- March 20th, 2014 by editor
Earlier this week, Julia appeared on The Moms‘ Sirius XM Radio Show – in fact, they named her MOM OF THE WEEK! Most of their questions were about how Julia got started with Forty Weeks, putting the last 15 years (has it really been that long?) into context. While Julia gave them a quick backstory, we thought we would take the time to share the whole tale, in Julia’s words.
“The year is 1998 I am young (30 years old!!!) and expecting my first child. My career is humming along at an admirable clip. It is an exciting, promising time despite the lousy wardrobe options that I had to endure. But enough about the clothes (did I mention how terrible the clothes were?) – Or least for now…
The summer wears on, I get bigger, my toes become a distant memory and I inhale huge amounts of fresh fruit on a daily basis. One day while working on one of my publishing projects – (yes back then magazines were all the rage and made and paid real money to boot) – my adorable UPS man delivers a box. This would later be known as the delivery that changed everything. In the box was a plump little blue plush bear and the bear was wearing a t-shirt which read “Breast is Best”.
My hormones and I are at a complete loss. Are they talking to me? This is marketing geared towards me? They are trying to persuade me to do something, anything via a stuffed animal? A fluffy pastel colored lactation ambassador – for me? No, they are confused. I am educated, I am affluent (enough), I am established, I am a woman of taste – yet somehow it makes sense to market to me as if I am the fetus I am carrying. Don’t they know I am eager to know more and open to new ideas? Don’t they get how easy it would be to speak intelligently to me? Don’t they see that pastel pink is not a language I understand? The rant continues and turns into my manifesto: no ducks, no bunnies (and no more nasty maternity clothes).
No, I decide – that is not it and the time has come for a change. And further, I will fire all of my well-paying publishing clients and show the world that there is a better way to market to expectant women. I will teach the brands of this world how to enter into a conversation during a woman’s Forty Week journey with integrity and meaning. And I will not stop until I have changed playing field for good. My friends, family and epically my first husband think I have lost my mind. Perhaps… (I like to blame the hormones).
So I did. First I launched a line of personal care products – there were two gift sets focused on the needs of a laboring woman and another focused on the needs of a new mother. Special Deliverease, The Essential Labor Comfort Kit and Special Momease, The Essential New Mother Comfort Kit were unlike anything on the market at the time. They were immediate hits and baby shower staples. This is how I met Ann Douglas, Peg Moline (Fit Pregnancy), Amy Coe, Emilia Fabricant (Cadeau), Laurie McCartney (Babystyle), Shannon DiPadova (Due), Debbie Ohanian (Meet Me in Miami), Jessica Hartshorn (American Baby), Uli Belinky (Zuntano) and many of the other powerhouse women in my life.
I manufactured, marketed and sold the kits (Nordstrom, Bloomies, Mimi, Babystyle and an array of specialty retailers carried the line). Forty Weeks grew, my old skills as a media strategy maven translated well into my new role as one of the pioneers of the new wave of juvenile and baby. By my second trade show I was consulting the vendors around me, teaching basic PR and strategy, jointly pitching media, designing retail partnerships, building associations, writing promotions and advertorials and generally moving me to where I am today.
I like to say that Lila inspired me – and she did. That pregnancy opened my eyes and helped to lead me down this incredible (though not always smooth) road that I have been on for 11 years. And with year passing day, week and year – I become more keenly aware of the blessing of that box with the silly blue bear. A career like this – rich with what feels like endless opportunities to work with incredible individuals (helping them to achieve their dreams) and organizations, change the game and make an honest difference in the lives of women is beyond expectation. It is at once very personal and very public. My gratitude is never cloaked and my deep love and passion for what I do and the people I do it with/for is something I wear with great pride. And the best part is that tomorrow is another day and another new chapter in the world of Forty Weeks.”
And that is the story, at least as of the blog post Julia wrote on December 1, 2009 – the rest as they say, is unwritten. And as Julia is often heard saying – stay tuned….