Interview with Designer, Lactavist & Mom, Holli Harris
Named after Holli’s daughter, the HadleyStilwell collection reflects Holli’s goal of helping new Mothers breastfeed longer by minimizing the challenge of pumping at work and nursing at home. Holli’s premise is that women who spend time away from their babies can indeed continue to breastfeed, if they have the right tools and support.
We sat down with Holli and here is what she had to say:
When did you decide to become a designer? After my experience of going back to work as a breastfeeding/pumping mother. I was inspired to design professional, well-tailored clothes that allowed for a quick pulled-together look and also accommodated pumping and breastfeeding. I found myself having to basically get undressed several times a day in the work bathroom just to pump, because my professional clothes weren’t breastfeeding-friendly. So I wanted to come up with designs that made it just a little easier and were enjoyable to wear regardless of mom-status.
Tell us about your line? The HadleyStilwell collection aims to remove the daunting barrier of having to get undressed in a semi-private place to nurse or pump, and helps save precious minutes in a jam packed schedule, through designs that allow quick access to breasts with low skin exposure. The Pieces can be worn just as comfortably in board meetings with a scarf and high heels as with leggings and flats on the weekends. All of the clothes are made with fabrics that are comfortable yet durable, and everything is machine washable.
What advice can you share with our breastfeeding/working moms? Women tend to put themselves last and when you are a mother it gets worse. This will lead to downward spiral so it’s up to you to take care of yourself. If that sounds selfish, think of it this way: You have others depending on you so it’s critical, and you need your own reserves to give to others, and at the very least, to think clearly.
I have heard you describe yourself as a “Lactavist”. Can you share what that means? What started out as designing a clothing line for breastfeeding mothers to minimize the challenge of pumping at work, (and therefore impact the steep rate of decline when mothers return to work), has evolved into something much larger – educating mothers on combining breastfeeding with working outside the home, building coalitions of like-minded businesses for joint marketing efforts, and actively supporting others’ efforts to create flexible, family-friendly workplaces. What I’ve realized and experienced along the way is that breastfeeding is a gateway to discussing related issues and represents an opportunity to impact families regarding overall health and lifestyle on multiple levels.
Thank you for the work you are doing! How can other moms become Lactavists?
Becoming a mother may inspire you to become a leader at work. At the very least, you may need to step up to continue breastfeeding – yes, there is state legislation, but the real change in mind shift will come from individual moms forging the way. This is the first instance of advocating for your baby which lasts a lifetime…
For Hollli’s tips on combining working with breastfeeding (and time-saving pump-friendly clothes!) see Milk Notes at http://hadleystilwell.com
Holli & Hadley