South Florida-based entrepreneur and mom Rachael Kish co-founded Imalac with her mother, Noreen. Imalac has created Nurture by Imalac, the world’s first nursing and pumping bra with an attachable, hands-free breast expression system. Before founding and serving as COO of Imalac, it was Rachael’s own personal experience as a mother that inspired her to start Imalac and provide busy new mothers with a resource to make breastfeeding an easier and more enjoyable experience.
Rachael, can you give us a brief background on what your inspiration was behind developing Nurture by Imalac? How has being a mother shaped or driven the founding of Nurture by Imalac?
I was first exposed to the concept of simulating hand expression when Noreen was involved with a Med Tech accelerator in Israel, however the concept was never commercialized. As a nursing and working mother, I came to understand that using hand expression in conjunction with pumping significantly improved the efficiency of my pumping experience. I am excited to bring a product like Nurture to market so that other women might have a more positive pumping experience.
Why do you think that the expressing part of the breastfeeding process is ignored, or not as focused on in literature, or with nurses?
It starts with education, which most mothers receive for the first time during their short stay at the hospital. If nursing isn’t established within those first 24 hours after a baby is born, women go home exhausted and frustrated, and have a harder time successfully breastfeeding. Women who have a lactation consultant available to them upon leaving the hospital are more likely to learn about hand expression, but the resources are not accessible to the vast majority of moms.
What did you see missing in the industry that Nurture is solving for mothers that are breastfeeding?
It was missing a product that mimics hand expression. Today, with all the hands-free pumping bras that are supposed to make the experience easier, there’s nothing on the market that truly eliminates the need to use your hands. With Nurture, your hands do not need to do anything besides hook it up and take it apart. Not only does this make pumping more efficient, but it allows you to be able to multitask at the same time.
We know that you are in the developmental process, have you received any feedback from mothers that are currently breastfeeding? Do you plan on having a group of mothers test the product before its official CES launch? Tell us more about the timeline leading up to the launch.
Moms were very instrumental in the design, through sharing their experiences and needs. Our true goal for Imalac is to help support moms through this life changing journey.
Earlier this year, we tested the product on a few nursing mothers. We had a very positive experience were told that as long as we can get the fit right, Nurture will be transformative for mothers.
Since then, we’ve focused on finalizing the prototype and bra design. We’ll be showing it off at the International Lactation Consultant conference. After the conference, we plan on manufacturing one prototype in every size and test it on nursing mothers. The goal is to gather additional design feedback and validate our claims. We will then incorporate those suggestions and move toward commercialization.
What are your thoughts about the recent celebrity media coverage featuring new mothers like Serena Williams, Khloe Kardashian and second time mommy Chrissy Teigen, who are using their platform to destigmatize breastfeeding?
I think it’s great to see women supporting breastfeeding and celebrities using their influence in a positive way. The more people we can get talking, the better. That being said, I believe we have a long way to go in normalizing the conversation that surrounds breastfeeding.
You recently became a certified lactation counselor. Can you share more about your interest in becoming certified, as well as the requirements and process that it entails.
I became a certified lactation counselor because as a mother, I was well aware of the health benefits of breastfeeding. I believed it would be beneficial to Imalac for me to have a deeper understanding of the science behind breastfeeding and the techniques that moms need to be taught to be successful. I will also be involved in the beta testing and knew this credential would be helpful.
Do you have any tips, or advice for moms who are breastfeeding?
You’re doing great! It’s really hard to not let the pressure to breastfeed drive you crazy. You need to do what’s best for you and the baby. It’s okay to realize you can’t control everything all the time.
It’s interesting…I had a great milk supply and my children latched on without any issues. I breastfed Stella until she turned one and with Sonny, I was able to breastfeed until he was 9 and a half months. Even though I made it that far, it was very hard for me to come to terms that it was time to stop. It made me realize how physically and emotionally demanding breastfeeding is, and that it is important for women to know their limits and just do the best that you can.