Second to none: Aisling Grimley, founder of mysecondspring.ie on reframing the menopause

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by Marguerite Kiely

DATE
Wed, February 06, 2019

The Beginning

I started my career in financial PR in London. I was part of the mass exodus to London in the ’80s. In the ’90s, I took a sharp turn left and headed down to Shanagarry to Ballymaloe Cookery School to take on Darina Allen’s three-month certificate course. I took the first step into self-employment with a catering company, Good Food by Aisling Grimley. I loved my catering days but working for myself from home with three small girls became a constant juggling act, so in 2000 I took a career break and became a full-time mother for 13 years. My fourth daughter arrived, and I became interested in health and studied homoeopathy, even practising for a while. But when my youngest turned six, I was ready for new challenges – I just wasn’t sure where they lay!

I did not expect to find my calling in the menopause

While researching what was behind my own hormonally-challenged moments, I saw a massive information gap around menopause. I did a dipstick survey of my friends and found that they were as clueless as I was. So I set to work and in 2013, My Second Spring made its debut.

Many people ask about the name – I borrowed it from Chinese culture, where menopause is regarded positively as a second spring, a time of regeneration and growth. It chimed with my instincts to reframe menopause in a more positive light.

Public speaking was a fear that I thought I would never conquer

But I did when I found myself addressing the guests at My Second Spring’s launch. Then I found myself the following day on the couch at TV3, talking menopause to the nation. It hasn’t stopped since then – and I find I really enjoy that aspect of my work.

But the biggest thrill by far for me is the feedback from the women who use the site. There is a steady stream of thanks daily in our inbox. Menopause in 2018 presents a very different set of challenges than in my mother’s day, and sites like ours really are a lifeline for some women who find it a very anxious time.

Starting in the workplace again after being a full-time mum for 13 years was daunting

But I reminded myself of all the skills and wisdom that we gain while parenting – the most challenging and rewarding job of them all.

I have had two big challenges

Making menopause mainstream, and making money online. The first is well underway now – menopause is all over the media in 2018 and that’s real progress. Making money online has taken time, partially because we have been careful to work with the right partners and prioritise quality over quantity.

Just Start

That’s the advice I’d give to a woman starting out in her own business. Many people flounder and procrastinate, thinking their business plan is not finessed enough. But these days, your audience will tell you quickly what you are doing right – and what you need to fix. It has never been easier to start a business, so if your idea is halfway good, get it going. Done is often better than perfect.

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