Last month I was thrilled to be on a panel with Meg Mathews. As we chatted together about all things PROAGE, we shared a real meeting of minds and spirit and I discovered what a creative, perceptive and truly inspirational woman she is.
Meg’s career has had an impressive and diverse span. Initially working in fashion PR, she rose to prominence after moving into music management at the beginning of the Britpop era in the mid-90s. She developed a successful interior design business and worked for PETA actively campaigning for animal rights. In 2017 she launched MegsMenopause and has since designed and marketed a range of products dedicated solely to the menopause and intimate skincare. She is also a columnist for Red Magazine. A committed voice for women and PROAGE, Studio10 couldn’t wait to catch up with Meg.
It was fabulous to meet you at Professional Beauty and get a glimpse into your passionate drive surrounding women’s issues and the menopause. To begin with, can you tell us about MegsMenopause and your personal motivation behind its foundation?
MegsMenopause came about after I started to suffer with the menopause myself. I suffered for years before I knew what was happening to me, and I didn’t want the same to happen to other women out there.
I became a different woman – out of nowhere. It was so unexpected and such a shock to my family and friends. I went from being one of the most bubby, outgoing and sociable people you could ever meet, to not leaving my house for three months. My anxiety was through the roof and I was always tired, no matter how much I slept. I went to the doctor and was just given anti-depressants and sent on my way. I thought that was it – my heydays were over. I had almost given in to the fact, but then I began to research and, after digging deep, I realised that what was happening to me wasn’t depression at all, it was the menopause.
I had thought that I was going mad. I was becoming so forgetful, anxious and moody. When I realised that these were all menopause symptoms, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I knew what the cause was and I could begin to look for help – but – there was very little out there. This is what I had the biggest issue with and subsequently became the driving force behind MegsMenopause.
There were so many women like me, going through some stage of the menopause and not getting the help they needed and deserved. So I began to get information out there, advising women to go to their GP and to push until they got what they went in there for, to not be afraid to talk about it and to get rid of the stigma. From there MegsMenopause began to grow and still continues to do so every day.
At the beginning of the year you launched a range of MegsMenopause (MM) intimate skincare products specifically for women in their menopause. I’d love to know more about these – and are you seeing a trend towards a particular product within the range?
I created my MM products as a tool for helping women with some of the most common symptoms they might experience. What’s the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when you mention the menopause? Hot Flushes. So, I created Rosey Rain – a facial cooling spray. I’ve never suffered with hot flushes, but I still find that this is great in the summer when the heat becomes just a little too much. With that I created Blossom Balm and Blossom Lave – an intimate moisturiser and wash. There is both an oil-based and a water-based lubricant, as different women require different products and I wanted to create something for everyone. Finally, there is S.W.A.L.K Hyaluronic Acid Serum and the M-Blend.
The M-Blend is my particular favourite in the range. It’s a vitamin, mineral and super food supplement. I’m a very health conscious person and I’ve always had a shelf full of every supplement imaginable – from Maca powder, to vitamin C, to Acai powder (the list goes on and on) – but that can get very expensive, very quickly. Because of this, I wanted to make something that was affordable, with good quality ingredients and that could give you it all.
It’s important for me to keep every single one of my products as simple as possible. Every ingredient is good quality and organic. It’s all vegan and cruelty-free. My packaging is plastic-free, made from sugar cane husk here in the UK. It’s also very important to make these products attainable for as many women as possible. They’re very affordable and the simple pick packaging means that you can just slip them in your weekly shop without any embarrassment that some women may feel.
Your overall goal is to educate and remove the stigmas surrounding menopause. Do you think we are beginning to see a shift in what – up until the last couple of years – has been largely an unawareness of the physical and emotional difficulties women can face at this time of life?
Looking back to when I started MegsMenopause, to where we are now, I do see a huge difference, but we’re only scratching the surface. When I began to go through the menopause there was nothing out there. No information, no simple affordable products, no help. We are definitely changing that. There is now so much information, not only on my site, but on many others. We’re starting to talk openly about it, going to our GP with the information we have and getting the help we need. Breaking the stigma around HRT and testosterone, around sex and masturbation, and around everything that comes along with it. It’s becoming a topic that is taught in schools and the workplace. Almost every woman is going to go through the menopause, and we are finally beginning to be treated as we should.
