How Motherhood Gave Sarah Kallile the Confidence to Launch Lunnie
We couldn’t be more excited to connect with Sarah Kallile, founder of Lunnie. Sarah is a mom of two adorable girls and recently launched Lunnie with the mission to build the perfect nursing bra.
While breastfeeding her second daughter, she was frustrated with her clunky nursing bra and how it made her feel frumpy. She began to ask around and realized just how many mothers felt the same way!
We love Sarah’s story for so many reasons – she’s beyond focused on including a community of real mothers along the journey as she works to create the perfect nursing bra. And she’s taking this entire journey as a learning lesson for her and her daughters.
Keep reading to learn more about Lunnie, Sarah’s entrepreneurial journey and how motherhood gave her the confidence and urgency to launch a business. (The Lunnie bra hasn’t launched yet but we can’t wait to feature it on the Partum marketplace once it’s available!)
Tell us about Lunnie!
Lunnie is the first community-led brand for modern mothers. No two breastfeeding journeys look alike which is why I assembled the Lunnie Hive, a diverse group of hundreds of passionate moms who believe fed is best. Together, we’re building the perfect nursing bra. And we’re just getting started. Lunnie is not only making products. We’re launching a movement to support moms who have been underserved. The stigma around breastfeeding is stifling innovation. Doctors encourage it but society tells mom to whisper about it. This leaves moms in the shadows and unprepared. The time for change is now. I hope you join us!
What was the inspiration for your company?
I’m a mom of two young girls. While breastfeeding my second daughter, I was frustrated with my clunky nursing bra and how it made me feel frumpy. I wanted a better alternative. I asked friends and searched online. But I couldn’t find what I was looking for. This problem isn’t unique to me – it’s a universal pain point. In fact, 84% of moms are dissatisfied with their current nursing bra. Moms deserve so much better. Because nothing is more powerful and beautiful than a mother–and she deserves to feel that way inside and out.
What is your background & how has it helped you build your company?
I have over a decade of startup marketing and brand building experience, primarily in San Francisco and Seattle. As a marketing leader, I helped several early-stage tech startups grow from the ground up to acquisitions. I’m a Bay Area native currently living in Ohio so I understand the diverse demographics of mom communities. Here’s a secret – moms across regions and socioeconomic status will pay a premium for a better nursing bra. It’s that big of a problem.
What is unique about your products?
Lunnie’s nursing bra is chic, premium, and data-driven – unlike anything on the market!
Once you had the idea, what were the first few steps you took to launch it?
I had the idea for a better nursing bra around Christmas 2020. Because there are such diverse breastfeeding experiences among moms, I didn’t want to develop my product in silo. Within a few months of working on this idea, I built a community of hundreds of diverse breastfeeding moms, gathered insights, designed a prototype with my mom, built a business plan, launched a website and social media channels.
I call my user testing the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Nursing Bra” as I hustled a little pink bag containing my prototype around my neighborhood. The prototype itself took elements from different bras I liked – fabrics, straps, design – and “Frankensteined” it together. It’s definitely scrappy but it’s been invaluable in receiving early user feedback.
My lucky break came in March 2021 when Lunnie was selected to compete in the Female Founder Collective’s Big Pitcher competition with Rebecca Minkoff. I pitched – and WON – the $10k grand prize for my business. That was a huge boost in giving Lunnie visibility and validating my idea was worth pursuing. I used the grant money to partner with a local small batch manufacturer to take my prototype to production level. We’re aiming to launch our nursing bra by EOY.
What drives you?
I’ve always had the desire to be an entrepreneur. Becoming a mom to two girls really kicked my ambition into high gear. While I’m devoted to making Lunnie a success, I don’t know exactly what the future holds. No matter the outcome, this journey allows me to show my girls what ambition can look like – the good and the hard – and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Because I want my girls to celebrate their ambitions and pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacles. (Although, let’s keep striving to make gender equality better for our next generation). To all the ambitious girls and women out pursuing dreams their own way and on their own timeline, I see you and am rooting for you!
What is the most valuable lesson you've learned so far as an entrepreneur?
The biggest hurdle for me was the very first step of putting myself out there. Just declaring out loud that I had an idea I wanted to pursue was intimidating. While I received some skepticism, the majority of my family and friends have supported me and cheered me on.
What are the best & hardest parts of being a parent and a founder?
The best thing about motherhood is it crystallizes what is truly important. There’s no way I would have started a company five years ago because I lacked the confidence and urgency. If this venture falls on its face, I still have my two girls at the end of the day and that’s all that matters. I truly believe there is nothing stronger and more powerful than a mother – the pandemic highlighted this even more.
However, finding the time and energy to start a business amidst the exhaustion and constraints of motherhood is very challenging. I began spending nap times, nights, and weekends on developing a product and business plan for Lunnie. When I had an amazing early break and won the Female Founder Collective Big Pitcher competition, my two daughters watched by my side. My toddler Lucy asked, “Are you proud of yourself, Mama?” and it made all those late nights worth it.
How do you "balance" motherhood/parenthood and entrepreneurship?
Since I founded Lunnie during the pandemic, I don’t have a ‘normal’ routine to return to. I’ve been the primary caregiver to my toddler and baby while building my business. However, I’m excited to have regular part-time childcare help with my girls as the vaccine rolls out. For the first six months, Lunnie was built during nap times, late nights, and weekends. Initially, my excitement to build could sustain working at odd hours. Now half a year in and feeling pandemic burnout, I’m looking forward to working more ‘normal’ hours.