THE BLOG

Women in Business Q&A: Amber Wilcox and Stacy Rauen, Founder of Bump Water

07/30/2014 09:29 am ET | Updated Sep 29, 2014

Stacy attended Northwestern University, where she obtained a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Journalism and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband Jon, son Jack, and is expecting another child in December.

Amber attended the University of San Diego, where she obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Media Communications and Multiple Subject Teaching. Amber currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband Spencer, daughters Madeline and Alice, and is expecting a baby boy in November.

How has your life experience made you the leaders you are today?
Amber: Becoming moms is what made us think of and launch Bump Water. Being busy moms, we knew creating a start-up would be difficult but the bigger picture of helping other mothers get the nutrients they need throughout pregnancy in an easy to take and delicious way makes the effort worthwhile. We couldn't believe a product like Bump Water didn't already exist and we knew we had to act.

Stacy: Growing up, my working mom always taught my sister and me if you are going to do something, do your best. I think because of that I have always been a problem solver. I was/am the "planner" for my friends; in high school I didn't just want to play basketball I wanted to (sometimes annoyingly) help my teammates practice their shooting techniques and I didn't just want to be in the play, I wanted to choreograph it; while getting my bachelor's in journalism in college, I realized there wasn't a magazine that was written from a student's point of view, so I founded an online magazine (yes the internet was just getting big then) for students by the students; and in my current role as a magazine editor, I realized that we weren't connecting with our next generation of readers, so I created a nationwide networking event series to do just that. To get pregnant with my son Jack took four rounds of IVF (a new lesson in perseverance), so when I was pregnant and couldn't stomach prenatal vitamins, I was determined to figure out a way to get the nutrients--especially folic acid--I needed to make our miracle baby the healthiest he could be. When we looked and couldn't find anything, not only were we surprised there wasn't another option out there, we wanted to change the situation--we also didn't want to wait around for someone else to come up with the solution.

How has your previous employment experience aided your positions at Bump Water?
Amber: Having been a kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom, I have learned to be an organized multi-tasker, flexible, creative, patient and most importantly, able to execute plans, both day-to-day and long-term. Being able to get things done is just as critical in start-ups as it is in parenting and teaching. There are a myriad of day-to-day decisions and productivity is a must. There are many people who have had great ideas, but we decided to use our work experience and experience as moms to act on ours.

Stacy: My career as a magazine editor has taught me to be a master multi-tasker. Besides publishing 10 issues, I help plan and facilitate more than a dozen events a year, with a very small staff. I wear a lot of hats and definitely check my ego at the door--which translates perfectly to starting a business (there's nothing we wouldn't do to make Bump Water a success). Working with a product that has so many different touch points, it has also taught me the power of branding, from the smallest design details to the big picture ideas. I have a sign on my desk that says: K.I.S.S.--keep it simple stupid. It reminds me that you shouldn't try to complicate or try to overthink your brand messaging--your story and brand pillars should be the guiding principles. We hope that is the case when it comes to Bump Water.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenures at Bump Water?
[Answered together]
It has been a challenge learning the in's and out's of the beverage industry, especially for a functional, all-natural beverage with 100 percent RDA of 10 vitamins--major retailers only review beverages on semi annual or annual timeframes; the long lead times from various vendors; and finding the right partners to make our concept a reality--not to mention all the obstacles that come with forming a startup (getting funding, finding the time to get it off the ground, etc).

The highlights have been speaking with women (a lot of them moms) and doctors who love Bump Water and think it's a fabulous product--seeing how surprised they are that this didn't exist, how happy they are that it does now, how shocked they are that it tastes good, and how curious they are about where they can get it. It's also been a thrill seeing our idea come to life.

How is Bump Water changing the mom and baby industry?
[Answered together]
Bump Water is a category creator--an innovative, one-of-a-kind great tasting beverage for moms and moms-to-be to get the nutrients, most importantly, the folic acid they need before, during, and after pregnancy. We think women should be able to sip their way to a healthy baby! At the same time, we hope to raise awareness about the necessity of folic acid in women's diets--folic acid is essential to healthy fetal development early on in pregnancy and even before, as it prevents the risk of neural tube defects, namely spina bifida.

What advice can you offer women who want to start their own business?
[Answered together]
Starting a business is challenging, especially as busy moms. First and foremost, you need to be passionate about your business and ideally tap into your own interests. Believe in yourself and your business--if you don't, no one else will.

