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Celebrating Female Founders for International Women's Day
Celebrating Female Founders for International Women's Day

Celebrating Female Founders for International Women's Day

As a women-owned business, we take pride in celebrating and championing other women—especially moms—who are on the same entrepreneurial journey. In honor of International Women's Day, we're taking a moment to spotlight some incredible women building exciting, innovative brands that put mom front and center. 

Jenny Best, Solid Starts

What inspired you to start your own brand?

 We were really struggling with picky eating with our toddler and I wanted to help other parents learn how to prevent picky eating before it starts. It turns out that most of that work happens before a child even turns one year old. In other words, how you start solids, how you approach the transition from spoon-feeding to self-feeding, and how you respond to those first food refusals can chart the course ahead.

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

Just the sheer size of our following. I feel an enormous responsibility to our followers. The volume has been overwhelming, but, of course, these are good problems to have. Scaling community engagement and response is probably the biggest challenge right now. We receive more than 100,000 DMs a week—the volume is staggering.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve built your business?

I have three people in mind: Nikki Silvestri, who is a longtime colleague and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion coach; Mary Helen Bowers, a fellow ballerina and colleague who was also one of the first "mompreneurs" to take her business online and scale it globally; and my cousin, Meridith, who pushed me to think big.

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Slow down. Haha. No, but seriously—slow down.

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

Working from home has unlocked time in my schedule I would have spent commuting back in the day and that has been extraordinary for me and the kids. We are privileged to have that choice and option and I am grateful for it.

Laura Modi & Sarah Hardy, Bobbie

What inspired you to start your own brand?

Fueled by disappointment with the existing infant formulas on the market, we started Bobbie to create an alternative that we would be proud to feed our own babies. As a team of moms, we lost sleep over this so our Bobbie customers don’t have to. 


What’s been your most humbling moment as entrepreneurs?

The constant DMs and emails we get from our Bobbie parents thanking us. We hear so many stories from parents who tried multiple formulas and nothing worked until Bobbie, or mastectomy moms who feel supported by our mission, or parents feeling confident and at peace about choosing formula and, of course, relieved parents celebrating easy poops.


Who has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve built your business?

We created Bobbie inspired by our personal feeding journeys with our own babies—so our kids are without a doubt the inspiration that drives us. 

We set out to create a company that calls BS on the shame and the guilt we felt when turning to formula as working moms, feeling like we had somehow failed as mothers. Bobbie exists to reframe the feeding conversation—we want it to be about confidence, not comparison—so all parents feel supported in whatever feeding journey is right for them and their baby. 


What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

Have grace for yourself in allowing personal and professional flexibility—permission to have a kid on your lap while working, permission that returning to work after having a kid will mean lower productivity. And also, don't be apologetic about it. Set the norm by showing what your reality is rather than pretending things are totally buttoned up behind the Zoom.

 

Sarah Gibson Tuttle, Olive & June

What inspired you to start your own brand?
The mission of Olive & June has always been to make beautiful nails accessible to everyone. Starting as a salon concept, we introduced our first-of-its-kind product line in 2019, which made it possible to get beautiful, salon-quality nails at home at an accessible price.

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

There have been a few. It may seem sexy to be an entrepreneur, but it's the hardest work you'll ever do. It has its extreme benefits, most of all that I get to do what I love and I get to create and build every day. But it is a constant grind, a constant hustle every single day.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve built your business?

I have had a ton of mentors along the way, but our Brand Director, Crystal Meers, pushed our brand to be the most authentic and original it could be in the early days, before anyone was talking about "brand." I am thankful to her every day for having that vision, as building a brand is critical to resonating with your community.

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Take a deep break. Surround yourself with people smarter and more creative than you are; they will push you to be the best version of yourself naturally.

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

Don't prioritize everything. Prioritize your family, the friends that are really good to you, and the work that inspires you—and let the rest fall away. Get comfortable saying "no" and focus on being present with whoever you are with.

Melanie Fiona, Melly Belly Mamas

What inspired you to start your own brand?

My desire to create Melly Belly™️ came from my personal journey through motherhood, pregnancy, and labor. I had so many questions and didn’t know who and where to turn to. I felt like no one was having the conversations I needed regarding the emotional and physical well-being of women through pregnancy and labor. I started sharing my journey online, very transparently, and quickly found a community of moms who all felt the way I did. I want to help women and parents honor the ways in which we feel and heal through motherhood.

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

Taking my own advice! Especially in the motherhood space. I preach to women about giving yourself “space for grace” in all things. Yet it is sometimes so hard for me to apply that when I have a goal in mind. For example, I had planned for a product launch at the end of last year, and unfortunately had to pause on the launch to prioritize the health and safety of my pregnancy. I was so disappointed, but had to apply the mentality of “surrender” the way I do in my life, to my business. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but it’s important not to get stuck in the disappointment of that feeling. When you’re an entrepreneur, the pressure weighs heavy on your shoulders… very similar to the role of mom. It’s humbling to have let go of expectation, and go with the flow.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve built your business?

Oprah. Her ability to be a voice that allows others to be heard is remarkable. She literally built an empire on the strength of conversation, compassion, and empathy. The human condition is an endless resource for us to share and connect.

