*We apologize for any typos, misspellings or incorrect grammar. Our transcript is auto-generated by software that’s trying its best, just like all of us.*
Maureen: Hey everybody, welcome back to the Milk Minute.
Heather: I’m pretty pumped today. We get to talk to Melissa Wirt. She is the founder and CEO of Latched Mama, the breastfeeding apparel company that we all know and love. And she, of course, does tons with online motherhood communities, just supporting, not just consumers, but her own employees, which is fantastic.
Maureen: Yeah, we’re psyched for this one. When I saw this was lined up, I was like, Ooh, it’s a big one.
Heather: Yeah, she’s so cool. And she’s actually she’s joining us from her vacation, like her family vacation, which is just enormously generous of her. Oh my gosh, yes. And just so you know, in case you didn’t know this, she and her husband live with their six children outside of Richmond, Virginia, and she has owned Latch Mama since 2014.
And you’ll hear her whole story about how she got it started and why she got it started. And I’m Pretty sure every single one of us that’s ever breastfed is like, yep, I’ve experienced that at some point in my life. So she’s, Melissa has created more than just a clothing company, but a compassionate place that adapts to the needs of employees with some incredible parental leave policies and lactation support that you’ve probably heard about.
On Facebook, because people love to share that I think people’s minds just kind of melt out of their ears when they’re like she what she lets you bring your kid to work. She supports lactation. Like, what is this? So I’m so excited to talk to her more about that. And just hear how she’s created such an incredible company.
Maureen: I’m really excited to pick your brain a little bit and just And just like, just get to know the face behind this company that I, you know, I bought like one of their first designs, right? When they first went online, like in 2015, and they had like three shirts. I think that was it. And a hoodie, and I bought like all of the shirts.
that they sold. And I actually still have them. They’re like nightshirts now because they’re a little stretched out, you know, because they’re eight years old, but they’re also like still in one piece.
Heather: So it’s pretty great. Well, I had my first kid in 2013 before Latched Mama existed. And all of the nursing clothes, quote unquote, that I was using to breastfeed my son, Theo, were hand me downs from someone who had breastfed 10 years before that.
So they were real special. I look like one of those 1990s, like, lace Edging, nothing fit me right. I was like, this is, it was all Moo Moos. Let’s be honest. Did it have like the Peter Pan collar? You know, it’s it, you know, it’s it. Absolutely. And like the, the nursing bras that I had were like the cone shaped white.
Lacey ones. Oh my God. It was bad. So yeah. So yeah. When I, when I found out that Melissa was down to be interviewed by us, I was like, thank God we have got to get this information to more people. So no one has that experience that I had.
Maureen: Yeah, absolutely. And I, I just feel like I’ve been a fangirl for so long.
Heather: And she’s, she’s just really, really cool. And I know you guys are going to love this interview. We had such a good time chatting with her, but first, before we get into that, Let’s thank a couple patrons and take a question.
Maureen: Yeah, so I want to thank two new patrons today. We have Jody from West Virginia and Katie from New York.
So thank you guys so much for joining us on Patreon. And a reminder that if you guys want to join us on Patreon, it is Patreon. com slash Milk Minute Podcast. And you get some amazing perks like exclusive access to every single episode of Beyond the Boob, our other Really great podcast.
Heather: Yeah. Beyond the boob tracks, my pregnancy and Maureen is my midwife and we’re planning a home birth and Melissa imminently,
Maureen: imminently planning a home birth.
Heather: Actually, I might be giving birth right now while you’re listening to this. So stay tuned. Maybe listen in next week. It might just be, they’ve been joking that they’re going to record me during labor and then just. Publish on the podcast, all of the expletives that I string together and then with a baby crying at the end.
So we’ll see. I still think
Maureen: this is a solid plan.
Heather: Oh my gosh. Okay. Well, before we do that, let’s answer a question. We had an email from a listener named Reagan and Reagan says. I’ve been listening to y’all’s podcast for a while, and I love it. My favorite episode has to be the interview with one of your grandmothers.
I’m interested to know if going through an egg donation would complicate breastfeeding, or if it’s even possible while breastfeeding. Thank you! Regan.
Maureen: Yeah, so we recorded an episode that might help you make this choice, because it’s not a straightforward yes or no. Technically, it’s possible, but it depends what medications your fertility clinic is going to use and what you feel comfortable with.
So, can you tell us what episode number that is, Heather?
Heather: Yeah, it’s episode 150, and the title is Conceiving While Breastfeeding, Let’s Talk Infertility Treatments. And we will link that in the show notes if any of you need to take a deep dive. And by the way, that’s amazing that you’re thinking about egg donation, that will make a huge difference in somebody’s life.
And yeah, we’re all about that.
Maureen: Awesome. Yeah. Well, I hope that answers your questions. And everybody else, if you have questions for us, please email them to us at MilkMinutePodcast at gmail. com. Or you can message us on our social media because we feature a question in every single episode. And we’ll just answer them privately too.
So if we have time, so we just, we really want to help you. That’s all
Heather: we’re here for. Yep. Both Maureen and I do. Lactation consultations as well and we do offer them virtually so those links to book with us are always in the show notes as well Well,
Maureen: We’re going to take a little break to thank a sponsor and when we get back We are going to chat with melissa from latched mama
Have you guys ever been listening to our show and thought to yourself man, I really want to work one on one with Maureen
Heather: I do every day that I sit here podcasting across from you. Well,
Maureen: lucky for you and everybody at home, I offer both in person and virtual support through my business. And in my business Highland Birth Support, I’m dedicated to mentoring you guys.
through your childbearing year. So that could start with fertility, all the way through pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum. I offer home birth midwifery services, doula services, lactation support, herbal support, anything you guys need. You even do
Heather: miscarriage support. Absolutely, I do. That’s one of the biggest things that is so hard to find, and I think that your people that are local to you are so incredibly lucky to have this service.
Maureen: Thank you, and I just feel really happy to serve everybody, and I’m so happy I can expand my services virtually as well.
Heather: Yeah, telehealth for lactation has been really important through the pandemic, and I think we just about got it perfected at this point. So if you guys want
Maureen: work with me, head over to HighlandBirthSupport.
com and check out what
Heather: can offer you. That’s h i g h l a n d birthsupport. com.
Maureen: All right, well, welcome back, everybody. Let’s hop right into our interview. Welcome to the Milk Minute, Melissa.
Melissa: Oh, thank you so much for having me.
Heather: I’m so happy to be here. Yeah, we heard you almost weren’t here. So what’s, what’s your drama?
Melissa: Well, I’m on the last day of vacation with six children, my parents and my husband. So first of all, that’s a lot, just in general and then second of all the baby was up all night sick, but here we are, and this is actually a break from having the thoughts of having to pack up the entire family, get in the car and drive six hours with.
So it’s good though. This is great. I’m so excited to connect with you guys. It’s actually really nice. Like whenever you hang out with other moms to feel actually seen a bit, like the first 10 minutes of us just connecting actually was like the best thing that’s happened in the past 10 days. Cause you all completely know probably what it’s like to be.
Parenting on vacation and just being like, this is not vacation, like I am cruise directing and I am answering all of the questions all of the time. Pretty
Maureen: sure Heather left her family vacation a day
Heather: early this year. I did. Did you really? Oh, I did. Absolutely. And my husband said, you know, this is the third time you’ve done this, where we’ve left on Friday instead of Saturday.
And I’m like, yeah, well, get in the car.
Melissa: That’s, that’s a hundred, that’s a hundred percent what we’re doing. We came on, we got the house on the Saturday, two Saturdays ago. We didn’t come until Sunday. I pushed it till Sunday and then we’re leaving today instead of tomorrow. But that’s also because we have five soccer games tomorrow, because, you know, overachiever just got to get all the kids in Saturday soccer, because we do that to ourselves as mothers.
Heather: Yeah, we have to, we have to run a successful lactation clothing business, and we have to try to get those college scholarships, you know what I mean?
Melissa: Oh, it’s crazy. It’s, it’s nuts. It’s not even, it’s just rec soccer. It’s not even like big soccer, but we homeschool our kids, so it’s like we want them to do some of those like ordinary things where there’re, you know, with kids of their own age.
I, I, I don’t know. I don’t know why we do it to ourselves. It’s okay. I, I homeschool also and
Maureen: right now my eight year old has decided he doesn’t want to do any of those things anymore that he loved last year. Yeah. Oh great. We’re just going to cry about them every week, Oh
Melissa: my gosh. The ups and the downs of the growing is just unbelievable.
Oh my gosh. But we’re here. We made it. Yes. We made it.
Heather: We made it. We all made it. And I know the listeners are dying to hear about, more about you. I mean, this has been wonderful to even just talk casually because they’re all over there like, yes, queen. Yes. Rec soccer. Me too. Barfing in the night. Me too. But a lot of people like me right now are actually wearing.
Latched Mama while listening to this, so they’re, they’re probably dying to know about the person that actually made their lives easier in the clothing that they’re currently wearing. So can you tell us a little bit more about your journey to Latched Mama and what was your life like before and what’s it like now?
Like how has it changed before and after this clothing company? So there’s
Melissa: like, there’s the big in between too, and like how it changed as we got where we are. But, so shortly after I graduated college, I started working for a pretty large home builder. It was a very, very male dominated industry.
And I actually had my, I got married and met my husband. We traveled around the world. It was beautiful. But then I was like, I want babies. I was babies on the brain. And I was like, let’s do this. And my first pregnancy actually ended in a loss really super early on. But it was really, really hard for me to realize that I was not working in a place that was going to support just kind of my goals and motherhood and stuff.
So we realized shortly after that, that I was going to stay home once I had my first child. So I had Nathan and he was about as hard of a baby, as strong willed, colicky as you could possibly be. And I remember I quit my job and I was like, Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this? Like it was the hardest task that I have ever had in my life.
front of me and I was lonely, like what I would probably say 98 99 percent of women in the United States are after they become mothers. And so I had one and then I was like, I’m gonna fix this. The easiest way I know to fix this. This is my job now is to have a second one. So 18 because we know that always makes things easier.
And actually, luckily for us, it did make things easier because number two was a different time. Transcribed Baby and he was actually happy and I felt a little bit more successful in my parenting, but I still felt lonely and that was that little nugget that I wasn’t understanding is that I had so much privilege.
I had these beautiful bursts without intervention and I had support. My mom was making me breakfast and my husband was around and I was like, why? Why is this so hard? Why is the postpartum so difficult? So that led us to a park bench in the winter. My husband had flown off to Kansas as his more Grandmother had died, and I was alone with these two tiny little kids, one toddler, one like two week old, and I went to breastfeed, and I was freezing cold.
