Happy Monday, everyone! For this month’s featured Mommy Chick, I have chosen the incredibly talented and hardworking Sam Rudolph from Babyation. She is the type of mama that leaves you feeling empowered and that you can accomplish anything your heart is set on. (The exact type of friend I think we all need.) Her go-getter drive and love for her family and others are heartwarming and inspiring. We’re honored to feature her on Baby Chick this month. Please welcome our August Mommy Chick, Sam!
Nina: Hi, Sam! It’s so great to meet you! We’re obsessed with your new breast pump design. Tell us more about where you got your design inspiration!
Sam: Thank you! I can’t take much credit–we are lucky to work with a very talented and collaborative team. When we first set out to make this product, we asked ourselves what features a breast pump would have if it was designed for the first time now, instead of being anchored by a form factor that was created decades ago. And, we quickly honed in on this need for discretion and for a mom to be able to use it however and wherever she wanted.
As for the actual design itself, my co-founder (and husband!) Jared is an incredibly gifted engineer, so he conceptualized and created most of it. We work with the most amazing marketing and branding firm, and they designed our app and partnered very closely with our industrial designers, who crafted the look and feel of the product. And to round it out, we also work with teams of developers, electrical engineers and mechanical engineers. It takes a lot of people to make a breast pump!
N: It sure sounds like it. We love that you recognized this as a needed product even before having your own baby. What sparked your interest in creating a better breast pump?
S: This is such a random story! Jared and I were on vacation, and on a Sunday morning, I happened to read an article in The New York Times that lamented the state of breast pumps. I wasn’t yet a parent, but I knew I wanted to be a working–and breastfeeding–mom, and I saw my future flash before my eyes. To put it mildly, I didn’t like that future I envisioned. I woke Jared up and climbed on my soapbox. After listening for a few minutes (and reading the article while half asleep), he said, “I can build one.” I found out months later that he just wanted to placate me and end the conversation so we could go to brunch!
N: That’s hilarious! Now that you’re living that reality, how are you balancing being a full time mom and entrepreneur?
S: It’s important to take a good, hard look in the mirror and acknowledge some basic truths about oneself. For me, I’m a better mom because I work. That’s not the case with everyone, and that’s completely okay. I firmly believe everyone should do what’s right for them, and I also believe what’s right for someone can change and evolve. I’m a mom 100% of the time, but I joke that I have twins: Exton and Babyation. They each need my love and attention around the clock.
I work harder and longer now than I ever did in corporate America, and I’m more productive because I spend a lot less time in meetings. I work every Saturday and Sunday. I pitched my company from my hospital bed hours after giving birth. But I’m at nearly every event and lesson for my child, and I’ve been present for just about every milestone. I’ve very clearly and unapologetically prioritized my business and my family over everything else. That means that I’ve had to be okay with not cleaning my house as much as I’d like. And giving up workouts. And not seeing my friends nearly as much as I wish I did. Oh, and not sleeping. I don’t even remember sleep! Those are the parts of my life that are temporarily sacrificed while I try to make these other dreams come true.
N: How do you like to unwind after a long week?
S: I’m a complete TV junkie, and I can binge watch with the best of them. “Bad” TV is definitely my guilty pleasure. Something about turning my brain off while I watch rejuvenates me!
N: I feel ya. I’m the exact same way.
What’s the greatest lesson (or lessons) that motherhood has taught you?
S: I think once I became a mom, everything just clicked for me. I feel more fulfilled professionally and personally than I ever have, and I think that feeling of contentment has made me a happier and nicer person. I wake up every day grateful.
The big lesson, though, is that there is so much joy in life. I watch my son experience things for the first time with such wonder and amazement. The little moments matter.
N: What are your secrets to being a happy mommy?
S: I’m acutely aware of how lucky I am. It’s hard not to be happy when you feel like you’re doing what you were meant to do. I love my baby, and I love being a mom. It’s the greatest gift I can imagine. But I know that for me, I need to have professional satisfaction. I also love building my company and introducing a product to the world that I steadfastly believe will make a huge impact on women and families. Please don’t get me wrong–I’ve never been more challenged in my entire life. The pressure to succeed is immense. But fortunately, I thrive in chaos! I can honestly say I’ve never been happier or more balanced in my happiness between the personal and professional.
N: I love that! I wish every woman could find that same balance.
Do you have any rituals that help you to feel centered?
S: Not really, although I do try to mentally list all the people I’m grateful for after getting in bed to go to sleep. If I really need to de-stress, I’ll play some Zen music, close my eyes, take deep breaths and pretend I’m getting a massage.
N: Who is your mommy inspiration?
S: My top mommy inspiration is undoubtedly my mom. But honestly, I’m inspired by each and every mom I’ve ever met. One of my favorite parts about my job is that I get to interact with incredible mothers every single day. And while each of our stories is unique, the unifying theme is that we’re all trying to juggle so much while raising good, kind and decent human beings. I think moms are the unsung heroes of the world, and I’ve never had a title I’m more proud of than Mom.
N: Aww, I love that. What did you learn from your mother about parenthood? What do you hope to pass on to your children?
S: The greatest gift my parents gave me was confidence and self-esteem. I meet so many accomplished, talented, brilliant women . . . who don’t know how amazing they are and often question or downplay their successes.
Every single night before bed, my mom told me how wonderful I was (that’s literally what we called it). She listed everything I did well that day and all of my positive qualities, and she did it from the time I was an infant. Now, don’t get me wrong–my parents had and still have no problem disagreeing with me or providing “constructive” feedback on my actions or behavior. They definitely call it as they see it, in both the positive and the negative . . . just not at bedtime!
Jared and I have replicated that with our son, but with a twist. After we tell him how wonderful he is but before we say night night, we tell him that “you know girls can do anything boys can do, and you can do anything in the whole world.” I’ll be damned if I don’t raise a man that doesn’t know the value of women . . . and himself!
N: What are your greatest hopes for our children’s’ future—the next generation?
S: If I could have one wish, it’s that our children are able to recognize the inherent value everyone around them brings. Race, gender, sexual orientation . . . we are all people, and we all deserve to be treated well and with respect. I hope we can learn to celebrate and encourage differences while recognizing the commonality in all being human.
N: Agreed! What are your greatest hopes for women and mothers everywhere?
S: We need to find a way to support and uplift each other. There’s no room or need for judgment. We also need to give ourselves a break. This goes back to the whole self-esteem piece I mentioned earlier. Babyation’s unofficial motto is “you’ve got this, Mama.” I think all moms would benefit from repeating that mantra to themselves and others!
Thank you so much, Sam. Your passion for work and family life is obvious and inspiring. I hope that as I welcome my son this October that I too find this balance that you have found. It’s always comforting and reassuring to meet other women who are still prioritizing motherhood while following their dreams. 🙂
If you know of someone that you would like to nominate for Mommy Chick of the Month, let us know! You can email us or leave us a comment in the comments below. Happy Monday!