When you’re pregnant for the first time, you really have no idea what you’re in for. Even if you’re read the books and talked to friends, it’s just different when you’re there. Same goes for when you first come home with baby. Motherhood is a learn-on-the-job kinda gig.
But, wouldn’t it have been SWELL to have a bag of goodies sent to you to help you specifically get through each trimester of pregnancy and those early postpartum months? I know I would have loved that! And that’s exactly why Erika N. Perry founded The Stork Bag — the first reusable OB-GYN approved pregnancy subscription bag — to make a difference in mama’s lives.
A mom of three, Erika is one serious mompreneur. And we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with her about her business, her family and how she’s giving back to women.
How did you come up with the concept of the Stork Bag?
Erika N. Perry: The Stork Bag was born out of a personal need. My friend was pregnant with her first child and lived far away. She called and said that she was having a rough pregnancy and needed some recommendations on safe products to use, so I decided to send her a nice little care package with pregnancy-safe goodies to make her feel better. My intention was to buy something that was already curated and send it to her.
After searching, I was unable to find what I was looking for, which was something that she could not only enjoy right now but also a keepsake that she could look back at over the years to remember her first pregnancy. After my search turned up cardboard boxes, I decided to think outside the box (pun intended) and put her products in a reusable bag and send it to her … The rest is pretty much history; I had discovered a need and jumped on the idea quickly.
How do you go about selecting the products?
EP: We have a team of moms who work for The Stork Bag. After I and/or my team determine a need based on our own experiences of being pregnant or gather enough customer requests for a particular product, we search for the most responsible brands and reach out to them. Our goal is to saturate The Stork Bag with other mom and women-owned brands, which is why right now over 75 percent of the products carried in The Stork Bag are from mom-owned and/or created brands.
I also have an application process for brands that are interested in being included in The Stork Bag. In the application we look for brands that are secure enough in their space to ensure that they can keep up with demand, and we also look for products that are responsible (organic and all-natural is important to us) and safe for pregnant women. Another thing that is key for us is whether or not the product was created by a woman — not a requirement but a preference.
Can you tell us more about each trimester’s bag and how you selected those products? How are the bags reusable?
EP: Sure, each Stork Bag has between eight to 12 full-sized and premium sample-sized products ranging from trimester-specific needed products, such as morning sickness lip balm for the first trimester, or pant extenders for the second trimester or third trimester tea for, you guessed it, the third trimester. We also included staple beauty products in our bags, as well such as collagen eye gels because we believe expectant moms deserve to be pampered.
We also have a PostBump Bag, which is our postpartum bag that includes between nine to 15 products geared to make the new mom’s postpartum period more enjoyable.
Our bags are cotton drawstring bags that many of our customers reuse for storing baby socks, some say they fold it up and put it in their keepsake boxes, and others use it as a toiletry bag for their hospital bag. Our PostBump bag is a very practical “mom tote.” The PostBump Bag has a zipper to enclose the goodies inside and feature faux leather straps to add some fashion to the mommy style! Many of our customers use this bag as an everyday tote, while others put it up as a keepsake.
Can you tell us more about your efforts to give back? Why is that near and dear to your heart?
EP: Serving women and mothers is my passion. I remember my first “real” job was working at a treatment center for pregnant and postpartum women who suffered from drug abuse. That job awoke a passion in me and since then I have always wanted to serve. I make it a habit to give back to organizations that serve women and giving back is an ingrained part of our culture at The Stork Bag. We are proud partners of the YWCA and donate a portion of proceeds from each sale to them when customers shop from their website. I also give back to my first job that I referenced before — last Christmas we gifted every pregnant woman at that organization with a Stork Bag and donated a monetary gift as well.
It’s important to me to encourage and inspire. If one woman can learn from my journey then I feel like my job is meaningful, but if millions can benefit from my journey, my product and my services, my mission is accomplished.
How many hours do you work a week? Is it a typical 9-to-5?
Per day I work on average about 12 hours, split up because I have a family. I don’t work on Sundays and try to limit work on Saturdays, so I would say altogether I work about 65 to 70 hours per week (on average).
How do you handle childcare?
EP: All of my children are school age with the exception of my youngest who is in half-day preschool but luckily my husband is amazing and is also an entrepreneur (he owns YouAreCreators), so we work as a team to be parents and entrepreneurs.
How do you manage your time when it comes to being a mom, household duties, work, workouts and having fun?
EP: I thrive off of schedules, I’m a multitasking master, I unplug and I make sure to rest and vacay to stay on my toes! Sounds like a dream but it’s not; it takes a lot of discipline to stick to my schedule but that’s where multitasking comes in. Many times, I’m answering emails with my computer on the kitchen counter while I’m cooking dinner. What I’ve learned though is to unplug — I have to put my phone notifications on silent sometimes to give my family my undivided attention because I have the tendency to be a workaholic. I also go on non-work vacations, which means I’ll take a full day (or two) to just enjoy vacation without thinking about work (too much). I also consistently work out four times per week once the kids go to bed. My husband set up a small gym in the basement so it makes it easier for me to get my cardio and weight-training fix weekly.
What advice would you give to other working moms?
I would say to give yourself a break. As moms we can sometimes be very hard on ourselves, but it’s okay to take some time for you, it’s okay to go after that your dreams and it’s okay to say no. Lastly, guard your thoughts. My favorite mantra is “thoughts become things” — think a thought long enough and it becomes reality, negative or positive. Keep reaching for the stars and break those glass ceilings, mamas!
Wouldn’t The Stork Bag make for the best shower gift?! —Jenn