Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Taking Control of Your Life with Jeanne Retief

George Grombacher September 28, 2023

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Taking Control of Your Life with Jeanne Retief

LifeBlood: We talked about taking control of your life, having the courage to recognize when a change is necessary and making it, overcoming feelings of helplessness, and becoming an entrepreneur, with Jeanne Retief, human rights attorney and consultant, and Founder of Figgi Beauty.       

Listen to learn why you’re not alone when feeling like you’re alone!

You can learn more about Dr. Jeanne at FiggiLife.com, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Jeanne Retief

Jeanne Retief

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Dr. Jean Retief is a human rights consultant and attorney. She’s the founder of Figgy beauty. She is the creator of the Figgy blog. They’re celebrating life successes, failures, wins and losses. Welcome, Jean.

Jeanne Retief 0:16
Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I’m excited to be here.

george grombacher 0:19
So I did have you on tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do.

Jeanne Retief 0:26
I was originally Well, my expertise is in international human rights and criminal law. And I have a consultancy based on that. But after I was diagnosed with panic disorder, and having to deal with a bunch of trauma in my childhood, I didn’t deal with Well, it all kind of came crashing down. And I had to make really, really difficult decisions about how I was going to manage my life and my lifestyle and get back into a good space. And I had all of this knowledge of how to build practical human rights programs, but I was always being barred by kind of the diplomacy and the red tape and the politics and the bureaucracy. And I needed to find a space where I could have peace. So I decided to marry those two, thank God, I know, works really well to do that I know is struggling other women like me, and create this platform where we can all just come together to not be okay.

george grombacher 1:33
I can only imagine the amount of frustration that one would face when trying to deal with international human rights. So I imagine that, that what you went through is unique, but not uncommon.

Jeanne Retief 1:47
Yeah, for sure. And I was very much focused in the African Development Community and the African regions. So the struggles, there are just so so much more. And there are just so many roadblocks and so much kind of diplomacy to work through, it’s hard to get to the practical outcomes of what you’re trying to achieve. And with Figgy, what I love is that it’s on my time, it’s on my agenda, it’s with my own money. So I get to call the shots and to say, Listen, I know this works, let’s do it this way. Let’s integrate it this way. And I’m not constantly being barred by all of that outside noise.

george grombacher 2:37
And I imagine that it certainly makes sense. And that’s something that I think that we all desire and and want strive for is control and a very, I think all of us, regardless of where we’re at, in the work that we’re doing, feel like a lot of our lives are out of our control.

Jeanne Retief 2:55
Yeah, that’s very true. And when I was diagnosed with panic disorder, that was even more so for me, because I mean, a huge part of that is feeling out of control and feeling like you don’t know what’s going on around you, and you’re not in control of your body and your emotions. So that that made it even worse. So to be able to create a space where I can recognize that this is what’s happening to me, this is how I am wired. This is how I need to deal with things now. Just grants me so much peace. And it’s such a cathartic experience for me.

george grombacher 3:35
I’ve been, I think, a good amount about I think about our ability to respond to how we think act and behave in regard to how we respond to things that’s that’s we have control over that I don’t have control over what happens to me, but I do have control over those things. With Figi part of what you’re doing is skincare. How did you you could look at the whole universe of things. How did you settle on skincare,

Jeanne Retief 4:08
I needed to create something. When I stepped away from my human rights consultancy, I wanted to make sure that I was still challenging myself to learn something new to do something integrative integrative and I had a lot of issues with my diagnosis because I hid it. It didn’t fit into a professional environment to tell people I have a problem with anxiety. And as part of that one of my biggest symptoms is really sensitive skin. So I thought that I’ve always loved skincare I love to go back to school again, as crazy as that sounds. And I want to create something that speaks to my diagnosis and who I am now and the acceptance of that and help others that are going through the same so that’s why I’m saying always say the skincare is so poor part and parcel of it, because it’s really just a symptom of my diagnosis and trying to help out with those little things that can make a big difference.

george grombacher 5:11
I imagine we can, we can hide how, how it is we’re feeling and the way we act and we carry ourselves. But our skin, although I’ve not thought a lot about it, it gives us away.