I stripped like one layer down, and then another layer down, and then a third layer down, and you know, Nathan’s playing because he has to be playing because he’s a toddler. This little baby and I’m like, are you kidding me? Like it’s not, it cannot just be me who finds this stage of life so difficult. Like to talk about like the emotional support and all of like the mental health stuff.
But then you also look at the fact that all of these people scream at you to breastfeed without the resources, without the education, but also without the basic necessity of being warm. Like, I’m like, that’s just something that people are supposed to have in life. So maybe I don’t have the education. Can we be, can we at least be warm?
Like, this is crazy to me. So that was the day that Latched Mama was born. My husband came home from Kansas and I was like, I’m doing this. And he was like, go for it. And then it was a journey, you know, it never was supposed to be what it is today. It was really just supposed to be this side project that helped me feel fulfilled in a different way.
It was supposed to be like this little Etsy store, but it just kind of snowballed. We bootstrapped it. I don’t think I took a paycheck for the first three or four years. We just. Kind of did everything we could internally with my husband and I, and then it grew and it grew and it grew. And I realized as I built the brand with my children in tow, that there was really, really room somewhere for a company culture that was very different than the first one I had.
When I had that loss and working in real estate and, I really wanted to create some place that set an example for other small businesses and businesses where Women could bring their entire selves to work and whether that meant their losses that meant their babies That meant just trying to get their feet under them after they had kids I really wanted to create a different kind of workplace.
So that’s kind of the focus now as the brand has grown That’s me in a
Heather: nutshell. That’s amazing. But I have a, I have a follow up question. Do you sew? Like, you started an Etsy shop, so, okay. No.
Melissa: So, yeah, no. So, the way, like, the actual first couple steps were is that, so, we had traveled around the world.
So, I knew that nursing clothes existed. And I assumed that they existed in the United States before you get, like, thrown into motherhood. You know, you get dropped in and you’re like, oh, I’m gonna have all these resources. And then. There are no resources. There are very few resources. So I knew they existed.
So my first step was that I wholesale clothes from Asia and not like from like Asia, like manufacturing parts of Asia, but from the clothes that people wore in different parts of the country. And I sold them out of the back of my minivan. And I went to So I had, I had home births with five out of my six.
My first was born in the back of the car and then five through the rest were born at home with a midwife. So there was a pretty close home birth, like midwife kind of circle thing. So I went to a few close people’s houses that my midwife kind of tipped me off on. And I held their babies and I listened to their birth stories and we connected and they bought really poorly sized clothes that helped them breastfeed out of the back of my car.
And I remember like my kids were running around with like their older kids and like, I knew nothing about kind of maternal mental health. I hadn’t done any work myself at that point. Like it was just this whole big blur of. Here by my clothes, I’m going to hold your baby. And I didn’t really realize the magnitude of the connection and how that was going to play into kind of the brand as it developed, but it definitely foreshadowed that.
So I went from ordering clothes overseas to figuring out what was really important, which kind of launched our first hoodie, which I had manufactured. I sketched it on a napkin, like our piece of paper, and I took a picture of it and I sent it off. And they were not great, the first ones that came. But it was really cool because I combined the clothing with the community and I was just very, very transparent from the very beginning that I didn’t know what I was doing, but I felt like we needed to be warm and I felt like we should be able to have these, this clothing that allows us to do what we’re supposed to be doing or what they tell us we’re supposed to be doing for our children.
Maureen: Yeah. And it really was sort of the , the wild West for that. Then, I mean, you, you started in 2014, right? Uhhuh. , yeah. I had my first in 2015. Yeah. And, you know, bought like a shirt from y’all, . Yeah. Oh, that’s awesome. And, and, and you know, I remember Googling and Googling being like, yeah, where, where can I find anything?
Yeah. What am I gonna wear? What am I gonna do? And it’s just, So incredible that you took that, like, back of your minivan business and built this, like, incredibly huge company, super inclusive sizing, amazing stuff, like, I, we’re just really blown away by that.
Melissa: Oh, thank you. I mean, I think that a lot of it I say a lot of it is luck.
We also, the timing of it, we hit Facebook ads right when Facebook ads were taking off, which I think really helped. And I think a lot of it was just the authenticity and the transparency of like, just trying to show up for moms. And I mean, there are a lot of people who show up for moms, you all do as well, but I think it’s such a lacking.
space of just, Hey, you just had a baby and we realized that the baby is the consumer now, but nobody looks at the mom as having needs herself. And I think that that was really something that I zeroed in on because I felt so lonely in the process as well, that maybe if we could focus on the mom and we could focus on her needs and making her life easier.
Maybe we had something, which apparently we did. So,
Heather: yeah. Well, I have a, I have a quick question though. It’s not quick. None of my questions are quick. So I was going to ask you who helped you with this, but it sounds like the, the moms and the consumers are who helped you and drove this train. So now I’m kind of wondering.
In the business world, when you were like, Alright, the moms are helping me, they’re telling me exactly what they want. Did you go to the business world and get pushback from them? Were they like, this is such a limited time in their lives. Like, you know, we want consumers that are going to buy for 40 years, not consumers that are going to buy for a year.
Melissa: probably one of the reasons why I still own 100 percent of the company is that it’s a very, you don’t understand motherhood in general. And there’s not a lot of people who are handing capital out that understand motherhood. I mean, shout out to Sarah Blakely, if you want to, you know, go have a conversation at some point, she’s the one that started Spanx.
