After being frustrated about not finding a bra she could use for both nursing and pumping (and wear all day!), Kate Rech decided to solve the issue for herself and for moms everywhere. Today, Kate and her husband Bryce run Ollie Gray whose mission is to make moms lives easier. Their patent pending Anywhere Bra™ is an active moms go-to bra that women are buying in multiples. Hear more about Kate and her story behind creating Ollie Gray below:
1) How would you describe Ollie Gray in a few words?
Ollie Gray is an athleisure maternity pumping and breastfeeding style bra company. We are seeking to change the way that women look at maternity and pumping apparel.
2) Is there a reason why the you had the idea after your 2nd baby and not your first?
I breastfed and pumped with both my children and I had to go back to work soon after both their births. I’m also an attorney and I run a small family law practice in Charlotte.
With my first child Loughlin, who is now 7, there wasn’t anything on the market that I could wear all day long and nurse and pump in. There were breastfeeding bras and pumping bras but there wasn’t anything that you didn’t have to switch from one to the other.
At the time I was so busy with my law practice I thought, surely by the time the next baby comes along someone will have solved the issue. Then our little girl came 3 years later and there still wasn’t anything on the market.
By that point I had started taking sports bras apart and cutting holes in them trying to create my own nursing & pumping bra. My husband Bryce got so tired of hearing me complain about not having any bra that was good enough, he told me to just do something about it. “Just fix it,” he said, “let’s make something to solve this issue.”
3) How has it been starting a business with two kids at home + running a law firm? (I only have 1 child and 1 business and I’m not sure how I’ll manage if we have another baby!)
It’s certainly busy! Instead of thinking of all the reasons about how difficult it will be, just do it and you’ll figure it out. You’ll carve out the time. Our kids are certainly learning the value of working hard, following your dreams and pursuing what you love. They’re both along for the ride with us!
4) Neither you nor your husband have design backgrounds. Can you talk about your design process?
We’re actually working with a couple of design teams, including an ex-lululemon designer. The design of our Anywhere bra™ has come a long way. We started out with the prototypes that I had originally done on my own.
When first working with designers it is often difficult to explain what you’re looking for, especially to someone who hasn’t nursed or pumped before. One thing we realized very quickly, is that our product requires a very technical design and design team.
We had several rounds of prototypes and we did focus groups to figure out what what moms liked and didn’t like about our prototypes. We took back all the feedback to our designers to make sure we incorporated what moms needed into the design.
5) What are some helpful features of the Anywhere bra™ that make breastfeeding & pumping easier than with other bras on the market?
The Anywhere bra™ is intended to be worn from late pregnancy through breastfeeding and pumping. Predominantly with pumping, the difference in our bra is that you don’t have to have multiple bras to do the same thing. That was the void in the market we wanted to fill.
There are pumping bras on the market, but what distinguishes ours from the rest is that when moms wear the Anywhere bra™ they can go running, take a yoga class, breastfeed, pump and not have to constantly change bras. In a time of your life that is so busy, you’re tired, you’re up at night, having to think about changing bras constantly..that was the problem we set out to solve.
6) What's it like working with your husband? How do you complement each other?
Bryce and I have worked together for 8 years now. The cool things about it for me personally is that Bryce is my cheerleader. He gives me the confidence to go out and pursue what I want. He is my number one fan and supports me in pursuing my dreams.
At Ollie Gray he does all the operations and behind the scenes tasks. Which is so cool because as a man he really understands the product and market more than most men ever will!
Prior to running Ollie Gray, we ran our law firm together. Fortunately we work really well together. It’s about figuring out how to balance work with our marriage, children and friends. We constantly kick ideas off one another. It’s like having your business with you all the time and having your partner with you all the time and it’s been great for us.
We’re also very different in regards to what we like doing in the business and we have our defined roles. He does what he’s good at and I know if I’m not good at something or don’t like something I shouldn’t be focusing my energy on it. Collectively we come together and make the best of it.
7) Do you ever bring the business home?
We constantly search to make our business and products stronger and better, so yes we often talk about it outside of work hours. Our kids, as they get older, continue to ask us to stop talking about pump parts and breastmilk at dinner! But we also make it a point to carve out time for ourselves and push everything else aside for just the two of us.
8) Favorite parts of running a start up? Least?
My favorite part has been seeing an idea all the way through to fruition. The coolest part about running a start up has been seeing a product come to life from an idea in my head. I would say my least favorite is figuring out what the right mix of inventory is, when to launch a new print, when to adjust the design. That’s been the hardest thing about starting the business, figuring all that out, it’s a learning process.
8) If you could turn back time would you have done anything differently?
We did a Kickstarter campaign in the fall of 2016 and moms bought our bras on pre-order. The bras arrived in our warehouse in the spring of 2017. For someone who is breastfeeding to have ordered 4-5 months in advance was really neat and showed us there was a huge demand for our bra. However it posed a challenge for us because by the time the product came 4-5 months later, all our bras were already spoken for.
It was a great problem to have but it was disappointing to us and to other moms who wanted our bra but couldn’t buy it. If we could turn back time we definitely would have ordered more inventory!
9) Advice for mom entrepreneurs?
Go out there and do it. Do what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about. I was reading a quote the other day about success and failure, ‘success is not about falling down 7 times but picking yourself up on the 8th.’ It’s true regarding so many aspects of life, business included. It’s about finding something that you love, pursuing it and making it happen. Pushing the excuses aside, because there’s never going to be the perfect time or place.
10) Future plans for Ollie Gray?
We’ve had such a demand for larger sizes, bigger bands and busts and also different size combinations. So our short term plan is expanding sizes which we’re very excited about. We’ll be rolling out the new sizes later this year.
We’ve also selected new prints which is always the exciting and fun thing to work on. We let our customers pick our most recent print which we’ll be rolling out soon.
Longer term plans include continuing to improve the new mom/maternity market and working on products outside the Anywhere bra™. It’s obviously our staple and focus but we’re working on other ideas to help moms in the longer term.
Thanks Kate! You're an inspiration and we thank you for creating such a helpful (and beautiful!) product for motherhood. xoxo
Please use TEAT15 for 15% off Ollie Gray bras on their website through Saturday, June 21, 2019.