Have you recently had a baby and would love to get back into some physical activity? Perhaps walking with your mum friends, or trying out a local fitness class? Yet because you are breastfeeding, you may feel inconvenienced and exposed, trying to wrangle a tight sports bra so that your baby can access your breasts. We have good news – your struggle is over! Omm FIT design and manufacture breastfeeding sports crops, and are soon adding swimwear, awesome tummy tucking leggings and shorts, and cute baby rompers to their collection. We spoke to Omm Fit founder Rebecca Aitken to learn more about how she got started.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Eight weeks after the birth of my first son (December 2016), I decided to invest in my health, fitness, and postnatal recovery. I started by getting to the gym and pool, and feeling confident in my new stretched-out skin after having a baby. I joined various fitness groups, including hydrotherapy and a Mum-&-Bub fitness class. At both these classes I noticed that the basic needs of breastfeeding mothers were grossly neglected. I don’t remember which came first, but I can recall the moment it dawned on me at each class…
I was sitting poolside at a hydrotherapy session in my regular one-piece swimsuit breastfeeding my son. Most of the other mothers there were doing the same – we all needed to stretch the shoulder straps over our shoulders and roll our arms through, in order to make ourselves available to breastfeed – particularly difficult in a wet swimsuit, and extremely exposing.
I thought to myself, “Why isn’t anyone here wearing swimwear that allows us to breastfeed our babies?”
I remember struggling after every Mum-&-Bub class to lift my tight and sweaty sports crop up and over my breast in order to make myself available to breastfeed my son. I used to have to hold him in one hand, and with the other hand hold up my sports crop to keep it from squashing my breast and spraying my son in the face with milk – hardly relaxing or breastfeeding friendly, not to mention extremely uncomfortable for the both of us.
I noticed another mum struggling with the same difficulties, and thought to myself, “If only there were sports crops that allowed us to breastfeed our babies!”
It was evident that there was a gap in the market for activewear and swimwear for breastfeeding mothers.
I went home and searched online for these products and found practically nothing. There was a heap of maternity activewear and maternity swimwear made to fit a growing bump, but none that catered for breastfeeding mothers who wanted to invest in their postnatal health and fitness. It was like this segment of the market was overlooked.
Regular and/or maternity activewear and swimwear weren’t practical or comfortable while breastfeeding. So, I decided to do something about it.
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
After some months thinking about my idea and a few conversations with friends and family (now mid 2017), I decided to give it a go. I started by sketching designs while my son napped and learning what I could about starting a business whenever I had a spare chance.
By November 2017, I got serious and registered my business name and secured my domains; the list of to-dos grew from there. I designed my logo and branding, developed scopes of work for manufacturing for all of my designs, and found a suitable manufacturer. Oh, and did I mention I had fallen pregnant again! Nine months later I had my second baby boy who was born in March 2018.
After taking some time out to spend with my newborn and toddler, I spent months fine-tuning my first design and perfecting samples with my manufacturer. I re-joined the Mum-&-Bub fitness and hydrotherapy classes that I used to attend and found that these were the perfect places to try and test my first crop. Satisfied with version three of the design, I am pleased to say that my first sports crop for nursing/breastfeeding mums – the Classic Sports Crop (Nursing) – is now available for sale via my website.
In the months leading up to having my crop and website ready, I began my social media marketing and networking – this has to be the hardest part of the business so far! Creating social media presence that reflects my brand is tough. So much depends on having an interesting, relevant and engaging feed. But it has been worth it! Via these channels I have found an online stockist, a brand ambassador and a potential partnership with a mummy fitness guru; and it enables me to keep a finger on the pulse, watching out for events I can attend and places I can promote Omm FIT.
I work from home, on my dining room table or on the kitchen bench, during micro-pockets of time when my boys sleep or are happy playing with each other. I was kicked out of the home office when I had to convert it to my son’s bedroom to make room for the nursery. My “home office” now consists of some real estate in the dining and living rooms, and garage. It’s not fancy or ideal, but it gets the job done.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
My biggest breakthrough to date would have to be two events that happened at the same time – my Classic Sports Crop (Nursing) being ready for sale and my website going live. These events symbolized the business launch and have ‘legitimised’ my existence as a business. They have enabled me to attend sales and market events, and get serious about my advertising and distribution strategies.
I’m really excited to get my brand out there and known. But all in all, this first year has been a bit of a breakthrough and achievement in itself. It’s been an amazing journey of learning, self-discovery and a few little-big wins. So far, I’ve had some very helpful and generous mentoring for which I am grateful.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Oh man! Balance? More like juggle.
I thought my life before kids was busy with my full-time job, keeping up with family and friends, outside interests, study and looking after my dog and home. And then I went and had two babies in the space of two years and in between babies started a business designing and manufacturing activewear. Madness!
Keeping a balance is a constant effort. I’m always doing something, and thinking ahead. I like to think I have a good work-life balance and that I juggle all the balls in my life pretty well, most of the time, but that’s not to say I don’t drop a ball every now or then.
Basically, we have a pattern or rhythm to how we go about our days and weeks. I know routines and structure aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they work for me. I’ve always operated that way. And from what I know about parenting, they are good for my boys also.
I have a monthly event and fortnightly meal planner blue-tacked to my pantry door, and I plan, schedule, list and organize. It’s in my DNA! And I have to. I don’t think I could manage so much, any other way. But I do remain flexible too. Some days don’t work to plan at all, or need changing at the last minute; so, you have to be able to go with the flow too.
Mum-&-Bub fitness and my hydrotherapy have multiple benefits. They not only get us up and out the house each week, but they keep me physically and mentally healthy. They essentially provide a focus and structure to each week and I schedule my appointments, social events, work, life admin, playdates, time with family and friends, and time with my boys, etc, around these activities. I truly believe that as a mum I am better able to care for my family if I care for myself.