Here at Milkbar, we are proud to stock some amazing brands that have been created by equally amazing women. These brands are making a positive difference for breastfeeding mamas and it is the women behind them who we have to thank for that.
In honour of International Women's Day, we spoke with the brains behind some of our favourite brands; Fran from Franjo's Kitchen, Tracey from MaterniTea, Nickey from Junobie (the eco-friendly and reusable breastmilk storage bag launching in Australia and Milkbar later this month) and our very own Diana owner of Milkbar.
They shared with us their thoughts on 'work/life balance', founding a business and what it means to be a #girlboss in today's ever changing online business world.
Fran, one half of the hugely successful (and delicious) Franjos Kitchen is a mother of two and practising lawyer. She met her co-founder Jo, a naturopath, as a first time mama and, after having some doubt about her milk supply, began investigating lactation cookies. The two women soon discovered that there was a gap in the market for healthy, nutritious lactation cookies and Franjos was born!
Mum-of-two Nickey is the founder of Junobie, the worlds first eco-friendly and reusable breast milk storage bag (SO COOL!). After returning to work after maternity leave and grappling with flimsy plastic breast milk storage bags and bulky containers, Nickey realised that there had to be a better way. And so, Junobie was born.
Image: Junobie Founder Nickey and her team
Managing work and motherhood - "Women often face the pressure to be perfect at managing both work and motherhood effortlessly. This is 100% unattainable. Admittedly, work-life integration can be a juggling act for many women, and as I watch the generational shift it is more important than ever to integrate flexible work solutions for families. I do believe that work/life balance is possible and does exist, however, it can’t be achieved by the efforts of the woman alone. Women would need a strong infrastructure of support to help maintain this balance."
Creating change for mothers returning to work - "Junobie was founded by a working mother who understood the challenges and inequalities faced by women returning to the workforce. A core mission of ours is supporting our employees by building an infrastructure that allows them to feel that support. We desire to build an integrated mother/baby work environment. This type of work environment will allow women and their baby to be in the same location as one another. At Junobie we believe that it takes a village, and our company and employees are better when we work together."
Taking action and going for your business dreams -"If you don’t go for it, you will always wonder what would have been. Reach out to as many people as you possibly can that may provide you with a healthy dose of advice in your related area. Don’t worry, they won’t bite. Although we are a woman-owned small business we have reached out to some of the biggest companies in the world and some respond back to us and some don’t, and for the ones that don't that is okay, you have to keep moving. All it takes is ONE yes, and you may find yourself getting a mentor at a multi-billion dollar corporation or catching the eye of a huge magazine publication. These are true scenarios that happened to our woman-owned small business, and if we can do it SO CAN YOU!"
The seed for Milkbar was planted when Diana returned to work after the birth of her first child. Through her own experiences and struggles with juggling breastfeeding, expressing and returning to work, Diana realised that all mums, but particularly new mums, needed a one stop shop for all their feeding essentials – so Milkbar Breastpumps was born. Milkbar is proud to be the Australian distributor of both the Haakaa and LaVie brands along with a range of other innovative products for breastfeeding mamas.
Learning to 'switch off' -"I find it really hard to switch off from work and being a business owner can be all consuming. I have been making small changes to make sure the time I do spend with my children is quality time without me constantly on my phone. I have been known to respond to customers at 2am in the morning so keeping my laptop at work on the weekend so I can have so downtime is one of the small changes I am trying to hold myself to."
Creating a positive working environment that empowers employees - "Being able to offer employment to other mums so that they can be the mum they want to be and help contribute to their family is something I am truly proud of. This time last year there was only me working at Milkbar! We are now a team of 5 and most of our employees work part-time with flexible hours or from home. Finding part time, flexible work that still offered the opportunity for growth was something I struggled to find 5 years ago and something I knew I wanted to offer to my own employees."
Empowering breastfeeding mamas - "Milkbar is proud to support all breastfeeding mums where ever they are in their breastfeeding journey. Giving mums access to alternative products and brands is what keeps me going. Mums want access to products which are environmentally friendly, cost effective, simple and innovative and that's what we deliver! As well as our online store we stock Haakaa and LaVie in 70 other retailers and pharmacies in Australia. We are just getting started in 2020 and it is my dream to help 100,000 Australian mums this year."
Investing in yourself and giving your business dreams a go - "Take action and learn as you go. Invest in yourself and up-skill. Start small and test that your business is viable before investing lots of cash. And for IWD I would like to give a shout out to some amazing women who have helped me in my business journey. Thank you to Catherine Langman, Kate Toon, and Denise Duffield-Thomas
Certified Australian Tea Master (yes, that's a real thing!) and Aussie mum Tracey discovered a passion for herbal tea and it's health benefits during pregnancy. After struggling with the not-so-pleasant parts of being pregnant, Tracey was inspired to learn more about how the pregnancy experience could be improved naturally. After consulting with a whole range of health professionals and wellness experts, Maternitea was born and now offers the worlds only complete pregnancy tea program, providing specially formulated, 100% Organic and Caffeine Free herbal tea blends to women throughout pregnancy and as they move forward into motherhood.
Striving for balance - "I think the term “work/life balance” means something different to everyone. For me, when I’m travelling and planning trips I’m at my best. My husband always says I’m the best version of myself when we travel. So it’s something I definitely place a lot of value in and therefore run my business and day to day schedule in way that accommodates that balance. Work life balance definitely exists for me, it’s just about identifying what it means to you and finding a way to make it happen."
Putting Maternitea customers first -"I really try every day to put my focus on my beautiful customers. Thinking about their pregnancy or breastfeeding journey, what they’re struggling with, what questions are they too scared to ask, what could I do through my business' social media and newsletter articles to help empower them with knowledge. We don’t know what we don’t know until someone tells us, so consistently trying to “focus” on my customers needs helps to shift “energy” into sales."
On knowing your worth (and your numbers!) as a business woman -"As women, by nature we tend to apologise too often or undervalue our time or our worth. If you have a product or service that you genuinely believe in, have the confidence to back yourself and demand what it’s worth.
Don’t be scared to be the most expensive if your product or service is the best. To know this though you need to know your numbers- inside and out. Otherwise you’ll go bankrupt very quickly and you can’t appropriately price your product or service."
A huge thank you to the women who agreed to speak to us for IWD!
And don't forget to join the waitlist for our Junobie launch later this month.
For the majority of us, consciously moving away from single use, non recyclable/biodegradable products is something we are actively committed to, but it can become overwhelming at times, especially working out where to start. While these easy eco-friendly product swaps aren't going to change the world overnight, they help us to play a small role in the greater good.
There is no doubt about it; breastfeeding is tough. It can take a huge toll on all aspects of your life, from your physical health right through to your mental and emotional wellbeing and even your relationship. Breastfeeding has the power to drain not only your boobs, but a big chunk of your life force. We get it. As breastfeeding mamas ourselves, we've been there. And we're here to tell you that there are ways to take care of your babies mama (AKA you) even when you're boobin' round the clock.