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Who you are right now is not who you truly are. You are so much more of a force than you give yourself credit for. Trust yourself. Your instincts are all the validation you need.

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

Understanding that balance is not 50/50. Some days, parts of my work life will be the bulk of my time, and on other days, it will be strictly family and personal time. Trying to be 50/50 in anything is half assed in both things. My pro tip for working moms, “Don’t project your guilt of working on to your children. Don’t apologize for having to go to work.” Your children need to see you being confident in your own success story, and respecting you for that. They will learn from and be inspired by that. Working doesn’t make you any less of a mom.

Michelle Kennedy, Peanut

What inspired you to start your own brand?

When I first became a mom, I needed to connect with other women who understood what I was going through. Being able to ask questions and share experiences with other women gives you validation and helps you know that you’re not alone. I knew I had to create a product that would help women connect, so they didn't have to struggle like I did. So, I started Peanut, an app to provide women with a support network at every stage in life. A place where women could go to build friendships, ask questions and find support. Having a support network is crucial, especially when you're navigating the different stages of motherhood.

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

The big stuff is incredible—like being listed as one of Apple's Best Apps of 2022. But the most exciting moments for me are when you get an email from someone and they say “This app has truly changed my life” or somebody shares their success story on social media. You simply can’t manufacture it and it means what we're doing at Peanut is truly making a difference to women's lives, globally.

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Balance is bullsh*t. There was so much narrative surrounding "balance" when I was pregnant. I genuinely believed it was possible to be the perfect mother, employee, wife, daughter, friend, and still have "time for me." No surprise there—it’s not. When I wasn’t achieving the mystical balance, I felt like I was failing. As soon as I started to understand that life is about juggling, everything changed. I became much kinder to myself and realistic about what I could do. Sometimes I’m an amazing mommy, sometimes I am killing it at work, it rarely happens all at once, and that's ok.

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

For myself and team Peanut, the pandemic has forced us to work from home, meaning it’s even harder to find a work-life balance. I don’t know that finding a balance is entirely possible, but what you can do is ensure you are hiring the right people, delegate as effectively as possible, and be aware and alert to how you feel. If you need to, take some time out. That requires confidence and discipline—I’m still learning!

Brooke Cates, The Bloom Method

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

Honestly, becoming a mom! Choosing the entrepreneur's life comes with its challenges (and so many rewards), but becoming a mother three years ago changed the game for me. Learning how to navigate the balancing act of being a present mother (and partner) while simultaneously leading a brand that feels like it's growing faster every day is so humbling. I strive to run my business in a way that supports the concept of work/life balance, but it's a constant navigation that I learn from every single day.

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

If you can dream it, you can do it—which may sound a little cliche, but in my experience, its power holds a ton of truth.

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

Committing to my self-care and making it a non-negotiable. I truly believe that this small yet large commitment provides the space for me to show up time and time again without feeling burned out. Taking care of myself through body work sessions, workouts, facials, and even cocktail hour with my GFs helps me be a better partner and mother. It's like filling up your own cup so that you can fill up others. Self-care doesn't have to be extensive; it can be as simple as a 10-minute sauna session or a 30-minute lunchtime facial. It's less about the time commitment and more about giving back to yourself in ways that fuel you and light you up. Everyone in my house is happier when I feel supported, especially when I'm the one carving out the time and giving back to myself. 

Who is a woman you look up to?

My 94-year-old grandmother 

What do you love most about yourself?

My ability to unapologetically live in my truth, no matter what. 

What's your favorite empowering quote? 

We are all super attractors! We have the power to live the exact lives we desire, offer our chosen dreams to the world, and be exactly who we were destined to be. It’s all in how we attract because "thoughts become things."

What's the best life advice you've gotten?

Within everything in life, there exists a silver lining, you just have to step back and try a little harder to see it sometimes. 

 

Denise Woodard, Partake Foods

What inspired you to start your own brand?

Inspired by my daughter Vivienne’s own experience with food allergies, Partake came from my frustration with both the lack of safe, delicious options and the fact that the existing allergy-friendly brands focused on what their products were "free from." They all felt so exclusive and only for "food allergy kids." I never wanted my daughter (or anyone else!) to feel as though she was relegated to the "safe" foods. I saw a future where people shared safe foods because they enjoyed them, not just because they had to have an allergy-friendly option. I wanted Partake to be a brand people could rely on for being inclusive and enjoyable for those with and without food allergies, and for bringing people together for life's joyful moments, big or small.

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

The first two years after launching Partake were super challenging and stressful. I fully bootstrapped the company, emptying my 401k, selling my engagement ring, and selling cookies from my car to NYC-area grocers. I heard 86 no's when raising my seed round before hearing yes from Marcy Venture Partners, which is co-founded by Jay-Z. The food & beverage packaged goods industry has challenges to overcome at every turn! But no challenge outweighs the benefit of knowing we’re creating products I’m proud to feed my own family and share with the world. I remain humbled by that early experience because it solidified for me that I was on the right path.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve built your business?

