Inspiring Black Women: Meet Nickey from Junobie
I’m honored and thrilled to be sharing this post from my interview with Nickey from Junobie. After meeting through a business networking group on Facebook, we’ve had some fun chatting on zoom to talk about business, parenting, breastfeeding, and more – all the while wrangling our babies and toddlers on our laps over zoom.
Nickey is a mother, wife, and unstoppable entrepreneur. She is patient, kind, and her passion for her business and for her faith are both contagious. The story behind her industry-creating company, Junobie, is one that’s both inspiring and unique, and we’re grateful that she’s allowed us to share a bit of her story with our community.
Innovating Like a Mother
Nickey’s story begins as a woman that made the jump into motherhood head-first. As many new moms know, life as a working parent is a challenge, but for those moms that choose to breastfeed or exclusively pump for their babies, it takes significant effort and commitment to keep it going.
By trade, Nickey is an traveling pediatric speech therapist (🙌We love this). In order to help a child with a therapy session, she needed to bring equipment along with her, in a very heavy bag. On top of that as a pumping mom, she had to pack her pump, flanges, a refrigerator cooler, and some way to store the milk itself. Her hands were full, to say the least.
As she soon realized, the two best choices for milk storage at the time were disposable plastic storage bags or more eco-friendly glass mason jars. She knew she was going to be using a lot of those bags and wanted a way to not impact the environment with single-use plastics. And after the all-too-familiar experience with the thin plastic bags leaking and tipping over, she went looking for another option.
The other choice, glass mason jars, works great for some mothers, but the weight of an entire day’s worth of milk (in addition to her therapy equipment and ice for keeping the jars cool) made traveling with multiple glass jars of milk quite impractical.
And it’s not just the bag
And the bags weren’t the only challenge she encountered. As a mom-on-the-go, she needed a safe and sanitary way to clean her flanges when she didn’t have access to a bathroom or kitchen to clean the parts.
As many breastfeeding mothers know, if sanitation is an issue, moms can pump and dump for comfort, but pouring that liquid gold down the drain isn’t a great solution for every day. And if you dump the milk, you still need to replace that liquid with another source for your baby to sustain their nutritional needs. Which can mean more pumping to make up for the loss, and even leading to oversupply for some.
Pumping while traveling is hard for new moms for so many different reasons, but Nickey was desperate to continue her journey despite these challenges. She was determined to find a better way to help herself, and so many other working moms that were facing the same exact challenges every day.
The wheels started turning
Nickey set out to create the world’s first food-grade silicone re-usable breastmilk storage bag to enable moms everywhere to be able to pump and travel with milk easily. Through extensive research on plastics, product testing, and many rounds of development, she came up with the solution: and the first Junobie bag was born. 🎉
After initial reviews were glowing for her reusable milk storage bags, Nickey knew she had to spread the word about her new product. And as she quickly learned, an entirely new category was created for her highly sought-after reusable breastmilk storage bags.
She confidently approached some of the large bottle manufacturers on social media to collaborate and they were all-in. They loved the idea of her mom-friendly storage bags and her business took off.
And then something all too familiar happened. The copycats arrived.
A Pivotal Moment for Junobie
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but when you’re a first-time entrepreneur, it doesn’t feel great to see your product copied by other companies.
From major brands like Playtex to smaller ones like ZipTop, Nickey’s reusable storage bags were becoming a popular product line to meet the growing need for new moms. And it left her with an important choice to make that reflects on her strength as a strong woman.
One option would be to fight it. Go to bat against the big guys, play David and Goliath with legal swords in court, and go down fighting for ownership of the product idea that was rightfully hers.
Or the other option was to lean into what brought her to this point and move forward, faster and better. Continue to tap into her unique experience of motherhood in order to bring products to market that will help new moms conquer the challenges and needs of their pumping or breastfeeding journeys.
Taking the emotion out of the decision, Nickey quickly took the high road and focused on new product development.
While she still owns the category of reusable breastmilk storage bags as the original inventor in the space, she has built a thriving business with so many new ideas that are helping make life for working moms easier.
Solving More Needs For Pumping Moms
If you pop over to Junobie on Instagram, you’ll see the amazing community of 27k+ moms that are learning from and loving what Nickey is serving up.
One of the most recent launches? These ultra-cute milk cartons.
While my own breastfeeding journey has ended, I still kind of want one of these because they are just so darn cute!
And remember her other problem as a working mom? Washing the pump parts? Yep, Nickey has solved that too. With the game-changing portable washing station, the ‘WASHA’ lets you wash your pump parts on the go. No more pumping and dumping or storing your flanges in the refrigerator to avoid washing them during the day. (Note: this is a popular ‘hack’ that we’ve probably all done at some point, but not recommended by the CDC as bacteria can still live in the fridge).
With her rechargeable WASHA station, you can let your pump parts wash while you focus on your work. Knowing that you’re keeping your parts clean so your baby can have sanitary and healthy breastmilk when you come home from work.
When I asked Nickey about what it’s like to be such a fearless innovator that has created so many game-changing products for new moms, she blushed. Her company is growing quickly and orders are exploding, but she remains humble and grateful that the Lord’s path has led her to this point.
Helping with more than just travel
As our conversation continued, we talked about how many moms have questions about pumping and how it’s so common to not have any idea how to get started postpartum. We shared how we each had silly questions early-on in our breastfeeding journeys and we wanted to do something about it.
I remember when I discovered the existence of a hands-free pumping bra, and how that was a total game-changer for me. Can you imagine if you had to pump without one 🤦♀️?
So we put our heads together to create this simple one-sheeter with a few key things you’ll want to know before you begin your pumping journey.
You can download it below, and share it with whomever you’d like.