Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do. Please include your business name and your role.
Kate Rech – I am a mother of two, a family law attorney by day and the owner of Ollie Gray – a maternity/nursing bra company by day & night!
What prompted you to get into this business? Was there a particular revelation or experience that compelled you to move forward with your plans?
I was desperate for a nursing/pumping bra that I could wear from breastfeeding in the morning, to trying a case in the courtroom in the afternoon (breaking only to pump, of course), to a quick yoga class in the evening. There wasn’t a bra on the market that could “do it all.” Not a good one. I was literally buying cheap sports bras and cutting holes in the chest – my breast looked like cape crusaders, but that’s for another blog. Driven by my passion to give women a better option, I started dreaming up a bra that would look good, feel good and work as well at home as it does at work, on the go, or at the gym. The result was a super functional bra that isn’t just fashionable by nursing and pumping bra standards–it’s fashionable by any standard. Moms can now feel stylish and confident at work, play, home, or even during that mid-day post feeding nap (And I love a good nap).
How many years of experience do you have in either your business or the baby/mommy industry? And yes, parenting definitely counts!
My husband and I have two beautiful children, Loughlin (5) and Olivia Gray (2). I breastfed and pumped with both my children, although because of my hectic schedule, pumping was a more popular option. We have been business owners for an almost combined 20 years, so we feel confident in the operational side of things, albeit not originally in the bra world. We have worked on the Ollie Gray project relentlessly over the past two years and as expected, have been run through the ringer establishing the right lane for Ollie Gray.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the baby/mommy industry? What fuels your love for it?
I was asked this same question in an interview recently and three things come to mind. Peer approval, filling a void and a feel good story. On the peer approval side of things, during our testing phase, we sent a half dozen or so bras out to celebrities and the like. Since then, many of them have taken it upon themselves to express their approval of The Anywhere Bra through their various social media platforms. Referring people to our product is such a great compliment. When we speak of filling a void, we mean producing a bra that makes women scream “YES” from the rooftops. A bra that is super functional, comfortable and makes moms feel beautiful…? There just isn’t a bra like this out there. Lastly, everyone likes a feel good story and a mother with Chronic Uticaria (chronic hives due to the skins reaction with certain fabrics), reached out to us desperate to find a bra that did not irritate her skin. To add to the chaos, her beautiful baby girl was born six weeks early, and as a preemie, was unable to breastfeed. Because of the nutritional value tied to breast milk, she was desperate to find a bra that would allow her to pump all while not irritating her skin. After testing numerous bras on the market, she reached out to us via FB and asked if we had any extra bras laying around. We were able to dig one up and were so happy to hear our fabric did not cause skin irritation and her baby was able to get the nutrients that is so important for a preemie. I guess we can also check Uticaria tested off the list!
What baby/mommy product do you recommend the most? What are some of your other favorites? Why?
Love the products over at Bella Tunno. Who doesn’t need a good bib or a pacifier clip? They were one of the first in the game when it comes to pacifier clips and they also donate a portion of their proceeds to help feed the needy. There is also a pregnancy pillow made by Boppy that my husband and I used to fight over because it is so comfortable. I literally ended up buying him one for his birthday – don’t tell him I told ya’ll this though!
What is your number one piece of advice for new moms?
Do what feels right for you. If you are set on breastfeeding your baby but its just not working out for you, try pumping. If that doesn’t work, don’t feel pressured by societal norms. You have to do what makes sense for you and only you can determine those needs.
What would you say is the hardest part about being a parent? If you aren’t a parent yourself, what do you think is the hardest part?
Wow, where do I begin? Being a parent is not easy. There is so much love to give, yet so little time to express it, am I right? Juggling the day-to-day activities of a parent whether you are a full time mom, work a full time job etc. can be so hard. Throw in the curveballs of life and you have yourself a size five Pampers Sh*t storm at times. Being flexible is key.
In your experience, what helps the most in the first 12 weeks postpartum?
Feeding right before mom or dad go to bed. With both of my kids, my husband would stay up to 10:00-11:00 PM and feed our children a bottle before he went to bed. This allowed me to hit the sack around 8:30 PM and sleep until 2:00 AM (or whenever our little milk monsters woke up for their late night feeding). This feeding schedule continues to spread out if you stick to it. Both of our children slept through the night come week eight postpartum.
Share your respectful insights on a hot button topic (bottle vs. nursing, co-sleeping, pacifiers, paternity leave, or any topic you’re most passionate about).
Again it’s all about doing what works for you. Although social media can be such an important informational tool, sometimes it helps to turn on your blinders and find your own lane. The sanity of mom and dad will certainly spill over to the sanity of your child. Considering I predominantly pumped (my glands didn’t do well with breastfeeding), I have a passion and am sympathetic of pumping mother’s needs. Heck, I created a company because of those needs. Of the 3.2 million moms who breastfed in 2015, 2.4 million of them pumped also, so there is certainly a crossover of users – both breastfeeders and pumpers. Its time Americans accept nursing for what it is – a beautiful, natural way to bond and nourish our children. This phenomenon isn’t new, but accepting it publicly is a hot topic right now. European countries are light years ahead of us in this department and its time we jumped on board.
Leave us with something important, inspiring, funny, or wise. Be creative!
There is always a way to get through what seem like the hardest times. The first night home from the hospital with our sweet Olivia Gray (this is where the name Ollie Gray was born) was a complete massacre. It was during the holidays, my husband and I had maybe slept 5 total hours while in the hospital and our patience levels were at an all time low. Just as I was getting an opportunity to lay my head down (it was 3 am in the morning), the entire Christmas tree came tumbling down. This was no ordinary tree. My husband went Clark Griswold on us that year and when this bad boy came tumbling down, it sounded like the kool aid man had just come crashing through our wall. Here we stand, deprived of sleep, half naked in the living room, with a crying three year old, a wide awake and screaming 3 day old, shards of glass every where, a tree that was too heavy for a grown man and a 3 day postpartum mother to lift and a dozen or so ruined gifts… Welcome to parenthood!
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