As we look forward to what 2014 has in store for us, we want to reflect on and appreciate the highlights of 2013. The Snugabellas had a busy year full of growth, learning moments, and a lot of fun.
1. We started the year on a high note with the news that PumpEase was a finalist for a 2013 About.com Reader's Choice Award for Favourite Breastfeeding Product. While we didn't win top prize, it was an honour to be nominated (that phrase is a cliché because it's true!).
2. Early 2013 saw Snugabell bring our US Wholesale business back in house. There have been a few bumps in the road but the decision to bring our US Retail Partners back under our wing has felt right from Day One. We value the opportunity to connect with our retailers on a more personal level, and love that we can once again provide customer service and order assistance on a wholesale level.
3. We were excited to introduce PumpEase to Babies R Us in the Spring.
4. The Snugabell product family expanded by two this year with the debut of our PumpEase Wet Bags and Through A Child's Eyes Keepsake Colouring Book.
5. In July the Snugabellas left their worries (and kids and partners!) behind for three fun-filled days in Seattle. We filled our bellies with delicious food, walked all over the city (including a fascinating tour of the underground) and saw Paul McCartney at Safeco Field! It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend that really reinforced the friendships we have "outside the office."
6. We spent the summer and autumn months polling YOU, our wonderful Facebook and Twitter followers, for input on what our new print should look like and what it should be named. We had so much fun interacting with all of you and considering your suggestions. The end result of our creative collaboration was, of course, our cheeky new print: TaTa Turquoise! The process was so much fun that we hope to repeat it in the (not so distant!) future. (Maybe it will become an annual thing? Stay tuned to find out!)
7. We were honoured to be featured by Elacta European Lactation Consultants Alliance. It was exciting to spread the PumpEase love to another continent (and in another language!).
8. After the hustle and bustle of our Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale, we paid tribute to the late Dr John Kennell by donating a portion of our sales to La Leche League Canada as part of our Giving Tuesday Canada initiative. We're already brainstorming how we can participate in Giving Tuesday Canada again this year!
9. We said a fond farewell to the old and welcomed the new... branding, that is. We've been slowly rolling out our new look and are happy to say that the Snugabell re-brand is almost complete! If you're a retailer, please feel free to contact us for updated images and logos to use.
10. Our Express Mail subscription program continued to grow with over 200 FREE breastmilk storage guidelines fridge magnets mailed to new subscribers!
It's so nice to mull over the previous year and move forward with a sure step and a head full of ideas! We're excited to welcome 2014 and can't wait to share our successes and adventures with you. We are so grateful for you, our vibrant community of mamas and mamas-to-be, for lending your voice and your support to the beauty of breastfeeding. If you haven't already, join us on Facebook or Twitter; we'd love to say hello!
UPDATE: WE'RE MAKING IT EVEN EASIER!
(Updated February 9, 2014)
If you're more comfortable with a simple selfie than a shot of pumping in action... that works, too! All we need is a shot of you by yourself, with your babe, showing off your pumping setup, or anything else that makes you feel like a powerful pumping mama. Our goal is simply to create a video montage of 50 moms (one from each state in the USA) celebrating pumping with a candid photo. Text on screen will indicate your name, state, and how many months you pumped or if you're still pumping, how many months you've pumped "so far".
Photos can be submitted via our Facebook wall (www.facebook.com/snugabell) or by emailing PAA@westfreelance.com.
Be sure to check out Facebook for updated maps* to see if we're still hunting for a mom from YOUR state. We hope we'll hear from you soon!
*Pink-filled states indicate we've already found a mama for that area.
Guess what, Pumpin’ Mamas? Snugabell needs your help!
A little while ago, we set out to create a video that would help tell the story of PumpEase -- our hands-free pumping bra that for years has helped countless moms take back their pumping time by letting us spend less time holding flanges and more time doing, well... whatever! From holding babies to checking email to catching up on reading, moms from all over have told us about how PumpEase has freed them up to do all kinds of things while they pump.
Well it occurred to us at Snugabell that the best way to tell our story was actually to tell your story. That’s why we’re creating Pump Across America. We want to collect pictures of pumping moms from coast-to-coast, showing real PumpEase customers pumping in style and doing their thing (with both hands off the flanges!). We want to represent pumpers from every state, showing their pumping pride and sending a message to moms everywhere that shows how empowering, practical, and even fun pumping can be.
So we’re asking that you send us your pumping selfies -- candid shots of you doing your thing with the help of your PumpEase. You can be playing with your little one or playing with your computer. You can be reading a book or knitting a sweater. You can be smiling with pumpin’ confidence, or just giving the camera that “Oh yes I can!” look that shows just how powerful a pumping mom can be.
(Heather gets the idea.)
