Birth of a business: lactation cookies for moms
Eight months in, Sabriuna Wilkinson discovered she was pregnant. She suspected something was off last October when she gained 20lbs in two weeks, but never thought that could be the cause.
She did not think that she could have children because of a prolactinoma, a non-cancerous tumour in her pituitary gland that interrupted her hormone cycles.
However, when she called her doctor with news of her sudden weight gain, he suggested that she take a pregnancy test before she came in to see him.
When the first test came up positive, she was certain that it was defective; a second test was equally wrong in her mind.
At the doctor's office, however, an ultrasound proved it beyond a doubt.
“There he was on the monitor waving at us,” she said of her now nine-month-old son, Solo.
Her doctor sent her straight to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital where it was discovered she was 32 weeks along.
“I had just five weeks to prepare,” the 20-year-old said.
“I only had time for the most basic tests, because there was so little time left.”
Solo weighed 6lb 8oz when he was born on December 17. She had heard horror stories about the difficulties of breastfeeding, but her milk came in right away.
“I was pumping 4oz in 20 minutes,” she said.
“I thought it was taking a little too long when I had a busy day. I said let me try to find snacks to build up my milk supply.”
According to her research flaxseed and oatmeal were both great at building up milk supply. However, the lactation snacks she found locally all contained preservatives and ingredients that triggered her food allergies.
She decided to make her own.
“My breast milk production went from 4oz in 20 minutes to 6oz, which was a full bottle, what I was aiming for,” she said.
Her mom friends wanted to know her secret. When she confessed to making her own lactation cookies, they wanted to try them too.
Friends and family urged her to start a business, but she was initially resistant. Social work had been the focus of her studies at the Bermuda College when she became pregnant. Plus, she had never seen herself as an entrepreneur.
Despite that, she followed their suggestion and launched Nurture Laiche in January.
To her surprise, she found she really enjoyed all the baking involved. Ms Wilkinson charges $15 for a dozen cookies which come in three flavours: chocolate oatmeal, chocolate and ginger oats.
She also sells the cookie dough so people can make and eat them at their leisure. Muffins in various flavours and granola bites are on her list of offerings as well.
Her products are 100 per cent vegan, and egg and gluten-free. Ms Wilkinson can also tailor any of her treats to accommodate allergies or specific health needs.
The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation's eight-week student entrepreneurship programme this summer “pushed her business to a whole new level”.
“Now I am getting orders like crazy. It is amazing how many mothers are like myself and have allergies and are not able to eat eggs and different products.
“When they saw I had a vegan cookie that helped the breast milk, the business blew up. BEDC really helped me get in the business mindset.”
Most valuable were the lessons on accounting and how to market her products to reach her desired buyers.
Some of her clients have standing orders and she is seeing between four and five new women each week.
“I don't know where all the babies have been coming from,” she said.
“When I was pregnant, I felt like I saw no one else pregnant but me. But in January and onwards it has been crazy. July was a little slow for us.”
Despite that, she is constantly busy. Apart from the demands of the business and caring for her son, Ms Wilkinson has a part-time job and is studying to become a lactation consultant.
“I have learnt to balance things,” she said.
Her goal is to breastfeed Solo until he is 3.
“Some women just breastfeed for three months,” she said.
“Some stop and then want to start again when they realise how much formula costs.
“Without him, I wouldn't have started the business, but life changes.”
• Look for Nurture Laiche BDA on Facebook and amazuda.bm. Contact Sabriuna Wilkinson at 707-0366 or email@example.com