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Kate Torgersen is the Founder & CEO of Milk Stork, the first-ever breast milk shipping company and the mom to 3 amazing kids (including 1 set of twins).
What started off as a bootstrapped side hustle to her full-time 18 year corporate career at Clif Bar all while raising 3 kids under 3, has turned into a venture-backed company changing the landscape of working motherhood and travel.
The importance of sports as a learning zone for kids in building grit and endurance in life
Life while working full-time at Clif Bar with 3 kids under 3 and launching Milk Stork late at night to transitioning from full-time to part-time to leaving to go all-in
How she made the decision between her career and entrepreneurship
Why she didn’t quit on her idea and how she scaled quickly
Her daily wellness routine
How she adjusted the company in the beginning of the pandemic when travel stopped
How sports made her a better entrepreneur
IG: @milkstork // @milkstorkmama
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[00:00:00] Stephanie: Welcome back to mommy’s on a call today. I’m excited to bring to you Kate Torgeson. She is the founder and CEO of milk stork, the first ever breast milk shipping company and the mom to three amazing children, Jax and twins, Finn and Zoe. Welcome.
[00:01:10] Kate: Hi, thanks for having me.
[00:01:11] Stephanie: Do you know, I was going to say I have a daughter named Zoe also, so I would like your choice of names. My two year old, that will be two tomorrow. Her name is Zoe.
[00:01:19] Kate: So you have two dots over her ear or.
[00:01:23] Stephanie: We debated on that everyone was asking like, are you going to do, what do you call the two dots that
[00:01:28] Kate: my husband was very against it.
[00:01:31] Stephanie: Are you going to do the, y are you going to do two O’s? And, you know, we opted for not because someone told us you couldn’t put two dots on a passport.
Yeah. So it made it simple. But I do like the Oman. Anyway. I wanted to start off by asking, what is your biggest mom win of the week?
[00:01:48] Kate: Oh, I don’t know. I’m not feeling very like Winnie,
[00:01:52] Stephanie: like even for you.
[00:01:56] Kate: Okay. So I I’m leading. So we’re all going to a ginormous water polo tournament this week. So I haven’t yet claimed my win, that my win will have happened by Sunday.
And that is that we have three kids playing in a water polo tournament in LA that we have to go to. And they all have games at different times in different locations in LA.
[00:02:20] Stephanie: Oh my goodness.
[00:02:21] Kate: So we’re going to have to rental cars and we’re going to have to drive him back and forth between like 10,000 water polo games.
I’m forecasting a win
[00:02:30] Stephanie: I like that, four, four thinking they’re positive thinking. That is my biggest actually concern is having three children. How do you do it all? I’m already struggling. My six-year-old has like different sports, different activities, and I haven’t even started with the two girls yet. And I’m just looking at it going, how are we going to do all of these things?
Like, how do you structure that? Do you like allow them to do whatever they like, whatever sports they want? Like, how do you encourage that?.
[00:02:57] Kate: I think it’s so, so I am really a believer in sports, both my husband and I played sports growing up. I played, played soccer at California and then ski team at Cal. So I, I feel like you learn more on the field and in the pool than then school might ever be able to teach you.
So I’m really committed to sports. I think the problem and the challenge with sports these days and this. Anyone who has kids in like that eight to 14 year old range can really appreciate is that when we were young sports had seasons, right? My
[00:03:30] Stephanie: husband was saying that like soccer season baseball
[00:03:33] Kate: season, they abided by each other as seasons.
What’s incredibly difficult now. And I think it’s the it’s the it’s business driven is that all sports are year round. And so what we kind of have a couple of tactics that we use. Truthfully, I went to 15 games, two weeks ago, games in 48 hours between three kids. And that was sports, but we favor whatever sport is in competition.
So if one sport is kind of in the off season, but still going year round and there’s practices and things, then that kind of gets sacrificed for the sport that’s competing. And that’s because you owe it to your team to show. And you have a role to play. And in the off season, you know that the stakes are a little bit lower,
[00:04:14] Stephanie: but isn’t things like club or all stars or all those year round they
[00:04:18] Kate: are, but they’re not always competing.
Year-round they might have like water polo doesn’t have as many competitions in the winter. The other thing is that we do our kids do do double days. Sometimes they have two sports. It sounds crazy, but the alternative probably would be that they would be playing video games or, or we’ve been paying for childcare.