Expect roadblocks and obstacles, so be flexible and patient. Anticipate success but be prepared for failure. Everything you try won't work. But if you have faith in your original ideas, you will be able to persevere over challenges--you will be able to find a solution. If becoming an entrepreneur were easy, everyone would do it.

Don't be scared to take risks and trust your instincts.

Try to create a unique product that fits a specific need. We were amazed a product like Bump Water didn't already exist, so we created one.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Amber: Maintaining a work/life balance is difficult. I sometimes feel I'm in a bit of a juggling act trying to coordinate babysitting schedules, making enough time for my husband and daughters in the midst of building a business. Starting a business requires a lot of time and energy. There is really no typical day, so I try to use my time as efficiently as possible. Since Stacy and I are both moms, we understand work/life struggles and can lean on one another for support.

Stacy: Ha, have I achieved that? It's a daily struggle, but I wouldn't be doing all that I do if I didn't love what I did and actually thrived on being busy and challenging myself. I try to be where I am when I am there--work when I am there, home with my son until he goes to bed, and then back on the computer to finish up the work that needs to get done; on weekends I have perfected working while he naps. I am not saying that system always works, but that's the goal. Bump Water conference calls happen late at night, meetings are on weekends, and many times the kids are in the background or running around us while we work. But since Amber and I are both moms, we understand and help each other--especially if meetings get pushed back because one kid doesn't want to nap, or a runny nose turns into something more. Plus, working on Bump Water with a friend and our supportive husbands mixes both professional and personal lives, which is a nice bonus. I am lucky to have a fantastic support system as well--from my mother (the best "Grammie" in the world) to our nanny and a wealth of babysitters. It takes a village.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Amber: The biggest issue for women in the workplace is trying to find a work/life balance. For many women it's tough to carve out enough time to feel like we have harmony between our careers and family life. For example, I'm pregnant with our third child and already worried about taking maternity leave and its impact on our company.

Stacy: I am not sure what the biggest issue is for women in the workplace. I think it is a very individual thing. Some are trying to balance family and their career; others are trying to figure out how to achieve their career aspirations within a corporate culture; some are within a culture where senior women are afraid to or territorially don't promote women; and some women are trying to work in a sector that they are passionate about, no matter what the financial compensation is. I have seen different versions of all of these factors throughout my career.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal lives?
Amber: When starting Bump Water we didn't tell everyone we knew, but I did seek mentorship from a family friend who has years of experience with startups in the nutrition industry. Her experience building a business and being a woman entrepreneur was extremely insightful and she was able to provide guidance and networking connections. Most importantly, my mentor was able to equip me with a realistic roadmap as to what to expect in our entrepreneurial journey.

Stacy: I don't know if I can actually pinpoint one mentor in my life, but I have been fortunate enough to work with and learn from some of the best in their fields. They each have taught me something--from their strengths or weaknesses--and have made me a better person along the way. I try to be a sponge, not only from those in my education and career, but also from my friends and family, who I admire and are inspired by everyday. I just hope that my children look at me with as much respect and need as I do my mother--she definitely taught me my work ethic and the meaning of unconditional love.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
[Answered together]
Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, for acting on a great idea and turning Spanx into a household name and becoming a category creator. Sara is proof that anything is possible. She believes in empowering women and encourages them to embrace failure and to think outside the box.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, for encouraging women to achieve their ambition and take on positions of leadership. Not only does she promote equality in the workplace, but she has also sparked a movement and a dialogue surrounding this important issue.

Licia Ronzulli, member of the European Parliament, for publicly drawing attention to workplace struggles for moms. We feel she is the picture of modern motherhood. Seeing the pictures of Ronzulli bringing her daughter to work when she was just six weeks old is a reminder you don't stop being a mom when you go to work.

Tory Burch, founder of Tory Burch, not only for creating fashion that resonates with women, but also because her foundation supports women entrepreneurs through access to capital, mentorship, and networking.

What do you want Bump Water to accomplish in the next five years?
[Answered together]
We would love for Bump Water to be a successful brand, a household name, and in retail stores throughout the country. Our ultimate goal for Bump Water is to make it a little easier for moms and moms-to-be to get the nutrition, most importantly, folic acid they need to keep themselves and their babies healthy and happy. In addition, we would love to raise awareness about the importance of folic acid for all women of childbearing age, especially before, during, and after pregnancy.