Meet Become’s Founder Gayani Abeyasinghe
We’re delighted to introduce you to the woman leading our FemTech team; the team behind Become, our Founder Gayani Abeyasinghe who recently made her debut on BBC. She’s so passionate about women’s health and has overseen the journey of Become clothing, right from its inception to the amazing products we have today. She also believes fiercely in breaking down the stigma surrounding the menopause, as well as empowering the 10m+ women in the UK going through it right now.
Q: Tell us a little about your role at Become
A: I am Founder of Become by virtue of heading up the FemTech team at the parent company, MAS Holdings, which is headquartered in Sri Lanka. Become was borne out of my team’s interest in developing apparel-related solutions for women at the different stages of their lives, from puberty, to pregnancy and beyond. One thing I’ve realised, heading up the team is, even as a woman, how under-informed we all are about the menopause – a stage of life that, as women, we’re all going to go through. There’s a real lack of education about it.
Q: And how did you come into this role?
A: I’ve worked in the clothing industry for over five years, working on both menstruation and incontinence apparel prior to menopause wear. I grew up in Sri Lanka and studied and worked in the US and Singapore before coming back to Sri Lanka. Despite its conflicts and drawbacks, it’s a country which has a lot of potential and apparel is Sri Lanka’s largest export. I wanted to come back and be a part of its growth story. Sri Lanka’s an amazing place and it’s been voted by many as the ‘go-to’ travel destination of 2019!
Q: How did your team set about developing the Become brand?
A: The FemTech team had already developed solutions for urinary incontinence and menstruation, so we were looking into other areas of women’s health that we could help progress. The menopause space really stood out as a lifestage for which there was little innovation happening, apart from more medical solutions. So we decided to see how clothing could be used to help with the symptoms of the menopause. Women are incredibly resilient creatures and know how best to manage their own health – if only the market out there would make the effort to innovate and provide more options for them to do so.
Q: Would you say MAS is paving the way in addressing women’s issues?
A: MAS started as a family-run business 30 years ago. It has since grown into a multinational manufacturer, employing 98,000 people worldwide who are at the heart of what we do and 70% are women. MAS still retains its original values and takes its social and ethical responsibilities very seriously. Female innovators are the driving cutting-edge product development but as a leader in this space, we also promote other initiatives such as the Women go Beyond programme, childcare facilities and emotional support for all our workers.
Q: What inspires you most about working in this industry?
A: With Become, we’ve achieved what we initially set out to create – a vest for helping with hot flushes. But what’s been most rewarding is seeing the feedback and reviews that we’ve been getting from the women who have been wearing them for night sweats. We’ve had so much feedback, for example, about how our vests have allowed women to get a good night’s sleep – thereby stopping a vicious cycle of poor sleep that can affect your daily life, alertness, work and social life. We certainly can’t cure anything, but we can help make things a whole lot more comfortable – and we hear every day from our customers who are feeling the benefits.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Become?
A: I’d love to make Become a household name for women of menopausal age around the world. We’ve got loads more to do here in the UK, but we also want to bring the brand to the US and Western Europe. Ideally within brick-and-mortar retailers as well. We also want to lead the conversation around the menopause to make it mainstream, not a taboo subject that women feel that they can’t speak about. We hosted the leading event around World Menopause Day in London last year, and want to continue to inspire in this space. From a product point of view, we started with hot flushes and night sweats, but we want to see where else we can help with women’s symptoms, so that we can ease their journey through the menopause.
If you didn’t manage to catch Gayani’s interview on BBC Business Live, make sure to watch it on BBC iPlayer here (Business Live, 8.30am, 28/1/2019).