By now you’ve pretty well gotten to know the Snugabell Team, with the exception of Head Mama in Charge Wendy herself. Take a closer look at Wendy with today’s Q&A, which includes the Snugabell backstory, some insight into the woman herself, and something about jumping out of an airplane!
So how’d it all begin? When I was pregnant with my first daughter, a good friend of mine asked me if I was going to pump. I asked her why I would need to (we get a full year of maternity leave here in Canada). She said that she pumped so that her husband could take the occasional feeding, which gave her a bit of flexibility as well as her husband, bonding time with the baby. I talked it over with my husband Mike and he agreed it would be a good idea.
And then? When I started pumping, I quickly became frustrated with the fact that you could do *nothing* other than sit and hold the flanges on your breasts. Aside from the postpartum Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which left my hands completely numb with pins and needles after just a few minutes of holding the flanges, I was bored silly and instead of relaxing (and helping my milk to flow) I sat there thinking about all the housework and work-work (Snugabell is my second business) that needed to be done. It wasn’t long before I was Googling “hand-free pumping” and “pump hands-free” as I figured there *must* be something available to hold your pump for you. There were a few products, none of which I was willing to part with my hard-earned money for, and all of which were ugly.
With my background in the apparel industry, I knew I could do better and so I mocked-up the first PumpEase from some scraps in my studio. A few people caught wind of my invention and encouraged me to take it to market. The fact that PumpEase would be available in pretty prints was a no-brainer for me – I didn’t even consider anything else. Function, quality and making it pretty were all equally important to the design process.
What’s the best part of your job? Helping moms enhance their breastfeeding relationships with their babies. Nothing gets me going more than a mom telling us that our products made the difference between quitting breastfeeding and persevering. It literally brings tears to my eyes that we have that much reach. I never imagined that happening…or how amazing it would feel.
What’s the most challenging job you ever had? The most challenging job that I’ve ever had is being a parent — hands down. I’m an overachiever and tend to do most things that I undertake well. If I don’t do something well, I hire someone that does. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to being a mom so I find myself struggling with this on a daily basis.
Tell us about your family. I have two beautiful girls, Antonia (7) and Michaela (5) as well as my wonderfully supportive husband, Mike.
What does breastfeeding mean to you? When I see a mom breastfeeding, all is good in the world. When I see a mom formula feeding, I wonder what tripped her up – what misinformation did she receive, why weren’t people there to support her? I feel sad. And I feel sad because I know what it is like to be on that side. I was a misinformed mom myself (and I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, so I understand how easily it can happen). I breastfed both of my daughters for about seven months each. With Antonia, I quit. I kept delaying that quit date (which in hindsight, should have been a sign that I didn’t really want to quit). I had it in my head that I “wanted my body back” as we were getting married. With Michaela, I thought she weaned herself – years later, armed with the knowledge from starting this business, I realized it was just a nursing strike. I would have killed for the resources then, that are available now (KellyMom, Best for Babes, Motherwear’s Breastfeeding Blog, and the list goes on). I often tell my husband that I wish we could have another baby so that I could put to good use all of the new knowledge that I have. Having said that, starting Snugabell did inspire my sister Denise to exclusively breastfeed and for much longer with her second baby than she did with her first.
What the hardest part about being a parent (that shouldn’t be)? Always feeling like I’m failing.
What’s the best thing to do on a day off? Anything with the fam – snuggle on the couch and watch a movie, go for a hike, explore our city…
Where do you see Snugabell in five years? I see us in a bigger office, with a few more employees, in 500+ stores with a couple of major chains in there. I also see us getting more involved in the social side of breastfeeding promotion and support.
If not Snugabell, what? My other passion in life – not nearly as compelling – is jewellery. I’d love to take a silversmithing course and start designing!
What’s something readers might not know about you? I love things that scare the crap out of me: bungee jumping, rollercoasters, motorcycles… Jumping out of an airplane is next on the list!