Brooke Nicol has just released an exciting new product that is sure to be a huge hit with new mums everywhere. (I just wish I had been able to get my hands on one of these brilliant baby feeding buddies when I was a brand new mum.)
I came across the website by chance and thought that this was a product I needed to help publicise because I know so many mothers that would have found this to be heaven sent.
I tracked down the brilliant Brooke Nicol to see if she would answer some questions for us, and here we are:
What made you decide the market needed Breast Mate?
I remember by the time my first child, Ollie, was about 8 weeks old I started getting frustrated that there was not a better way to remember all my feeding information.
I used to leave a hair band around my wrist to remember what side to feed on next which always ended up in my hair leaving me lost. I also used to record on a note pad the last time I fed and how long for which I always used to forget where I left it.
One night I couldn’t sleep thinking that there had to be something available on the market, so I started researching the Internet. Once I realised there was nothing else available that captured all breast feeding information I started speaking to other mums to see if they shared my frustrations or was I the only one getting frustrated.
I could not believe how many people used to track their feeds the same way I did and I realised there was a need for a product. Once I got started on researching the need and the more people I spoke to, the ideas just kept coming. One mum showed me a spreadsheet her hubby developed which tallied up all feeding information so she could capture her baby’s feeding habits which is why I developed Breast Mate to have the downloading capability.
I then started looking at what other features I could incorporate into the unit based on what I had bought in my nursery. This is when I included a nightlight and colour changing thermometer. The face plates were then introduced to give it the cutesy factor and also so the Breast Mate units served a purpose after breast feeding was finished as a fun nursery nightlight accessory.
What has been your biggest challenge throughout the process, from the original inspiration to releasing Breast Mate?
My biggest challenge would be having to fund the development of Breast Mate whilst being on maternity leave twice and then raising 2 kids.
Although my husband and I work full time on top of Breast Mate it has been a tough 4 years in trying to fund everything from design, legal patents, production, software development etc. There were so many times I felt like we could not go any further with it as we financially could not afford it but I guess that is why it has taken 4 years!!
Can you tell us about the most rewarding moment?
The single most rewarding moment was when I got home from an interstate work trip and I came home to find my first Breast Mate unit sample on my kitchen table.
I cried! Seeing an idea that I thought up during many sleepless nights sitting on my kitchen table was the most amazing feeling. Second to that was when I sold my first unit.
What’s next for Brooke Nicol? Are there more products to come?
If only I had a crystal ball! I need to really focus on Breast Mate for the time being, however I also have a couple more ideas that I would like to eventually work on.
My ideal scenario would be to work on this full time allowing me to spend more time with the kids and just keep coming up with ideas.
You did this over a period of time, 2 children and while working – how did you manage to juggle all of this?
Good question! I am lucky to firstly have 2 beautiful kids and an amazing husband which makes it easier. My mum helps out a lot along with my sisters and friends. As my husband is a fireman I have my life schedule mapped out on a little A5 laminated calendar and we all work around this.
The kids are in child care 2 days per week and Ollie has started kinder this year also. I am also fortunate my full time job allows me flexibility to work from home on the days my husband is at work so I get to spend time with my kids and work at the same time.
Some days I must admit I don’t know how I got it this far but I do know that if it was not for the people around me I couldn’t have done it. I have to be very organised and just make sure that the kids are always cared for by people they love and that I try and make sure I spend quality time with them in between my job and Breast Mate.
I am also training for the gold coast marathon next month and this has been my vice where I can go and run out all of my frustrations and solve all of the problems of the world. This has been a massive help and really makes me appreciate what I have.
You’ve seen this product through from start to finish, how much of the process were you familiar with before you started work on the design of the Breast Mate?
This was all totally new to me. I have never been involved in product development before so I had to learn everything. I was very fortunate that the companies I worked with in Melbourne I have known for 10yrs through work, so I trusted them and could not have done any of this without them. My one contact Lincoln was literally my saviour behind all of this and helped me with everything.
I had to learn how to write and apply for my own innovation patent and trademark registrations, design the unit, work with software developers, work with designers in developing my own website, understand distribution, freight, PR and marketing. The list goes on!
With all of the new skills you’ve learnt are you planning a change of direction to put these skills to further use?
At this stage I am helping other friends that are starting up their own businesses and especially if it involves product development. Otherwise I will just see where Breast Mate takes me and hopefully it will allow me to work on my other ideas.
What do you think is THE most beneficial, unique feature of the Breast Mate unit?
The most beneficial and unique feature is the fact that Breast Mate is so easy to use to record and store information and download it to a computer. It is beneficial as the information captured allows mums to see baby’s feeding habits and can take all the information to their health nurses if they have any concerns.
The graphs show mum as patterns form which will help them in building routine and getting back to some form of normality as a lot of the stresses associating with breast feeding are catered for with Breast Mate.
The Breast Mate unit is designed to cater to all aspects of breastfeeding and recording information, is it still going to be as beneficial to those mothers who are bottle feeding with formula or need to express breast milk and bottle feed?
Breast Mate also caters for mothers who bottle feed or formula feed as they can still capture when the last feeds occurred and how many feeds occurred in a 24 hr period. The additional features of Breast Mate like the colour changing room thermometer, night light and alarm clock of course are features that anyone can use making it very versatile.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman means so many things. It means I am a mum to my beautiful baby’s and the bond we have is so very different to what they have with their fathers.
Being a woman allows me to have an intellectual side as well as an emotional side which is a nice balance that sometimes men either don’t have or don’t show.
I believe that women of today take on so much that it is important that sometimes we stop and look at what we have achieved and be proud of ourselves. I am very proud to be a woman and do look at what I have achieved with a big smile over a sneaky glass of red!
Is there anything else you would like to share with us and our readers, about yourself and/or your product?
I would just like to say how important I think it is for people to follow their dreams. I never thought I was capable of inventing a product that people would want to buy and now I am telling everyone about it in a magazine.
I also think it is so important to surround yourself with supportive and positive people. It is these people that will pick you up when you are having those tough days.
Lastly, I would say how important it is to find a balance. I do struggle managing my full time work, my invention and my family let alone some me time, but you must find it. You need a vice that helps you escape. Mine is running, however regardless of what it is if you do not have something that gets your mind off things I believe that this causes failure.
And absolute last point is please spread the Breast Mate word to all of your friends and help me one day buy that island that I will take all of your readers to for a holiday!
The Breast Mate unit is available from www.breastmate.com.au for $79.95 with a choice of 4 cute face plates.