Dr Harper spoke to the founder of Mpowder, Rebekah Brown, a like-minded perimenopausal woman who also started her business in the middle of hormonal turbulence.
Where did the idea of MPowder come from?
Well – the motivation was entirely selfish! I am 46 now and well and truly in the peri-menopause. Night sweats. Heightened anxiety about stuff I used to do relatively confidently in the past. Alot of anger. Oh, and a nice dose of random skin breakouts. I visited my doctor and was told I was too young to be menopausal and that the best solution would be to visit my local health store and try a herbal remedy or supplement.
Those shelves were both confusing and depressing. For a start, few brands actually tailor their vitamin and herbal supplements to the different bio-chemical stages of menopause so the blends on offer are blunt instruments at best.
And the brands on display made me sad. They seemed to target end of life rather than a natural phase of life! I am not ready to lie down and give up yet. I believe that the menopause can be incredibly empowering as well as incredibly difficult. I wanted a solution that was focused on optimising my body. I wanted products that were based on insight. I wanted a natural aid to transition me through each stage. I wanted the products to be kind to my body as well as the environment. And there simply wasn’t anything there.
As I looked further into the menopause, I discovered that there is a growing body of evidence around the efficacy of plant food and botanicals in addressing core symptoms. I also discovered that the menopause itself is experienced in very different ways across cultures – and that scientists attribute much of this to diet. So I (naively!) decided to make what I couldn’t find.
I started in early 2019 in my kitchen, dehydrating raw organic fruit and vegetables and blending them into a powder that would deliver the nutritional hit my body needed. It tasted terrible. But I began to feel better. I knew that, for me to include something daily – and for a long period of time, any solution needed to taste good as it did good. So I began a journey to develop a range of nutritional, vegan, plant based powders that could fit simply into the daily routine of life. I’ve worked with taste makers and nutritionists to refine those early recipes into the product range we will launch in September.
We’ve met as a result of a shared passion around female health and as two female entrepreneurs building a business. What drives you as a founder?
I am not a medical practitioner like you. I am just a woman who struggled personally with this stage of life and wanted to make sure others don’t have to. That is what drives me. I want to deliver honest products that genuinely work. I want to launch a range that iterates based on feedback and new research coming to light. I want to build out an offering that supports the whole woman throughout the 8-10 years of her menopause transition; making it easy for her to find the support, the experts, the friendships she needs at those different points.
I think the brands this world needs today are brands that put back into the communities that champion them. That is why each of our products goes through a community evaluation process. And it is why we will offer as much as we can back to those that help us do better. We know we are the output of all the stories of the women that share with us.
Your range launches in September. What can you tell us about it?
Our recipes only include the functional ingredients that have shown potential either in trial settings or by women working with naturopaths and herbalists in our team. So that means no flavouring, no caking agents, no sweeteners. We believe it’s critical to the integrity of our range. But it meant the development process was very complicated….turns out it is REALLY hard to make functional foods taste good!
The first product to launch will be the Peri-Boost, designed for women experiencing symptoms of the perimenopause. And I can’t wait to get feedback from our community. We’re actually inviting women to have early access to it before it hits the shelves. We want to learn how they incorporate it into their daily routines and, as importantly, how they feel after a few weeks of taking it.
What do you wish you’d known about the menopause before your own journey started?
‘So much. I was completely ignorant. I had no idea of the number of symptoms that can be associated with the menopause. I felt foolish talking to my doctor – and even more foolish when I was turned away. I wish I had known enough to press for support when I needed it. I wish I had learnt earlier about the relationship between hormones and food. I wish I had been told of all of the support that can be found online. But, perhaps most of all, I wish that I had learned much earlier on, in school, about the stages the female body goes through. There is so much negativity associated with what is a natural process. And I think that if women, and society in general, know more, the narrative would fundamentally change.’
For more information about MPowder, visit the website here.