She’s incredible. But you know, it’s, it has kind of In the beginning, the pushback was definitely on the bring the babies to work. Nobody understood that part. Everybody said it was a liability. Everybody said it was going to end terribly. It’s still happening, which is great. But as far as the, the, this is not a long enough period in somebody’s life.
I just didn’t listen to people. I mean, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t just ignore a subset of the population because everybody else ignores them. You know, like we’re ignored everywhere. I mean, we’re ignoring leave or ignored in support postpartum. I mean, if you just, I mean, I just kind of said, you know, we’re going to do this and we’re going to figure out how to make it work.
So, yeah, well, we’re super glad you ignored
Maureen: them yet. And, you know, I’m really curious. So you started out ordering wholesale and then you kind of like designed on a napkin. Have you been designing pieces this whole time? Because that’s not your background.
Melissa: Yeah, no, it’s not my background at all. So I designed for probably the first two years ish.
And then most people know Lindy, who’s on our podcast with me. And as our lead designer, she actually heads the whole creative side of the company at this point. Really funny story. We went to high school together. And I have this very, I have this side of me and my husband and I, this is where we like.
in terms of running a company together. But I would give it all away tomorrow if my family was okay and I didn’t have to go like get another job. Like I would literally just end up at least close out on the street corner. Like being on vacation and watching people breastfeed and not have our clothing is hard for me sometimes.
So I just, I just want to give. So we were, I was putting on this, this charity yard sale. She hated the name charity for a She ran a doula organization. She was a close friend of mine. She was battling cancer and she had just given her entire life to helping others and to helping moms and changing the way postpartum experience looked so I was putting on this huge yard sale for her and it was a nightmare.
One of those things where you know you want to do good and you bite off so much more than I could chew. I mean like so much more. It was kind of one of those like just write the check moments like where I should have just like I lost so much money but then still It was a mess, but anyways, it was Sunday afternoon and I had failed miserably and I had failed like in that type of way.
I don’t know if you guys have ever had these moments where like your heart is just there. Your heart is out and you tried so hard and you tried so hard to do something good and it was just like, oh, crap. Like it was the, it’s the worst way to fail because there was no, like, there was no ego wrapped up in it.
But. Lindy, who was a friend of mine in high school, like we knew each other I knew she designed wedding dresses and at the very, very end of that sale, she came up and she had two babies under her arms. And I was like, this girl’s got a lot of kids. I’m like, I don’t really understand, but I knew she designed wedding dresses.
And I was so broken in that moment. And I looked at her and it was probably one of the first times in motherhood I ever truly asked for help. And I was like, I don’t know if you remember me. We sat together in crafts class my senior year. And she looks at me and she goes, I never took crafts class. And I was like, Oh, this is going really, really well.
My first time asking for help. And apparently she was taking like art, like AP art, but she was in the crafts classroom. We’ve sorted that out since then. But I said to her, I was like, I know you design wedding dresses. I don’t know what I’m doing. I have this clothing company. I think I have a good idea.
And she just kind of looked at me and she had literally infant twins under her arms and she’s like, you want help? And I was like, Oh, you’re probably drowning right now. And she looked at me and she said, she said, give me a year and exactly a year to that date. She reached out. She said, I’m in. And I was like, holy moly.
So she completely transformed our company. She draws and creates all of our patterns. She’s my best friend. She’s the person in the trenches with me every day. She also, I ended up having six kids. She has six kids, but she is. That’s by far the reason why we have the styles we have and we have gotten where we are at this point.
Heather: Wow. That’s crazy. And also, you know, I’ve had some pushback about hiring my friends within my company. No regrets. I have to say absolutely no regrets because. Especially if you’re going to build a company around ethics and principles to do with motherhood when we build it so your kids can get sick and you can take time off, you know, so if you build it in on the front end, your whole company doesn’t fall apart after and the mental support of just being able to be there and like have a bad day where, you know, traditional companies are like, leave it at the door.
And we’re like, I mean, you are what you are, especially when you have six kids at home that are all having a different type of day, a different type of emotional reaction to their day. You’re carrying not just your emotions, but all of their emotions. And it’s nice to be able to spend five minutes drinking a cup of coffee and being like, has this ever happened to your kid?
Like, what do I do here? And then you wrap it up, move on, and go design a badass hoodie. Yeah,
Melissa: you’re, you’re so right. And I think it was hard. It was hard in the beginning, like any creative job, because she was coming with her creative ideas, and I was making money on them. So I realized, The pandemic changed things dramatically for us because we somehow had to get the company through it.
And we were all locked down and we were all apart. And the creative process for me is very much this. The creative process is to be around other moms and to talk and to just kind of throw it all out there and see what is needed and what needs to happen. And so it kind of stopped. But Lindy and I locked our families down together.
And we would sit on my back porch and we were in each other’s bubble. Cause it was the only way the company was going to survive. And that was where kind of our friendship really blossomed. She got to see the inner workings of the company in a way that she hadn’t seen before. She got to see the numbers.
She got to see really the weight of what was on my shoulders. And so then we just kind of started balancing it out from there. But I completely agree the culture at Latch Mama. In the actual company itself is has been in the past really, truly the success. It’s just the bouncing the ideas, the supporting each other.
It’s how we offer the paid leave that we offer. So we offer 100 days of paid leave. But the only way that that can happen in our small business is for people to kind of be cross trained and to pick up other people’s jobs and tasks and stuff like that. And I’m a firm believer that that can happen in most small businesses in the United States, but you actually have to create it as a culture.