Your photos don’t have to be super-high resolution (a decent camera phone will do the trick). If we were looking for polished and shiny, we’d use models and a photographer. But we’d rather have REAL moms give us a glimpse into their REAL lives. Then we want to share it with the world.
So what do you say, ladies? Will you help us tell the story of Pumpin’ Mamas across the country? All you have to do is snap a photo and drop it on our Facebook wall or send it to us via email -- we’ll take it from there. When we compile the photo montage for our video, we’ll share only your first name and home state or province. That’s all there is to it!
Last week I received the following email. After reading it, I realized it was written by a customer who had recently purchased a PumpEase from our website and who had also just received our November newsletter that touched on Prematurity Awareness Month. I also realized it was from a fellow Canadian (yay) and that she was a little bit famous (yippee). As always, I felt extremely honoured that one of our products helped a mom reach her personal breastfeeding goals (jumping up and down with glee).
"I don't think I already wrote to you guys, but I just wanted to say a big thank you, in light of Prematurity Awareness Month.
My son was born 10 weeks early when he arrived on April 26th of this year. I was hurled into a scary and foreign experience, which included pumping 10 times a day while he spent some time in hospital growing and getting stronger.
I was so clueless about it all, having not had time to properly research and read about breastfeeding - let alone birth - and so everything was a big hurdle.
Pumping was hard and discouraging at the start, but I was determined, knowing that it was the only thing in my power that I could do to help my son. So with cracked and throbbing nipples, I soldiered on.
One day, one of the other NICU moms was sitting in our pump room at the hospital casually reading a magazine and checking her email while she pumped. She was using a PumpEase - the one with the badass cherries on it. It was like a shaft of light shone down on her from the fluorescent bulbs above.
"What is THAT?!" I demanded, "and where can I get one?!"
I soon ordered my own online and I love it. It didn't change my life but it really made what was a very difficult time just a little bit easier, as in the 3+ hours I was spending pumping every day, I could keep in touch with my family, letting them know about my son's progress, I could read, have a glass of water... and I am so grateful. It was also nice to hear that it was made in Canada. Hooray!
I love functional, yet beautiful design. I really think you should let all the lactation consultants in Canadian hospitals know about them, PumpEase is awesome and certainly makes something difficult and trying a lot less frustrating.
Cool huh? Ya, I thought so too. And yes Whitney, we WILL be sure to let all Canadian LC's know about PumpEase - working on that right now in fact. :-)
Please be sure and follow the link to Whitney's website to take in a few sultry notes of her eclectic voice. OBVIOUSLY this email made my day. What made YOUR day today? Tell me about it down there ↓.
I originally thought of blogging about *my* Dad for Father's Day. He has been gone almost four years now (I still miss him everyday) and I never did write about him afer he passed like I had meant to...
Then I heard yet another giggle and squeal from the other room as my husband Mike horsed around with our two little girls and knew I needed to share with you what a wonderful Daddy my two daughters have.
There isn't a day that goes by that Mike doesn't tell me, after checking on the girls before heading to bed, how much he "loves those two little girls". And they certainly know it as he probably tells them at least ten times a day.
He has taught them all about vegetarianism and nutrition (I am the only carnivore in the house). I have to admit it is pretty impressive listening to Antonia, our six year old, reading nutritional information on packages. She really considers what she eats, sometimes even passing on something sweet because she had a peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch. Not to mention the way she wolfs down her veggies and hums and haws over her french fries "because they are not that good for you".
He has also taught them how important being active is, how they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, the importance of music in our culture and the difference between a Porsche and a BMW. ;-)
My daughters' Daddy is loyal, intelligent, good looking :-), honest and talented...
AAAAAND he drives me crazy most days, but hey, I probably drive him crazy too right?
You want details? Really? OK, twist my rubber arm...
Mike is the king of corny jokes (G-R-O-A-N), hoards food (he had 14 boxes of cereal when I moved in with him). Actually, I take that back - I don't think he is a hoarder, he is just not that organized in the kitchen cupboard department and so couldn't tell that behind the 32 cans of soup that he actually had petrified Christmas cookies - a gift from a friend five years previous, 12 cans of cranberry sauce and 14 boxes of cereal. I am poking fun here, but be warned, there WAS 14 boxes of cereal.
Then there is his other annoying habit of leaving 1/2 teaspoon of product in shampoo bottles, peanut butter jars, coffee creamer and cereal boxes (yes, the cereal boxes rear their ugly head again). So you go about your routine taking notice of the shampoo/peanut butter/coffee creamer in passing (yes, we have some as I see it in the shower/cupboad/fridge) and then all of a sudden the ka-ka hits the fan because you can't wash your hair, eat breakfast or drink coffee (I don't *do* black coffee). How much effort, I ask you, does it take to put that bottle/jar/tetra pak in the recycling so that I can say, "Hey, we're out of _____.", and write it on the grocery list?
