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Dear Hayden Founder's Journey from Teacher to SAHM to Entrepreneur

Dear Hayden Founder's Journey from Teacher to SAHM to Entrepreneur

Name: Nicole Reilly



Age: 37

Number of kids and ages: Two kids, 23 months and 3.5

Location: Chicago



The most surprising thing about being a first-time mom is as much as you intellectually know your world is going to change once that baby arrives, you don't fully understand it until that baby is there. I thought I would never want to be a stay at home mom. I loved my job as a teacher and was dedicated to my career so my plan was to return after my maternity leave. I completely respected people who made the choice to stay home but I just didn't see that as something I wanted for myself. I completely surprised myself when my maternity leave came to an end and I was supposed to return to work, but I knew in my heart that I couldn't. At least not yet. It surprised me how quickly my priorities, goals, and dreams changed. It made me reevaluate what I wanted and I did a lot of thinking about that which eventually led me to founding Dear Hayden.


My expectation vs. experience breastfeeding was I had some friends who really struggled to breastfeed and had a lot of pain associated with it so I was expecting to have a similar experience. I was incredibly fortunate that both of my breastfeeding journeys were relatively smooth and pain-free. The most challenging aspect of breastfeeding for me was feeling like I was on a 3 hour timer. I knew that every 3 hours I needed to either nurse or pump regardless of what I was doing and that definitely weighed on me. I will say that I was sad both times at the end of my breastfeeding experience because it was such an incredible bonding experience. I wish I had known about the Lunnie nursing bra when I was nursing. I must have bought 15 different nursing bras and none of them excited me!

The best piece of advice about motherhood is that in order to be the best mom for your babies, you have to prioritize and take care of yourself. When I was a new mom staying at home with my daughter, I deprioritized myself as many new moms do. I was burnt out and wasn't able to show up as the best version of myself. Once I started taking some more time for myself to have a break, get a workout in, meet up with friends, feel like the person I was before motherhood, I was able to be a better mother.


About Dear Hayden
Hi! My name is Nicole Reilly and I am a mama to two toddlers and the founder of Dear Hayden. I am a former public elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home-mom turned baby and children's clothing brand founder. I decided to create Dear Hayden after being frustrated with the tedious buttons and snaps that covered all my favorite clothing pieces for my little ones. With Dear Hayden, we are bringing beautiful, high-quality, elevated pieces that are also extremely functional! Many of our pieces feature hidden magnetic closures for quick and struggle-free changes and help facilitate independence for our toddlers. We also are deeply committed to sustainability so for that reason we have chosen to work with the most eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton and tencel lyocell as well as manufacture in GOTS certified factories in Portugal.
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