“I spent most of my career after college working at tech startups,” Kallile said. “I majored in journalism in college and always thought I wanted to work at a news station.”
But after a few internships, Kallile decided rather than telling stories about others, she wanted to be the story. She found she was thriving on the fast pace, high energy life and moving quickly up the ladder in her job in San Francisco. Then she met the man who was to be her future husband, an Ohio native.
“We got married in California and moved to Seattle for four years,” Kallile said. “We were going back and forth trying to decide whether to move back to California or to Ohio.”
Ultimately, it made financial sense to the couple to move to Ohio to start their family. The couple’s daughters were born in 2018 and 2020. And it was when she became a mom that Kallile realized there was a huge emphasis on supporting pregnant mothers but not as much on the postpartum period.
“Women spend much longer in their postpartum recovery and breastfeeding phases than they do pregnant,” Kallile said.
Like most new moms, Kallile was learning as she went along, not knowing what to expect. Once she had her second baby, she felt confide.nt enough to be critical about support and products designed for breastfeeding moms.
“Before the pandemic, I had freelance work” Kallie said. “But that dried up in 2020, so I decided to step back and be a stay-at-home mom full time.”
The COVID-19 pandemic changed life completely for the majority of families. There was suddenly more time to take a breath and focus on what was working. And what wasn’t.
“I was really bothered by my nursing bras,” Kallile said. “Here’s this essential garment for nursing moms and it wasn’t comfortable or leak proof.”
Kallile decided to check in with friends and connections whom she knew were breastfeeding and asked for recommendations for brands of nursing bras.
“Everyone kept telling me that the bras they were wearing were just OK,” Kallile said. “In fact, when I sent out surveys, 84% of the moms said they were completely dissatisfied with their nursing bras.”
Among the complaints she heard were functionality, design, style and of course, comfort. Kallile, who had already started thinking about a better bra design, took these comments and ran.
“My mom is a former garment industry professional,” Kallile said. “I started shipping her materials so she could help with the prototype.”
Borrowing a leakproof material from the period panty design, Kallile cut it up and put it into the bra. While she was creating it, she decided to keep the women who had answered her survey in the loop about the product. After the first prototype was complete, she sent out samples to these women who had become her “hive,” a community of about 300. She named the newly designed bra, and her company, Lunnie, after her two daughters, Lucy and Annie.
“My Lunnie Hive of women helped give me feedback and it gave me a sense of whether this would work for them or not,” Kallile said. “We went through six prototypes over the course of a year and finally nailed it!”
The Lunnie nursing bra is ultra-absorbent and has sewn in leakproof pads. It is also flattering with a deep V cut and no underwires, making it comfortable for all day wear. Kallile is working on filing two separate patents for the unique design.
Kallile entered several competitions in hopes of finding funding to officially launch her company. She was awarded at $10,000 grant from the Female Founder Collective, founded by fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, which helped her turn her prototype into a “real” product. Then earlier this year, she won the University of Dayton Flyer Pitch competition, receiving $50,000.
“I feel so honored that I came out on top in the Flyer Pitch,” Kallile said. “This represents a turning point for moms in general. The pandemic put a spotlight on problems affecting women and moms for decades.”
Now celebrating her first shipment from her first full production run, Kallile said she never forgets the women who helped her along the way.
“It’s been gratifying to create this for other moms,” Kallile said. “They have been a huge part of this journey and we designed something together that is built to last and make moms feel powerful and strong, inside and out.”
For more information, log on to lunnie.com