Simple Wishes is thrilled to continue our Supermom Spotlight Series. Each month we sit down with an inspiring supermom and dig into her story. From birthing experts and entrepreneurs to philanthropists and everyday moms, we aim to enlighten and empower the Supermom in all of us with each story.
For our latest Supermom Spotlight, we sat down with Boose Brand founder Moni Gerbini Hershenhorn. Her new company has launched the first ever maternity little black dress that makes breastfeeding or pumping easier without screaming “I’m a nursing dress”!
Raised in Upstate New York in a Lebanese-American household, Moni watched both her father and brother pursue their entrepreneurial dreams in launching their own businesses. Before following in their footsteps, Moni had a successful career as the VP of Sales for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Three times a day, however, she stepped out of her VP role and into her role as a breastfeeding mom. Feeling uncomfortably exposed, she eventually resigned from her sales position and made it her mission to create the world's first pumping dress so that women can stop getting naked to pump at work.
Here is our interview with Moni, sharing her journey...
We love to ask all of our supermoms this simple question: Can you tell us about your breastfeeding journey?
In my head, breastfeeding would be this easy, inherent skill I would pick up when Julian was born. The reality was that we both had to work really hard at it in order to find a comfortable and healthy rhythm. It probably took a good two months, lots of pain, and even a staph infection in one of my breasts to figure it out. By then, we’d both worked so hard at it, I was determined to go as long as I could because, dammit, we didn't go through those growing pains for nothing! I’m widely known for being stubborn.
When I went back to work, pumping four times a day was surprisingly the one thing that made me feel less separated from Julian. It made me feel like I wasn't only supporting my family financially by working but also emotionally and physically by producing milk.
You are the mastermind behind the first ever little black “pumping dress.” Wow, congrats! I read that the impetus for the idea came from being back at work after maternity leave, feeling exposed while practically naked in the pumping room adjacent to the board room full of men...How did you go from concept to the reality of launching a business around it?
Thanks! Unlike the vast majority of what’s out there for nursing/pumping, our Pare Down Technology (patent pending) is the only technology that allows you to access both breasts simultaneously for pumping access while also keeping the rest of your body covered.
The Jules Dress is the first in our product line to feature this technology and was designed for the working mom. It is a step away from the cotton, casual fabrics you see used in many postpartum, casual styles that are generally not office-appropriate. Our Jules collection features a medium weight polyester-spandex crepe, which drapes nicely and is thick enough to hide any shapewear mom may be wearing underneath. It also transitions nicely for wear beyond breastfeeding and pairs nicely with your Sling bra styles that have been described as the best bras for post breastfeeding because of their unique Undercover Bra feature that allows you to switch out your nursing bra clasps. The Jules Dress, much like your Sling bras, can live on in your post breastfeeding wardrobe.
I spent nights and weekends, in between my 60-hour work weeks, brainstorming how to design and develop a dress to help new moms avoid the same bare situation I was in. Coming from a background primarily in sales, everything about product development and design was new to me.
In a nutshell, I did extensive research: I read some incredible books (like 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, and The Lean Startup by Eric Ries), and then set up calls with friends and old classmates to gain knowledge about the fashion industry, e-commerce, marketing, and law to help outline a working business plan.
Ultimately, our signature product took three freelance designers, four manufacturers, eleven prototypes, and countless fabric samples over 17 months to get right.
What (career experience, etc.) has prepared you for this endeavor?
My career background is in professional sales, specifically sports sales. After managing a large sales team and working very closely with the marketing and data analytics teams, I developed an expertise in building and running effective sales campaigns.
The transfer of skills from pro sports into a completely different industry is pretty incredible. In my very biased opinion, sales is the lifeblood of any business. Regardless of the product, whether tangible or experiential, the sales strategy and sales professionals behind the product will be determining factors for its success. The expertise I built in my sales career went further than simply how to make a cold call or ask for a sale. I learned how to build effective marketing campaigns, how to paint a picture so well that a prospective client can truly see and feel how having this product could positively impact their lives. I learned how to ask powerful questions so to really understand what my prospect wants or, more importantly, needs.
All of this has been applied to building Boosé and planning for future designs and campaigns. For example, we spent seven weeks conducting focus groups with 40 women, all full-time working and breastfeeding moms. We asked what they're struggling with, what is or isn't working for them, what resonates most about our brand and product and engaged them in product design conversations to guide our 2021 product lines. Pulling from my expertise in sales, the majority of the questions we asked were to ensure our product solutions meet a very real need and are marketed in a way that working mothers connect with on a visceral level.
What do you see as your biggest barrier to success in your new endeavor?
We’re experiencing a large and obvious barrier right now. COVID-19 shut thdoors of both our NYC and LA-based manufacturing partners. With our priority of manufacturing in the US, this has been crippling.
2021 was a tough year for us to launch since our target market of full-time working and breast pumping moms were primarily in work-from-home situations, reducing the immediate need for our first product, the Jules dress, which is designed for business professional work environments. As we see women start to return to the workplace we are now seeing a higher volume of women needing professional clothing.
What is your favorite part of your new job?
I’m someone that thrives off of seeing measurable results. Not surprising that I loved sales! With Boose, I’m now in an environment every day where I’m challenged to wear every single hat. As a bootstrapping entrepreneur, I am the sales person, marketer, data analyzer, press contact, “model”, and photographer. Within each one of those roles, I get to see the direct results of my efforts on a daily basis, and that fuels me.
What is on the horizon for Boose after the launch of the Jules Dress?
Working moms deserve wardrobes that make them feel confident and secure when pumping away from home, whether in a corporate environment, laboratory, hospital, or school. Our primary goal is to expand our product line to meet the needs of professional women in different industries. As an example, our most recent launch, the Saha Scrubs, meets the unique needs of the healthcare profession to make their pumping experience easier and stays true to our mantra "stop getting naked" to pump.
Second, I want to expand the business to advocate for parental rights in the workplace. For example, identifying best practices that organizations can implement to support and retain employees who are already parents and those who are expecting.
What an inspiring story by entrepreneur Moni Gerbini Hershenhorn.