A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Women have always struggled with the mythical monster called work-life balance. It has taken center stage in many important discussions, strategies, policies, conferences, and political campaigns around the world.


In many ways, starting a conversation around it has been the best advancement on the issue, because today, several iconic companies design and promote family-friendly policies for parents around the world. Many of these companies insist on equal parental responsibility policies, but we all know the primary beneficiaries are women.

Yet, here is a startling statistic: 43 percent of all women leave the workforce after having children and struggle to get back. The good news is that women are not taking it lying down. Women have taken up the mantle of entrepreneurship, with 36 percent of all businesses owned by women. Today, women are masters at rocking the cradle and the business world with equal deftness.

Still, it’s no secret that women face systematic personal, social, and financial challenges while starting a business.

Here are eight phenomenal women who stumbled into the world of entrepreneurship and business out of frustration. These wonderful businesses started when women went looking for a product/solution/service that they needed but could not find. These women are so badass that they decided to develop those products themselves, helping scores of other people in the process.

My interviews with them offer a peek into their entrepreneurial journey, while taking their families along.

Bittylab

Bittylab started when founder was a stay-at-home mom with a colicky child who would cry for hours on end. Her first few months of motherhood turned unpleasant with a screaming baby, a body recovering from a C-section, and frustration about not finding a solution anywhere.

Her research led her to find out that the air her baby ingested while feeding from a bottle can cause severe pain, gas, and colic, amplifying conditions such as acid reflux and overfeed for the baby. All she needed was a bottle that won’t allow gas to pass through the nipple, but she couldnt find one.

Most baby bottles feature air-vents to allow air inside the bottle while baby feeds to compensate for negative vacuum buildup. She decided to try a few initial prototypes based on syringes, replacing the needle with a nipple.

She succeeded, and Bare air-free was born. Bare is a feeding system that allows the user, through an air-plug seal (piston), to expel all the air out of the bottle before feeding the baby. The air-plug feature makes it possible to dispense air-free milk in any position.

Polished

Polished founder Selena Famularo turned every new mom’s nightmare into a wonderful opportunity. After she was blessed with twins, her life spun around them and she had to get almost everything done with the help of service apps like Amazon Fresh for groceries, Neighborly for tasks around the house, Wag to walk the dog, and many more.

When the twins were six months old, she realized that she hadn’t had a haircut or a manicure in all those months. When she looked for an app offering those services, she couldn’t find any. Bingo!

Her company, Polished, is a service company that connects busy people with beauty professionals for on-site beauty services. Customers can open the app, choose their service, their location (home, hotel, office, etc.), and hire someone to come do what they need!

Her unique challenge was to keep up the quality of the service providers; applicants only have a 25 percent chance of being a part of Polished.

The Medical Mommas

As a physician assistant by trade, Tiffany Bailey came to observe a trend where people end up with loads of medications for every ailment. Having grown up in a home where “old fashioned remedies” were more trusted, Tiffany found the medication trend disturbing.

At around the same time, Tiffany and her friend, Holly Jenkins, were looking for affordable and effective products that could help both their families with severe eczema. They failed because every lotion was packed with chemicals and fragrances that made it worse. Moreover, they found essential oils products so expensive that they could not afford them for everyday use.

Tiffany posted an article on her blog to put some feelers out and gauge the market. She asked why these sorts of products were not available, and one person replied, “because it’s not possible to have things that are affordable and quality.” The Medical Mommas was born. Since that day, they have made it their top goal to make their products both high quality and affordable.

Once they entered the wholesale market, their products started getting noticed, and several retailers contacted them with requests. The products are made with oil combinations designed to help with specific everyday issues most people can relate to. Their rollerball products are particularly popular because they’re easy to carry and spill-proof.

Miracle Salve, a product they use to help with Eczema, is their top-selling product today.

BubbleBum

Bubblebum Founder Grainne Kelly was looking for a solution to solve her recurring problem when BubbleBum shaped up. As a mother of two, Grainne was frequently traveling between her native Ireland and England to visit a sick relative and always had to transport cumbersome fixed booster seats back and forth on the plane due to the lack of car booster seats available from car rental companies. She came up with the idea for an inflatable booster seat, which became the BubbleBum.