So you have to create the culture of we love each other, we support each other and we see each other and we’re going to make this happen. So,
Heather: well, and also you don’t even have to love each other to do that as a woman, because I think we just do that instinctively. You know, a lot of what we’re doing that’s like so progressive now.
It’s so funny to me, especially in the medical community where it’s like, Oh, we’re going to do this new thing where we like delay the cord clamping. And you’re like, what? That’s primal. What are we talking about? And so what you’re creating is like the OG setup for how women used to run stuff. And it doesn’t require love, actually.
It just requires mutual respect as a woman. Like, hey, you got a lot going on. I got a lot going on. And also time when you’re a mom is very weird. You know, we don’t think about time in this linear fashion. It’s just kind of like in chunks almost. So it’s like, if someone’s off for a hundred days, it’s like, of course, I’ll do this random job for a hundred days in a hundred days.
Like. Everything could change, and it’s like a blink of an eye, so who cares?
Melissa: Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of research. I love what you said about the whole primal thing. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on kind of the village and the way motherhood used to look, and it’s very similar to that. It’s like, hey, let’s come together and let’s, we were never supposed to raise our babies apart.
We were never supposed to be isolated with these issues and these things. And like, I mean, I will go back to the fact that like, literally, this is the best moment of my vacation right now, and it’s so weird in my brain that you can literally just connect with two strangers, but they’re mothers, and they know it, and they feel it, and it’s just this very, very cool thing, and it’s definitely why Latched Mama has had the success that it’s
You know, I’m, I’m curious, since you mentioned, You know, just this like motherhood village, all of your employees, mothers, is it
Melissa: women? So, no, there have been, there, there have been men and there still are men, Philip, who is our operations director. His wife just had a baby and he took his a hundred days and he’s back with the infant now at the warehouse every day, which is really cool.
There are, there have been guys throughout, we have a lot of spouses that will come work for us as well. And either their partner will stay on or the partner will be off doing something else, another part time job and they’ll stay on. So there are, there are men. Normally they have some sort of connection to the brand in some way.
Phillip didn’t, he just came out of nowhere. Cause we, the warehouse had grown to the point where I didn’t have experience running a warehouse, but he is completely. Latched on, for lack of a better word, to the idea that he can bring, he can bring his baby every day, which is really cool. And I mean, you look at the childcare crisis.
I mean, it helps them tremendously that he can bring his baby every day, which is great.
Heather: I love that so much. I just, you know, Philip, you know, do you just, every day are you like, Oh, Philip. He’s like our token male.
Melissa: He’s, yeah, he’s, he’s an interesting one. He, it’s great. He does things that I didn’t, that I don’t really even think that really need to be done.
I’m so in the weeds with kind of the, the people and the emotion and the, and the creative side of it. And he definitely keeps that side running, but yeah, we always joke that he’s like, he’s kind of the perfect quirky fit, you know? I mean, he’s just, he’s just Phillip.
Heather: Yeah, he’s just Phillip. You should get him a name tag that says just Phillip.
I’m just Phillip. I’m just Phillip. That’s amazing. Does he wear the hoodie with his infant in it at work? I just need to know.
Melissa: Sometimes, yeah, like he’ll send us pictures or he’ll take screenshots and stuff. He’s really cute though, because he doesn’t always know if he’s doing things right, which is like this really, really cute, like instinctual thing.
Cause he’s like, am I wearing her right? Is she okay? And it’s his third kid, but he just kind of looks at us and it’s just, it’s really, really sweet. And I don’t know. It’s cool. Yeah.
Heather: That’s awesome. So how is it going with having the babies at work? You know, I think we have a lot of business owners that listen to our podcast as well.
And I think they want to do something like this. But, you know, I think it almost might be easier to build it like this from the beginning. then to make changes and change the policies that are already in place. So, you know, what are some things that people can bring to their higher ups to be like, no, this is something that can work and this is how we can change the policy.
And this is what it ends up looking like. Here’s a case study.
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, I would think I would start small. I mean, when I, we. First roll the policy out. It was for the first six months. And I mean, we all know that a six month old, you know, you can wear them, you can feed them, you know, you can keep them as long as they’re close to mom, they’re not really going to be that disruptive.
And I think that that is the number one thing. That’s the question we get is how can you have these. Disruptive things in the workplace. And I think sometimes people think that they’re going to be screaming all day and they do have bad days. Absolutely. But for the most part, if you keep a baby close to its mother, breastfed or not, you’re normally going to have a happier mom and a happier baby.
And I think that that’s really kind of the takeaway that I found is that if I got those hours back. So if somebody had a rough day with their baby and, you know. Let’s say on cumulative two hours out of their five to eight that they were at work They were feeding or taking care of the baby or doing whatever they needed to do.
I get those hours back I don’t look for them, but they just end up They come back to me in an idea or just a commitment that when we need extra hours or we need something at work, they come through. And it’s like this mutual respect. If I allow somebody to keep the most important thing in their life close to them and save on childcare and, you know, help their breastfeeding process or whatever they choose to do, it comes back to me as a business owner.
So I think it’s really having those conversations, but I think those conversations come with this. With an element of vulnerability. And if the culture isn’t open to that, it’s a very, very, it’s a very hard conversation to have. Cause I think in the United States, when you come back from hopefully maternity leave, I feel like motherhood is kind of like boiled down to like pump breaks and.
Picture on your desk of your baby and I think you have to like kind of baby step into the fact of hey I’m a mom now and this little being and this role is more important to me than my job And I think unless you have a leadership team that realizes that the conversation is going to be a hard one to have
Heather: Wow, that is really depressing.