Jeanne Retief 5:26
Oh, yeah, for sure. And for me, my symptoms usually are scratching, itching, burning, a lot of redness, breakouts, I really have a lot of problems, especially when I’m about to have a panic attack, or when I’ve been through as especially anxious time. And I’m not a doctor at whole, but how it’s been explained to me by my health care professionals is it’s those writing rising cortisol levels, you know, and that bursting through your bloodstream into your skin, and it’s just activating all of those nervous systems and sending all these signals. So you’re always so uncomfortable. And your skin is your biggest organ. So, you know, when, when it doesn’t?

george grombacher 6:20
When something is going wrong, it’s going to let you know for sure. So

Jeanne Retief 6:24
Oh, yeah, for sure. And it’s also it really does affect your self confidence, because it’s really your window to the world. So if you’re waking up in the mornings, and you have this really blotchy red face, and you’re scratching and you’re itching and you’re flaking, it just doesn’t make you feel good, you know. And then you’re also dealing with all of your whatever you’re going through with your mental health with your family situation. So to have these small parts of our days that can make you feel better, is a huge lifesaver for somebody like me.

george grombacher 6:54
Yeah, I appreciate that. So was Was there a moment where you just said I, I need to literally need to make this change, I need to start doing something for myself that launched the blog was it’s this combination. Tell me a little bit about that. And then how did you make the jump? Because that’s a nervous, anxious thing to do is to start a new company.

Jeanne Retief 7:19
Yeah, so it was a combination of things. I call it the breaking, because we just moved to Portugal. And the idea was for both of us, my husband and I to kind of translate our businesses here. For him, it worked out really well, because he had already actually done that he just needed to to open an office here. For me, it didn’t translate that well. Because it was during COVID. I’m a new citizen in a new country, I work in human rights, everybody giving funding and fees and donations stopped because they needed to look after their own people, which is understandable. So I was dealing with a really big identity crisis because I went from being Dr. Jean Marie Retief, to just a wife. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just we all have our own identities and how we feel. And that was a really difficult thing for me to come to terms with. And then my panic disorder just came to a really bad space. And I was having a series of migraines we thought I was having, I was having strokes, I had to go for MRIs. So I really had no choice but to stop and to say, okay, everything I’m doing right now is not working. Like I cannot continue to do this. I can’t continue to mourn something that’s already lost. I can’t continue to place myself in this bubble of who I thought I was, and I’m not this person anymore. I can continue to ignore all of these struggles I’m having. And that’s how Figgy was born.

george grombacher 8:55
Yeah. So I, I’m sorry that you went through that I’m glad that you’ve come out the other side. It’s how long did it take? You’re you essentially go back to school, you you you learn all this new stuff. You learn about doing business on the internet and learn about skincare even though you had skin before, its doesn’t mean that you were an expert in skincare. And even if you were using skincare products, which I’m sure you weren’t doesn’t mean you know how to make them.

Jeanne Retief 9:22
Yeah, that’s true. And also, I had a really big chip on my shoulder because I was never good at chemistry or science. It just was not at all what my natural abilities were. So it was a huge change to go back and do this. And it took me a better part of four year almost four years. Because I really wanted to know what I was talking about. And I wanted to be able to question things and say if I don’t agree with something and also I came from a service based industry into a product based industry which is cool pletely different. I mean, I had to learn about g 10 codes and cosmetic regulations and shipping and distribution and 3d Al’s like things that I’ve never heard about in my life, that I all of a sudden needed to understand how to do and place with that I’m a South African living in Europe, I needed to figure out how does that work in terms of opening a business and having a company. And so it was a lot to kind of try and navigate, and I made a lot of really, really big mistakes. But I’m still very glad I did it.

george grombacher 10:42
Fascinating. I mean, each one of those I’m sure is is is worthy of a long conversation. So we come out the other end, and how many, how many products do you do market now

Jeanne Retief 10:58
we have a regimen of four products, because it’s for sensitive skin, I wanted it to be taken back to a really minimalist approach, because the first thing you do is throw out everything and go back to the basics just to get yourself into a good place again. And then we have two additional beautiful products in the world at the moment that’s going through the testing phases. And that we’re just kind of fine tuning and hoping to release early next year.

george grombacher 11:29
I think that that’s really exciting. Do you are you as passionate, more passionate as you were with your human rights work because it’s similar as a different.

