What happens when you combine a California doula and a Chicago-based grad from Northwestern Law/Kellog School of Management in Chicago? Mama Lana, a gift box delivery service for mamas-to-be. Co-founders (and sisters-in-law) Anna and Lauren recently took some time out of their crazy schedules to chat with us about their new business and how to love on the expecting women in your life. (BONUS: scroll to the bottom to learn how to enter to win a Mama Lana box!)
D: How did Mama Lana come about?
L: Over the holidays last year, we were sitting together around the breakfast table in Carpinteria, California, talking about our dreams. Anna had been trained as doula (a birth coach) and wanted a way to share her expertise and passion for pregnancy with mamas that were too far away for her to personally visit. I was in business school—and at that point, I’d fallen in love with small, entrepreneurial, women-owned businesses, and hoped to learn how to support them.
A: As we gabbed, there must have been magic in the air along with the smells of cinnamon buns — because we came up with Mama Lana!
D: What Darling personas do the two of you identify with and why do you think your respective personas make a great business combo?
L: I am definitely an Achiever with a bend towards the Intellectual. I love taking ideas that are in entrepreneurs’ heads and thinking about what logistics are necessary to make them a reality. I believe in data-based decision making and testing of all our hypotheses. This makes me a good compliment to Anna—while my test-focused thinking is great at optimizing a concept, my brain’s not always the best for inspiration or idea origination. Anna births (pun intended) the big ideas, and I help them manifest! We adore working with each other, because we need one another in order to successfully build our business.
A: For the record, Lauren has provided plenty of the grand ideas behind Mama Lana – she’d also be the Humble type if Darling had one of those [smile]. I would probably say that I’m a Confidant, perhaps with a good splash of Dreamer and Explorer. As a doula, I attend to the minds, bodies and souls of pregnant women during the entire childbearing year. When I connect with a woman in this context, I want her to feel safe, heard, and inspired. I strive to be her Confidant, and to help her honor and love herself as much as possible. As for Dreamer, I savor thinking about life’s “big stuff,” which is probably why I’m so drawn to the grand mystery of childbirth. I’m an Explorer too, with an insatiable travel itch. My husband and I lived in Berlin, Germany for two years before babies, and we can’t wait for all the grand family sojourns on the horizon!
D: Have you both always had a passion for mamas? Or has it been a more recent focus in your lives?
A: My heart has always sung when I’ve supported and helped others, but I discovered my specific passion for mothers through my own pregnancy. Literally, as I pushed my first baby out (without a doula present) I knew in my heart that I wanted one of those women there next time, and someday, I would be one of those women.
L: I am newly deepening my passion for mamas as I become one myself. Working with Mama Lana at the same time as I experience the symptoms of pregnancy myself has given me a profoundly personal understanding of how special this process is.
D: How did you go about selecting items for the boxes?
L: First, our products must be top notch. Our boxes are not paid advertisements or filled with teensy samples. Our Council of Experts, led by Anna, carefully choose the highest quality, most luscious product for our mamas, formulated for that month of pregnancy.
A: We also want to make sure that our products are good for the world, as well as the mama. After all, we want to make sure that the world is in great shape for the new babies coming into it! We look for skin care products that are organic, natural, and responsible.
D: What are the items you couldn’t live without during your own pregnancy(ies)/during the first month of life with baby?
L: My husband, Will, and I were blessed with a new pregnancy just about the same time that Anna and I were starting off with Mama Lana. I’m currently in my second trimester, feeling a lot better and amazed at how my belly grows every day (it seems like)! So hmmm…products…(1) In the first trimester, I was pretty sick—so I ate a lot of Preggie Pops. A LOT of them. Sometimes they were the only things that got me through meetings in law school. (2) Nowadays, since my belly is stretching, I really love Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Natural Stretch Oil. It feels amazing against my skin and helps to moisturize without leaving a strong scent (my nose is still pretty vocal these days).
A: From my personal experience with my two pregnancies, a few stick out for sure! (1) BellyBars. I was so, so sick. I just felt like I had a perpetual stomach flu for three months. BellyBars were seriously some of the only things I could keep down. And I felt so happy knowing that I was getting some excellent nutrients for me and baby. (2) Zutano hats. You know the ones—those incredibly soft ones with the little bear ears? Seriously, during my pregnancy I became a swooning softy at anything baby-adorbs, and Zutano’s infant hats topped them all. Seeing the teeny size of the hat made my baby seem more real to me—picturing his/her little noggin hanging out. (3) Purple Leaves Red Cherries. Seriously, this book is incredible. I recommend it it all of my doula clients. Once I had my babies, this was my go-to book for reflection and inspiration.
D: If you could leave us with one piece of gift-giving advice for the expecting women in our lives, what would it be?
A: I would encourage loved ones to celebrate the mama as well as the baby. Before Mama Lana, we could not find another gift that focuses primarily on the mama — so many presents are for the baby instead. While pregnancy is certainly about getting excited for that little one, we musn’t forget that pregnancy is a transformational time for the mother, and it unifies all women who go through it.
And now, for the giveaway…
Every Mama Lana box is different, and has a value of around $60-$100.
To enter to win a Mama Lana box, simply “like” the Mama Lana Facebook page, then leave a comment below letting us know you did so. As a bonus entry, like the Darling Magazine Facebook page (and leave a second comment to let us know). The winner will be drawn randomly and announced on Tuesday, July 9th.
P.S. Though they are currently swamped with orders and not taking new ones, they will be doing so again soon! They’ve made an exception for us and are providing a box for the giveaway despite their current lack of inventory. Thanks, Mama Lana!