Milk Nursingwear continues our Mom Entrepreneur interview series by highlighting Elena Petzold, creator of Mama’s Milk Box. Elena is married with two children (ages one and three), and says “I have three children when you factor in my round-the-clock business.” She is originally from New York, and currently resides in Pittsburgh where she not only owns and runs Mama’s MilkBox but also publishes a blog – “Pregnant in Pittsburgh.”
Were you working outside the home before becoming a mother? If so, what is your background?
I have lived many professional lives. In my early youth, I was a clown and had an entertainment business for children’s parties. I was taking classes in college for marketing and accounting when a fluke legal class ignited another passion – the law. I worked for some law firms for a few years – first as a paralegal and then in legal administration.
I’ve always had a passion for children and families and did a lot of pro-bono work with Guardian ad Litems. I planned to attend law school and focus on family law until I realized that I wanted a family sooner than I wanted a career prefaced by three years of law school. At that point, I decided to continue my work in legal administration and give up the idea of going to law school. Not long after, I became pregnant with my first child.
Please tell us about Mama’s MilkBox and how it works.
Mama’s MilkBox is a nursing apparel subscription service which brings breastfeeding style right to the doors of nursing Moms. Our starter box (a “Whole Milk Box”) comes with a mix of 5-7 items. Subsequent boxes (“Skim Milk Boxes”) are delivered to your door every six weeks. They include 3-5 new items each, and pieces are selected by a stylist based on your fashion preferences and needs.
How did you come up with the idea of Mama’s MilkBox? Did it fill a need?
I sell maternity and nursing clothes in Pittsburgh via private appointment. My nursing clients were so in love with the products I stock that they couldn’t stop raving to their friends – many of whom didn’t even live in Pennsylvania. I offered to put together a box for a few of them. Each time I did, I would receive one phone call from the customer to thank me, and three more from friends of theirs asking me if they could get a box too.
I think that many Moms don’t realize that there IS nursing apparel, let alone that they can still be fashionable while being a breastfeeding Mom. My styling tips also help Moms think of new ways to wear the same pieces they already own – and/or how to incorporate their new breastfeeding clothing with their current wardrobe.
What made you want to start your own business? Is this something you had always wanted to do and just needed the idea?
I have had my own business for as long as I can remember – first as a babysitter, then as a party host/entertainer for childrens’ events, etc. This current business is the culmination of all my skills, experience and passion for families and Moms.
How do you juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship?
I work when the kids are sleeping, and I get a lot of support from my husband, my Mom and some trusted and loved babysitters. It can be challenging at times, but I also think that it gives my children an understanding that work doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
Fine tuning my time management skills. I dropped some things (including watching “The Housewives Bravo” franchise shows) to make more time for work, but there are still not enough hours in the day to be able to complete my check lists by the time I need to.
Do you have any advice for future mom entrepreneurs?
Think about the type of support you will need and set it up before you take on whatever endeavor you pursue. All new things take a lot of time and they can be all-consuming when you factor in children. Unless you have support in place before things hit the ground, it can become very overwhelming very quickly.