Growing up, Giana Jarrah always had a passion for science and helping people, but she was always very artistic and creative. She didn’t know how to blend the two into a career. However at 16 years old, her mother was diagnosed with an aggressive stage of cervical pre-cancer. Giana went to all of her appointments and when doctors decided on the surgery, they were introduced to the device that would be used, which was designed by a team of biomedical engineers. At that appointment with my mom, it all clicked, she knew she wanted to be a biomedical engineer.
While pursuing her degree,Giana encountered her first Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and after that followed a series of UTIs, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), and resistance to two kinds of antibiotics. After months of suffering and no relief, she decided to make change in women’s reproductive health. Giana extensively researched these issues and found the world of probiotics. The need of them for optimal urinary and vaginal health was clear.
She designed experiments testing the pH altering effects of probiotics and knew that she wanted to launch a probiotic/prebiotic supplement specifically designed for urinary-vaginal health. So, she decided to create her own company: With Meraki Co., Meraki being a Greek word that means to do something with love, soul, and creativity.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Giana Jarrah: Hello! My name is Giana Jarrah. Growing up, I always had a passion for science and helping people, but I was always very artistic and creative. I didn’t know how to blend the two into a career.
However, at 16 years old, my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive stage of cervical pre-cancer. I went to all of her appointments and when doctors decided on the surgery, we were introduced to the device that would be used, which was designed by a team of biomedical engineers. At that appointment with my mom, it all clicked, I knew I wanted to be a biomedical engineer.
During my undergraduate education, I battled recurrent and chronic UTIs, and formed resistance to multiple antibiotics. After so many in such a short period of time, with no solution from medical professionals (aside from more antibiotic treatment), I decided to do my own research. In my research, I realized how little us women actually knew about our vaginal health. I started to understand the female anatomy and the importance of probiotics for optimal genitourinary health.
I began working in the laboratories on campus, designing and conducting experiments to showcase the incredible effects of probiotics and why they are so essential for the vagina. I wanted to remove the stigma surrounding the discussion of our vaginas and begin educating women on the science. I realized no gold standard probiotic supplement existed on the market for women and their urinary/vaginal health.
It was at that point that I trusted science and myself, and worked to design a once daily oral probiotic supplement to support and maintain a healthy and infection-free vagina. Thus, I created With Meraki Co., meraki being a Greek word that means to do something with love, soul and creativity-to leave a piece of yourself in your work. I wanted a name that would display my passion for advancing women’s health.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Giana Jarrah: I think business thrive when they are driven with passion. 2020 and 2021 were years of various change that have shifted the thinking of many around the world. In this shift I feel we as a society have gotten better at identifying a problem and wanting to fix it.
For me, identifying a problem that not only affected my life, but the lives of millions of women globally, has driven my passion to help and create change. As I have connected with my audience, I have learned that what has really connected them to my business is the passion behind my brand.
A lot of them feel seen and heard as well as cared for and it builds a great customer relationship, something a lot of people seek for in these times. With that said, I have learned so much about how meaningful it is to build that customer relationship and really interact with your audience. Rather than just launching a product and promoting it, engaging with their stories by sharing mine is what made this experience much more meaningful.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Giana Jarrah: I believe businesses should focus on a multichannel approach to build an audience and brand awareness. With the constant disruptions in our economy, branching out with various platforms to get your business out there is a great way to not only build an audience but making connections with those you can learn from. As someone who has made an effort to utilize different outlets to build an audience, I can share that I had a positive experience doing so and I would highly advise other businesses to take a similar approach.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Giana Jarrah: The health and wellness industry has flourished during the pandemic. A lot of people have really stepped up and realized how important it is to take care of your own health after the tragic losses we faced from the COVID-19 infection. This has driven many to adapt to a life style that is centered around taking care of our health and being more conscious of what we put in our bodies.
I have adapted to this by ensuring the probiotic supplement I launch will meet the needs of many in this space by being soy, lactose, allergen and gluten free as well as vegan and non-GMO.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Giana Jarrah: I wish I would have really known the impact the pandemic has had on the supply chain. I really struggled in the beginning to even obtain a shelf-stable bottle for my product due to the supply chain shortage, which really impacted my timeline of launching. While things like that are out of my control, knowing what I know now and understanding the outcomes of this shortage, I am able to predict a much better timeline which helps with the transparency with my audience.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Giana Jarrah: I expect this to remain popular in 2022. While social interaction has made a comeback from the pandemic, I believe the ease of use of online shopping, working, and meetings has allowed it to stick in a time where COVID cases have plummeted. I anticipate that many will use hybrid techniques and we will see an equal amount of online usage and in-person interaction.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Giana Jarrah: I spend about 9 hours a day in front of a screen- a large portion of this being for my job/business.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Giana Jarrah: Absolutely! My company is built off of a story so when I introduce With Meraki Co, I love to share the background and my story to convey my passion and scientific background. I want a team who understands my passion and shares that with me so we are able to see eye-to-eye when making company decisions.
I believe sharing my uro-vaginal issues on my website cover page (www.shopwithmerakico.com) and on my Tiktok has encouraged a safe space for women that helps me meet and connect with people and build a team with those who share the same passion.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Giana Jarrah: The biggest challenge right now would be the supply chain shortage that I discussed earlier. I have found a few ways around some of these supply chain obstacles but they still exist and I think acknowledging them and trying to work with these issues rather than working against them will create a better outcome.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Giana Jarrah: In 2022, I am most interested in learning how to become an even better entrepreneur. At my core, I am a scientist. I graduated with a degree in biomedical engineer, I conducted experiments and know the science like the back of my hand.
But I wanted to take this science that I believe in so much and create a business for this product so I had to learn how to become an entrepreneur. For the first 6 months of 2022, I have been doing just that. However, you can never learn too much. There is always room for growth and more to learn so I am excited to make new connections and learn more about becoming a better entrepreneur.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Giana Jarrah: I completely think there are some bosses who definitely think that it is not them. I can understand it may be difficult to recognize that you are that boss because of the disconnect that exists between bosses and employees. And while I understand the difficulty, I think that is a part of the problem.
I think that disconnect is what creates a poor company culture and causes employees to feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. I think bosses should make a consistent effort in staying in touch with daily activities of employees and teams. In a way, it humanizes you as a boss by removing the power imbalance and allows employees to feel more comfortable for normal discussion. We need more of this to build a feedback culture.
That way if/when employees do feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace, they can share their experience with their boss and we as bosses can try to make things right and improve our own habits or company habits before losing a valued employee.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Giana Jarrah: I love this question! My business superpower would be superhuman hearing. My business motto is ‘where you come first’ meaning where my customers come first. With this superpower, I would have the ability to understand my customers beyond listening abilities, where I can decipher tones, body language, gestures, facial expressions and even the choice of words in order to gather what my customers love or would like to see different in my product and brand and be able to deliver that.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Giana Jarrah: Success is to sell out on my launch day for 2022. I have worked so hard in all aspects of With Meraki Co and to be able to have my product in my hands and launch is a dream come true and if I were to sell out, it would be incredible. I want all women to try my product and I hope it changes their lives the way probiotics have changed mine.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Giana Jarrah for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Giana Jarrah or her company, you can do it through her – Instagram
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.