And so true. When you say it’s boiled down to pump breaks and a picture of your kid on your desk. People are crying right now. Look at pumping, looking at their picture of their kid on their desk and they’re like, holy shit, that’s me. Yeah, it’s just it’s so hard like
Melissa: and I don’t Like the idea that I’ve never had to do it, so I’ve never had to like drop my infant at daycare and come to work.
So if I’ve never had to do something, I have a really, really hard time of looking at somebody and saying, no, I need you to work right now. I need you to worry about whether this customer is happy or whether this order got to the right place. And that’s what’s really hard for me is I can’t look at another human being and say, Oh, I’m sorry, you’re sad.
Can you get back to work? Like it just doesn’t compute in my brain very well. Which has created kind of the workplace that, that we have. But I under, I know I’m probably not the only one. I think if somebody were to step away a little bit from the numbers and say, Hey, what’s really important in life, you know, what’s really important in our society.
And I think it’s truly that we see mothers and if we’re not going to see them legislatively and we’re not going to see them in like the big picture in terms of policies from like a government level, you know, I think that we have a responsibility, especially from a mom to mom level to see them in the business world.
Heather: sure. And also, I, I think that a lot of businesses focus on like the annual report. Like, let’s, let’s look at this year wrap up of the P& L, like the profit and loss. Whereas it sounds like to me, you’re playing the infinite game where it’s like long game numbers, it’s all going to work out and it’s all going to be fine.
Cause like you said, you get those hours back. Yeah, right. Hopefully. Yeah, hopefully. But you know, if you die tomorrow, you’re like. You know what? I made a difference. I did a good hundred percent. Yep.
Melissa: And I think that that’s the thing is that, I mean, if you look at the statistics, I mean, most companies do eventually crash and burn and you know, I don’t know what, I don’t know what will eventually take us down.
Hopefully nothing. Hopefully we someday I go and I sell it and I live. Well, with my kids and it’s beautiful and it’s great. Here’s the deal. So many things can go wrong. And I think I went into this without the expectation that it was going to be this like huge company. And so therefore, although my lifestyle has changed to the point where I need it to actually be profitable, because.
We homeschool our kids and I need somebody to help me with them during the day and all of that stuff. But apart from that if it were to fall apart tomorrow, I want to know that I made a difference. I want to know that the people who worked for me felt seen I want to know that I put something out there that is actually like Able to be replicated in other places.
I get phone calls all the time from other small business owners who say, Hey, I’m not ready to really have babies at work yet, but I really want to offer a leave. Can you help me? And that is the cool. Those are the coolest moments because it’s like, I laugh. This is so corny, but do you know in that like starfish poem where like the kids walking on the beach and he.
And he sees all these starfish and he starts throwing them back and the person next to him is like, dude, you’re never going to save all these starfish. You’re never going to throw them all back. And he looks and he says, well, I just did for that. And those are the moments that I live for. It’s like the random phone call in the middle of the day, I had a phone call from somebody out in Colorado who started a goldfish swim school.
And she was like, Hey, I wear your clothes. I own this, I own this swim school and I want nothing more than to offer my employees leave. How do I do it? And it was the coolest conversation. And those are the moments that I live for. I don’t live for the PNL and stuff. I’m sure my husband wishes I did, but it’s, it’s not what drives me.
It’s not who I am. And you know, I’ll
Heather: own it. Well, and if it did, if that was what drove you, you wouldn’t make it. Because it because what you’re doing is not set up for mainstream, neither is what I’m doing or what Maureen is doing. So we actually need to be a little bit crazy and off our rockers and have, you know, the Phillips and the husbands in our lives who are like, Hey, babe, let’s just check out this PNL.
That’s all I need, and you know, sometimes I’m just not ready to hear it, and sometimes I need to hear it, but as long as you have the main driver of the mission, who’s just like passion driven and is like, alright, everyone give me guardrails, but also leave me alone, I think it’s gonna be fine.
Melissa: Yeah. No, I love that.
I love that. Cause I mean, it’s so true. I mean, we have moments where my husband will look at me and he’s like, Hey, we’re a little off the rail here. Like we, you know, we, we, we, we really need to have our weekly bunny meetings. And I’m like, Oh no, I want to stay at work today. Cause so and so needs me. And so and so wants to talk about her, her developmental milestones for her kids.
And she just needs to be like loved and have some attention. And he’s like, no, we need to talk about money. So, so and so can keep working, but like, this isn’t, this isn’t how it works. Melissa. And
Heather: you’re like, let’s have a seventh baby. Yeah,
Melissa: no, heck no, I am done. Done. He’s, he’s actually the baby guy. He, he would keep going and I’m like, I will break it.
Yeah. My husband is too much. There’s way, way too much on my shoulders at this point. Like I know we’re good. Good. Got your nice even number.
Heather: I love that. Maureen, did you have Did you have a question about her policy stuff? Because I know you would, you had talked about policies last time we had talked about business.
Oh, sort of
Maureen: tangentially. You know, I’d read something about having lactation support built into your employee policy. Can you tell us about that? Like, do you have people on staff? Do you have a contracted company? So everybody who’s forward facing at
Melissa: Latched Mama, and we do a pretty lousy job at, at marketing this, but anybody who’s forward facing for the most part is a CLC.
