- The GM of Phenology talks about her adventurous life during the pandemic
- How she ended up building her own brand
- Her commitment to pursuing joy and new experiences
Jess Graham is the GM of Phenology, a company focused on naturally powerful menopause science and the CMO of Hologram Sciences. She talks to 35 Thousand about leaving her “cushy” corporate job, how her sense of self has shifted and her experience of living a nomad lifestyle for a year.
Describe yourself in 3 words…
Pragmatic. Perceptive. Playful.
Tell us about your work
Launching a new menopause brand called Phenology that will meet women where they are and then lift them up through science, effective relief, and culture shifts.
Do you work in a spare room, skyscraper, or other?
Spare room (and also, on walks, in the car, on the subway, in the laundry room putting a load in, over the stove getting dinner started, on the couch. Boundaries? What boundaries?)
What parts of your work give you energy?
Building – team, culture, brands, stories, consumer value.
What parts of your work drain you?
The spreadsheet-y parts.
Most pivotal point of your career so far?
Leaving a “cushy” corporate job for my first start-up on the cusp of turning 42.
Best piece of advice you received that you now pass on to others?
Don’t out work the work, out think it. A former boss prominently displayed this phrase in her office and then modelled it. (Eternally grateful, Cathy!)
Pets, hobbies, external commitments?
I live with my wife Kelly and a goofy Great Dane named Philo. I am committed to the pursuit of joy and new experiences.
Describe your pre-pandemic day-to-day:
Pre-pandemic I led a charmed, urban life. Work was in relative proportion to meeting friends, traveling, exercise, lectures, shows, etc. Occasionally there were Saturdays spent in pajamas.
How has your daily life changed, what’s your new normal?
The pajamas are far from occasional.
Has the Corona crisis impacted you personally and professionally? How?
It’s had profound effects on everything – including my sense of self and my identity – which I’ll be unpacking for the next decade or two. In the meantime, it’s created a clear focus on showing up for myself and for others with empathy, curiosity, and flexibility first.
What, if anything, keeps you up at night?
Menopause sure did (true story). For months I was the person routinely sending out the emails at 4 am and exhausted at 4 pm. I finally realized it was a symptom of perimenopause then the adventure began to find a solution which ended in building my own.
What have been your best coping strategies over the past year? Do you have any objects, routines or tools that you found particularly uplifting? Gin or Gym?
A lot of sound baths and bath baths (with and without gin).
What has kept you sane? And kept your family sane?
My family lived as nomads for about a year between 2020-2021. We packed up our apartment, put our stuff in storage and crisscrossed the country three times in our car with our ginormous dog and a lot of stuff tied to the roof. We spent time in my mom’s “pod” and in Utah, Colorado, West Virginia, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia… It stimulated and challenged us intellectually, visually, culturally, physically, politically, organizationally, and sometimes digitally (pro-tip: ask the Airbnb host to send you a screenshot of a wifi speed test before you book). It was an adventure. We were very lucky.
Did 2020 change your outlook on life in any way?
I’m still (mostly) an optimist.
Are you travel ready? Where do you want to go, with who or would you rather stay home?
Anytime, anywhere, with anyone…essentially
Finish this sentence “If you look in my handbag at any time you will ALWAYS find….”
Five different shades of red lipstick that I may or may not be wearing under my mask.
What are your work from home saviours?
My standing desk, Waterloo by the case, and a Kobo candle burning.
Describe your style?
*makes note to find stylist.
Name your 5 essential items of clothing?
Cashmere everything (especially my Nadaam cashmere joggers), bathing suit (there is nothing better than being in the water), any Veronica Beard jacket, straight leg jeans (soft, high waisted, dark wash), and bracelets, always bracelets.
How do you see your business or career in two years from now?
Changing how we address women’s wellness in a meaningful way, starting with improving the lives of women during menopause with Phenology. From the way women feel, how (and whether) they talk about issues that affect them, and by really pushing the science, the solutions, and the culture forward.
Do you have a life motto or mantra that really resonates with you?
Feast on life.
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