Deeannah Seymour was a single mom of two working a lucrative corporate job when she left her 401-K, pension plan, and a comfortable retirement to turn her side-hustle into a full-time venture. pH-D, a feminine health product company dedicated to developing holistic feminine hygiene and wellness solutions for women, was just six months old, but already the number one best-seller in its category on Amazon. “I was thinking, ‘OK, this is fantastic. I will have the income from this project to help pay for college and help raise my kids,’’ Seymour told HeyMama via phone. “But it became evident something had to change.”
At the time, Seymour was reporting to a manager that she said “made me feel like I couldn’t do anything right,” even though her performance at work was up to par. She believes this manager, and how they treated her, was ultimately God’s way of letting her know it was time to get vulnerable, uncomfortable, and change course.
“I remember one particular phone call: I was absolutely devastated,” she explained. “I kept thinking, ‘Why? Why is this happening? What am I not doing right?’ And all of a sudden it just occurred to me that this is not what I am supposed to be doing.”
Seymour quickly devised an exit strategy, and to the surprise of friends and family left her 20-year career behind. “People were like, ‘Aren’t you afraid?’ And I was like, ‘No, really I’m not,’” she explained. “I was confident that I was living my purpose. And I feel like if you’re living your purpose, things have a way of working out the way they need to.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean the transition from corporate working mom to entrepreneurship was an easy one. Seymour said there were plenty of “ups and downs, and lots of, you know, maxing out credit cards in order to do so.” But what propelled Seymour to create pH-D, and further the social discourse on vaginal health and wellness, laid the foundation for her becoming a full-time business owner: a relentless desire to be vulnerable.
“I had my own issues with vaginal health, and I was tired of going to the doctor; of getting prescribed and recommended the same treatments over and over again in a vicious cycle,” she said. “Being vulnerable is what I’m called to do. To discuss this issue, because no one was talking about it. And to let people know — let women know — that [vaginal odor] is completely normal and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and the more we talk about it and de-fang it the less of a problem and an issue it becomes. My mission is to improve the lives of women, and part of that involves creating this conversation around vaginal health.”
The other part is the product itself. In search of a more holistic approach to vaginal health — one that is still backed by science and published clinical data, something important to Seymour due to her 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry and background in biology — Seymour started researching alternative options. “I came across dozens of studies done on boric acid and boric acid vaginal suppositories,” she said. “And I had worked with several OB-GYNs and I ran it by them. They all said, ‘Oh, we absolutely love boric acid and recommend it to our patients all the time.”
The problem? Boric acid is very expensive and not readily available to the general public. As fate would have it, however, Seymour’s daughter’s hockey coach owned and operated a holistic product manufacturing company. Once again, Seymour was willing to put herself in a potentially vulnerable position in order to achieve her mission.
“I went to him with my idea and he embraced it,” she explained. “He started manufacturing it and put it up on Amazon and quickly, within six months, became a best-seller. We realized that women are searching for alternatives. I mean, women who had life-long battles with vaginal odor — who had repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried all other options — were now suddenly getting their lives back with this product.”
Whether it’s talking openly and honestly about vaginal odor and reproductive health and wellness, to leaving an established career behind to pursue and unknown but passion-filled future, Seymour knows firsthand how vital vulnerability can be to an entrepreneur’s future endeavors — and how it can scare off many would-be business owners from taking those first steps. Which is why she is one of HeyMama’s 2020 Mama Mentors, and at a time when an ongoing global pandemic, historic job losses, and financial uncertainty is disproportionately impacting moms.
“I feel like there’s never a ‘right time’ to start a business, kind of like there’s never a ‘right time’ to have a kid,” she explained. “But I think of the moms who’re at home with their kids and, well, actually now might be the best time [to start a business]. When are you going to have the opportunity to be in your own working environment 24/7? To not have to waste time going into the office. Use the extra time that would have been devoted to a commute or a meeting and focus on the venture you want to be pursuing.”
And above all, Seymour encourages moms considering entrepreneurship to embrace discomfort. “Seriously, if you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be where I am right now, I would have told you that you’re absolutely crazy,” she laughed. “I was going to retire comfortably from that job. Well, life isn’t about being comfortable — it’s about doing what we’re called to do. It’s about living out our mission. And trust me, there has been a lot of discomfort in being an entrepreneur, but it is so worth it.”