The three founders of UpSpring still get a thrill whenever they overhear someone name-drop their earliest products. (That would be Walking Wings, which Dede Woodman invented as a back-saving way to hold on to her 10-month-old son without having to hunch over to help him walk, and Milkscreen, a test strip devised by a nursing Julie Jumonville that detects alcohol in breast milk.) “We’re just very excited about the path the company is on,” Woodman says. “It’s like seeing a tree grow, and now the tree is blooming and you see all the beautiful leaves.”
Part of the Austin, Texas–based company’s growth includes bringing more mom inventors into the fold. Partnering with scientists, nutritionists and doctors, Woodman and Jumonville, along with Lisa Williamson Rowe, have created new categories in the baby-care space and have expanded into existing categories with supplements, vitamins and postnatal accessories. Among their favorites: The C-Panty, invented by a mom and wound-care specialist, that helps speed recovery after a c-section; Morning SickLESS, which boosts magnesium levels to reduce nausea during pregnancy; and a drug-free prenatal multivitamin shown to support fetal brain development.
As UpSpring grows into a complete lifestyle brand, the three women are quick to give credit where it’s due. “One thing that helped us get started is the power of moms supporting other moms,” Williamson Rowe says. “That’s one thing that’s so cool about the mom and baby space: There are a lot of mom-preneurs who are so willing to collaborate and help. We try to pay it forward by bringing other moms with fabulous ideas into our UpSpring family and taking their products further than they ever dreamed.”
“One thing we’re very proud of is bringing Whole Foods quality to the Walmart customer,” Jumonville says. “If you look at our ingredients, every one is Whole Foods compliant but sold at a Target or Walmart price. We work very hard on that. We want our products to be as accessible to as many moms as possible; not everyone can afford to shop at the more expensive natural grocers. That’s something we’re very proud of.”
“One of the top reasons moms stop breastfeeding is because they’re concerned they’re not making enough. One of our missions is to help moms extend the life of breastfeeding,” Williamson Rowe says. “Our biggest seller right is Milkflow, which helps moms produce more milk. Before, moms had two options: They could take six to 12 pills a day of fenugreek or drink a tea. Fenugreek is a very bitter herb, so it’s just challenging. What we did is convert fenugreek into a drink mix. Our first product in the Milkflow line was a berry drink mix. It was more successful than we had ever forecasted.”
“We welcome people with open arms to pitch us [ideas]. We’ve created a filter as a way to take an idea through the paces and quickly shoot down what doesn’t work,” Jumonville says. “If something doesn’t fit with our mission, our brand or our portfolio or has already been done [we are going to pass]. Going through that process and filters really helps us stay on track as a team and come up with the best products we can for mom and baby.”