Moms on a Mission: Winnie Co-Founder

You, as a working mom, encounter unique challenges each day as you step foot from your home into the world. However, a community of driven moms who have been there and done that are here to impart wisdom gained through their years of experience.

In our moms on a mission series, we gather advice from women who started companies, ran marathons, became experts and have developed into better employees due to becoming parents.

Sara Mauskopf, CEO and Co-Founder of Winnie

People always say, “it takes a village to raise up a child,” and we agree. Two moms took the responsibility to create a company that exists solely to help moms and dads be the best parents they can – with tips, fun activities, and advice Winnie is chock full of information for every parent.

We had the honor to interview the Co-Founder and CEO of Winnie, Sara Mauskopf, as our first ever mom on a mission feature.

What is the story behind Winnie? How did you two meet and start the company?

Anne and I met when working together at Postmates — Anne had two young children and I had just had my first daughter. We were both shocked at the lack of resources available online for parents, like where to find child care, the most comfortable nursing spots when you’re out and about, or answers to all your parenting questions. We created Winnie to source and centralize all of this information so parents can do more with their families.

What advice or inspiration would you say to the mom who is passionate about continuing to pursue her dreams but finds it to be difficult to stay motivated after having her first child?

I think it’s completely normal to have your priorities change after having a child. For me, after I had my first daughter, it was suddenly a priority for me to quit my job and build a product that made parents’ lives easier. That would have never been my dream before having kids. For some new moms, after they have a baby they may decide they want to spend more time with their kids and less time working. That’s not about a lack of motivation! I always tell moms to do what makes sense for them at that point in time. If it makes sense to work, work. If it makes sense to stay home, stay home. You never need to feel bad about your choice and you’re always free to reevaluate it and do something different in the future.

What crazy pumping story that you think the world needs to know about?

As a mom running a company, I didn’t get to take a long maternity leave and have been pumping since my daughter was a newborn. I’ve pumped in the back of a car, on airplanes, and even while driving. But my craziest story is when my car was towed and it took me hours to get it back and I had no breast pump (or baby with me). I highly recommend all nursing moms learn about hand expression for times like these!

Share an embarrassing moment, that you look back on and laugh, that other moms would relate to or get a kick out of?

I was at a work conference and had packed all my milk in a cooler to take home with me when the conference ended. It turns out the conference was hosted in a foreign embassy building that had a whole security ordeal before you could enter. I had to unpack my milk and explain what it was while everyone else attending the conference waited behind me and watched. Not my favorite moment and I definitely regret not shipping it home using Milk Stork!

What is your go-to pumping tip(s) that others might not know about?

Unless your doctor says otherwise, you don’t have to wash your pump parts between pumping sessions. I store mine in a ziplock bag in a mini fridge when I’m at work and use for 3 sessions without washing and then I just wash them when I get home at the end of the day. It is such a timesaver to not have to wash your pump parts all day.

What was a huge win both personally and professionally that you experienced upon returning to work? Or even later on in your career?

When I returned to Winnie after having my second daughter, we launched our comprehensive child care discovery platform — winnie.com/childcare — in additional major markets. It’s been a really valuable tool for a lot of parents to find quality child care. As hard as it was and is for me to leave my kids, it’s been helpful to know I’m doing something other parents find valuable.

What was a huge disappointment that you wish was different?  

I was surprised I missed my daughter so much returning to work as a second-time mom. I thought going back to work would be easier because I knew what to expect, but it surprised me that it wasn’t. Breastfeeding and pumping has been a way for me to maintain a special connection with my daughter even though we aren’t together 24/7.

You guys really are known for simply knowing things for parents — how would you help a mom explain to her co-workers what it’s like to pump and be out in the world?

I think a lot of people have two big misconceptions about pumping. First, they are under the impression that nursing moms can pump whenever it’s convenient. If I don’t pump on a schedule, I get a very painful breast infection called mastitis. Second, they think that pumping can be done in a bathroom, which every mom knows is extremely unsanitary. I try to clear up these two misconceptions any chance I get because I think that is the first step to having more accommodations for nursing moms.

Where do you get the helpful information for Winnie? From other moms, your own experiences, or elsewhere?

The information on Winnie is crowdsourced from parents. We have over a million parents who have used Winnie in over 10,000 cities across the United States! Parents review places they go with their kids, get advice and information, and answer questions based on their experiences. Businesses can also share information about the facilities and services they offer to parents, like whether they have changing tables in the restrooms or a comfortable place to nurse a baby.

Who was your working mom mentor?

My working mom mentor is Anne Halsall, now my co-founder. She’s really the first working mom of young kids I worked closely with and seeing how she was able to juggle working and raising two young kids (and pump!) made me realize it’s all possible.

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