'The Milky Tee Company’ was founded back in 2016 when Lauren – mother of two – became disheartened at the lack of comfortable and confidence boosting clothing available for breastfeeding mothers.
She took matters into her own hands and quite literally got to work on her T-shirt designs that she could wear without worry.
Initially, Lauren made the tees for herself, until she quickly realised other breastfeeding mums felt the same about their attire. Alas, ‘The Milky Tee Company’ was born.
We chat to Lauren who shares her story on designing stylish tees and building a business alongside being a mother-of-two.
You are the founder of ‘The Milky Tee Company’ – What inspired you to create a brand for breastfeeding mums?
I had the idea for Milky Tees when my daughter was two-weeks old as I really struggled to find stylish breastfeeding clothes. My daughter was pretty much permanently attached to my boobs so finding clothes I could feed in easily, especially when out and about, was essential but most of the clothing available at the time was either quite frumpy, had obvious flaps or was designed for when you were pregnant! I am a T-shirt and jeans kind of girl and wanted to be able to wear a T-shirt that I could breastfeed in. When I couldn’t find any I decided to create my own. So I drew a design of a T-shirt with hidden zips at each side, bought some fabric and some zips and (with the help of my mum-in-law who is a former midwife and a seamstress) we created the Milky Tee! Initially it was just for me to wear but I soon realised lots of other mums could get use out of the design and so The Milky Tee Company was born!
What is ‘The Milky Tee Company's’ ethos? What makes you passionate about breastfeeding products?
The ethos of the brand is to help mums feel more confident not only with breastfeeding but also with themselves. We want women to be able to still feel themselves and not have to compromise on style just because they are breastfeeding. I am so passionate about this because I struggled after having a baby and lost confidence and felt very self-conscious, especially when breastfeeding in public. So if our tops can help mums on their breastfeeding journey then that makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Why do you think breastfeeding clothing items are limited or less style-conscious?
When I had my daughters, I was actually very surprised by the lack of breastfeeding clothing out there, especially from big brands. It has definitely improved over the last couple of years but I feel that some companies may not realise the importance of making specifically designed clothing for breastfeeding mums, as sometimes having to lift up multiple layers when you have a hungry upset baby is not very practical. They also may think that it’s too small a market or that people may not breastfeed for long so they won’t get repeat custom for those products. But I have found that there definitely is both a demand and a need for those products and hopefully we are helping to fill that gap and offer stylish and functional clothes to breastfeeding mums.
What helps you to be your most creative when designing the products? And where do your ideas come from?
Initially my designs came from clothes/styles that I liked to wear myself, such as slogan T-shirts. But over the years I have developed designs from feedback from customers. We have actually just launched two new long-sleeved tops, a navy Breton stripe and a khaki green, and both those colour ideas came from our customers after we asked them what colours they would like to see us add to our collection. I am also the sort of person whose mind never switches off so I always thinking of new styles and new designs and I look forward to adding more to our range in the coming months and years!
As a mum-of-two - Do you think it’s important for mums to feel liberated in their clothing and why?
Yes, very much so. After having a baby you often can feel like you’ve lost a bit of yourself, as your body may have changed, you may have sore boobs, be struggling with lack of sleep and generally just not feeling your best. I think being able to wear clothes which make you feel comfortable, stylish and more like your ‘pre-baby’ self can really help to perk you up and help to give you back a bit of confidence. And in terms of breastfeeding, many of us may feel a bit nervous of self-conscious about it so anything that can help to make it easier or help to make you feel less exposed can really help.
Are your products sustainable?
One of the key design elements of our tops is the fact that the zips are hidden so that the tops look like a normal top, therefore they are designed to be worn not only for breastfeeding but long afterwards - we’re not a fast fashion brand, we want to make clothes which will last. Making high quality products is very important to us so we use premium quality 100% cotton for our T-shirts. All our long-sleeved tops and sweatshirts use GOTS certified organic cotton and we use biodegrade mail bags. We are also working to ensure that other elements of our business, including the storage bags etc are biodegradable and we work with manufacturers who have both environmental and ethical certifications.
Do you think ‘The Milky Tee Company' could encourage mums to breastfeed? Particularly those who may be self-conscious when out and about?
I really hope so! That’s our main ethos; to help mums feel more confident in themselves and more confident with breastfeeding. I know from personal experience that you can feel nervous or self-conscious breastfeeding in public so the design of our tops can hopefully help mums feel that they can feed easily and also discreetly whenever and wherever. We have had customers tell us that they’ve breastfed on train, planes, buses and even in front of their bosses and other people didn’t even realise they were feeding!
What advice can you share with mums-to-be or parents who are considering starting a business?
There are definitely advantages to owning your own business when you are a parent as I have the flexibility to spend time with my kids, drop them to school, go to their nativity plays etc, but it can also be very tough and overwhelming sometimes. My advice would be to take things step-by-step and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It took me two years to go from having the idea for Milky Tees to launching the website. I would also say to look for business support through your local council or other business organisations, there is a lot of help out there, you just might need to do a bit of looking to find it! Also, as it can be quite overwhelming doing everything on your own, if you can start a business with a partner or friend then I would recommend it as it means you have someone with whom to share the load - just make sure you are both on the same page and are both willing to put in the same amount of work/effort.
Do you have any future plans for ‘The Milky Tee Company?’
I would love to increase our range of products to include new styles, possibly dresses or pyjamas. I’d like to add a bigger range of colours and styles of tops for different shapes of women so we’re working on some of those at the moment. We also have plans to expand much more internationally both in the EU and the US to offer our products more easily to mums throughout the world. So although I’ve been running the business for 4 years I still feel like I’m only at the beginning and I look forward the future and feel excited about lots of things in the pipeline!
For more information about ‘The Milky Tee Company’ or to view their range of products, visit: www.themilkyteecompany.com
Written by Laura, who you can follow on Twitter, @LauraJadeC20