breastfeeding career

Indie Designer Spotlight - Nourish Collection

Monday, November 16, 2015 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

Being a business owner is tough. It's even tougher when you are mom. Being a mom is tough, but it also gives you a beautiful slap of reality and a large dose of perspective. When a mom chooses the route of entrepreneurs it's an undertaking that requires a lot of long term planning, sleepless nights (she's probably used to that by now) and making a conscious effort to live life differently.


All images courtesy of Nourish Collection


Personally, I think being a mom helps set female entrepreneurs up for success. You learn to juggle multiple tasks as a mom! Negotiating with a screaming toddler gives you some badass tactics to play in the office and the immense pressure you learn to deal with while hoping the sleeping baby doesn't wake up prepares you for the most stressful instances at the office. I kept stumbling upon frustrating articles this summer about why female workers find it so difficult to succeed and break the glass ceiling if they chose to become mothers.

I also read articles that highlighted why women were waiting longer and longer to pursue being a mother because they were worried about the repercussions of corporate America. Then, there was the one article about a young executive who looked down on women initially for having children and then had her own child and decided to say sorry in a blog post for not being more considerate. I can't hate on her, she didn't know any better. I say kudos to her for being woman enough to publicly apologize for her misgivings and trying to make it right by launching a web service that was meant to help freelancing mothers find jobs that fit their goals, roles and possible work from home scenarios.

The question I often wonder is why? It seems like society keeps pushing us towards  this whole chose sides mentality and frankly it's not that simple. There are some women who choose to forgo motherhood and that's their prerogative, but if a woman makes the decision to be a mom she shouldn't have to make the decision to stay with or leave her career. There are many women making magic happen as working moms and there are many super moms out there doing the stay at home thing. Then, there are those unicorns out there doing the whole "mompreneur" thing. Yet, it seems that the working mom who is juggling both career and being a mom, still faces issues in the office about time off, pumping and breastfeeding and when she should really log off. It shouldn't be so difficult.

I had the opportunity to connect with an amazing mompreneur  - Heather Shore - making life a little easier for all of the moms out there. Whether you're in the office, at home or schmoozing at an event, her line: Nourish Collection, will have you looking fabulous while nursing. Nourish Collection designs stylish, fashionable, chic breastfeeding clothing for nursing mamas. Heather took some time out of her busy schedule to let me interview her about her line, her journey and what it's like running a biz while being a mom. Read on for the full interview.

1. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, you background and what led you to pursue your current career endeavors?

HS: Well, I had always known I wanted to be a fashion  designer. Every project I was ever given during school, I somehow related to fashion. So, studying design and merchandising in college was a natural choice for me. The only choice, really. Fast forward, past corporate design jobs to the  present. When I had my daughter 4 years ago, I discovered how much need there was for well-designed products that met the needs of the modern mom. My experience as a womenswear designer and new role of “mama” combined to result in Nourish, which I believe I was always meant to create: The
gel of the thing I’m good at, and the role I’ve come  to cherish.

2. Can you tell us more about your brand, the idea behind it, the customer you cater to and the purpose driving it?

HS: The idea for Nourish came about while I was pumping breastmilk at work, actually. I had run to the Mother’s Room after a 3 hour meeting, engorged, leaking, and hormonal. I sat down on the faux leather chair and in order to attach the flanges from the pump, had to take my dress off. Sitting there in my underwear and hose, freezing, and missing my baby, I thought, “You know, it’s tough enough to maintain a supply, and my new insane schedule without having to be naked at work.” The line came together really effortlessly as I had all of this knowledge of trends and fit, I knew what would flatter, and what would make clothes easy to maintain. Mama’s who love Nourish are like me - they work in some capacity, they have events to attend and want to feel pulled-together, and they are passionate about

3. Where do you get your creative inspiration for your products? 

HS: I’m inspired by draping, ruching, and clever layering. Our Pinterest boards provide a glimpse of what I love and am inspired by. I love that clothes aren’t a one-size-fits-all artform. Bodies inspire  me in their difference and beauty. I’ve always been turned on by interpreting trends into wearable pieces.

