Co-Founder, Lice NØ More!
Where are you from and how did you come to live in Shanghai?
I was born and raised in San Francisco and moved to Shanghai from Chengdu in 2009 with my previous company, Diageo. For a decade, I worked for them in innovation creating new products for brands such as Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Smirnoff and more. It was definitely as fun as it sounds. Prior to living in China, I went to school and worked for various multinational organizations in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Thailand, the UK, Singapore, and the US.
Tell us how an outbreak of head lice led to a new business venture?
This labor of love would not have happened if our children did not get lice in Shanghai. It started with my older daughter coming home from school with lice. It was then passed onto our other daughter. We quickly discovered that Shanghai is not a lice-treatment friendly city and while we did everything we knew to do; still the kids had it for months. It was just a matter of time until I got it. Forty-something and I had live bugs camping out and procreating on my head. It. Was. Gross.
I remember going to work meetings and sitting on my hands so I wouldn’t constantly scratch my head while attempting to make an intelligent point.
After about 4 months, the lice were finally gone, but we would be forever scarred! The frustration of dealing with them; trying every single possible solution; failing and then starting again never went away. During drinks one evening with a friend, we confessed to having had lice and over Happy Hour(s), the concept of Lice NØ More!, an in-home lice removal service, was born.
After a ton of market research and inputs from our community, we launched our venture in March and are now … here to save the day! Because quite honestly, we do feel like superheroes. We receive the cry (or WeChat add) for help to rid families of these blood sucking villains and off we go - early in the morning, late at night and all times in between - armed with our weapons to rescue our clients.
What are your plans for Lice NØ More!?
We are here to serve the community and I find it extremely rewarding because we’ve been there ourselves and understand the panic, frustration and angst firsthand. Our clients are so grateful for the service because we take the guesswork out of the entire process and are available to support them emotionally as well.
In addition to helping families become lice-free, we want to eliminate the shame of having lice. We like to consider it a rite of passage and quite honestly, a normal part of family life all over the world. Lice is extremely common and about 33% of all kids between the ages of 3 to 11 will get it. 70% of them will pass it on to someone in their household.
In over 90% of cases, lice spreads through direct head-to-head contact or what we like to call friendship! Ironically though, if people know someone has lice, they are put in social Siberia. It’s true that lice is a 4-letter word, but we don’t want it eliminated from conversations. And while lice is notoriously frustrating to treat, it is harmless and does not carry disease so why should it be so taboo and carry the stigma that it does? We hope through our little venture that we get the community talking a bit more openly about lice knowing that we are here to help.
How have you managed to keep your day job and work on a new business venture at the same time?
After almost 20 years in the corporate world, I left it 3 years ago. Working for a large multinational is vastly different from the start-up scene, where I’ve discovered there is more flexibility - at least in my situation. I’m sensitive that it can be different for others. 60% of my job is ‘location free’ so being a digital nomad truly allows me to be productive outside of the traditional office hours of 9 to 5. I often start working at 6:15 AM before the kids get up and once their school bus leaves, I use the thread mill as a walking desk for about 1.5 hours: answering emails, writing WeChats, Slack messages and taking calls. I’ve become uber efficient with how I use my time allowing me to get more out of a day and pursue passions like Lice NØ More! outside of work.
What are your current challenges on your entrepreneurial journey?
I’m still getting used to being called an entrepreneur! I didn’t think I was the type and felt far more comfortable in a boardroom setting. Unless I’m deeply passionate about something, I can’t get behind it. So for me, the biggest challenge was figuring out “the thing” that would move me so strongly that I’d take the risk. And yes, I never imagined that it would be LICE!
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs just starting out?
1. Pay it forward: I believe in karma. You’re going to need help along the way. Before you need it, be kind; help others and be a woman who supports women - I love Madeleine Albright’s quote, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Amen.
2. Just keep going: So simple, yet difficult especially when faced with what may seem like roadblocks. During those challenging moments, I like to empower myself and think that I always have a choice: stop or continue. Choose to continue, even if it’s one small step in forward motion.
3. Don’t strive for perfection, strive for excellence: My husband shared this gem with me years ago. Perfection is unattainable and aiming for it will paralyze you. Instead hustle for excellence and then course correct along the way.
What do you do when you’re not working?
1. My girls are still at an age when as soon as they see me, they squeal at the top of their lungs; stretch their arms out for a hug and run towards me at top speed with the biggest smiles on their faces. Melts my heart every time. I know these moments won’t last much longer so I’m savoring them while I can. I try to be home when the girls return from school. It’s a luxury I can afford for now and I don’t take it for granted.
2. My husband and I try to be religious about weekly date nights and quarterly staycations without the girls. We don’t always succeed but then again … see point about striving for excellence ;-).
3. My family and I love to travel. I’ve been to 66 countries. There’s still so much of the world to see; so much to learn from other cultures and so many more adventures to take!
4. I’m currently in one of those steps competition. For another 4 weeks, I will be constantly moving. Exercise is the one thing I do that’s purely for me. I’m pretty committed and work out 6 days a week. All this activity is super useful because I love to eat more than I like to go to the gym.
5. My girlfriends are good for my soul and mental well-being. I’m very fortunate to have so many inspiring, accomplished and talented females in my life. They lift me up; make me belly laugh and push me to be better. I always make time for them.
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