Not that we’re not paying for sports. So I do believe in building endurance and grit and that’s something that they get. I also don’t want them to be narrow on any one. I think it’s a little too much eggs in one basket. So I think they need to be well rounded in all those words.
[00:04:54] Stephanie: I was going to say, I feel like nowadays, I mean, we were just trying out for baseball and it’s like one of these things where they’re like, you need to commit, you need to, you know, the baseball is going to be your sport.
I’m like, he’s six. He doesn’t even know like how to, how to like wipe his own butt by himself. Like how can he pick if he’s going to be a baseball player? And so yeah, that whole, that whole thing about sports. And then, I mean, I want to ask you all the things on how you done do all of this with having a business, but we’ll talk about that in a little,
[00:05:22] Kate: Can I just say one more thing about sports?
Cause I think it’s kind of controversial, but I’ll say that. My twins are eight. And then when I watched them play water polo, like literally it’s a slow motion, drowning situation. Like it’s not, it’s not like they’re slaying the sport. And I often get asked, well, do they like the sport? And my answer to that is frankly, I don’t care because it’s one thing to do the things that you’re good at and that like, uh, come naturally.
But I think life is really not about that. I think you can’t decide if you like something at the bottom of the learning curve. It’s not a fair time to ask that question. And I think it takes. For investment to happen, to get good at things, to feel competent. And then I’ll ask you if you like it. And if you’re willing to sacrifice one for the other, but I don’t frankly care if they like going to water polo at seven o’clock at night on a Tuesday at eight, they can just do it.
And then they can tell me in two years, if they want to keep doing it or not.
[00:06:15] Stephanie: I feel you on that, we actually were kind of talking about the same thing because we gave them options and we gave him options on like what he wanted to do. And we started to realize he only wanted to do the things he was really good at.
And I realized, well, you can’t always just do what you’re good at because you’re never going to push yourself. But then it’s like, where do you become the parent the fine line of like forcing them and screwing them up later when they’re like, So you don’t play the piano and we hated it, but like, I don’t know, I parenting is difficult, but well, to give the audience a little bit of context, I know you said you have eight year olds.
Tell us about the roles that you and your partner play in kind of the family and then the ages of your kids.
[00:06:53] Kate: The ages of my kids will start there. Jacks. My oldest just turned 11 and then Ben and Zoe are eight.
We play pretty, I would say, well divided. A really good balance. And I think part of that came from having twins because, you know, four o’clock in the morning with twins when one of them is feeding and they’re eight months old, it’s really all hands on deck.
And there’s not like one person, no one person can deal with three kids under three, as you know, it’s like and work. So it got divided pretty easily. I would say my husband has kind of like more on the house maintenance slash that kind of thing. I am more on the like feeding food, although he does lunches in the morning.
I don’t know. I just kind of, I definitely I’m on cleaning medical,
[00:07:39] Stephanie: who does all the scheduling?
[00:07:40] Kate: That’s joint. We have a Google calendar and pretty much we talk about it. I would say every single day, every single day, we suss out who’s doing what carpools or whatever. And those of you are working. He just stopped working like so about two weeks.
He left his previous position. So right now he’s not working but.
[00:08:00] Stephanie: But flashback, let’s say eight years, when you had twins in your arms and you were full-time working, he was working. How did you manage all that behind the scenes? So at one point, I think there’s a snapshot at eight months old, or I think there’s a story where you were working full time.
You also were launching Milk stork and you had three kids basically under three. Yeah. How in the world did you balance that or not balanced, but what did that look like? Did you have a ton of childcare? You know, how did you make it work?
[00:08:32] Kate: Well, I did have, so I was working full time at Clif bar and cliff bar had childcare on site, which was a huge, amazing benefit.
I mean, Say it enough, like it saved us. Cause it was, it saved us time, you know, just being able to drop all three kids off at childcare at once and then to be able to visit them throughout the day if I wanted to. So we were fortunate to have that. I think so milk stork was really something that I did when the kids went to sleep until about midnight or 1:00 AM.
