One Charlotte woman decided that poorly designed bras that don’t meet the needs of nursing mothers shouldn’t be one more thing standing in the way of successful breastfeeding.
Kate Rech, a mother of two and owner of Rech Law P.C., was frustrated with the maternity bras available on the market. She couldn’t find a functional piece she could wear from home to the courtroom to a yoga class so she decided to make her own — the Ollie Gray Anywhere Bra™.
“As a family law attorney, I found myself struggling to find a bra which provided comfort and wearability during all phases of the day and also made me feel beautiful during what society oftentimes sadly refers to as a low point in women’s lives,” she said via email (because she still works as an attorney and was in court all day).
Rech focused her product on comfort, function and style, a trifecta rarely available all in one maternity bra.
Barriers to breastfeeding abound in the United States.
According to the Surgeon General, “for nearly all infants, breastfeeding is the best source of infant nutrition and immunologic protection, and it provides remarkable health benefits to mothers as well.”
Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says 81% of babies start out breastfed in the United States, only 22% reach the recommended duration of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding.
Not everyone chooses to breastfeed and that is a mother’s right, and those who do try still face a multitude of hurdles when it comes to successful breastfeeding. Lack of knowledge, social stigma, unsupportive family and friends, employment, access to childcare, socioeconomic inequalities and physical discomfort like mastitis and sore nipples can all complicate a woman’s attempt to breastfeed.
Among these challenges, a functional and stylish nursing and pumping bra is certainly the least of a mother’s worries, but it can still have a meaningful impact on the convenience and comfort of her daily breastfeeding experience.
“There’s no doubt a social movement is currently taking place in the United States regarding the acceptability of breastfeeding/pumping, especially in public spaces,” said Rech. “The Anywhere Bra™ was created to allow moms to pump or breastfeed freely, regardless of what the day brings, in any public place and to do it all in a bra that makes moms feel beautiful again.”
Ollie Gray bras are designed to eliminate the need for multiple maternity bras by creating an all-in-one piece for pregnancy, nursing and pumping.
Rech partnered with former lululemon designer Cara Sumpton to design a multi-purpose bra that does it all.
Ollie Gray bras feature easy release clasps for breastfeeding, a secure fly system to for hands-free pumping, side access for new tube-style pumps, two-way straps to style straight or crossed, moisture-wicking antimicrobial performance fabric and a low-profile design to keep it inconspicuous and comfortable under work clothes or at the gym.
Each bra also comes with a privacy cloth to help encourage comfortable breastfeeding in public.
These features may seem standard or intuitive but not when you look at some of the other pumping bras on the market — like this multi-zipper mess.
Or this one that looks like an ACE bandage after plastic surgery.
Or this one that looks like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre mask.
Of course, it’s not just about what the bra looks like; it’s about what it does. What Ollie Gray aims to do is help women more seamlessly integrate breastfeeding and pumping into their lives with a product that makes them feel beautiful.
And women get it.
The Ollie Gray Anywhere Bra™ concept was so popular on Kickstarter, they more than tripled their fundraising goal bringing in $33,000 to help launch the product.
It certainly didn’t hurt to get social media shout outs from new nursing public figures like Dancing with the Stars performer Peta Murgatroyd, The Bachelorette’s Desiree Siegfried and Charlotte’s own fitness celeb Emily Breeze Watson.
Now they’re gearing up to start shipping pre-orders next month.
The bras, which are currently available for pre-order, retail for $63-$68 and are available in sizes XS (0-4) to XXL (14).
What’s next for Ollie Gray?
“We at Ollie Gray have always had the mindset of doing one thing and doing it right,” said Rech. “We want to make sure we change the way moms view maternity/nursing bras first and then let whatever natural evolution of the brand take place.”
She says they have immediate plans to roll out a more robust size offering, add enhanced features and introduce some new design patterns, but is not ready to announce any new product releases just yet.
“Cara [Sumpton, a former lululemon designer] and her experience will certainly play a key role in new product development,” Rech said.
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