. This gave me some experience and understanding of the possibilities an online business can offer. But cushions didn’t really excite me… Bags, however… I love my bags. Ever since I was a little girl I have carried a bag with all my essentials in. I wanted to create a bag or purse that I could use to organise my larger bags, and as I had just become a mum I started with the idea of a changing pouch. But also wanted it to look good enough as a clutch bag going out with my friends, to the pub or date night.

Elizabeth ElizaEliza

How did the charity partnerships come about and how did you choose who to partner with?

I was inspired by brands such as Selfish Mother and Toms and wanted to create a brand that meant something and gave back in some way.

My first partnership was with Unseen, a charity which supports victims of modern slavery in the UK. Slavery is a much bigger problem in the UK than many people realise and my Freedom Collection aims to highlight the issue and encourage people to be visual of potential victims in their communities.

The Eve Appeal partnership occurred after I’d heard Karen Hobbs’ interview with Cherry Healey on her podcast Letters to my Fanny. (I told you I loved a podcast). Karen was diagnosed with cervical cancer at just 24. For the first time, I really thought about how naive I had been, I didn’t go for my first cervical screening (smear) test until I was 29, after I’d had my first baby. It was a mixture of lack of education as to what cervical screening was and some embarrassment. Seems so silly to think that now. I know now that by having one it can literally save your life… and the nurses have seen it all!

ElizaEliza

What’s the meaning behind your V Collection?

My V Collection bags and eye masks aim to act as an ice breaker and start conversations about gynaecological health. This includes awareness of the five gynae cancers: ovarian, cervical, womb, vulval and vaginal. By the fabric becoming an everyday visual and therefore becoming a conversational “norm” I want them to inadvertently encourage women to attend their smear tests. To understand what is normal for their bodies and if there are any changes, they are not embarrassed or afraid to go to their GP relating to their gynae health.

There is a misconception that ovarian cancer can be picked up in a smear test, unfortunately, it cannot which is why it is even more important to be aware of the above symptoms and contact your GP if you have any concerns.

Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer among women in the UK and every year 7,300 women are diagnosed with it. This month is all about raising awareness of this cancer, in particular, the key symptoms which are:

• Increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
• Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
• Unexplained bowel habits
• Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous

See The Eve Appeal website for more details.

What else do you think we can do to help raise awareness of women’s cancers and encourage each other to attend regular tests?

Don’t be afraid to bring up the conversation of gynaecological health and cancer with friends and family. Or even work colleagues. Even strangers. The more we talk about it, the more normal it becomes. You never know when that throwaway comment or a short conversation with another could be the nudge someone needs to get checked.

Huge thanks to the wonderful Elizabeth for chatting with us about her business with meaning. You can support some really important causes by buying some really beautiful products over on the Eliza Eliza website now.

6 folds to try with your Kind menstrual cup

To comfortably insert your Kind menstrual cup, you’ll need to fold it. To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of 6 different folds for you to find the fold that’s most comfortable for you.

It’s important to remember that we are all unique and there are no fixed rules when it comes to inserting your menstrual cup. There’s a whole range of menstrual cup folds and what feels most comfortable can depend on your shape, sexual or gynaecological history or whether you’ve given birth.

Folds are harder to explain than they are to actually do, but hopefully, our photo guides will help give you some inspiration and a good idea of where to start:

The ‘U’ or ‘C’ Fold

  • Hold your Kind cup with both hands, just underneath its rim
  • Flatten your cup by pushing both sides together
  • Fold the cup in half to create a U-shape
  • Hold firmly in this position and insert
  • C menstrual cup fold

    The ‘Punchdown’ Fold

  • Hold the cup in one of your hands
  • Use the index finger on your other hand to tuck half the rim down inside of the cup
  • Pinch the sides of the cup together
  • Hold firmly in this position for insertion
  • Punchdown menstrual cup fold

    The ‘7’ Fold

  • Hold your cup with both of your hands
  • Flatten the cup by pushing the sides together
  • Fold the right corner down to the left-hand-side of the base
  • Hold firmly in position and insert
  • Double 7 menstrual cup fold

    The ‘Double 7’ Fold

  • Hold your cup with both of your hands
  • Flatten the cup by pushing the sides together
  • Fold the right corner down to the left-hand-side of the base
  • Then, fold the left corner backwards to the right-hand-side of the base
  • Hold firmly in position and insert
  • Double 7 menstrual cup fold
    Double 7 menstrual cup fold

