As a new mom, Deeanne Akerson became frustrated with the lack of options in nursing wear. She then decided with the help of her husband to launch Kindred Bravely. By creating clothing that is comfortable, functional, and stylish, Deeanne and Kindred Bravely have helped inspire women to not only empower each other but help them recognize their value and beauty.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Deeanne Akerson, and before founding Kindred Bravely with my husband in 2015, I was a high school math teacher, so I love data, numbers, and problem-solving. I also love to adventure in the outdoors, whether that’s traveling internationally, backpacking, or taking a long run near the beach. I have been to all seven continents and love to take in new cultures, especially in Latin America and Southeast Asia. I love to spend time in the wilderness – my husband and I met in a college backpacking class, and we now share that love with our two sons. I’m also a lifelong vegetarian, and I love to cook!
What does your company do?
We make maternity and breastfeeding bras, underwear, and loungewear for new and expectant moms, with a focus on comfort, functionality, and style. We are the most-awarded maternity brand and would love nothing more than to put a comfortable bra in every mother’s wardrobe.
What was the most challenging thing about starting your company and building your brand?
Looking back, there were so many challenging things, especially as we were just starting. As a 100% bootstrapped company, we didn’t have the luxury of hiring a team to start; it was just my husband and me, figuring everything out. One thing that has always been a challenge is cash. It was hard to have huge aspirations but limited cash. There was so much we wanted to do, but we were forced to focus on one thing at a time to build our brand in a slow but sustainable way.
What are your competitive differentiators?
Our bras, underwear, and loungewear are known for their amazing comfort, quality, and attention to detail. In addition to incredible products, we’re known for our customer care; we go above and beyond to help a mom get the perfect fit and make her week. Our team is mostly work-from-home moms, and we’re able to connect with our customers in meaningful ways because we understand what it’s like to be pregnant or breastfeeding (we’ve been there). We’re passionate about supporting moms and encouraging them on their motherhood journey.
How do you hope Kindred Bravely helps those who come across the brand?
I hope we help moms find comfort – whether she gets a comfortable pair of new pajamas, reads a blog that reminds her how amazing she is, or finds support through a social post.
What is one piece of advice you have for new mothers? Especially for first-time mothers.
You will have moments when you feel you will crumble from exhaustion. You will also have moments when you will be amazed at the depth of your newfound love and devotion. Just accept it and don’t fight it. It won’t be like this forever; you will sleep again, you will eat hot food again, and you will shower every day again! Don’t worry about when; just remember that you are in a phase that is crazy, unbalanced, and beautiful. Don’t worry about keeping up with how you used to do things. Each day will have at least one spark of joy to savor: baby noises or how quiet your home is during a 2 am nursing session. Whatever it is, try to focus on that piece of happiness, and remember it won’t be like this forever.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
This is such an interesting question! I’m not sure that I’ve been very good at maintaining an optimal work/life balance for most of the last five years, although I’m beginning to understand it more as a fluid relationship than that impossible balance. I am grateful that my husband and I began this start-up together. We share the experiences and understand the amount of time we’re each devoting to work. A new business is like a new baby, and it demands most of your time and energy to flourish. It’s easier to deal with a work/life imbalance when you know to expect it. The hard feelings and burnout happen when there’s a mismatch between your expectations and your reality, so I’ve tried to keep my expectations in line for exactly where our business is.
When it comes to carving out time for my family (both in the schedule and in my mind), I find that putting my phone on the shelf when I’m not working helps. I keep all notifications off, and I pencil in a few “non-working” hours and try to stick to them during the week. I also try to have 24 hours each week that are completely free of anything work-related. This time helps keep my mind clear and gives me the mental freedom to be with my family, without trying to solve work puzzles in the back of my mind.
What does the future hold for Kindred Bravely?
Even more comfort and support for moms. We’re thrilled to continue developing new products that will help moms feel amazing from the first trimester to the fourth (and beyond!), and we’re beginning to design trend pieces alongside capsule collections. We’re expanding our reach to more moms until we fulfill our mission of a comfortable nursing bra in every mom’s wardrobe – and eventually a comfortable bra in every woman’s wardrobe. The world has seen so much change recently – on top of all the other transitions new moms are already contending with – so we want to make sure we remain agile and attuned to doing everything we can to help moms find comfort and community.
Where can you be reached online for readers who want to learn more?
Please visit us at www.kindredbravely.com to learn more about our company, products, and mission, and join us on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to follow along with our conversations about motherhood!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
One of our core company values is generosity, and we’re always looking for ways to give back. When the world began to deal with the effects of Covid-19, we weren’t sure how our small company could make a difference. We realized we could help by making life a little easier for front-line health care workers who were also breastfeeding mothers. We gave every health care worker who asked one of our hands-free pumping bras, and immediately the emails, notes, posts, and comments came pouring in from nurses, doctors, paramedics, and others in the health care field. Their stories of courage and devotion to their patients and families warmed my heart, and I was so honored to help them pump quickly and safely while on the job. We were able to give thousands of bras to brave mamas, and that’s just a little bit of goodness that we’re happy to share because of our success.
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