We are delighted to introduce you to Diary Dolls – the perfect pants for periods, pelvic floor weakness and post maternity. Created by former tennis star Annabel Croft and TV presenter Carol Smillie, they may look like your average pretty pants but they actually come with a secret waterproof panel to give you extra protection when you need it the most, preventing any potentially embarrassing leaks. So whether you’re preparing for a first date, a job interview or heading out for a night with the girls, with Diary Dolls you’ll be ready for anything.
We caught up with Annabel and Carol to find out more:
First things first, how do you both know each other?
Annabel: We met through our TV careers a few times and then we kept bumping into each other in Portugal, where we’ve both holidayed since our children were young, so we’ve become very close over the years.
How did you come up with the idea?
Annabel: I’ve actually had the idea for over 25 years. I’ve had a problem with my periods since I was a teenager and I know millions of other women have too – for example it might involve worrying about getting up from a chair or when getting out of bed in case there’s been a leak. I remember while traveling playing tennis when I was a teenager, I used to worry I would embarrass myself at a host’s house, so my mum used to hand me these ugly plastic pants to protect myself which looked like a shower cap with legs!
How did Carol get involved with Diary Doll?
Annabel: We were out shopping one day and Carol was buying her daughters some throwaway pants so I told her about my idea for period pants. She immediately saw the potential of the product and I found my perfect business partner.
Carol: When Annabel first told me about her idea I was fascinated – I couldn’t quite believe there wasn’t anything out there already. I’ve never had a problem personally, however my daughters have had friends over for sleepovers and they’ve scuttled off in the morning embarrassed as they’ve had an accident. I knew it was an issue but I didn’t realise how many women it affected. There are few ideas left out there that are so obvious and simple so I was really excited.
How do Diary Dolls work?
Carol: They look and feel exactly like your favourite pants but contain a secret waterproof panel in between two cotton layers to protect clothing and bedding against any embarrassing leaks so they’re perfect for periods, pelvic floor weakness and even post maternity. The panel runs from the front to the back and is wider than night time pads so offers a lot of protection. They are thin and lightweight so you don’t even notice the panel is there, and they are machine washable. Worn together with you normal protection, nobody need ever know!
Who is Diary Dolls for?
Annabel: We initially developed the brand for teenagers and young girls but more and more women have come out of the woodwork so we now sell to all ages for a variety of reasons, be it periods, pelvic floor weakness or post maternity.
You both have daughters, would you introduce the products to them?
Annabel: Absolutely – my family definitely needs them. Carol never had a problem with her periods but has a lot of friends who have experienced problems so every woman can relate to it.
What’s the story behind the name?
Annabel: We mulled over lots of names but I’ve always written in my diary to keep track of my cycle and I wanted the name to be pretty and inoffensive to make the subject more approachable.
What is each of your roles at Diary Doll?
Carol: We are based up in Scotland and I work full time at the Diary Doll head office as well as attending lots of evening events. I’m mostly involved in the sales and marketing side including social media and building relationships with our brand ambassadors who include the Scottish netball team. My husband is also now involved in the business, handling the more commercial side so the banking and warehousing, for example.
Annabel: Carol has driven the project since our initial discussion three years ago starting with sourcing samples from China. She’s got great creative flair, is very hands on and knows a lot about making clothes. I play a more supportive role – I’m not involved day to day but we go to a lot of meetings together and I get involved in the PR and marketing.
Do you find there’s a taboo around the subject of periods?
Annabel: I find that everyone’s happy to talk about sex and boobs but not periods – people tend to scuttle away and hide in fear. Some people can’t tackle the subject – at first a lot of male editors wouldn’t do interviews with us once they found out what our product was for. Then the Australian Open interview happened in which an interviewer, after probing tennis player Heather Watson about her spells of dizziness and bloatedness, was left surprised when she said it was due to women problems. Radio 5 then contacted me about the fact she’d talked about menstruation which ended up opening up a massive debate. I ended up doing interviews for CNN, the Huffington Post and even a documentary for German TV. It seemed once we started talking about periods more, the more women it led to opening up about it, and it’s since become a global subject matter.
What has the feedback been like from customers?
Annabel: We’ve had some fantastic reviews online – some have even described the pants as lifesaving and life-changing.
What’s next for Diary Doll?
Carole: We will continue to grow the brand by developing more shapes, selling in more stores, working with schools and expanding internationally. I recently met Belinda Miller (the creator of the sports bra) at an International Women’s Week talk and we were discussing Diary Dolls. She said that when her and her friends used to go for a run they’d have to hold their breasts to support them, and that the first sports bra was called a jock bra as it was literally two jock straps turned upside down! Now every woman owns a sports bra and I can see the same thing happening with Diary Dolls in that it will become a way of life – it’s the ultimate solution product.
Diary Dolls are available online now in three gorgeous styles: