“Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, as they are sometimes the best lessons in disguise. And if you find yourself facing failure; fail FORWARD.” – Malisse Tan
Malisse was born in Kuala Lumpur but has spent half her life in Auckland, New Zealand. She is now a mother of a 4 year old daughter and a 4 month old son. When it comes to work, Malisse is the Founder and Chief Estrogen Officer of BOBBLE.
If you have not heard of BOBBLE, it is Malaysia’s first eco-organic period care company. Apart from running her own business, she also part time consults in the space of corporate innovation and sits on the Board of Advisors for Lean In Malaysia.
When asked about how and why she started BOBBLE, she mentioned she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer in 2017, right after she had given birth to her daughter. “Going through the journey of chemotherapy and recovery, I started to change what I was using at home in terms of household products and personal care products, to plant-based, natural and safer alternatives, especially having a baby at home.” Malisse shared.
Being a tampon and pantyliner user, she started to look into what she was putting in her body and realized a lot of generic periods products are made with toxins, perfumes and plastics which are harmful to our bodies. “I tried to look for a safer alternative, being organic cotton based, but they either did not ship to Malaysia or were too expensive,” she said.
Malisse explained, “Given that I had a second chance in life, I promised myself I wanted to do something purpose driven with my time. BOBBLE was born and came from a place of concern and determination to be a catalyst for change in the space of women’s menstrual health, access to better period products and improved education to destigmatize and normalize period talk.”
Did you know that women menstruate for about 40 years of their lives? We are used to using brands that contain harsh chemicals, perfumes and dyes – which sometimes cause skin irritations, infections and allergies! She also said that in Malaysia alone, there are around 2.4 billion period products being disposed of every year and they are mostly made with plastics.
“BOBBLE is redesigning what period products menstruators must be using. We are trying to solve one problem by offering safer period products, without adding to another problem and therefore focusing on sustainability at the same time.” she shared.
Malisse also explained that the vulva and vagina area is one of the most sensitive and highly absorbent parts of the body, so those who menstruate should make sure they are using something safe during their period.
“Using BOBBLE products means menstruators will be experiencing GOTS certified organic cotton in their pads and tampons; this makes our period products kinder to the skin and is free from chlorines, perfumes and dyes. Along with our bamboo charcoal layer in our pads, this added layer helps to absorb odour and inhibit bacterial growth. BOBBLE products are also packed in fully biodegradable packaging, using FSC certified paper and soy based ink, giving menstruators a peace of mind when disposing of our products and boxes.”
Malisse is currently 4 years in remission and is doing well. “I still go for my quarterly check-ups but so far, so good. I used to be worried that going through chemotherapy would affect my fertility; but I am blessed that I was able to conceive my second child, who is now 4months old.”
Starting a new business isn’t always easy, especially with all sorts of challenges. As for Malisse, she mentioned, now that she has children, she’s become more risk-averse than she would have been during her younger-no-kids days. “It was important that I took a very calculated risk to go almost full time into BOBBLE; pouring my savings into bootstrapping the business and not taking income could be a make or break risk for my family.”
“But my steadfast purpose behind doing what I’m doing drives me to keep going and doing the best we can as a small local startup to serve the menstruating community to the best of our abilities.”
While she was fighting for her life, she was also celebrating new life with the birth of her baby girl, Aleya. It was her baby girl who pushed her to power through. “It was a struggle trying to figure out being a new mother at the same time as chemotherapy, but having Aleya drove me to power through, for her.”
A book called Option B by Sheryl Sandberg also helped her in these tough times. It introduced the concept of post-traumatic growth.
“Understanding this theory, created a safe space for me to grow into a new self and learn through this tough journey where I was able to move forward more easily, rather than trying to go back to where and who I was, before this traumatic time in my life.”
Malisse shared with us some of her interests during her free time which includes enjoying nice massages, watching cooking shows but prefers to eat (same girl, same!), boxing and growing in her jump rope journey. We understand practising self-care isn’t easy, especially when you’re a new mother.
Having to adapt to new things can be quite a challenge for most mothers. However, Malisse makes sure to fit in some jump rope time for 30-40 minutes at least twice a week and some TV time when the kids have gone to bed, which are the only times she can let her mind zone out for a bit!
If you’d like to know more about BOBBLE, you can check them out here.
We hope Malisse’s story has inspired you the way it inspires us, to get out of our comfort zone and take on new challenges in life. Always take one day at a time and never give up on your dreams!
Do you have your own story to tell? Drop us an email at: [email protected]
The Happy Hormones is a one-stop platform for all things Wellness! We aim to simplify those living in Malaysia who are looking to improve their well-being in terms of the body and mind, alongside helping people find answers, solve problems, and get inspired through our high-quality produced content.