    The ‘S’ Fold

  • Hold your cup with both of your hands
  • Flatten the cup by pushing the sides together
  • Then, make an ‘S’ shape by pushing one corner away from you and one corner towards you
  • S menstrual cup fold

    S menstrual cup

    The ‘Labia’ Fold

  • Hold your cup in one hand
  • Use the thumb and index finger on the opposite hand to pinch one end of the cup
  • Push this pinch towards the other side of the cup and squeeze the other side around it
  • Labia menstrual cup fold

    Give yourself the time to try different folds to find the one that suits you best. We’re all different and it’s important to go with what is most effective and comfortable for you. Got a fold that’s working for you but missing from our list? Let us know! We always love discovering new folds.

    Whether you’re new to our Kind cup or thinking about making the switch, we want to give you as much support and information as possible to make it work for you.
    If you’re looking to understand better how menstrual cups work, we’ve answered some of the bigger questions on an earlier blog, you can read that here.

    How to use your Kind menstrual cup

    Using a menstrual cup for the first time can be a daunting experience. If you’ve been using tampons or pads up until now, then a menstrual cup is something totally new, and, like with anything new, it can take a bit of getting used to.

    We hope this blog will give you a better understanding of menstrual cups and how they might work for you. We’re always happy to answer any cup questions you might have, just drop us a line on social media or via our customer care team here.

    Firstly, what is a menstrual cup and how does it work?

    A menstrual cup is a reusable period care product. It is inserted into the vagina during your period to collect menstrual fluid. They are usually bell shaped and most have a stem. Your cup sits below your cervix and can be removed, emptied, rinsed and reinserted as much needed, depending on your flow.

    A reusable cup is designed for long term use and, when taken care of properly, can last for years. Your cup will hugely reduce the amount of period waste that you produce over your lifetime and a switch from disposable period care will also save you a lot of money in the long run.

    OK, so how do I insert my menstrual cup?

    First things first, it’s important to relax – especially when you are using your cup for the first time. Find a position that feels comfortable for you. This could be a squatted position or placing one leg on the toilet seat. From here, you’ll want to fold your cup to insert it.

    There’s a huge range of menstrual cup folds and what works best for you is completely dependent on your unique shape, previous sexual or gynaecological history, or whether you’ve given birth vaginally or not.

    Check out our ‘6 folds to try with your Kind cup’ here for some cup folding inspiration to find a fold that works best for you.

    How do I know that my cup has been inserted properly?

    Your cup will sit lower than a tampon. Once you’ve inserted it folded, it should pop open and create a seal to save you from any leaks. You can check that its opened and sealed properly by circling your finger around the base of your cup. If you feel it hasn’t opened correctly, try squeezing the base slightly and slowly turning it 360 to encourage it to open. If you have concerns that your cup can’t open fully, this could be due to a sizing issue.

    How and when should I remove my menstrual cup?

    When you remove your cup will depend on your flow, but should never be more than 12 hours. Once again, it’s important to relax and get comfortable. There’s no right or wrong way to remove it, but there are ways to make removal smoother.

    Use the stem of your cup to locate it. Do not pull on the stem to remove your cup. Gently pinch the base of your cup to break the seal it has created inside your vagina. Then, slowly tilt your cup from side to side while sliding it down.

    Once you have removed your cup, tip its contents into the toilet, rinse with warm water, fold and re-insert.

    How do I clean and store my cup?

    When you first get your cup, you will need to sterlise it. We recommend a pan of boiling water for around five minutes. After every cycle, you will need to sterlise it again before storing it in your breathable, organic cotton Kind cup drawstring bag. When in use, simply rinsing your cup with warm tap water is enough before re-inserting. If you don’t have access to a tap, bottled water or a biodegradable organic cotton intimate wipe will work just fine.

    We hope this blog has given you answers to your cup questions and, if you’ve been thinking about making the switch, given you the confidence to do so. You can pick up a Kind cup in Size 1 or Size 2 from Boots here or in store.

    Slow Living: a Q&A with blogger Laura Willers, Hearth and Nook

    “Slow living gives you the space and energy to really appreciate what you fill your life with.”

    You may have seen the hashtag used on Instagram. But Slow Living is more than perfectly styled photos and doing less. Slow or simple living can put a stop that a default busy feeling. It’s about learning to appreciate all that you do and have, and not overfilling your life with the things you feel you should be doing, buying or feeling.

