The announcement from the Female Founder Collective. Still pinching myself.
It's been a week. Wow. I was one of six finalists given the incredible opportunity to pitch Lunnie to the Female Founder Collective's Big Pitcher competition last Tuesday - and I won. The impressive judges included FFC co-founders Rebecca Minkoff and Ali Koplar Wyatt, as well as Nyakio Grieco, Natalia Brzezinski, and Kelly Dill.
Back up five days before the Big Pitcher contest. I was nursing my daughter Annie before bedtime (very on brand!) and scrolling my phone when the email popped up that Lunnie was selected as a finalist. My jaw dropped and I silently screamed, not daring to wake my almost-asleep baby. I sat in her pitch black room with the sound machine whirring, absorbing the news by myself for 20 minutes.
Being selected as a finalist was an amazing early break for Lunnie. Just four months prior, I had the idea to create a better nursing bra. While breastfeeding my second daughter, I was fed up with my frumpy bra. I figured I'm a second-time mom and I know what I'm doing now. Certainly there must be some brand out there I haven't heard of making the type of nursing bra I want to wear. But when I asked my mom friends, I kept hearing the same thing - they hate their nursing bras, too. That's when a lightbulb went off in my head.
I needed to collect more data points to understand why moms dislike their nursing bras and what could be better. I created a comprehensive survey and shared it with mom friends. Within a few days, I received hundreds of responses. The feedback was ferocious. I created an online group, the Lunnie Hive, to dig deeper. I started conducting one-on-one phone calls with moms to listen to their experiences. Moms all over the country were finding the Lunnie Hive in different ways. It was spreading like wildfire and I became obsessed with this idea.
The original "Sisterhood of the Traveling Bra" being passed around for user testing.
Using my decade of marketing experience at early-stage startups and big tech, I categorized the feedback and saw common themes emerging. I ordered dozens of nursing bras to analyze, feel, and compare. That's when I turned to my mom, a former garment industry professional and wildly talented seamstress, to help sew a prototype. I shipped her samples of bras I liked and she hacked together the first Lunnie nursing bra. I refer to my first round of user testing as the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Bra," as it is being passed around in a paper bag to moms in my neighborhood.
With so much information and different directions to take, I wanted guidance. I reached out to an old high school classmate out of the blue who is an e-commerce powerhouse and early-stage consumer investor at Fernbrook. Thank goodness Anusha Mohan picked up. She took a bet on me, my idea, and became my advisor. With her expertise, she has guided me in building Lunnie, connecting with other founders, and challenging me with new opportunities. That's what led me to the Female Founder Collective and the Big Pitcher competition. A fellow female founder, Sruti Bharat of Future Map, forwarded me the opportunity and I applied.
My friends keep asking me, "When do you find the time to work on this?" I'm currently a full-time stay-at-home mom to my two daughters, Lucy (age 3) and Annie (8 months). With the circumstances of the pandemic, we don't have outside childcare help. My husband is a healthcare worker and has been working onsite the entire pandemic. Lunnie is built on nights, weekends, and the occasional (and too rare) simultaneous afternoon naps. Thank goodness my husband is supportive and takes care of the girls as soon as he comes home. Working on Lunnie has become my "me time".