Did you know that India has a breastfeeding rate of about 54% and that 7/10 of mothers in India face problems with lactation? Addressing this issue is the cultural enterprise, Just be Mama. which aims to alleviate this issue by providing holistic care to new mothers. They leverage Indian superfoods to design products that address the postnatal needs of mothers. Using ingredients that promote lactation, Just be Mama makes healthy, tasty, and nutritious snacks for new mothers.
Just Be Mama participated in the first NICE Angels Investor Meet concluded recently.
Follow the journey of founders Richie Chourasia and Neha Sundaran as they go from qualitative researchers to entrepreneurs. Read on to find out how your cultural enterprise can build a community for it’s consumers.
The Conception – How Just Be Mama was Born
We had been friends for years. Through our pregnancy journey, we realized that there was no brand that catered to us mothers as a segment. Most brands that were out there either focused on maternity clothing or child care products. There was a lack of enterprises talking to mothers about their nutritional, emotional, and physical needs. In order to address this journey in a holistic manner, we got started on this journey.
When we first started, we decided to get into the postnatal segment as new mothers often need assistance after delivery. We began by catering to the nutritional and lactation requirements through leveraging India’s hereditary practices. India has a culture that is rich in postpartum traditions filled with aged recipes passed on through generations.
Superfoods for Super Moms – Designing our Product Range
We are both qualitative researchers. To understand the dynamics in this space, we began talking to mothers from varying demographics to understand their needs and the diets preferred. Since India is a very big country with different ethnicities, we collected recipes from across the country to understand the ingredients and their properties. We identified over 50 Indian superfood ingredients such as Garden Crest seeds and Aliv that aid a lactating mother but were slowly fading from the spotlight. Herbs like Shatavari are a proven galactagogue and are widely used in the West but are hardly known in India.
We wanted to showcase and leverage the goodness of Indian wisdom, but update it in a manner that is suitable for the needs of a modern Indian mother. Today, a mom wants something that is low-calorific, easy to consume, and fits into her routine. Keeping this in mind, we came up with seven products.
Our team consisted of lactation consultants, an ayurvedic doctor, nutritionists, and a healthy baker. The Ayurvedic doctor helped us understand the science behind how certain ingredients worked as galactagogues. The nutritionist and healthy bakers used their expertise to include these ingredients in different forms. For example, Aliv or Halim is used in laddoo after being roasted, but we had to figure out how to use the same ingredient in a baked product without affecting its result.
We also wanted to combine multiple ingredients together. Our cookie, Milky Swag, has combined the goodness of Aliv and oats – which are both good galactagogues that help in milk production. We found that often the food eaten by the mother in the first 90 days is quite bland. So we decided to add dark chocolate to provide the benefit of indulgence, catering to her emotional needs as well.
We substitute white sugar with jaggery and coconut sugar and use unrefined flour. Our food is freshly prepared and has a shelf life of about a month. By not using preservatives or baking soda, we ensure food freshness.
Feeding Moms through Our Feed – Managing Social Media
Motherhood on social media is often associated with seriousness and is filled with tips and visuals on how to get through it. The brands that are in the market right now don’t have a fun or quirky take on motherhood, which is something we are trying to do. While the problem we are solving is serious, we are trying to be a voice that does not come across as patronizing but helps the mother view and work on the problem in a positive light. We bring this aspect out in our packaging and illustrations as well. For example, like our illustration of a supermom for our gondh ka ladoo.
We want to make Just be Mama relatable and familiar to a mother of this generation. We felt a Bollywood song or dialog was something our mothers could connect to with a sense of nostalgia. We know that this group of new moms has grown up seeing FRIENDS and associates with certain tropes and characters, and thus use these references in our social media.
We have collaborated and sent product samples to momfluencers such as dilliwaalimummy and milennialmommy, who believe in the mission and cause. We do digital advertising on Instagram and Facebook. We also do a lot of Instagram live sessions and get experts on board.
Building a Sisterhood of Motherhood – Fostering a Communty
We have taken multiple pivots through this journey. Since one of the most important things for a new mother is lactation, our main focus was to empower women to breastfeed. We wanted to go beyond just making products and provide all-around support. We are now working towards establishing a lactation academy, which is a consultant service that provides lactation nutrition, information, and guidance. This would provide mothers and parents with the right information before delivery.
We are building many avenues to engage as well as deepen our relationship with customers. We have a Whatsapp community that is actively growing and have started the system of a lactation buddy. This is a mom who has gone through the journey of motherhood, understands it, and can support a new mother by providing her with confidence and credible information.
In order to capture a larger market, we plan to launch a range of pregnancy products as well. Currently, our target audience is niche, and we need to get in touch with the mothers 0-2 months after delivery as our products will not be as effective at a later stage. In order to help mothers at the right time point, we are trying to reach them through the lactation academy.
We want to be an end-to-end maternal health and wellness platform that will cater to a mother from preconception to post-delivery. We are running pilots to see how we can scale up. We hope to start building our own support platform 2-3 months down the line.
NICEorg wishes Just Be Mama best of luck in their journey ahead!
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