4. What does the design process look like when working on your products/designing your line?

HS: 
Fabric is considered first - drape, hand and weight are so important so that mama feels comfortable and chic at the same time. I scour trends and curate the ones I feel are interpretable for our Mama. Then, I start sketching - taking into account the fashion, the versatility, and the ease of use for each garment. There is a lot of pre-designing that goes on in my head before I take pencil to paper.



5. Are there people, mentors or figures that have made an impact in your life and career? If so, how?

HS: Absolutely. There are many. Many people, primarily women, who have been champions for me, who’ve passed on their knowledge and insights to me and have completely inspired me. I seriously couldn’t begin to list them. But I will say, I believe in paying it forward, so I’m thrilled when I can mentor someone, and give them just a taste of what was given to me.

6. What are your goals for your brand in the next 2-5 years? How do you hope to be making an impact or what kind of growth are you looking forward to? 

HS: My vision for Nourish is to grow quickly, but sustainably. In 7 years we will be the most recognized nursingwear brand on the planet. I realize that’s an aggressive goal, but it’s attainable, if we make good marketing decisions and continue to create high-quality, chic clothes that truly help breastfeeding & pumping mamas.

The reason I’m not interested in running a non-profit is that money changes things. I want Nourish to support legislation for fair maternity/paternity leave here in the US, and fund education and support programs for women of color, which the CDC has shown are the least likely to establish and maintain a breastfeeding relationship (though those numbers are climbing!).



7. Why do you think there is such controversy when it comes to breastfeeding and what do you think we can do as a society to erase the stigma?

HS: I think there are layers of controversy around breastfeeding in this country. Some people are outraged to see a mother feed their child because these people sexualize breasts at all times. Some “tolerate” breastfeeding moms, but urge them to “cover up”. And still others are fine with nursing in public, but have a problem with “brelfies” (breastfeeding selfies posted on social media). So there is quite a range of resistance . . . What it comes down to is that some folks just don’t appreciate a society where individuals make individual choices, regardless of how comfortable you are with them. Hey, I don’t like watching horror movies. So, guess what? I don’t watch them. Pretty easy solution. There are several different stigmas, then, that follow breastfeeding and pumping mothers. I believe that erasing them will take some time, and be multi-faceted.

8. How do you balance motherhood and being an entrepreneur? Have you faced obstacles during this journey, if so how did you overcome?

HS: 
 I don’t believe I do balance motherhood and entrepreneurism. I feel like I’m good at segmenting where I need to be and what I need to give my attention to… But I don’t feel like I balance both hats.

9. The fashion industry seems to be going through an evolution, why do you think the industry is changing from it’s typical fast fashion format to something new? How do you think this evolution will affect your brand?
HS: Fast fashion was never a sustainable model. From the production side, it very quickly contributed to massive human and environmental degradation around the world. From the consumer side, we started spending more, more often, to keep pace with changing trends.

Today, we’re in a slower, more thought-out fashion cycle. The industry is looking at sustainable
manufacturing practices and reacting to consumers focus on quality versus quantity. I mean not just quality of the garment, but also versatility of wear, and what works for each individual.

My focus with Nourish Collection is to infuse versatile fashion into the wardrobes of moms who
breastfeed and pump and want to maintain their sense of style through those commitments.

10. How is your brand remaining innovative and what does it offer that is different than what most people can already buy? 

HS: I designed the line based on what I wanted to wear while I was breastfeeding/pumping and working.  Chic, wear-to-work clothes that were built for this function were not accessible to me and I knew if they were, it would make my life just that much easier to manage. Breastfeeding/Pumping access points within our clothes are camouflaged, so that they are undetectable. The idea is that the tops and dresses look like on-trend pieces, but they have that special access feature. In fact, we’re filing  patents on several.

11. What kind of advice would you give to someone looking to launch his or her own brand? 

HS:
Commit to it. Building a brand is all-encompassing and takes a lot of focus. Do your due diligence, and know what differentiates you from your competitors and that there is, in fact, a need for what you’ll offer. Surround yourself with innovative supporters, and vet your product or service through potential customers. Listen to them. And trust your gut.

12. Finally, where can we learn more about you and your business?

HS: You can visit our website at www.nourishcollection.com to sign up for our newsletter. We will launch our eComm (shoppable) component towards the beginning of next month, and you can pre-order directly on the site.

We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, so please follow us for updates, promotions and news about breastfeeding and parental leave laws in the U.S. and beyond.

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