    We spoke to Laura Willers from Hearth and Nook to hear how she’s trying to live a more intentional and authentic life. Laura’s blog gives her readers attainable and realistic tips for a slower, more simple lifestyle, from capsule wardrobe building to minimal interior styling.

    Hi Laura, to start us off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

    I’m Laura. During the day, I work in an office job in London but in my free time I run my creative project photographing and blogging about slow living, from lifestyle ideas through to interiors.

    I’ve learned how to create a lifestyle where I can prioritise doing what I love: spending weekends at home with my husband and our one-year-old son, getting outside into nature, and seeing our family and friends.

    how would you define slow living?

    Slow living to me is about creating the space to breathe, slow down and live mindfully in the present moment, rather than always thinking ahead or rushing from one thing to the next.

    It’s about deciding what is important to you, how you like to spend your time and the people you want to share it with and choosing to create your lifestyle around that. By focusing on what you truly want, you can shed the things that are unnecessary – all the “should dos” and “ought to dos”. I think there’s also an element of understanding that there is a time for everything and embracing that: acknowledging that there are only so many hours in the day, that rest is important, and to move with the seasons.

    Has it always been a philosophy/lifestyle that you followed?

    No, definitely not!

    I used to rush through life, filling each day up to its absolute maximum and then trying to add a little more on top. I felt like if I wasn’t constantly doing something then I wasn’t making the most of my time.

    I bought into the culture of being busy. I thought that having a diary full of social engagements, shopping, events, and exhibitions was what a woman in her 20s, working in London was meant to be like. I would squeeze as much into my weekends as I could and would wake up exhausted on a ‪Monday morning, wishing I could have another day to just rest and relax. ‬

    How did you get started and do you have any tips for beginners?

    I realised after a very long time that I wasn’t happy, in fact, that I was exhausted all the time!

    When I went on maternity leave, I wanted to change my lifestyle. I wasn’t sure how until I started finding other bloggers and people on Instagram who were talking about slow living and minimalism.

    Here was this idea that there was another way of living: where you could give yourself permission to live the life you wanted to lead. It took some time, but I realised that I was enough in and of myself: that I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t or like things that I didn’t. If I wanted to spend my weekend at home and in the garden with my family then that had just as much value as anything else.

    For anyone who wants to make a change, I would say give yourself some time to sit and really think about what’s important to you. Write down your dream lifestyle and what it is that you really enjoy doing. I made a huge list of everything from spending most of my time with my family, right down to tiny things like eating ice cream and kicking up piles of autumn leaves. When you know what really matters to you, you can work out how to create your day around that and prioritise your time accordingly.

    It’s also really important to just be kind to yourself: change takes time but you can do it.

    What impact do you feel slow living can have on our planet?

    Slow living gives you the space and energy to really appreciate what you fill your life with. You find yourself being more aware of the value of things around you. It’s led me to want to surround myself with things that are well made and ethically and sustainably created so I’m very conscious of which companies I buy products from.

    I think slow living also helps you reconnect with the natural world around you; from a city park to your local country paths, to the bunches of flowers that you put in vases around the house. When you’re not rushing from one appointment to the next, you have the time to look up and notice the colour of the sky or the changing of the seasons.

    It makes you realise just how important the environment is, and I think you end up wanting to make sure that you have a positive impact on the world around you.

    How has slow living impacted your personal and home style?

    I honestly think it has impacted every element of my style and the way we live in our home.

    I created a capsule wardrobe, embracing the simple style that I’d always wanted to follow but which didn’t always feel on trend. Now I can’t imagine not having it. Everything I wear feels like me and there’s no stress in getting dressed or time spent in the morning figuring out what to wear.

    We spend so much more time at home now, so we’ve decluttered and created storage that works for us. It makes being at home easy and restful. We know where everything is and tidying up at the end of the day is quick and easy. Whilst I’ve always loved a Scandi style, focusing on how we like to spend time in the house has meant that we’ve designed the rooms around those activities. We have a big open plan living, dining and kitchen space, so we can spend the weekends together – one of us might be baking a loaf of bread whilst the other is playing with our son.

    We’ve also got a growing collection of houseplants and we’re always foraging bits and pieces on our walks or from the garden to bring more nature inside.

    In times of stress, how do you remain balanced?

