Emily, the founder of The Dairy Fairy and plus-size sister line, Milkful, on the love and care poured into designing and producing gorgeous (and sexy!) pumping bras and intimates for mamas that look nothing like your average maternity bras. She describes the seed behind her brands, her own breastfeeding journey and the feedback from pumping moms that has touched her the most. Read on for more...
1) Tell us about The Dairy Fairy's mission and product you offer new and expecting mothers.
The Dairy Fairy’s mission is to create ingenious intimates for mama’s milk.This is my mantra that I espouse and use as a litmus test for any new products.
-Is it ingenious, innovative, cool and unique? Check!
-Can it be called lingerie (and we’re not talking about your grandma’s blah beige bra!)? Check!
-Does it enhance a new moms confidence, making her feel less like a cow and more like a feminine powerhouse nurturer? Check!
-Is it useful, functional and supportive for moms that want to provide breast milk to their little babes? Check!
-Can it support a mom through her pregnancy and beyond with a lot of adjustability to accommodate for her ever changing size? Check!
These are the pillars of The Dairy Fairy, now and forever. The essence of the brand is confidence, femininity and of course support - so moms can do the most bananas job there is out there - which at times can mean bringing home the bacon, and the milk!
2) How are the bras from The Dairy Fairy different from other bras on the market? What’s your best seller & why do moms love it?
Our products focus on mom FIRST and foremost. It's so easy to get lost in all of the things we need and want for a baby. But what about mom? How she feels postpartum seems to be an afterthought so our approach is to consider mom’s needs first.
Designing bras that are just as feminine as they are functional is very challenging. It requires some engineering, understanding of the intricacies of each moms’ nursing journey, and of course, a love of beautiful things.
When I select the new laces, colors and other components, I think to myself, is this something I would want to wear? I still wear some of our styles, even though my own nursing journey ended years ago. I think our bras are too pretty to retire after nursing and we hear many moms that enjoy their bras with their first, second and sometimes even THIRD babies!
Our best seller is the Ayla all in one nursing and hands-free pumping bra. Probably because it looks NOTHING like a pumping bra. It’s so dainty and feminine but it packs a functional punch! With features that make it useful for nursing and pumping and demi underwire (that’s just the outer part to avoid pinching and discomfort) this bra truly reshaped (pardon the pun) the way that a pumping bra looks.
3) What was the inspiration behind the brand? The story behind the name?
The inspiration for The Dairy Fairy came from my own experience. I could not understand the tediousness of disrobing and switching bras several times a day. I had a zippered band with two holes for pumping that made my postpartum body feel like an encased sausage. I was determined to find a more dignified, efficient and attractive solution and when I realized one didn’t exist, I set out to create one myself.
The name is a bit of a humorous nod to the realities of pumping. I chose it because it is a bit tongue in cheek and really embodies my sentiments for the pumping process. Let’s get real, no mom wants to be strapped on to a pump, but we do it anyway, for all of the amazing benefits.
4) Any customer testimonials/stories that blew you away/made all the hard work worth it?
I often receive emails and online reviews from moms that praise our products and swear that they would never have succeeded at nursing and pumping were it not for our ingenious intimates. Then most moving and gratifying reviews are from EP (exclusively pumping) moms and NICU moms. The challenges that these moms overcome are tremendous and knowing that we had just a small part in supporting them is very satisfying.
5) Tell us about any hurdles running/growing your business and how you overcame them.
There are always challenges with entrepreneurship - you just have to accept that and roll with it.
When I launched The Dairy Fairy, I was essentially a pioneer. There were no all-in-one nursing and pumping bras on the market that were remotely attractive. Women had to strip down again and again all day long to switch into and out of a pumping “band”. I’m really proud that I was able to see the need in such a niche product and attain the proof of concept.
But, as with any other great ideas, they catch on and are copied. I actually value and appreciate healthy competition. Many have jumped on the bandwagon to offer all in one solutions and some have done a terrific job at innovating their unique take. But I’ve also had issues with outright copycats and it’s pretty disheartening seeing your hard work benefit someone who just swiped up your ideas and execution.
Aside from that, I would say the most challenging part of being a working mom has been balancing the business and motherhood. There's always going to a be a push and pull dynamic and keeping perspective is crucial.
6) Tell us about your new Milkful plus size collection and how that came about.
My newest pride and joy. Our sister brand Milkful was born out of moms’ feedback and requests for pumping lingerie to support women of ALL sizes. Milkful offers size inclusive products that cater to moms in the 42DDD-50H size range. Currently, there are no pumping bras that support these moms, even though they are actually representative of the norm.
When deciding to offer the extended sizing, we didn’t just make everything bigger. We truly re-engineered our bras to be more supportive and durable, all the while remaining feminine and comfortable.
7) If you could go back to being a new mom, those first few months, what advice would you give yourself? Anything you would do differently?
I had my daughter later in life at 41 with a sperm donor and IVF. While I was in a relationship when she was born, I was still solely responsible for her and her birth came at a time of professional uncertainty. I was just closing down my previous company (a handbag line called Alexis Hudson, which I owned for 8 years).
It was a difficult time and I was not sure of my next steps. So, it’s safe to say I was stressed and didn’t have much of a chance to disconnect and take time off to bond with my daughter. I was never one to ask for help and tried to do it all on my own, care for my mini and start a new company.
My advice would be that if at all possible - accept the offers for help and support. Don’t be afraid to seek a community of others that are going through the same thing and form relationships with like minded moms.
8) Describe your breastfeeding journey . What did you wish you knew about breastfeeding when you began your motherhood journey?
Because of my circumstances, I didn’t have a lot of time to educate myself about breastfeeding and all of the other necessities of motherhood. I sort of expected it was all going to come naturally and fortunately for us, Arden was able to latch and nurse without any issue. That said, it took me some time to really get our rhythm down and manage my production and milk stash (having the prototypes for The Dairy Fairy bras helped a lot!).
I did see a lactation consultant early on and that was immensely helpful in discovering tips and tricks that made the process much easier. I would definitely recommend getting some lactation support if you run into issues.
9) Three words that describe you as a mother.
Student (always learning), nurturer and best friend.