And I did that for over a year and a half and I, I was so excited by the idea. And I had already had the benefit of lack of sleep. Like I was in that like crazy. Don’t need sleep face. Cause I hadn’t had a taste of sleep in like years. So I was able to do that for awhile. It did get to the point though, where I was like reaching a point of physical exhaustion and I knew that and milk stork was entering a place where I could go kind of full time into that.
And so I did transition out of that. I went part-time at Clif bar, which they were very nice to do because. What I was doing. And then that allowed me to transition, but I had to be very thoughtful about that transition too, because there was a lot at stake childcare was at stake, great benefits, a stable financial situation.
So I, I really wanted to make sure that I was careful in how we did that switch. Right. Actually,
[00:09:50] Stephanie: that was gonna be. Questions is, how did you take that financial leap? Like how did you decide in your head that it was time besides the fact that you were like, I’m working so hard on my full-time job, I’m working so hard on building milk stork.
I believe in it. How did you structure that? Because I see a lot of moms out there and they’re like, I have a stable job or. Even if they lost their job, like how can I invest in something else? How do we make this work? Like, what did that conversation look like? How did you take that leap?
[00:10:17] Kate: So there was two big parts of that one milk stork, you know, it was early days and we were not venture backed.
So like we were relying under, we were, it was whatever we made was what we had the company. So I milk start needed to get at a place where it could pay me a reasonable. And I knew that would never be like what I, what I was previously making. And that was okay. The trade-off there though was that I, I wasn’t spending money on a commute anymore.
And then I think the other big thing is that we, we timed it against when my oldest was going to kindergarten and in public school because that alleviated some of the childcare costs. Right. And so we really did have to do dollars and cents. Like how much has the community costing us in terms of. How much, what would be saving in childcare and what are we comfortable when you’re doing a startup?
It does mean that you are not, you know, you’re, you’re not living the life that you used to live, but there’s, there’s benefits to that too. You know, I was closer to home. I, you know, I had technically more flexibility in my schedule, but that is lesson learned. Not. That we don’t have more flexibility in your schedule at the time I thought I did.
So I think it was like taking into account all those trade offs and then understanding the sacrifice.
[00:11:28] Stephanie: And you said like you were getting to the point of like physical exhaustion, what was that point that you hit? How did you know, like it was, that was the time. And then also like moving forward, you know, the company that you started was out of a passion.
You were in a situation where you needed that service. I mean, I see a lot of entrepreneurs who have these ideas that are great, and then they almost like age out of it. So your kids in elementary school now, and you’re not dealing with breastfeeding, how did you keep that passion alive? And you know, what made you continue forward instead of saying, wow.
Okay. Like that was a fun project. I’m going to quit.
[00:12:02] Kate: I just, well, that goes back to the sports. I just never thought of ever quitting. I never, you know, you don’t get to quit at the bottom of the learning curve.
I guess the passion. So I’m passionate about. I mean it, I ha I’m passionate about working moms. I, I think the world’s a better place than working moms and working parents and are sitting at the table and participating in innovation and leadership and all of those things.
So I, I wouldn’t say that specifically, I’m passionate about breastfeeding. It’s just that it was the thing that was at stake for me personally, as a mother. And so I’ve, even though I am long since pumping. I appreciated that experience of breastfeeding as one of the first major trade-offs where you feel the tension between your personal and professional ambitions and your devotion to your family.
And I just don’t think that that is a sacrifice that women should have to make. Specifically women and working parents in general. So that’s, what’s kept me going.
The point of exhaustion. I don’t know, you know, cause you can go a long time, especially after having three, especially having had twins, I was already so exhausted.
[00:13:11] Stephanie: Like did anyone step in and say like, you need to take control you like you need to work on yourself or were you just, did it just click for you?
[00:13:18] Kate: I think it was just a moment of clarity where I was just like really I’m struggling. Like it was getting later and later. And I also felt like I just wasn’t like the mom that I wanted to be.
And so, or like short fused or just kind of stressed. And I D I just remember kind of like one day where I was like, I really feel like. Like I needed a vacation. Like I needed a really long vacation, but there’s no vacations anymore.
[00:13:45] Stephanie: It’s just outsource childcare. Pretty much any vacation. You’re just moving childcare to another, another scene.
[00:13:53] Kate: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:13:55] Stephanie: No, it’s not a relocation is what it is, but outsource, relocating.
[00:14:00] Kate: And there’s also no vacations. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re never not bringing your computer and never not opening your phone and never not available. So, but I just knew that I couldn’t do it anymore. And once I made the decision, it was like the die had been cast and I was done.
Like I knew.
[00:14:16] Stephanie: So flashback, you’re working at Clif bar and you had your first kid. Did you wait, did you have your first kid while you were working there or was that good for, for 18 years. Okay. So when you had your first kid, did anything change in you when you became a mom about your perspective on your career?
Yeah, I mean,
[00:14:30] Kate: I think the thing that changed was that it’s the reality of having a career, even if you’re, you know, when you’re compensated for your career is that it’s time away from your kid. So it has to be worth it. And money is not the thing that makes it worth it. Having being excited in like what you’re trying to do or make, and being excited in your ability to do that.
And I certainly got that at cliff bar, but I think once I had, I learned a lot quicker because I was working for Gary and Kent who are entrepreneurs who gave themselves, had an idea, you know, 30 years ago and acted on it. And so I, I saw the potential of acting on that idea. Okay. So what I had, when I
[00:15:12] Stephanie: felt I was going to ask most moms, especially a new mom to twins, wouldn’t suddenly say like, oh, I have this great idea.
Let me just start a company. I mean, most of them are like, I got to like, figure out my bearings, all of this. So what, what inside of you made you decide, like, I’m just going to start this, like a lot of people have these ideas. They’re like, wouldn’t it be great if. But you also had a great career. You had three kids, you know, what made you decide in that moment?
Like, I need to do this.
[00:15:41] Kate: It had to be done. It had to be done. I could not believe that it hadn’t been done. And then I just figured, well, if not me, who, and if not now,
[00:15:50] Stephanie: when, and I think I read somewhere where you waited three years to hire on your first employee or team member during those three years.
What did that look like and what, who was the first person you hired and why did you choose that role?
[00:16:04] Kate: So my dad and I started the company, so my dad’s my
[00:16:07] Stephanie: co-founder and which is amazing by the way, because telling a dad like, Hey, can we start a breast milk company? Like I envision that conversation and it makes me like, it’s so great that your dad did that.
[00:16:21] Kate: He was just like, where do we start? Let’s go. And he was off and running. We did everything, we did everything. And that was super fun. Cause it was just the two of us. And we like every day you wake up and there’s 10 million problems, opera, 10 million opportunities, I should say, but also technology problems.
And we just knocked, you know, we would knock down what we could, we didn’t hire. Are we. We waited. We bootstrapped. So, I mean, that’s why we didn’t hire our employees for a long time. Was we were, I never assumed that I could get venture backing. I felt that I would just have to build a company the old fashioned way.
And so that’s how I, how I did it. And we got to a place where it was. Growing way bigger than two people could manage. And the opportunity that came with growing that size warranted seeking investment. So we, we raised around in our first position that we hired was actually someone in customer care because it needed to be.
You know, we’re taking care of people’s milk. We need to have someone w w we just need to have the, the, the person that can talk to these moms and that’d be their out there resource. Right. So that was the first. And then from there, we also had a gazillion clients that had signed on. So the kind of second position that we hired was a client success manager.
Same, same thing,
[00:17:43] Stephanie: basically the service part of the business,
[00:17:45] Kate: drinking from a fire hose, trying to make sure everyone was having a good experience and to also get their feedback because obviously we were growing. So those were like the two first we didn’t out how sales cause we had inbound. Right.
[00:18:00] Stephanie: No, I’m just thinking like, okay, so you have this great idea.
Like you were bootstrapping it, but where did you get? Kind of the, like, not technology per se, but you’re like, okay, we need certain ice packs. We need certain things. Like, how did you go about looking for all that stuff? And like sourcing all of the materials needed to create these really cool kits to send it out.
Like, where did you go?
[00:18:21] Kate: I mean, figuring it out. Like there’s no kind of like magic way to do it. What I will tell you is that I did not like when I had the experience with business trip where I personally felt the pain point, next day, I basically called my dad and I was like, let’s solve this.
The first thing I worked on was not a business. It was not market research. It was none of those things. It was what could solve this problem, like physically solve this problem.
So it was a process of just kind of from a mom perspective, from a pumping mom perspective, what would I want to have in my hotel room? And what would that experience look like?
And then build the parts around it. Uh, challenge for a lot of entrepreneurs is that they think that they have to jump through all these hoops in the beginning.
And I would say, especially for a mom to do the thing that excites you the most, because you have no free time and you don’t want to lose your momentum. And if you’re not focusing on the thing that you like, then you are going to quit because it’s going to suck.
You know, like if you’re just sitting there night after night, trying to write some 15 page business plan that, you know, that’s not probably a good use of your time in the beginning. And.
[00:19:27] Stephanie: I love that. So you were pretty much like let’s get on the field of play. Let’s just test this out. Let’s try different things like trial and error, and then it eventually led to funding.
Now I know you said like you were bootstrapping it, you thought you were going to build it the traditional way. What shifted that mindset or how did you decide? Like, actually we need to raise money and then like, how did you figure out how to do all of it?
[00:19:48] Kate: Uh, I don’t know if anyone knows how to do that. I think once, you know, I never really thought we were, I didn’t, the enterprise channel is kind of what changed things a lot, because we, it just created scale so quickly and we needed to keep up with that growth. That’s really what was the game changer? And that happened really early.
I thought it was going to be really hard to explain breast milk shipping, to. Employers, because they don’t even understand pumping.
[00:20:20] Stephanie: Right. They don’t even have like pumping rooms. I remember when I asked for a pumping room, it was like, well, we have this like corner of a lounge that you can sit in and there’s a mini refrigerator.
And I’m like, uh, I don’t want to sit in public. Like, what is this? And I remember I’ve pumped on planes. I mean, I’ve had three kids I breastfed for. I don’t even know how long it’s like. Oh, and then carrying the breast milk through the airport and having to explain to them like the worst is when they open it.
And they like our testing. I’m like, please don’t contaminate them and get it. Please don’t touch it. Like please
[00:20:54] Kate: smell. I know every pumping mom feels like she’s the first pumping mom to walk the face of the earth.
[00:21:00] Stephanie: It’s true. You’re not
[00:21:03] Kate: millions, literally millions of years ahead of us people. Haven’t.
Something that people don’t understand. So I thought it was going to be really hard to explain to enterprise, but thankfully our moms were really vocal advocates of the, of what they needed. And so that was, that was really driving the enterprise platform. And so yeah, the scale we needed to meet the scale and that required people that really required people.
[00:21:28] Stephanie: Wow. So now I wanted to ask on a more personal subject, you were talking about, you know, physical exhaustion and all of that. Since you seem really well aware with like, you know, physical and sports and like mindset and all of that. Is there anything that you do for yourself daily to kind of rejuvenate yourself?
Like, what is your. Sort of go-to wellness.
[00:21:47] Kate: Uh, I think, uh, you know, to be honest, I think it’s something that I’m struggling right now with 20 months, 24, whatever three years, I don’t even know how long we are into this pandemic. Cause I was going pretty good at the beginning of like, I’m going to do Peloton every day and I’m going to make sure I’m walking outside.
And I think the winter kind of got to me this year. A lot of the time I’ll just work outside and that is really rejuvenating to me, but I haven’t been able to do that in a couple of months. It does come down to like doing things over. I really strongly feel that I got to do things outside. I need some on my face.
I need, I have like cravings to go to Yosemite. And that’s when I know when I, when I’m craving, like seeing half dome. And that’s when I know I need a break know.
[00:22:29] Stephanie: Right. Yeah. Do you have any sort of rituals or routines that you do daily?
[00:22:33] Kate: I do try to do Peloton every day. And I do that. Not so much for fitness, but for like stress relief and just a moment of like people not talking to me.
And other than Dennis Morton clarity going for a walk,
[00:22:49] Stephanie: what time do you wake up in the morning? Are you a morning person or an evening person?
[00:22:53] Kate: No, I having house. Three kids under three and like twins and not sleeping for like a million years. I’m fortunate our kids go to school across the street, public school, across the street.
So we can, like, I can throw a rock at school right now. So I get up at seven 30.
[00:23:09] Stephanie: Oh, I love that. My husband and I have arguments because he’s really into the whole, like Tim Ferriss. Like you need to wake up at like really early and have this morning routine. And I’m like, I don’t function. And I think I’m just looking for other people to commiserate and excuses, but like, it’s really hard to wake up early.
