Mama’s MilkBox entered the Shark Tank in Season 8 with its subscription service for breastfeeding clothing and accessories so mothers can feel comfortable and fashionable while feeding their little ones.
We interviewed its founder, Elena Petzold, an NYU graduate who created the company in Pittsburgh after selling maternity and nursing clothing by appointment only. She explained what makes her model so unique. “We were the first and only clothing subscription service that allowed for free size exchanges since inception,” she said. “Today, we still send two sizes if there is something a mama will love and she is between sizes. As far as I know, we are the only clothing subscription service that does that.”
Here’s what else she told us about…
How the Idea Came About
I sold maternity and nursing clothes via private appointment for a while. One day one of my clients shared the feedback that she had a friend in Chicago who was jealous of the great clothes I stocked. She said her friend wished she had someone like me in her region. I gave her permission to share my number and offered to send a box of clothes that I thought the mama would like based on a style consult we did over the phone. It was just my luck that the mama not only loved the box I sent, but was going to a breastfeeding meeting the same night that she received her shipment. She had brought what I sent and two moms called me from that meeting and when I sent them boxes, three moms further called. It just kept growing and growing.
Where the Clothing & Accessories Come From
We are a retailer just like all other clothing stores. We go to trade shows, network with designers and have our own private label as well. Because the number of breastfeeding fashion designers is growing exponentially by the year and we are so well known in my industry, we also get approached but a lot of startups and new designers.
How Her Tank Appearance Came From an Open Casting Call in NYC
I went to an open casting call in New York in the spring of 2015. I actually applied to be a part of Season 7 but never made it all the way through. I did utilize that email connection to highlight that my business had grown 1,000 percent since the previous year and I was planning to go the New York open casting call again. From there, that got the ball rolling on a new audition for Season 8.
Balancing Motherhood With Running a Business
I set boundaries, ask for help and have the best husband and mom an entrepreneur could ask for. Growing a company requires a lot of time and over the last years few years, I’ve needed a lot of support – people to watch my children when I need extra focus, help making meals, etcetera. Sadly, the laundry doesn’t stop needing attention too. If you’re a mom, I always recommend that you come up with a family plan parallel to your business plan. You need to figure out how much of your time your business requires and then draw lines around what you can and can’t do with the new restrictions in place. Assess what’s manageable, line up support for what now falls outside your abilities and get even more help if feasible. This makes sure you have time to grow a thriving business, but your family and mama can continue to thrive too.
Other Shark Tank products for babies: