Here at Belly Bandit HQ, a women-owned and operated company, we believe in celebrating the success of all women in business! Our "Moms Who Made It" series is our way of honoring Mompreneurs who inspire us every day.
This month we're featuring Lauren Stuart, co-founder of Bökee, a one-size-fits-all bottle prep accessory. Lauren created the bökee, after the birth of her twins when she realized that she desperately needed a one-handed way to prep a bottle or a sippy cup - enter, the bökee! Now multitasking parents can hold their baby and prep bottles at the same time- brilliant!
Describe your business philosophy in 5 words or less:
Passion and authenticity fuel momentum
What inspired you to go into business?
After welcoming our twins prematurely (32 weeks +0) and a long stay in the NICU (5 and 8 weeks), we were constantly juggling feedings of all kinds (everything from breastfeeding to bottle feeding and finally a feeding tube). Brandon, my husband, was frustrated by the disruptive nature of bottle making (why did he have to put the baby down or wear a carrier just to get the lid on and off?). Our longtime friend and engineer, Andrew, who at the time had a toddler and newborn (born the same day as our twins) was feeling the same pain point of bottle prep. With our families’ shared frustration and nothing on the market to solve for it, we decided we needed to create something that would. That’s how the bökee was born!
When did you know you “made it?”
We recently won the JPMA Innovation Award for Best Baby Product Under $25 and that was validation from the baby community that has started to really move us forward. Organic inclusion on must-have baby lists and guides provides more confirmation that what we brought to market is valuable to parents and caregivers too. That was our goal, to help one piece of parenting be a little less complicated. I won’t feel like we’ve “made it” until we are a household staple, but we are making daily progress and that’s all I could ask for 8 months into the launch.
Who is your mentor?
Other women in the industry and my husband.
I used to work in entertainment marketing and it was very competitive with a lot of egos. Working in baby/parenting, after being a stay at home mom for 3 years and removed from a professional career, has been really refreshing and rewarding. Everyone I’ve spoken to is supportive of small businesses, offering insights and honest direction. Most are also parents and relate to the work-life/start-up and parenting juggle.
My husband has been an idea person since we met, and over the last three years after a major job shift has created several ventures where he’s had to figure out every aspect (product, marketing, ops, patents, investment, logistics, etc). I’ve learned so much from watching him and launching bökee together with our other co-founder.
What’s your #1 tip for moms interested in starting their own business?
Reach out to small businesses you respect. Ask questions and be receptive to honest feedback.
What does “me” time mean to you?
“Me” time is truly all about me; finding things that give me physical, mental and emotional space that relax, recharge and are uplifting to me. I make it to yoga (prior to Covid) twice a week and that has been amazing. It’s 80 minutes where I can challenge my body and be in my own head as much or as little as I want. Quiet time outside or in a bath often provide the space I need, even if it’s just 10 min. I also will stay up late to “veg” out on shows or movies when my brain needs to just be and not think about anything.
What‘s on your bedside table?
A lot of books and devotions I’ve been meaning to read and do for over a year, but with a business and 3.5 year old twins many things are collecting dust! I am in the middle of reading “Before We Were Yours” and “What It Takes” by Raegan Moya-Jones of aden + anais on my Kindle. I also have hand lotion (the increased hand washing has done a number on my hands), lip gloss, and an essential oil diffuser.
Words To Live By
“Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ‘me first’. It means ‘me, too’.” - L.R. Knost
I learned this after becoming a mom and struggling with how to still be myself and feed my needs. If you aren’t in a good state yourself, you won’t be good for anyone. Since becoming a mom and an entrepreneur, the demands on me are more than I’ve ever experienced, and if I’m not vocal of my needs and find a way to address them, then mood, productivity, and relationships aren’t at a good place.