[00:23:27] Kate: I totally resist this, like wake up early thing. The other thing is I don’t work at night. I can’t do it anymore. You don’t want to do it anymore. Like, I’ll do it on occasion if there’s like some hot issue. But to me, that’s actually, it’s kind of the anti ritual. Like, I don’t know. I think cracking a computer at nine o’clock at night is.
[00:23:47] Stephanie: Well, also the blue light, it all like affects your sleep. So then what does your kind of typical work day look like now with at least three kids in school? So you at least have a little bit of a break. What does your day look like?
[00:23:59] Kate: So get up. So my husband does lunches. I’m kind of like on the, get your shoes on.
I’m also on the pet duty and then we both walked them to school, like across the street then I’m like, usually I try to, I try to spend like a half an hour of just like, what are the three to five things that really need to be accomplished today and not so much menial tasks, but like move things that move the ball down the field.
So I kind of assert those things. I don’t always achieve them, but I assert them and then I’ll have a series of tunes. I, you know, I think all of us now, pandemic, zoom life have big portion of our, of our days communicating with our team and in a way on a screen and gaining alignment and tackling projects.
And then the afternoon is always a carpool to a sport. Possibly two sports. So today we have soccer, we have soccer and then two of them had tutored.
[00:24:54] Stephanie: Yeah. I was going to ask you, just divide and conquer on that. I mean, I’m trying to, I’m trying to understand what my future looks like with three kids and how you get them to all the sports, all the things like do you make friends with some of the moms and be like, can you please carpool?
[00:25:08] Kate: It’s all carpool, a big part of it is carpool. And I wouldn’t say that carpooling coordination is super easy because like most of the parents we know are both working. Also. It needs
[00:25:18] Stephanie: to be a solution for that, by the way, like some sort of thing where you can easily do carpool schedules, like
[00:25:24] Kate: yeah, I have to take team snap and it needs to take people’s work calendars and it needs to take where they live and where the sports are accurate and serve up the most eligible person.
That would be
[00:25:36] Stephanie: amazing for everything. Like, not just like sports, like all of that, like it’s logistics that I just don’t understand. I’m sure. Like, I mean, FedEx is really good at logistics. They should, uh, give out some software and what’s the easiest way to do a carpool.
[00:25:50] Kate: Well, I do, I do not think that we could do it if we did not have a community around us that shared, you know, that we collectively shared the, of.
We are almost always driving someone else’s kid with us and our kids. And w we do like one leg and then they’ll do another leg. And then it’s challenging because we do have competing carpools. Some kids, our kids all have to be at different places at different times. So, and we’re only two people. So sometimes we’re not always the best carpool buddies because there’s a Dangler of a third kid out there that we can’t do
[00:26:23] Stephanie: right then for us, we’re like, oh, we don’t have space.
We have three car seats. It’s like you can squeeze in the trunk or something like a third rail.
[00:26:31] Kate: Thank you. So diligent about booster now, we’re just like, get rid of the booster seat. Like we can’t, there’s
[00:26:37] Stephanie: no way. I know. We always said like going from two to three, it was like, you went from man to man defense to now, like you’re on zone and it’s just so much more.
[00:26:46] Kate: You can only keep two of them alive. You know, the one that’s like running out into the ocean. It’s not as if we can only say you can only save one.
[00:26:56] Stephanie: Uh, well going back a little bit to milk stork, the pandemic kit and things change. People may not be traveling as much for work and things like that.
How are you looking at your company in terms of. Your services and have you seen a change there? And if so, like, how are you adapting to that?
[00:27:15] Kate: It’s I would say at the beginning of the pandemic was different than it is now, but reality for better or worse is that people are traveling again. I don’t know if that’s good for COVID, but it’s, we’ve seen a return of travel.
So that’s been good in the early days of the pandemic. Yeah. We saw our travel drop immediately to zero and. We did a couple of few things. First we, we being in the fem tech space, we know of a lot of like really innovative solutions that exist that are very early stage and maybe not ready to sell it to enterprise, but they had solutions that could really help parents during this situation, as well as employers and helping their employees.
[00:27:59] Stephanie: Actually, one of them was a podcast guest of mine, Stephanie from lactation lab. Oh, yeah. So I literally just saw that on your website. I was like, oh, breast milk analysis. I was like, Ooh, are they competing with like lactation 11? I clicked on it. And I’m like, oh my goodness. She was on my part. She was one of my first podcast deaths way, way, way long ago.
