I am beyond impressed with our persistence as we near the finish line of making this product. It keeps me going each day, especially during a global pandemic when it is hard to tell sometimes where we are going in general. A saying we developed for overcoming obstacles in personal life - "With grit and creativity . . ." - has become a useful mantra for our company as well.
During the marketing-consultant interview process, I was reminded of one of the challenges I continue to go up against. One of the candidates recalled when his last employer created a lactation room for its nursing/pumping employees. He found it odd but didn't seek to educate himself at the time (or in preparation for our interview). On the lactation room, the candidate said flippantly to me: "Me and the other guys didn't understand why the moms couldn't just pump after work." I did not select this candidate.
It takes me 15 seconds to convince moms, with experience pumping breastmilk, of Maia's value proposition. Same with anyone whose partner ever experienced the pitfalls of pumping throughout the day. Our customer base gets it.
But a lot of people don't and won't, and this includes people who are presented as 'gatekeepers' in the startup journey. Their baseline knowledge/experience with the problem we've solved is like the marketing candidates’. Some could not care less about breastfeeding/pumping. Worse, I've seen how, in 2021, a female founder pitching a product that supports female autonomy can still evoke anger or complete confusion or fear or antiquated view about women. At pitches, I'll get dismissively posed questions and comments like, "Isn't this just a thermos?" "Why would a woman pay this much for your product?" "Isn't breastfeeding just a brief chapter in a woman's life?," and "This seems like a nice hobby for you, but it isn't a business." By contrast, founders I've pitched beside that have ideas for a new NFT platform or for further automating factories by and large only get questions about IP and market opportunity.
I'm no longer curious about the disparity. It makes me mad. I'd venture to guess - and CDC data about breastfeeding and pumping trends support that guess - that the overwhelming number of the people I'm talking about in the last paragraph were breastfed as babies, have family or friends that breastfeed, or have worked in environments where women are pumping regularly. Breastfeeding and pumping are not niche.
My experiences are reminders that Pippy Sips is making more than a product. We are a small part of a collective movement to create ease and flexibility in women's lives through innovative products and services. That will always be offensive or foreign to some. And I am trying to use the anger that that generates in me to develop my voice, persist, and empower myself, Pippy Sips, and the customers we serve. It may be an uphill battle, but the opportunity for success is evident.
Thank you for reading. As we gear up for our big launch, I felt it important to emphasize the kind of company and product you've chosen to support.