I am inspired daily by Oprah, Issa Rae, Michelle Obama, and my daughter! Also, knowing we're bringing folks back to foods they love and can feel confident enjoying is inspiring and purpose-driving.

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

One piece of advice I would give my younger entrepreneur-self is "Progress is better than perfection." In the early days of Partake, Seth Goldman, the founder of Honest Tea, gave me the advice to “just get started.” Over time, by listening to our customers, I would get the feedback I needed to iterate and create a product that people wanted and loved. I always strive to improve, at least a bit, every day, because I know it’s the small, incremental changes that make a seismic impact.

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

As a busy working mom, finding time to take care of myself is definitely a balancing act. Things get done, and it’s a little messy, but as long as my daughter is happy and knows that she is loved and safe, and our business is thriving, and our employees are happy, then I consider that a win. I’m just figuring it out as I go. I’m making a point to ensure that everyone, including myself, is getting some love, but also extending myself grace if I can’t give 100 percent to everything daily.

 

Jen Saxton, Tot Squad

What inspired you to start your own brand?

I started my company because I want to normalize new parents asking for help! After I had my first daughter, I struggled with breastfeeding and sleep training and it was so hard to research, compare, and book experts in a sleep-deprived state. I’m on a mission to make it easier for parents to get the support they need.

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

I’m humbled on a daily basis! As an entrepreneur, you often have to be a “jill of all trades” and handle many aspects of the business that you have no prior experience in. In the early days of my first company (a baby gear cleaning service that was acquired in 2020), I remember running through the streets of New York City with a cart full of cleaning supplies in the rain, trying to get a taxi, and hitting a crack in the sidewalk that sent me and the cart flying. Lying bloodied in the street, I was thinking to myself, “My gosh, I’m the CEO!” Ha! Sometimes that means you have to be willing and able to do every job, no matter how “dirty” it may be.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve built your business?

There are many successful female founders I admire, but I’d like to say that I learned my work ethic from my grandmother, Mimi. She is 96 years old and had a long career as a civil servant, which was truly exceptional for a woman who came of age in the Great Depression. Even after she retired, she worked hard at keeping up her home and garden and caring for my grandfather. She inspires me daily to work hard to achieve my goals!

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Listen! There are many times where people would say “Listen so you can learn from others' mistakes instead of making them again on your own!” But it took a few hard lessons to really internalize that advice. Specifically, I remember the advice “Hire slow, fire fast” being one I had heard, but I had to make the mistake on my own—firing someone with a toxic attitude too slowly—before I learned.

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

The most important thing about work/life balance is who you marry! Do you have a supportive partner? Are they a feminist who supports you in pursuing a big career? And not just “support” you, but actually do their fair share of the household management and childcare. I’m so fortunate to have an amazing husband who is a very active father, especially when I have to stay late or travel for work.

 

Lori Caden, Belly Bandit and Proof

What inspired you to start your own brand?

I started Belly Bandit alongside my two sisters, Jodi and Kari, and it really came from my challenges with postpartum recovery. I struggled to feel like myself after giving birth, and had a humiliating interaction with a stranger who assumed I was still pregnant—even though I had already delivered my baby—because of how I looked. As a new first-time (sleep-deprived) mom, I was devastated. This postpartum period was no joke! I didn’t want other moms to feel that way, so my sisters and I put our heads together and created a Belly Wrap to help with my recovery. That was the start of our business—it’s so true that necessity is the mother of invention. We soon learned that millions of other moms wanted help with postpartum recovery, too, and we grew the product line from Belly Wraps to a full slate of solution-based products for pregnancy and postpartum.

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

I feel humbled anytime we get feedback that we've helped someone recover after giving birth, or get their confidence back, or feel like themselves again. We often hear that people use our products for issues we hadn't even thought about, like back injuries or scoliosis (both women and men!) and that's so inspiring.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve built your business?

My cheerleaders! Mostly my family and friends, and (of course) my sisters.

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

"You're going to weather the storm and it's all going to be worth it."

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

Make it a priority to take time just for yourself. I rely on weekend getaways with friends, the occasional spa day, getting out in nature for a hike, and a good Netflix binge to recharge my batteries.

 

Blessing Adesiyan, Mother Honestly

What inspired you to start your own brand?

I was seeking solutions in motherhood, work, and life for myself, and it became increasingly clear that resources were few when it came to sustainable support for women and families on the home front and in the workplace.

What’s been your most humbling moment as an entrepreneur?

I think that handling the financial piece has been the biggest kick in the gut. As women, we have to get comfortable with money.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as you’ve built your business?

My biggest inspiration are my kids. I have four—a teenager, two toddlers, and a baby—and three of them are girls. Every time I get tired of fighting for women and families, I look at them and I know that I have to keep pushing for a world they can thrive in.

If you could go back 10 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

To live my life with vigor and vitality at every stage, and to always choose what feels right to me, even when its not the standard path and many people may not understand it. As a chemical engineer, I still can’t believe that I chose media and tech and that I am thriving as a mother and founder. I didn’t think that was possible.

What has helped you find a balance between work and family life? Any pro tips to share for other working moms?

Make the invisible work visible. I share all the responsibilities with my partner and support system so that I can do work that makes me happy and fulfilled.

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