Taking you back to your days in the music industry – what was it like to be a woman at the forefront of the nineties Britpop era in what was then a male-dominated industry?
Being a woman in an industry dominated by men certainly came with its challenges, but I played a major role as artist liaison for Creation Records. I worked with bands such as Primal Scream, Oasis, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fan Club, Ride, Three Colours Red, BMX Bandits, Heavy Stereo, Boo Radleys, Hurricane. I was involved in everything at Creation Records. Alan McGee was the best boss, so I never felt that just because I was a woman I was treated any differently.
What does PROAGE mean for you and do you think we are now moving forward with female empowerment?
PROAGE to me is a time when finally I don’t care; I feel empowered and I say what I think without overthinking it. We all say that’s how we feel when we’re younger, but we don’t. Everything is exhausting and you feel like you can’t breathe from the pressure of life. Now I feel free of all that, I feel amazing.
You’ve had a number of varied and very successful careers, with Red magazine naming you as one of their Top 20 Career Shifters in 2017 – what are the challenges you had to face along the way that have made you the woman you are today?
How long is a piece of string! Throughout my career and everything that came with it, the most important thing to me has been to remain a good mother to my daughter. She is and always will be the single most important thing in my life. Through designing Victoria and David Beckham’s house, to having my scarves in Liberties, to having silver disks, to being in the headlines, through the good and bad press, nothing has really mattered compared to Anais. She is the most important.
If there was one piece of advice you would give your younger self, what would it be?
To have the ego of a house and the low self-esteem of a mouse. Too much of an ego isn’t a good thing, of course, but neither is feeling so bad inside. It’s about finding a balance. I wish that I had been a lot wiser a lot younger. And I wish I’d had the tools of AA a lot sooner.
After a challenging day, what do you do to just unwind and relax?
To unwind in the evening, I like to relax in an Epsom Salt bath together with some aroma therapy oils. I sage my bedroom and open the window to get rid of any bad energy. I light a candle on my alter, say my mantras, have a quite meditation for 10 minutes, and then I jump into my bed with my lovely linen sheets with my dog Ziggy.
You’re looking fabulous. What do you do to keep yourself in such great shape?
I have found a regime that works for me, so I make it a priority and stick to it. I run three times a week. I’m doing Couch to 5k and I would highly recommend this. It’s good cardio and great for your bones. On top of that, I do Pilates twice a week and weight training twice a week. I eat as healthily as I can and I drink lots of water. Nothing crazy – just a fit and healthy lifestyle
Do you have more plans moving forward with MegsMenopause or other potential ventures you could share with us?
I have so many plans moving forward with MegsMenopause. This community I have created is growing every day and I just love how much I get to help women – I really feel it’s my purpose in life.
The New Hot is my book, which is set to be released next year both here in the UK and in America, and it’s available to pre-order now. This book will delve into my story a little, but it’s also packed full of advice from myself and many experts I’ve been lucky enough to meet along the way.
There is a new documentary on the menopause coming out soon too, which I am so grateful to be a part of. Getting the menopause discussion on to TV screens is a huge step forward. It will open the eyes of many more people, men and women alike.
Then there is my podcast, where I discuss all of the different areas of menopause with weekly guests. It’s growing every week and it’s great to see the conversation being opened up to such a large degree.
There is set to be MM-phase 2, which will have many more products to help with menopause symptoms, all of which will remain vegan, natural and cruelty free, as with the original range.
I also aim to keep growing my M-Blend products. The benefits of CBD are becoming more obvious every day, and I think that these benefits for the menopause are not something that should be overlooked. It’s such a good and natural way to help with symptoms, keeping medication to a minimum.
And finally – do you have a particular PROAGE quote that inspires you?
Despite whatever happens in life – “this too shall pass”