This Founder Is Helping To Ease Breastfeeding For New Moms

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Selfmade is a membership geared at giving women the tools, resources, community, and coaching they need to launch and grow their businesses. 

In our Ask A Founder series this fall, we follow 10 female founders on their entrepreneurial journey. Thousands of women have experienced our Selfmade virtual business coaching program, led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin and sponsored Office Depot OfficeMax. Here, we ask Selfmade alum Wendy Barbalinardo, founder of Acute Baby, products designed to tailor breastfeeding support for new moms, about staying organized, avoiding burnout, and celebrating the small wins as a new founder.

How would you describe your brand in five words? 
Supportive, Authentic, Real, Understanding, Relatable.

What mood do you want your brand to evoke? 
Encouraging, Relatable & Uplifting. As expecting moms, we are led to believe that breastfeeding is going to be this magical and amazing bonding experience, but nobody warns us about the possible struggles we may encounter. When a postpartum mom is unexpectedly hit with the harsh reality of breastfeeding struggles, it is easy for her to feel alone, discouraged, and like she is failing. Acute Baby Co. was created to elevate the breastfeeding experience for moms, both physically and emotionally, so that they can start experiencing some of those magical moments that they had originally been looking forward to. We want moms to know that they are not alone.

What was your aha moment before starting your business? 
As a newborn, my son was cluster feeding and constantly spitting up. It was recommended that I elevate him during feeding to help his digestion, but holding him up on an angle for 45 minutes at a time was causing excruciating pain in my arms and wrists. I tried rolling a burp cloth under the pillow as well, but after a few minutes, it always fell flat, leaving me again with no support. I went online and tried to find something to help support me and my son, but I could not find what I was looking for. There are a million nursing pillows out there, but in reality, they all give you the same result, a baby feeding flat, being held up by their mama. Somewhere in the middle of my newborn fog, my breastfeeding sessions turned into brainstorming sessions, and I began designing products to fill in all of the holes that I saw in the breastfeeding market.

What’s one thing you wish you knew as an entrepreneur? 
There were so many nights when I was getting started that I would lie awake with a panic attack thinking about how much I don’t know, and if I should just quit. What I learned is that every entrepreneur has had to start somewhere, and there are so many amazing people out there who have walked in my shoes and are willing to share their knowledge and experience to help me when I need it. So, if you don’t know an answer, just find someone who does, and ask for advice!

How do you get in the right headspace to start your day? 
A large cup of coffee and some cuddles with my son do it for me!

How do you balance the practical with the creative parts of your business? 
As a creative myself, that part comes much easier than the practical. I try not to let myself get too wrapped up in creative perfection and remind myself to focus on the bigger picture. But as a creative, “perfectionist” is my middle name, so this is not an easy task. I am still learning the more practical parts of the business, so I have to make sure I am prioritizing that side of things as well.

How do you celebrate the small wins? 
Since I am just starting out, my whole journey just feels like a series of small wins so far. I celebrate by recognizing how proud I am of myself, and then just keep going…maybe with a little dessert in between! I literally tear up and feel so much pride every time I hear how my products have improved someone’s breastfeeding experience. I try to soak in that feeling to remember how it felt so I can think back on it the next time things get hard.

What is the most powerful thing you do in your day? 
There are a couple of things. First, I try to put my phone down and play with my son for a little bit after he gets home from daycare with no distractions. It’s not always easy, but watching him play, knowing he has my full attention, is always a great feeling for me. The other thing is actually one of the last things I do. I tend to bring my lists and anxieties to bed with me, which led to a lot of sleepless nights in the beginning. I had read somewhere that you should ask yourself, “is what I am worried about a today-problem?” and “is this something I can fix right now”? If the answer is “no”, then it is easier to put it out of your mind for the night, take a deep breath, and relax.

What do you do on your breaks? 
Some days I will sit on our back deck for a bit during lunch and just soak in the sun. When my son gets home, we will play in his playroom, go for a little walk, or go get ice cream. Other than that, it’s always nice for me to get out of the house by myself for a bit and do a little retail therapy or spend time with friends.

What is your go-to productivity hack? 
Putting my phone down, turning on a good album on Spotify or streaming Sirius XM, and just getting to work. I also write A LOT of to-do lists. I always write my list for the next day at the end of the previous workday. It helps me know what and how much I have to do for that next day.

What is your favorite desk essential? 
Sticky notes 100%. I need them for all of my lists! I always start a new to-do list at the end of every day for the next day. It’s always a good feeling to rip off the completed list and start a fresh one.

Fill in the blank: _____ gives me all the feels.
Hearing how one of my products has helped improve another mom’s breastfeeding experience gives me all the feels.

What has receiving the Office Depot OfficeMax scholarship to Selfmade done to help you grow your business? 
This was instrumental for me in putting all my thoughts about my business on paper, getting clarity on the bigger picture of my brand, and meeting other amazing entrepreneurs in the same boat.

How have Office Depot OfficeMax services/products helped you accomplish more in your business? 
I will eventually use my Office Depot OfficeMax gift card for printing signage or purchasing shipping supplies.

What does the word “selfmade” mean to you? 
To me, “selfmade” means deciding to take the leap and believe in myself enough to turn the ideas in my head into real products and a real business, and to hopefully make a real difference in the world. But what “self-made” doesn’t mean is that I have to do it all myself. Instead, it means surrounding myself with the right people that believe in me and will encourage me to keep going any time the self-doubt creeps in.

Photo credit: @caraleerosephoto

Thanks Wendy! Doubt is a natural part of being a solopreneur. Finding a community of like-minded peers to support you on your journey is what Selfmade is all about. Office Depot OfficeMax can also help you organize & save time with a suite of business services & solutions to help you accomplish more. Make a good first impression with business cards & build the business pitch of your dreams with custom presentations.

March 1, 2023

Brit Morin