OK, so enough of the teasing. Now comes the gushing part...
Mike is always thinking of me and the girls no matter where he is. He is an amazing provider and is extremely generous of his time which sure comes in handy considering the crazy number of hours I work. After Michaela was born, he picked-up even more duties to help keep this house running. He is always willing to help you out and after he does, a simple thank you will do. There is no keeping score.
Mike is also the most sensitive man I have ever met. He cried at both of our daughters' births, the first time he fed them each expressed breast milk out of a bottle and at our wedding. In fact, the marriage commissioner congratulated him for making it through the ceremony. When we flip through pics of the girls when they were babies, he is often blubbering away. <--- I don't have a hope in hell of having dry eyes once he starts I tell ya!
He is also a total worry wart. It warms my heart to listen to him fret about the girls doing this and that. And he worries about me too. Mike is also passionate about making this world a better place for our children.
Other stuff about Mike that you may not know? He plays both guitar and bass, has a beautiful singing voice, went to recording arts school and has worked as a landscaper, painter and in a pottery studio, at Coca Cola, Happy Planet and StupidStore. Here's a good one - he looks 12 years old when he shaves off his goatee (he has done it once since I've known him and is now forbidden to repeat the offense). He also has an uncanny ability to reproduce animal noises - he doesn't even practice, it just comes out of his mouth "perfect". On that note, he can also reproduce the sound of trains, planes and automobiles, with the latter even distinguishing between diesel, four, six and eight cylinders (no, I'm not kidding). Oh and he is a veritable walking encyclopedia when it comes to cars and motorcycles. You ask him - any make, model or year and he usually knows the answer. This trait, he shares with my Dad. Too bad my Dad was already so sick when they met.
Mike is also one of the luckiest people I've ever met. He won a car at the PNE years ago and then a couple of years ago won a dirt bike at the Vancouver Motorcycle Show. When we were at Fort Langley last summer with friends, he panned for gold and got a nugget in the first pan (and yes it was real gold). I know he has won other things too, but can't recall at the minute. We're still waiting for the lottery though dammit!
He is open-minded, well-spoken, out-going and genuine. Mike Bell - you are an original!
I know I'm missing some things I wanted to say. I had hoped to post this last night, however ran out of time as I was prepping for the course I'm taking in Seattle this week. Therefore, I am going to post this now while Father's Day is still Father's Day (at least in our time zone).
Happy Father's Day Mike. You are loved very much by the three ladies in your house. You make us feel special and loved and for that we thank you.
Wendy (and Antonia and Michaela too)
I recently visited a favourite blog of mine - PR in Your Pajamas - and came across a post about writing a media pitch that begged the question "What is the boldest, most outrageous or provocative statement you are willing to make about your product or service? You must truly believe this to be effective."
A few days later, I found myself on the LunaPads website reading blog posts and such, and when I navigated to their home page, I was greeted by this gem:
"Thanks to Lunapads and The DivaCup, upwards of 1 million disposable menstrual products are diverted from landfills monthly."
It made me smile as I remembered Suzanne, Co-Founder of LunaPads, recounting how she and her hubby sat on their couch reverting, if only for a moment, to their inner geeky, "bean counter" persona (her words) to crunch some LunaPads numbers and come up with this riveting statistic.
And then I remembered Elena's post on PR in Your Pajamas...
This gave me pause.
I proceeded to look-up a breastfeeding study that I had found quite thought-provoking. It was recently published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and was entitled The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis. Tanya from Motherwear was one of many who blogged about it and it garnered attention, both positive and negative from ABC, CBS and the Associated Press among others.
The study stated that 900 babies and $13 billion in health care costs could be saved if 90% of moms exclusively breastfed for six months.
$13 BILLION in health care costs.
I was inspired to crunch some numbers of my own and this is what I came up with...
"Thanks to PumpEase, four babies' lives and almost $70,000,000 in US health care costs have been saved. Not to mention those thousands of babies who've received their mamas' milk (while their mamas worked, played, or just relaxed, since they didn't have to hold onto those pump flanges!)."
I calculated the health care figure FIVE times. Surely it can't be THAT much money!?! I read it out loud. And then I read it out loud again. And then an overwhelming sense of pride washed over me. We ARE making a difference to the health of moms and babies. We ARE saving US Health Care millions of dollars. We ARE enhancing mothers' breastfeeding relationships with their children. WOW!
What is YOUR bold and outrageous statement? You don't have to own a business; write one about YOU. I highly recommend this exercise to open your mind and think outside of the box. Please leave a comment below...