So we do try to make sure that there are people who can always answer questions almost 24 hours a day. I mean. Of course we sleep. Because we really feel like just those little points. I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure you guys both know that Those moments of finally asking for help, especially in the lactation space, especially like at you know Midnight 2 a.
m. 3 a. m. When you’re just over it and you’re scared and you’re tired We really wanted to make sure that people could find us in any way. So with that Comes this amazing thing where you basically can look at anybody at work at Latched Mama and ask them for lactation help. And it’s there, which is really cool and internal benefit, but it’s really done externally to make sure that we’re helping as many people as we can and things other than just our clothes.
Heather: So that’s so cool. And question and this, I’m sure there’s, it’s not like research based within your company cause that would be way too much work, but anecdotally. Are the kids less sick at Latched Mama because they breastfeed more?
Melissa: Oh, that’s a great question. You know, I have this wonderful story that I just wrote for the book that’s going to come out in forever from now.
But it’s interesting. I don’t focus on whether our employees, children’s or our employees are breastfeeding or not. It’s something that I don’t, I don’t focus on. I don’t. We are there. The support is there. The love is there. We have a nursing room. If people don’t want to nurse at their desks, we support it, but I also don’t pay attention to it.
I had a wonderful, wonderful, and we were super, super tall, tiny, wonderful employee. She was like a sister. Slash daughter, the weird age gap there. But she had gotten pregnant while she was in college and she had come home from college. She had this baby and had this wonderful relationship. I thought but latch mama was a very, very lactation focused and it always will be because of what we do and what we sell, but I didn’t realize how much I was leading with that.
And I was leading kind of with that a little bit of that judgment mindset. So here was this, you know, 19 year old who had come home from college, had this baby. Thanks for Praki with baby. With the dad of the baby and we were sitting there and we were working one day. She was by far the hardest working employee that I had at the time.
We had maybe five and this container of Similac rolled out of her purse and rolled across the floor and I looked at her and I met her eyes and she just had tears coming down and she had felt like such a failure and she had been hiding it from me and all of this stuff. So. I embrace it from a CEO standpoint in the sense that we are here.
The resources are there. I will help anybody who wants it. I will find an IBCLC for anybody who needs more help. I will help in any way with, you know, childbirth ed or lactation or doula support or anything. But at the end of the day, I really don’t even know statistics of who’s breastfeeding and who is not.
So I do think that they are healthier, probably because so many of them are not in the daycare situation. And I can tell you that when they do get sick, the mom is allowed to stay at home with them. No questions asked. You know, that is, you know, you get to be a mom first all the time at Lash Mama. So that is
Heather: a sidestep of your question.
That would suck though, if you made them bring their sick kid to work and then all the other kids at work got sick and
Melissa: then everybody was taken care of. We have stories. So yeah, so the kids don’t come to work sick. There was a lot of stuff that changed during the pandemic on the other side of that.
But I do remember we had this bounce house once in the office and I had my son, number one, two, three, four. He woke up with a fever after he had been bouncing in the bounce house. He was fine. When he went down, and he went down with a fever, woke up, that evening, spots showed up on his hands and his feet, and I was like, this is not gonna be good.
Between who he bounced with in the bounce house, and then where they went afterwards, I think we gave probably hand, foot, and mouth to probably 30 kids. It was not, it was not, it was not a good experience. So I’m telling you, this is not the perfect experience. My kid did not have a fever. The second my kid had a fever, my kid went home.
But there is some flexibility and kind of that village mindset of when you get a bunch of kids. together. They’re going to be those, you know, that roseola, that hand, foot, mouth, those things that are just rites of passage that they may get actually at work. So
Heather: yeah, at least it was the boss’s kid that was patient zero.
Melissa: I felt so bad and they just kept popping up. And I’m like, Oh, great, great. That’s
Heather: another one. Oh my God. And then all the moms get, get the blisters on their hands. And they’re like, if you could just keep the blood and puss off of the product, that would be great. Oh,
Melissa: it was, it was not a, it was not a good one, but thankfully it was before COVID.
So it was a little bit less, you know, intense and anxiety ridden. So,
Heather: yeah. Oh my gosh. Well, can you please tell us how. We can find you. So if listeners want to shop, or if they want to follow your, your stories and your kids and whatever else you’ve got going, your book. Yeah.
Melissa: Yeah. So yeah, the book’s coming out in a couple, couple years, Mother’s Day, I think 2020.
Five, five. I don’t know. I’m so confused. We’re so deep in it at this point, but yeah, so that’s happening at some point. I’ll come back and talk to you guys about that. Maybe if you guys want me to, which would be great. Trauma. com is the website. If you guys want to go shop, see clothes, there’s Facebook page latch mama.
There’s Instagram. There’s some little tick tock stuff. My personal stuff, if you want to follow me as the latch mama. That’s on Instagram. Latched Mama Love, oh that’s the big thing. Latched Mama Love is our online Facebook community. So just motherhood questions, super supportive environment. We try to moderate it as best as we can in the motherhood space, which is sometimes difficult.
But we do what we can do. But that’s kind of what I’m most proud of, is the idea that we’re hopefully making motherhood a little bit less
Heather: lonely. So. Well, it’s working. I feel less lonely already since 8 a. m.
Melissa: Aw, thank you. Me too. I’m telling you, I should have, I should have done this a couple times over vacation and we would have been great.
Heather: Well, good luck packing up all your stuff. Oh, thank you. I don’t envy
Maureen: you that.
Melissa: Bye bye tonight. I hopefully will be in my own bed until 9 o’clock tomorrow morning and then I’ll be. On the soccer field with all my children.
