The most innovative technology for building #girlpower.
Written By PUNCH HUTTON
In a new series, VIOLET GREY profiles female beauty entrepreneurs who are considered industry game changers for their individual approach to business. Each one entered the conversation in her own manner and maintained a steady, if not unparalleled, trajectory with her indomitable spirit. Here, we talk to Tania Boler, the inventor of Elvie.
The first couple of times I tried to “exercise” my Kegel muscles, I almost passed out. Each squeeze was accompanied by a light-headed sensation and I thought, Wow, this is almost otherworldly. And then I realized I was unconsciously holding my breath and thereby cutting off all oxygen flow to my brain. God only knows what—if anything—was happening down…there.
I first heard about Kegel muscles when I was a preteen. Sometimes I accompanied my mom to her Saturday aerobics class, and I nearly died of embarrassment when it was time to lie on our backs, lift our tushes off the ground, flutter our knees together, and “Squeeze those Kegel muscles!” YUCK.
As I grew older, I learned the importance of having a strong pelvic floor—whether it was for bladder control (all those weekend road trips to the shore), sexual benefits (stronger orgasms, yesss), or prenatal and postpregnancy recovery (twice). The only person who ever really talked to me about, um, the strength of my V, and any issues related to it, was Dr. Feit, my longtime ob-gyn.
But that was years ago. Before Elvie.
The brainchild of UK native Tania Boler—who holds a Ph.D. in women’s health, is an internationally lauded expert on maternal and reproductive issues, and serves as Team Leader for HIV prevention at UNESCO — Elvie was conceived with the intention of helping women build muscle strength in their pelvic floor. This is the area between the tailbone and the pubic bone where the bladder, uterus, bowel, and small intestines do their work. “It is the most important but most neglected muscle group in a woman’s body,” says Boler.
In 2013, she partnered with Dyson designer and Jawbone cofounder Alexander Asseily to create a technologically innovative and highly effective device that would address common pelvic floor issues. In just two years, Boler built a team of world-class engineers, designers, and business minds. In 2015 she introduced women on both sides of the pond to Elvie.
The squishy, ovary-shaped, medical-grade turquoise silicone device (which comes in several sizes) can be easily inserted into (and removed from) your vagina, thanks in part to a little tail-like appendage. Once in place, you connect your smartphone to the Elvie app via Bluetooth. Choose from six different exercise programs—“Whether you want to increase, maintain, or regain your strength, there is a workout program for you,” says Boler—and then let the clenching begin. On your screen, a little gem icon charts your progress and helps guide you through your workout. The stronger you squeeze or the longer you hold, the higher the gem rises. There are targets to hit and times to beat. This is instant biofeedback at your fingertips.
Many users have likened the interface to a video game that leaves them with the desire to best their stamina and strength scores the next time around. And if you hate working out, there’s no excuse. It takes only five minutes. Yep, that’s right. Almost anything is tolerable for 300 seconds (I just did the math).
In addition to its function, Elvie won the Best R&D Award at The Design Museum in London last year. Elvie has no bells or whistles or diamond-encrusted logos. It’s simple and discreet, and it comes with a little carrying case and charger. It’s Woman Made — for us, by us. So come on ladies, join the #squeezesquad. A powerful V will serve you well.
What is the atmosphere of your bedroom?
I love total darkness when I sleep. I have wide, continental-style shutters as well as curtains. I need the space to feel calm and relaxing. My life is so busy with Elvie, the kids, my husband, and socializing that I really like to protect the special parts—so no work and no computers in the bedroom!
Please describe your bed and your favorite thing about it.
It is a Scandinavian bed frame made of natural wood. It’s very minimal with sleek lines, but not too harsh and still inviting. It feels warm and natural. And it’s very big! My favorite thing is that the mattress is firm yet still soft, as it has a soft overlay.
What time do you wake up?
How many hours of sleep do you require?
Less than I thought! With two young children at home, I’ve become used to working on six hours.
Any bedside beauty essentials?
I really think a good night’s sleep makes the biggest difference, and I also keep a large glass of water on my bedside table to drink first thing in the morning.
Do you drink coffee or tea, eat breakfast?
I’m British, so I’m addicted to my tea! I eat a healthy breakfast but it needs to have some protein or carbs in it, otherwise I feel hungry again by 10 a.m. So it’s usually either poached eggs or yogurt and muesli.
Do you work out in the a.m.?
We have a great gym opposite our office so I go there for 45-minute HIIT classes at lunchtime. Exercise really boosts my energy levels, so it is a win-win.
What makeup and products do you use on a daily basis?
Again, I tend to stick to just a few products to keep things easy. Nars does a really good tinted moisturizer. Then it’s usually just a slick of mascara (I use one by Jane Iredale) and red lipstick if I have meetings or an event.
What’s your hair situation in the a.m.?
My hair is quite wild and frizzes easily. I wish I had more time to go for blowouts, as I’m not very good at doing them myself. I need straighteners once a week and a good conditioner like Bumble and Bumble Super Rich conditioner.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
I read the BBC news to stay up to date, and The Economist is my favorite for a more in-depth analysis, which I’ll usually read over the weekend.
What business do you conduct before 10:00 a.m.?
I check my emails before heading to the office and I get the kids ready for school.
What time do you head to your office?
By 9 a.m.