Jeanne Retief 11:44
You know, actually, my husband and I had a really long conversation about this during a recent holiday. And I was telling him that the passion is for sure the same. But the challenges are different. Because with Figgy, I went into such a personal space, even with my blog, and my podcast, I share a lot of really personal things in my journey and the trauma that led to this diagnosis. So it’s really difficult to separate your business, from your personal life. Because with my human rights consultancy, my business was my business, my personal life was my personal life. But this is so integrated. Because I talk about my personal life, it’s part of what I went through. So it’s it’s been a challenge to kind of find that balance. But what keeps me positive about it is the fact that I’m realizing that I’m not alone. There’s a community of people like me out there, it, it gets easier to talk about things as you go on. And it doesn’t seem like this monster in the closet. So those things are very big relief to me. But I’m sure as you go through any kind of business, you’ll always have new things that you kind of have to figure out and have to stop and say, Okay, well, I didn’t, didn’t think about it this way. I’m gonna have to fine tune this a little.

george grombacher 13:09
It’s really interesting. When when you’re doing your human rights work, I imagine you’re not advocating for yourself, you’re specifically advocating for other human beings.

Jeanne Retief 13:22
That is very true. Yeah. And the problem was that my trauma was based on childhood sexual abuse and young adult abuse. And I went into human rights, dealing with these issues, because I think I always thought, Okay, I am making a difference. And I’m helping myself by helping these people. And all of a sudden, now it’s on me, and I’m talking about my own experiences, and you kind of turning the lens around, and looking back. And that can be a really challenging experience.

george grombacher 14:02
Yeah, immense. I was gonna say new learning, I think that that’s probably an accurate term, but it is a it’s difficult to talk about yourself. And if you’re not accustomed to it, it feels weird. But then you get better at it and you become more comfortable to your point and then you get good at it. So but going through that transition is not easy.

Jeanne Retief 14:25
Yeah, I know for sure. And I mean, one of the biggest challenges for me and figure was understanding how this whole social media ecommerce thing works because with product based things, especially in the beauty space, social media is such a huge driver, marketing driver, and posting stories and everything was so uncomfortable to me because I don’t like to share myself like that. And I don’t like to share my life like that. It’s a really different mindset that you kind of have to have and how you navigate that and still have good sense about yourself and who you are and, and just your mental health, you know?

george grombacher 15:11
For sure. When you’re talking about self care, you need to make sure you’re being mindful of your own self care. So you don’t, you know, do too much or, you know, it’s, it’s studying the needle

Jeanne Retief 15:25
for sure. Yeah, exactly.

george grombacher 15:28
And so I think I, from my understanding part of what you’re doing is you’re helping to create a space and for people to be comfortable sharing what’s working, what’s what’s what’s, what’s not working wins, and losses, and all those things that we’re experiencing. So going through what you’ve just described, and potentially helping other people to do the same.

Jeanne Retief 15:53
Yeah, that’s right. Because one of the biggest barriers to my healing journey, for me personally, was all of this self help advice out there. It’s so good to have direction, but I am such a perfectionist, and I would launch into this thinking, I need to do it exactly right, I need to always be positive. If I need to meditate, I need to do this. And when I eventually relapsed, or wasn’t able to do it, I was so down on myself. So, and I know so many other women in my field and my age, from my previous experience that feel the same, it’s just such an enormous amount of pressure, that sometimes it’s just okay to be truthful and honest. And, you know, unfortunately, sometimes life is just hard. And sometimes things happen for you. And sometimes they happen against you. And just to have that community of people that are there to support you through that is such an immense blessing.

george grombacher 16:56
No, I appreciate that. And to have the ability to care for your skin, and to feel like you have control over that, I think is an awesome thing. So, uh, Jim, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And how can they learn more about what you’re doing with Figgy

Jeanne Retief 17:15
thank you so much for the opportunity. They the easiest way is to go to Figgy life if I GG i live.com. There you’ll find links to the blog, the podcast and the store. You can also go to figgy.eu. That’s the US store as well. And there’s a nice summer sale we have going on at the moment. And if you use the coupon code, welcome, you’ll get a 15% discount.

george grombacher 17:41
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did show Junior appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Figgy life.com. It’s Figg i l i f e.com. Also check out fi.edu and check out all the things that we’ve been talking about today and use the discount code welcome 15% off next, Kenji. Thank you. Till next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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