Grainne’s primary goal was to offer travelers a safe way to transport their kids. Weighing less than one pound, BubbleBum can deflate in minutes, making it simple to throw in a backpack or large purse. BubbleBum includes belt-positioning clips in place of armrests, so it’s possible to fit three boosters across the back seat of a vehicle, making it the perfect travel companion for road trips, everyday use, vacations, cab rides, fly-ins, and more. Kids also love the stylish black and pink chevron designs.

BubbleBum is a hot favorite among child safety products. It won GOLD in the 2014 National Parenting Publications Awards and is proud to join the exclusive winners circle selected by the PTPA (Parent Tested Parent Approved) Media Awards. BubbleBum was also announced the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) “Best Bet” in their booster seat evaluation report, where they’ve branded BubbleBum as one of the best for safety!

Whole Wide World Toys

After living overseas for nine years in Germany, Poland, Egypt, and India, Laura Barta and her family moved back to the U.S. As a family, they loved living overseas and being immersed in fascinating cultures as they could see the many different ways people live.

Laura wanted their kids to continue to explore world cultures even after they moved back to the States. As a product development engineer, Laura conducted consumer research, including countless in-home interviews. She became fascinated by the vast array of cultures across countries and within a country.

In her search for toys that celebrate the wonder of world exploration, she discovered only language and geography toys. So Laura began to develop toys that gave kids a chance to explore new cultures from home by immersing them in fun, cultural details that would spark their curiosity to learn more.

World Village Playsets capture the wonder of exploring new cultures through fabric play mats, wooden puzzles, travel journal books, and story cards with story prompts. They encourage kids to tell their own stories, incorporating what they see. When ready, kids can read the corresponding storybooks to learn more about all the little details. These award-winning, unique play sets bring the world home to play.

Kleynimals

Kirsten Chapman’s idea for Kleynimals came from her second child, who was putting everything in his mouth, especially her keys. She looked high and low for a safe, clean alternative, but could only find ‘non-toxic’ plastic products. Stainless steel keys seemed the obvious choice to her, and was surprised to learn they didn’t already exist! And so, Kleynimals were born.

The success and relevance of a product such as Kleynimals put her on the Martha Stewart show. Parents were relieved to learn that they could satisfy their child’s desire to play with metal keys without the hazards of lead contamination, sharp edges, or the daily grime that come with keys in the bottom of their diaper bags. Not to mention, each Kleynimal is tested to ASTM/CPSIA standards for babies six months and up by a third party laboratory.

Thinkerella

Cherie Melancon Franz threw a spa party for her 11-year-old daughter. She watched as they got their hair, makeup, and nails done, and a thought crossed her mind: “These are bright young ladies, and surely, I should be teaching them that there are more important things than being pretty.”

She decided to get them lab coats instead of bathrobes and safety goggles instead of spa masks. Her husband handed her their $2700 tax return to start her business. The name for her venture came to her in a dream, and the next morning, she filed to trademark the name.

Currently, Thinkerella runs birthday parties for Thinkerellas and Thinkerfellas, Girl Scout and Boy Scout sessions, and general workshops on weekends. They travel for in-school field trips, team up with local businesses for outreach and educational sessions, and have developed an after school program for the Greater New Orleans area, with expansion to other areas on the horizon.

Thinkerella employs teachers as independent contractors and have paid out well over $50,000 in supplemental income to teachers over the past three years.

Primal Life Organics

As a nurse anesthetist, Trina Felber was always conscious about her health. Despite living a very healthy lifestyle, Trina miscarried her first child. After this devastating incident, Trina started paying attention to her surroundings and environment for anything that might be causing her health to go astray.

One day, during the course of her second pregnancy, as she was slathering on her “organic” moisturizer, she stopped to look at the ingredients. To her horror, she recognized several of them as harsh chemicals that could wreak havoc on the skin. As a medical professional, she knew that toxins put on her skin could be directly absorbed into the body and affect the baby.