    This can be such a tricky one. We all feel times of stress even if we’ve taken on a slower lifestyle. I usually feel stressed when something is out of my control, so I’ll try to up my level of organization to reassert some order.

    I’ll use my bullet journal to write a list of things I want or need to do and by when, breaking it all down to small steps that feel manageable. I also find that going for a walk in the countryside really helps – the simple process of putting one foot in front of the other and letting your mind wander amongst the landscape really calms me down. The fresh air and a bit of exercise are good too.

    I’ve started recently doing the meditation exercises on the Headspace app. Some of them are really quick, so you can do them before bed or just find a quiet place in the house for a few minutes. I use them as a quick stress reliever, but I’d like to build them into a daily routine to help keep a feeling of balance.

    Big thanks to Laura for sharing with us what slow living means to her. Go take a look at her blog Hearth and Nook for more advice and ideas.

    How to make your home a little greener in 2019

    When it comes to making new year resolutions, it’s not always a case of ‘go big or go home’.

    Starting at home, small changes that we can all make can make a big difference to our planet. Beginning with a few simple swaps and new habits, you’ll find yourself well on the way to making 2019 your greenest year yet. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

    In your kitchen

    Most of us are aware of and concerned by the harmful outdoor air pollution that’s associated with living in towns or cities. But, what about our homes? When we spend so much time indoors, it’s crucial that we do what we can to reduce the toxins and chemicals that we’re putting into our air. One way to do this is by swapping to more natural cleaning methods.

    Eco-friendly cleaning products, such as Ecover and Method, contain fewer toxins and pollutants and come in sustainable packaging that can be refilled time and time again. For totally natural cleaning solutions, try half lemons to scrub and shine up your oven tops or a diluted vinegar mix and recycled newspaper for a streak-free finish on your windows.

    In your bathroom

    From plastic toothbrushes to disposable razors, single-use cotton buds to plastic shampoo bottles. Our bathrooms might be our relaxation zone, but they could be the worst room in the house when it comes to plastic waste. Luckily, there are easy swaps that can be made.

    We’re huge fans of shampoo and conditioner bars. By cutting out the packaging, you’ve already taken a big green step. These packaging-free bars are not only kinder to the environment but tend to be made with more natural ingredients that are kinder to your body too.

    Most mainstream period products also contain a staggering amount of unnecessary plastic. Switching to KIND’s tampons with biodegradable cardboard applicators and paper packaging is another easy way to make your home more eco-friendly. Reusable products, like our KIND menstrual cups, could be the only period care you need for the next ten years, making them kinder to your purse as well as your planet.

    KIND tip: Add a separate bathroom bin for recyclable waste and refill whatever packaging you can from your local zero-waste store.

    In your bedroom

    Fast fashion can be described as cheap clothing collections that are influenced by catwalk trends and designed to hit the high street stores quickly for us to impulsively buy. It’s the dress you bought for £20 to take on holiday and never wore again or the cheap t-shirt that didn’t survive its first wash. Although the price tags can seem appealing, the impact that this throwaway fashion consumption has on our planet is getting out of hand.

    One way to make your look more sustainable is to build yourself a ‘capsule wardrobe’. A capsule wardrobe is a term used to describe a collection of 30-40 practical and versatile items of clothing that work well when styled together. A capsule wardrobe favours quality over quantity and helps us to shop more consciously only for what we know we will wear for years to come.

    In your garden

    OK, let’s step outside. Whether you’ve got acres of land, a trendy roof terrace or a city-friendly balcony, there are a number of ways you can make to make your outdoor space a little more eco-friendly.

    You might think that growing your own food is something that only those with huge gardens or access to an allotment can do, but that’s definitely not the case. Windowsills, communal yards and balconies can provide happy homes to fresh herbs, vegetables and salad. From seed to plate, growing your own dinner is a rewarding way to live more sustainably and reduce your carbon footprint on our planet. Naturally organic and free from any packaging, your homegrown foods offer massive nutritional and ecological benefits over their supermarket alternatives.

    Whatever you’re growing, creating your own compost out of household waste such as coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, shredded newspapers and nut shells can help to create a nutrient-rich and naturally-fertilised soil for your garden or yard. You can learn more about composting at home here.

    Throughout the year, we’ll continue to share ideas and inspiration that we hope will help us all take small, achievable steps towards greener living, with changes that are kinder to our bodies and kinder to our planet. What eco-friendly habits will you be introducing in 2019? Let us know by tagging us in your green living posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.