In My Life in Seven Charms, Annoushka welcomes Michelle Kennedy, co-founder and CEO of Peanut, a groundbreaking social networking app for women focused on fertility, pregnancy, motherhood, and menopause. Michelle's inspiring journey unfolds through 7 meticulously designed charms, from her dreams of leaving her hometown to her career transitions, the birth of Peanut, and the challenges of fundraising while balancing tech leadership and motherhood.
Her first charm, an 18ct yellow gold Big Ben replica with diamonds and intricate engravings, symbolises Michelle’s dream of leaving her "average" Peterborough life. Doubling up as a locket that opens at the base, it’s engraved with ‘London Calling’ on its polished side. Raised as an only child under academic pressure, she pursued law and M&A at Mishcon de Reya before venturing into biotech. A twist of fate led her to tech and online dating at Badoo.
Michelle's career continued to thrive at Badoo and Bumble, where she played pivotal roles in their success. Her next venture, Peanut, stemmed from a personal light bulb moment. The idea came to her when she noticed that support for new mothers existed in online forums, leaving a gap for an innovative platform to unite like-minded mothers navigating similar challenges. This led her to create a space addressing the unmet needs of mothers seeking connections and information. Annoushka perfectly captures this moment through a 2D modern lightbulb charm in white gold complete with diamonds around the edge. Inside, are three little yellow gold filaments and the screw in base is embellished with a tiny upside-down diamond.
Continuing, Michelle goes on to share the unrealistic expectations of maternal instincts and the difficulty in balancing motherhood. With a five-year age gap between her son and daughter, the support from her husband and friends allowed her to avoid self-criticism and the weight of guilt. Annoushka aptly designed miniature girl and boy charms with moving arms and legs to signify this. The girl has a skirt set with pink sapphires whilst the boy has blue sapphire shorts on.
The name 'Peanut' began during her pregnancy with her son when she would check her baby's size online, which was often compared to the size of a peanut, eventually becoming an affectionate nickname for her bump. From there, everything related to her pregnancy was referred to as "Peanut," including a spreadsheet she created for baby-related shopping!
Annoushka interprets this as a perfectly formed peanut shell charm in rose gold, set with tiny brown diamonds to catch the light. It's partially open showing a glimpse of two little pearls inside that symbolise her children. When shaken, the pearls produce a subtle rattling sound, mimicking the way peanuts rattle inside their shells. Annoushka goes on to present Michelle with a piggy bank charm, which represents her experience of fundraising for Peanut while heavily pregnant with her daughter. It’s a 3-dimensional piggy bank embellished with tsavorites with a slot for coins and a dangling coin charm.
Their conversation highlights Michelle's fundraising challenges, and her determination to address the gender imbalance in tech entrepreneurship and investment. She talks about her shift in communication style becoming more assertive in meetings and stresses the need to be selective when fundraising and avoiding early equity giveaways. Michelle also mentions a pivotal moment when Peanut was featured on a popular TV series. Overwhelmed with excitement, she woke her husband, recorded the moment, and shared it with her team. It was an amazing moment seeing it in pop culture.
Annoushka visualised this ‘wow’ moment as a pop art style of charm in white gold with the letters W-O-W embellished with rubies. It sits within a big starburst and has a tiny little pearl dangling from the exclamation mark. Annoushka and Michelle go on to talk about the excitement and elation that comes from seeing your hard work acknowledged and admired by others. This leads to Annoushka discussing the final charm, a Links of London oval box made in yellow gold with black diamonds and a bow. The lid lifts off to reveal a little carved coral peanut inside. This charm relates to Michelle's cherished Links of London Sweetie bracelet, designed by Annoushka years ago, and each charm on it symbolises a part of Michelle's life, giving her a sense of empowerment and confidence.
Michelle's story is one of determination and entrepreneurship, a perfect example of never giving up on something you feel so passionately about. As a result, she chose to have the peanut charm handmade for her as it’s a symbol of her children, and everything she has worked so hard for. Listen to the full conversation on the My Life in Seven Charms podcast here.