Discontent is often the key to innovation and progress which brings new ideas and great businesses to life. Sarah Kallile, mom of three and founder of Lunnie, created the first-ever community-led brand for postpartum moms.
Her leakproof, patent-pending nursing bra was sold-out at first launch and is now back and restocked. Read the interview below to find out more about her powerful and inspiring story.
Please share with our audience what inspired you to start with Lunnie.
I was inspired to create Lunnie from my own postpartum and breastfeeding experience. I’m a mom to three young girls – ages 4, 2, and 5 months. It always bothered me how there’s so many products and support for women during pregnancy, but after a mom gives birth she often is forgotten. Postpartum is a very challenging time physically, mentally, and emotionally. Moms deserve better support, whether it be products, community, or policies. My idea for a leakproof nursing bra came from my own experience as a breastfeeding mom. I was frustrated with my leaky, frumpy, beige nursing bra and the lack of innovative yet fashionable options available in the market. I wanted a solution that was chic yet functional. I asked friends and searched online, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. That’s when I decided to create a solution on my own.
What was your journey like creating the perfect nursing bra? Which aspects did you focus on?
When I couldn’t find a leakproof and chic nursing bra to wear myself, I sent a survey to a diverse cohort of postpartum moms to gather their insights on nursing bras. Within two days, I received over 300 responses! 84% of moms are dissatisfied with their nursing bra and want something better. This was my lightbulb moment to build what was clearly missing in the market. The survey respondents were so passionate and I knew they would be valuable in my product development process which is where the “Lunnie Hive” began. I recruited my own mom to help sew the very first leakproof nursing bra prototype. It was scrappy but it gave moms an idea for my vision.
I messaged local moms to ask if they would be willing to test the bra and provide honest feedback. I would drop a little pink bag containing the Lunnie bra prototype on a neighbor’s doorstep for a new mom to test. I was blown away by how willing – and excited – moms were to be a part of the process. A couple months into working on my idea, I was selected as a finalist in The Female Founder Collective Big Pitcher competition. I pitched my idea to some of the biggest female CEOs in the country, including Rebecca Minkoff, and won the grand prize $10k grant – giving every validation to keep going. The grant money enabled me to partner with a small-batch manufacturer in Columbus, OH. It took a couple months to source the right manufacturer as most turned me away because bras are incredibly complex to make. Over the course of a year, I iterated and tested six prototypes before nailing the final design. Lunnie’s nursing bra has a sewn-in leakproof layer that is lab-tested and proven up to 6x more absorbent than leading competitors and I’ve filed two patents for it!
In addition to being technically superior, the bra itself is gorgeous. It has a flattering v-neck design, uses soft modal cotton, pretty gold hardware throughout, and no wires for all-day comfort. I designed this bra while I was breastfeeding my then 5-month-old second daughter. Now I’m nursing in it everyday with my third daughter. I can confidently say the Lunnie bra stands up to the wear and wash tests that nursing bras receive. I’ve never had a leak show through and I feel amazing wearing it!
By the time I launched my nursing bra in March 2022, I had an organic, loyal following of moms which led to selling out my first production run with $0 marketing spend. In April 2022, I achieved another major business milestone by winning the University of Dayton Flyer Pitch competition and a $50k grant. This pitch competition was the culmination of 7 months, 3 rounds, and a final 30-minute presentation in front of judges (at 30 weeks pregnant, whew) which created more opportunities for my business. My Lunnie bras were completely out-of-stock over the summer which wasn’t ideal after building up so much momentum. However, it allowed for a perfectly-timed maternity leave as I gave birth to my third daughter in June. (If you want to call it that, solo entrepreneurs never really stop working!).
Tell us about the response you’ve received so far from the women using your products.
I love reading moms’ glowing 5-star reviews of the Lunnie bra and how it makes them feel good. Even better is when I run into moms in-person and they tell me they’re wearing their Lunnie bra! It’s the best feeling.
I’ve received many reviews highlighting the functionality stating “this is the most beautiful nursing bra. Better yet, it’s the most absorbent – I love when form and function meet,” “This bra was nailed on design!”, “I was so impressed by the absorbency of this bra! It’s magic.”
As well as many others highlighting how powerful Lunnie made them feel, stating “giving mamas back that feeling of beauty, power and body confidence, all with a bra.” and “I tried on the Lunnie Nursing Bra and felt like a woman again. It is soft and supportive, feminine and flexible”.
What do you have planned for the future with Lunnie?
My goal for 2023 is to expand my product line, expand wholesale channels, and add team members. I’m in the process now of transitioning to a larger manufacturer. As a female founder, I make it a priority to work with other women and working moms whenever possible. 2022 has been an amazing year for Lunnie. I’m so excited for what’s to come!
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