[00:28:17] Kate: Yeah. Part of it was like, how can we all work together? And like figure out a way to bring some solutions for it. So we created a block of benefits at the time we included some childcare options. We had a virtual lactation support. Stephanie’s lactation lab. And to bring that forward to employers and serve as kind of an injection mechanism for some of those solutions. So we did that.
Another thing is that during the pandemic, there became a lot of interest in the relationship between breastmilk and COVID. So study started to emerge. And for the first time, I would say, I need to confirm that with a lactation researcher, but there was a lot of attention on that and funding going into it.
So we started supporting Mount Sinai is doing a research study on, I think the antibody response they’re extracting the ant. It’s a, it’s a therapeutic, I guess, looking at like how breast milk, the role of the breast milk plays in, in COVID. So we did all donors specimen collection also for university of Idaho as well as UCSF. So those were, it was really awesome to be able to participate in that kind of research and help those collections.
And then the final thing that we did is that we knew that small businesses were getting hurt. We knew that especially women’s small businesses. So we put together a mother shop of items that were you know, smaller kind of purveyors of really cool mom made products and put them in the mother shop. I think, you know, to be honest, that probably that did that didn’t last long, as long as we would have liked, because at that point, you know, e-commerce took off because we were all ordering Instacart toilet paper and everything that was delivering.
So, but at the time it was really an effort to like all come together and support moms and families and whatever way we could,
[00:30:00] Stephanie: the CEO and founder during that time, what do you think is the most successful thing or. Thing that you’re so happy you did that like changed the course of the way milk stork could’ve gone.
[00:30:09] Kate: You know, it really comes down to, I think the management of the business. I mean, I’m not proud of it, but the hard thing was making the tough decisions. I think all so many founders and CEOs, like when you’re talking about April 20 20, and May, 2020, they’re not decisions that I ever would have wanted to make, but that had to be.
And because what was at stake, if we didn’t was that breast milk shipping would go away from the earth and it was important to me. That this solution exists into perpetuity. So again, I’m not proud of it, but I, I mean, that’s the hard part of being a founder and CEO is making those decisions
[00:30:50] Stephanie: right. Now being an entrepreneur, and then having kids, I’m curious, do you infuse any entrepreneurship in your kids, do they? I mean, they saw you build milk stork, basically, especially your infants to where they are now. Do you ever, you know, teach them about business? Do you ever incorporate that? Or like, how have they seen it? Cause I see you train them on the sports field, you know, you tell them, like, I love all your advice on sports and why you should do and how that helps you in life.
I’m curious if you translated that into entrepreneurship and you do any sort of business stuff with your kids.
[00:31:23] Kate: I wouldn’t say that I’m like, I, for me, I am not so passionate about business. I am passionate about solving things and building things. It just so happens that that led to a business. So for me, it’s always like build it.
Like you can build it. If you see something that you don’t like, then make it. It’s about having impetus, like the impetus, the grit, and against endurance and embracing adventure and knowing that not most of the time you’re running up hill and every so often you get a sweet downhill, but you know, there’s joy in the uphill.
So it’s more full of topical. That’s about having an approach to life that isn’t about finding easy things. It’s about finding
[00:32:13] Stephanie: rewarding. Do you think playing sports helped you be a better entrepreneur
[00:32:18] Kate: percent hundred? There’s two things. I think not school. I’m just going to say it was not school. I have a degree in anthropology.
Yeah, sports. And I would say an appreciation of adventure. I spent a lot of my, after I graduated from college time and Tahoe, I worked as a ski instructor. I was a wild land firefighter, like wow. Doing stuff that’s like hard and cool. Yeah. That’s, that’s what makes entrepreneurial-ism that’s the fun of it.
That’s the translation is like
[00:32:50] Stephanie: the adventure and it’s the finding solutions and thinking. Did you ever think that you were going to be the person who solved the breast milk issue?
[00:32:58] Kate: A hundred percent. No, I think the other thing I would say also, I, I did go to art school. I didn’t get an MBA. I got an MFA and I think the one thing art school teaches you is how to handle criticism and to make something.