Heather: You got this. All the, all the coffee. All the coffee. Awesome. Good luck with the end of your pregnancy too.
Thank you. I was just going to say I can’t wait. I’m going to go shop Latched Mama now. I’m at that point in pregnancy where I don’t want to wear pants. Or I should say I can’t wear pants comfortably. So I’m actually going to go today and I’m going to get some more Latched Mama dresses because winter is coming and I want to make sure that I don’t feel pressured to wear pants for the next six months.
So that’s my goal. Oh my
Melissa: gosh. Perfect. And I want to stay warm. Yes. Awesome. Well, thank you guys so much for having me. This was wonderful. Yes. Thank you so much,
Maureen: Melissa. This was great. Okay, everybody. We’re going to take a quick break and when we get back, we will do an award.
Heather: If you’re pumping milk away from your baby at all, at work, or wherever you go, you deserve a Bougie product to make that easier for you. You deserve a Series
Maureen: Chiller, and frankly, I could not live without one
Heather: right now. The Series Chiller is an excellent way to store your breast milk safely, and it keeps your breast milk cold for 24 hours.
Maureen: is the only thing I use to transport my breast milk to and from work. While I’m working, it’s got a sleek and beautiful design. Lots of great colors, high quality materials, and manufacturing.
Heather: Series Chill also has other products that you might want to check out too. My personal favorite is the Milk Stash.
They have a great nipple
Maureen: shield that actually changes colors, and it’s not
Heather: clear like all the other ones.
Maureen: And you know how we feel about that. If you want to have your very own Series Chiller, please go to the link in our show notes and use code MILKMINUTE15
Heather: at checkout. That’s Milk Minute 15 for 15 percent off your Ceres gel products.
Welcome back, everybody. Wasn’t Melissa the coolest?
Maureen: I love that interview. I loved also like the 10 minutes before and after that we got to chat off air, which is always my favorite part
Heather: of that interview. Yeah, I love it. When you hit stop and then they’re like, Oh, they take a deep breath. And they’re like, anyway, here’s what’s really going on.
Maureen: I just feel like we get to make new friends
Heather: every time we do this. I know me too. It’s, it’s been the biggest blessing of the podcast is to meet other like-minded people that truly just want to help other people in their childbearing era, you know? Yeah. And honestly,
Maureen: I don’t, I don’t, I think I really underestimated the amount of like overworked mothers.
who own businesses in the lactation industry that we would
Heather: get to talk to. Yeah. I mean, gosh, I think it’s just so typical moms anyway that you think that you’re alone. And, you know, we’re in a pretty niche environment and still, you know, we are meeting these amazing people that are coming out of the woodwork who are like, Oh yeah, not only have I created a business that’s like by women for women, but I’m also really cool and laid back and like have.
Family drama and like everything else that’s going on, just like you and I live every day.
Maureen: Yeah, no, it’s really incredible when people are like, oh yeah, no big deal. Just my eight figure small business. Also my kid threw up on me last night. And
Heather: she’s yeah. Melissa is just so human. I love that. She’s just a human being out there making, you know, wonderful, beautiful lactation gear for you.
And I could not be happier about her coming on the show today. And I hope you all enjoyed it. Yeah,
Maureen: and we’ll definitely Heather is going to get a whole new Latched Mama haul to wear in the postpartum. We will definitely post some pictures on our social media of her favorite stuff and on our Patreon because we just love their clothing.
I’ll probably just buy some more even though I don’t really need it anymore
Heather: because it’s just comfy. It’s so comfy. And of course all of the socials to follow Latched Mama will be in our show notes, and we encourage you to do that.
Maureen: Absolutely. Well, we have an award to round out the episode today. We would like to give an award to one of our fearless Facebook group moderators, Hannah Harden, because she just survived her baby’s first day at daycare with her return to work postpartum, and it sounded really rough, but she
Heather: did it!
She did it, and she did get one of those, like, picture updates, you know, and the picture update basically just showed her baby bonging a bottle of milk, and she was like, oh my gosh, now we have to talk about pace feeding. It’s just, it’s never easy. Beginnings are hard. It’s never going to be perfect.
Hopefully she has some daycare providers that are open and willing to learn new things about feeding, but that’s nice that they sent her a picture.
Maureen: Absolutely. And, you know, I know a lot of you guys have I’ve just been through this, your baby’s first days or first weeks at daycare, where you get those nap reports and it’s like, they napped for 16 minutes today.
Great. Thank you. Thanks. And drink twice as much milk as you sent. Isn’t that lovely? But you can absolutely get through it. We’re going to give Hannah the survivor award because this truly feels like survival at this point, postpartum and it only gets
Heather: better from here. Yeah, for sure. And they survive.
You know, the kid survives too. Not just you. They’re fine. Really, it’s the hardest on us. So Hannah, our heart goes out to you. We are with you in spirit, virtually. And if you were here in real life, we’d give you a big hug.
Maureen: Absolutely. And, you know, let us know if we need to call
Heather: the daycare. Well, thank you so much for listening to another episode of the Milk Minute Podcast.
Maureen: way that we change this big system that is really not made to fit our needs in pregnancy or postpartum is by educating ourselves, our friends, our family, and sometimes even our healthcare providers. If you
Heather: like the show that we produced for you today, you can find more of us.
Maureen: And don’t forget to catch Heather’s pregnancy updates on Beyond the Boob.
Heather: I’m giving birth. Bye. Probably Right now. Soon. Goodbye! Bye!