Durham mom aims to help nursing moms with new bra line
Posted April 5, 2015
Updated April 9, 2015
Melissa Holland was like a lot of new moms out there, trying to do a lot of things all at once. In Holland's case, she was attempting to nurse her newborn and first child seven years ago, pump and get ready to go back to work.
That's when Holland's husband came up with an idea to turn one of her old sports bras into what would become the prototype for an innovative maternity bra line that's designed to make nursing more comfortable and less stressful for new moms.
Nourish by BeliBea, launched last year and offered online, offers a dual-panel design for nursing and hands-free pumping. Holland lives with her four children - the oldest turns 7 and the youngest turns 1 this week - and her husband Adam in Durham.
I checked in with Holland, who had formerly worked for another Durham-based apparel company, to learn more about the bra, the plans for her company and how she manages a new business, four children and a husband.
Here's our email conversation:
Go Ask Mom: Tell us how BeliBea got started.
Melissa Holland: The concept for the BeliBea maternity bra came about when I was nursing my first child, Asher, and simultaneously trying to get back to work. It was an experience that was both rewarding and exhausting. I often found myself frustrated and drained trying to pump, fatigued while I sat there waiting, just holding the pump in place. I was losing valuable time at work and at home, and I knew there had to be a better, more comfortable, more convenient way.
That’s when my husband Adam came up with what became the first BeliBea prototype – a DIY project using one of my old sports bras that would hold my pump shields in place. Although makeshift, the concept allowed me to pump hands-free, which gave me both physical and mental support. For the first time, I could pump while looking through my phone, answering emails or just caring for Asher – it was amazing! I knew I had to share this freedom with mothers everywhere and from there we began researching to perfect the design and bring BeliBea to market!
GAM: How is BeliBea different from a traditional nursing bra? How does it work?
MH: BeliBea is comfortable enough for all day and night wear and allows moms to easily nurse, pump hands-free, or do both at the same time – all from just the single garment. Each of the bra’s breast cups has two panels held up with snaps. The inside panel fits to and holds a breast shield in place for hands-free convenience while pumping, or both panels can be lowered to easily breastfeed. It’s easy enough to adjust with one hand and provides the comfort and convenience new moms need.
GAM: What words of advice do you have for new moms who are just starting out on the nursing and/or pumping journey? It's not always easy, is it?
MH: It’s definitely not always easy! But don’t be discouraged – with time you and your little one should fall into a rhythm. Every mom is different, so take the time to figure out what works best for you and your baby, and keep trucking if getting comfortable isn’t instantaneous. You’ll make it through, and you’re not alone!
GAM: With your own company, four kids and a husband, how do you manage to keep a handle on what might be described as that mythical goal - balance?
MH: My kids and my husband are my number one priority, but as my business was inspired by my family it’s also a great love of mine. I try to balance everything by involving my family in my business and vice versa. Adam is not only my husband, but a fantastic business partner. After all, he developed the first BeliBea prototype! Since I work from home, I also make sure to engage my kids in certain aspects of my work so they don’t feel separated from that part of me. They love sitting with me while I work on the computer or playing with color swatches while I’m brainstorming.
At the end of the day, I try to step back and see what’s important to get done in both aspects of my life and set realistic professional and personal goals from there. Of course, you’ve got to roll with the punches and expect the unexpected when you have four kids in tow!
GAM: BeliBea is the first product for your company. More are in line. What's in the pipeline? What's your vision for the future of the company?
MH: BeliBea is the debut brand from AP Reese, LLC, my company that aims to simplify motherhood and allow moms more time to focus on the love of their children, a precious moment to themselves and all the joys of building a family. We have more exciting products in research and development, and we hope to one day have a myriad of solutions available to offer comfort, care and convenience to mothers everywhere!
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.