And then. To have a lot of feedback on it. And I think that that was, that’s been a helpful tool. You just pour your heart and soul into something that you think is so elegant and perfect. And it’s a baby. And then to appreciate feedback from people who, who care enough because they want it to be better.
[00:33:36] Stephanie: what’s the hardest feedback that you ever received? Um, on say building the company.
[00:33:42] Kate: Oh, I mean, the minute you say I am making a breast milk shipping the loot, like I am shipping breast milk. It’s instant criticism because people don’t get it that like people are, will. Fears and insecurities on you. You know, I forget that they won’t reflect that back to you.
You’ll be called crazy. And they do it out of concern. A lot of the time out of love out of like, how can you, this is risky. So, I mean, it’s just constant static or doubt, like that will never work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that whenever. I still hear that will never work.
[00:34:16] Stephanie: Well. I know sports gave you a lot of mindset toughness here.
I’m curious, kind of to wrap things up. What do you think is your super power that you gained once you became a mom that actually makes you better in either business or life.
So I know you gained a lot on the field there and a lot of grit and mental toughness, but what do you think becoming a mom did to change you?
And what does that superpower?
[00:34:39] Kate: So with becoming a mom, I don’t ever think of, there’s no quitting being a mom. It’s relentless and it’s hard. I would, my kids are all IVF kids. So I would also say. There was no guarantee that they were ever going to be here. There was no promise. There was no, the world doesn’t owe me anything.
So there’s, there’s kind of an, I don’t know what that is, but like an existential appreciation of a journey that is not always going to have some guaranteed reward at the end of it. And I really had to come to terms with that during I am very lucky cause I have three kids, but I had to come with terms to terms with that during our fertility journey.
And then. To have the once they did come that appreciation for their very existence, no matter how tired or exhausted or how hard it is. Yeah. It, the appreciation, even though it’s relentless and I think that’s the same for entrepreneurial is like running a business. And you did have to appreciate your time in it.
[00:35:46] Stephanie: Wow. I forgot about the IVF journey, and I know I was going to wrap it up, but I just wanted to ask you, you know, any advice out there to women going through all of this? I know IVF is a tough journey. I mean, I feel like everyone, these days, we don’t talk about enough or we’re starting to, but I feel like every one of my friends has had issues even including me.
And so I’m like so grateful for my children, but also. It’s hard, you know, any advice for women out there that are starting to embark on this journey?
[00:36:15] Kate: Uh, I, you know, the IVF thing is just such a hard. It’s so hard to work so hard at something and to not have to not have any guarantee that your hard work is going to do anything.
No. I just remember fasting and eating green juice and taking 10 million vitamins and. I think I did the vagina steam ones. I was like, I will try anything. I will try anything. And I, I just, I don’t know. There’s just something about being a person in the universe, trying to get through it. And I. I think my best advice would be to talk to other people who have been on the journey, not so much that they can pro promise or give you a hope of an outcome, but just to understand the roller coaster of it, and to have somebody who who’s been on the roller coaster.
It’s so valuable.
[00:37:10] Stephanie: Well, you’re lucky you are blessed with three amazing children and also podcasters can’t hear or see this, but behind you, I love how, even though your, your son’s room, it’s just never give up. And I think that kind of sums up everything that you were talking about. Like never give up in sports, even when it gets hard, never give up with wanting to become a mom in whichever way that means never give up on your dreams and your company.
I love that. And so I think like right behind you summed up everything. Well, thank you so much for joining. Where can we find you online?
[00:37:44] Kate: So you can find milk stork at milkstork.com milk. Like what you drank and storks that fly in the air. And on Instagram also milk stork, you can find me personally, although I can’t say it’s very interesting unless you want to see tons of water, polo pictures at milk stork, mama.
[00:38:01] Stephanie: Well, thank you Kate so much for joining today. I really appreciate you taking your time out of your day.
[00:38:06] Kate: Oh yeah. Thank you. It’s super fun.
[00:38:08] Stephanie: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of mommy’s on a call. Your support means the absolute world. To me. You can find the show notes for this episode and other goodies over at mommy’s on a call.com.
And if you enjoyed this episode or have gotten value from the podcast, I would be so grateful if you could head on over to apple pie. And leave a rating and review so that we can reach and empower more moms all over the world together. Thank you so much again, mommy pod, and I will see you here next time.