That incident triggered her journey into the world of safe, natural skin food – primarily for herself and her baby. Her acne disappeared at an extraordinary pace. She passed her first couple of products around and received great feedback.

When her daughter arrived, Trina started making safe baby products. Primal Life Organics now has a range of safe, natural, paleo products for women, babies, children, and especially pregnant women.

Trina’s products have seen an extraordinary response. And Trina’s daughter, at the age of six, has started her own line of safe oil-based products, especially for pets.

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Finding the person you want to spend your life with is never easy, but when you're a parent, there's an extra layer of consideration. You're not just choosing the person you will spend lazy Sundays (and hurried weekday mornings) with—you're choosing the person your children will spend them with, too.

And when that person has children of their own, things get even more complicated. Blending two families isn't easy, but it can be beautiful, as Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez prove.

Each half of this power couple has two children each, and they're doing their best to make their relationship work not just for each other, but for those four children, too.

"We love each other and we love our life together," Lopez recently told People. "I was so loving to his kids and he was so loving and accepting of mine, and they embraced each other right away. [It was] 'I get a new bonus brother and sisters to hang out with all the time and it's nice.'"

A Rod agrees, telling People: "Our kids have become best friends and that keeps us both grounded and appreciative."

Here are five ways J Lo and A-Rod are totally #parentinggoals when it comes to balancing the needs of their blended family.

1.They bring the kids together

Lopez and Rodriguez each spend time with their own children, but they also bring all four kids (Lopez shares 10-year-old twins Maximilian and Emme with her ex, Marc Anthony, and Rodriguez shares daughters Ella, 10, and Natasha, 13, with his ex, Cynthia Scurtis) together for fun family outings, like ice cream dates and basketball games.

Research indicates that about 14% of kids in step families don't feel like they belong in their family, and report that their family doesn't have fun together. By bringing the kids together for fun family times, Lopez and Rodriguez are encouraging a sense of family belonging outside the relationship they have with each of the kids individually. Studies suggest an adolescents' sense of family belonging is linked to their overall well-being. So this ice cream date is actually healthy, in a way.

​2. They consider their children's other parents family, too

If their Instagrams are any indication, Rodriguez and Lopez have a great time hanging out with their blended family, but they understand that their children have other family members, too, and they don't mind hanging out with them.

A recent Instagram post proves Rodriguez considers Marc Anthony #famila, and that's how it should be.

Studies show supportive communication between a parent and their ex-partner's new partner is good for the family as a whole. Likewise, when the relationship between a parent and a stepparent is antagonistic, relationships beyond their own stuffer. It's truly better if a parent's co-parent and their current partner can hang.

3. They’re a united front with their co-parents

Rodriguez considers J Lo's ex family, and he also doesn't forget that (despite legal disagreements) his ex-wife plays a big role in his daughter's lives. So he celebrates their big co-parenting moments, like parent-teacher night.

Lopez, too, celebrates the times she and Anthony get together for their twins' big moments, recently telling Kelly Rippa the two are now in a really great place, and basically best friends. "The kids get to spend time with the two of us more together and see us working together," she said."It's just good for the whole family," says Lopez.

4. They make time for each other without the kids

Having all four kids together at once looks like fun, but hanging out with three 10-year-olds and a teen also sounds like it could be a little exhausting. That's why the couple takes time to unwind, without the kids, when they can.

As J Lo wrote in a recent Instagram post, "it's the lil quiet moments that matter the most."

5. They're doing it their way

Back in April Lopez was asked whether or not she and A Rod would be getting married soon (thanks to a Spanish language single "El Anillo," which is Spanish for "The Ring"), she told People, she's not in any rush, despite the song.

"I've done that before. I'm a little bit more grown up now, and I like to let things take their natural course," she said. "I know people are going to say that… we are really kind of good for each other and are really having the best time, and our kids love each other and all that."

[A version of this story was originally published July 12, 2018.]

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If you use U by Kotex tampons, you should check your box before your next period, mama.

Regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek Tampons are being recalled throughout the U.S. and Canada. According to the FDA, defective tampons have been coming apart when people tried to remove them, "in some cases causing users to seek medical attention to remove tampon pieces left in the body."

The FDA notes that there have also been a "small number of reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms."

In a statement on its website, U by Kotex explains that the recall is specific to the U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency only. The Super Absorbency or Super Plus Absorbency tampons are not part of the recall.

The recall is for specific lots of the Regular Absorbency tampons manufactured between October 7, 2016 and October 16, 2018.

The lot numbers start with NN (or XM, for small, 3 count packages) and can be found near the barcode on the bottom of the box.

To check if your tampons are part of the recall, type your lot number into this form on the U by Kotex site.


The FDA says if you've used the tampons and are experiencing the following you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • vaginal injury (pain, bleeding, or discomfort)
  • vaginal irritation (itching or swelling)
  • urogenital infections (bladder and/or vaginal bacterial and/or yeast infections)
  • hot flashes
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea or vomiting

If you have a package of the recalled tampons you should not use them and should call Kotex's parent company, Kimberly-Clark at 1-888-255-3499. On its website U by Kotex asks consumers not to return the tampons to stores.

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I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air so pretty much anytime Will Smith pops up on my Facebook feed, I click. (Also, I happen to live near West Philadelphia, so you know, there's a lot of theme song singing. My husband finds me hysterical.)

Anyway...

The last time I clicked on a Will Smith video, he was telling a story about when he went skydiving. He had made the decision to go with his friends, and then spent the whole night and morning leading up to it terrified, envisioning all the things that could go wrong.

When he was finally up in the plane, the guide explained that they would jump on the count of three. "One… two…" except they push you out on "two" because everyone throws their arms out and stops themselves at "three." So before he knew it, he was flying.

And he found it to be absolutely amazing.

He said, "The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear. It's bliss. The lesson for me was, why were you scared in your bed the night before? What do you need that fear for? You're nowhere even near the airplane. Everything up to the stepping out, there's actually no reason to be scared. It only just ruins your day… the best things in life [are] on the other side of [fear]."

Motherhood is skydiving.

If someone came up to you one day and said, "Hey. I have this job for you. You are going to grow a human in your body, kind of like it's an alien. And then that human is going to come out of your body—and that process is really intense. And then the human will be really helpless and you will have to turn it into a fully functioning adult with an important place in this world. Okay… go!"

You'd smile politely and walk run away as fast as you could.

Because if you think about it, the idea of doing all of that—motherhoodis pretty terrifying. The amount of responsibility and work is sort of incomprehensible.

The grand scheme of motherhood is scary.

The thing is, though, that the grand scheme of motherhood is actually made up of millions of tiny moments in which you will be a total boss.

Whether it's a jump-out-of-the-plane moment, or a get-the-toddler-out-of-the-car-seat moment, you will face it with bravery.

Remember, being brave isn't the absence of fear, it's being afraid and doing it anyway.

Being brave is taking a pregnancy test—and seeing that it's positive. Or seeing that it's negative, again.

Being brave is waiting for the adoption agency to call you and tell you that she's here.

Being brave is watching your body change in a hundred ways, and lovingly rubbing your belly as it does.

Being brave is giving your body over to the process of bringing your baby into the world—yes, even if you cry, or complain, or cry and complain. You're still brave. Promise.

Being brave is bringing that baby home for the first time. Oh, so much bravery needed for that one.

Being brave is giving that first bath, going to that first pediatrician visit, spending that first full day at home, alone, with the baby,

Being brave is your first day back at work—or making the phone call to tell them you won't actually be coming back at all.

Being brave is ignoring all the noise around you, and parenting your child the way you know is best for your family.

Being brave is letting go of her hands when she takes her first steps.

Being brave is sitting next to her and smiling when you're in the emergency room for croup—and then sobbing when you get home.

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of school—and going home without her.

Being brave is saying "yes" to her first sleepover and "no" to her first car.

Being brave is hugging her the first time her heart breaks, when your heart might possibly hurt even more than hers does.

Being brave is listening quietly when she tells you she plans to "travel the world."

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of college—and going home without her.

Being brave is watching her commit her life to another person, who is not you.

Being brave is watching her become a mother.

And one day, sweet, brave mama, you'll look back and realize that you just jumped out of an airplane—you raised a child.

All of the things that seemed terrifyingly impossible—you just…do them. One at a time. You will wake up every day a little bit braver than the day before. And before you know it, you can look back on any aspect of motherhood and realize that little by little, you just increased your flying altitude.

Things that was seemed daunting are handled with ease. Ideas that once seemed impossible have become your reality one thousand times over.

So yes, motherhood is incredibly scary. But you are incredibly brave.

One... two... jump!

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There's so much noise.

All. The. Time.

It feels like it's 24 hours, 7 days a week.

There's whining, crying, chatting, banging, tapping, scratching, singing, buzzing, yelling, snoring, crunching, schlopping, chewing, slurping, stomping, clapping, singing, laughing.

There's sound machines with crashing waves coming at me around every corner. There's a baby (doll) crying, and then my real baby crying. There's toys going off even when no one is playing with them.

There's requests, questions, demands, negotiations, plans, adventures, stories, performances—at all times.

There's ringing phones, alarms going off, voicemails, television theme songs (Daniel Tiger, I'm looking at you), Moana and Sing soundtracks playing. There's random loud videos playing when you're scrolling through Facebook and think you have your phone on silent.

I even hear things when there's nothing to be heard. Like the baby crying when I'm in the shower and she's sleeping. Like a bang from someone falling when everyone is fine. Like Imagine Dragon's 'Thunder' when it's not even on but it's stuck in my head because my daughter has requested to play it over and over and over.

At times, it makes me feel like I am going crazy. Like my brain doesn't work because I can't think clearly because the noise is all-encompassing.

This noise, paired with the never-ending, running-forever list of things to do in my head is one of the areas of motherhood that is hard for me. Really, really hard. It triggers my anxiety more than anything else does.

Sometimes, I just want to sit in silence. Alone. Not listening to anything or anyone.

Sometimes, I just want to hear myself think.

Sometimes, I just want the whining to stop.

Sometimes, I just want the brain fog to go away and never come back.

But what I've realized is that this is part of motherhood. Of my journey. Because, I have three children and it's never going to be quiet.

I need to get used to the noise, embrace the noise and know when I need to step back and take a break from the noise.

And I am used to the noise on some level.

I function fairly well on a daily basis getting work done and to-do lists checked off and taking care of my (loud, but wonderful) children. When all of the noise is overwhelming me, I've gotten into the habit of taking deep breaths and focusing on my task at hand.

It's not perfect, but it's something.

And I can definitely embrace the noise—especially the lovely noises of childhood.

Because when I think about it—is there anything better than hearing my 4-year-old belt out 'Thunder'?

Is there anything better than hearing my 2-year-old giggle uncontrollably?

Is there anything better than hearing the coos of my 3-month-old?

Is there anything better than hearing one of my daughters say "I love you, Mama"? Or "See you later, alligator"?

Is there anything better than hearing cheers from my kids to celebrate their siblings' accomplishment? ("Lucy went potty! Yay!")

Is there anything better than hearing your preschooler say "sh-sh-shhhhh" over and over to soothe her newborn sister like she sees her parents doing?

No, nothing is better. Not even silence.

But there will be days when it feels like it's too much. And I just want to say—

It's okay.

It's okay to want to sit in silence.

It's okay to look forward to the quiet that nighttime offers.

It's okay to admit to ourselves that sometimes the noise is too much.

And it's normal.

Our brains can only handle so much at one time. So, be gentle on yourself, mama. I know I'm trying.

I am learning to recognize when I need to step back and take a break from the noise.

I stay up late sometimes to enjoy the quiet—to listen to my thoughts.

I wake up early sometimes—to meditate and look inward.

I plan "me time" outside of the house—to spend time with myself and decide on choosing noise or not.

I hop in the shower when my husband gets home—to hand over the noise for a while and enjoy only the sound of rushing water.

There are moments of motherhood that challenge me—mind, body and soul. The constant noise is one of them. But these challenges will never beat me. I love being my children's mother too much.

So on the days when the noise is taking over, know that you're not alone. And know that peace and quiet is potentially just a shower away.


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