Co-founding bellybrief

Barbara and Noelle met in Business School and have a background in finance, economics and accounting, but it’s their passion for connecting people, exhaustive research and a desire to create a supportive online motherhood community that inspired them to launch bellybrief. Here, they share some of their productivity tips, talk about what makes bellybrief unique, and what’s yet to come!

How did you meet and what do you value most about each other?

NF: We met in business school at college which feels like forever ago. We became fast friends and have had each other’s backs ever since — even when Barbara moved to NYC and I stayed in Toronto. Barbara is motivated, passionate, brilliantly creative and a true entrepreneur. These characteristics and talents go well with my risk-averse “accountant” mind that has to research and double check everything.

BP:  Besides being school mates, we’ve always tackled and navigated new challenges together. We also always wanted to create something of our own together. When we saw the opportunity to work together and to create something meaningful, we didn’t hesitate to start building this platform and community together. We wanted to provide the same kind of judgement-free support that she and I share, with others. We know its a long tumultuous haul, and we’ll need to get back up on the proverbial horse, but we’ve got each other! Noelle’s resilience combined with her optimism, creativity and confidence continually keep us on our path and empower us to keep moving forward with our cause. She has the amazing power of bringing people together and making them feel like they belong.

What inspired you to start bellybrief?

BP: It surprises a lot of people when they discover I co-founded bellybrief but I’m not a mom yet (but we’re working hard to change that)! For me it seemed like a no brainer. We spend a lot of time researching and planning for our ideal colleges, careers and weddings, so why wouldn’t we do the same when it comes to planning for motherhood?

While I was researching, I quickly became overwhelmed with the variety and abundance of info so I reached out to my trusted mom friends (like Noelle), for their guidance and insights. Our friends have a group chat where we share helpful motherhood articles and advice. It was immediately apparent how near impossible it was for us to readily and easily access the articles and notes which were strewn from our text messages and inboxes to their private mom groups and Pinterest boards. That’s when Noelle and I realized there was no existing platform that facilitates research, organization and sharing of information around pregnancy and motherhood. We wanted a website that organized and aggregated trusted information recommended by fellow moms and experts all on one platform, so that’s what we built.

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We spend a lot of time researching and planning for our ideal colleges, careers and weddings, so why wouldn’t we do the same when it comes to planning for motherhood, one of the most important parts of our life journey?

What makes bellybrief unique? How did that play into your development of the platform?

NF: There are a million websites about parenting and motherhood but we like to think bellybrief is unique because it offers functionality that combines that of Pinterest, group texts/emails and Facebook mommy groups, but powered by moms and moms-to-be. You can find relatable moms in the community, search for mom-approved information and be exposed to new tips, tricks and solutions.

BP: We also distinguish ourselves with the authenticity of the content sourced and curated by a diverse group of women who lean on digital research for tackling day to day challenges and have a high standard for content quality. To build and maintain this community-sourced and approved library of information, we invite moms and moms-to-be, along with trusted voices in the parenting industry, to share their motherhood experiences and knowledge through personally curated collections. Our members contribute and share “briefs” (think: Yelp reviews) on their favorite content. Active members then review, comment on, and upvote each others’ briefs. Content can be shared and members can interact with one another and grow their own village.

What do you hope people find and get from the bellybrief community?

NF: We hope all the moms and moms-to-be that join our community truly feel like they are in a supportive, judgement free space that helps makes their lives and motherhood journey a bit easier. We want to take the frustration, stress and anxiety out of researching and we hope our members find long-lasting friendships in the process.

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We invite moms and moms-to-be, along with trusted voices in the parenting industry, to share their motherhood experiences and knowledge through personally curated collections.

What innovative ways are people using the platform that you love to see?

NF: We love supporting “mompreneurs” and it’s been amazing to see them using our website to help promote their product or service to our community. We also love seeing the friendships that have already been formed by the introduction of our “bb chat” function and from the great events that we’ve held in Toronto, New York and LA. We want to keep this supportive and collaborative community thriving so we encourage all our users to reach out and introduce themselves to other moms or moms-to-be on our platform. We also hold local events which we announce in our weekly newsletters and on our social accounts.

How do you juggle building a business with (preparing for) motherhood?

NF: Honestly, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Some days I’m motivated and other days I’m so tired I want to pass out in the street. As a mom, my son is my first priority so as long as he’s happy and I still have my hair, I pat myself on the back. To stay sane and motivated I create small vision boards and revert back to them when I’m burnt out. Looking at my goals visually, like family trips or career benchmarks. I also find a great podcast about entrepreneurs (I love “How I Built This”) will reignite my inspiration.

BP: I manage two companies at different capacities and when you add family, marriage and health while trying to get pregnant, it can be a real juggling act. But I love what I do and the life I’ve worked very hard to build so this pushes me forward everyday. I’ve learned the importance of time management, knowing when to say no, and having the flexibility to deal with the unexpected. A few tips I’ve picked up include monthly check ins with myself to ruthlessly cut out things that no longer support my top goals; prioritizing tasks by creating lists on wunderlist app; and never feeling guilty about outsourcing tasks. Most importantly, having an amazing support system made up of family, friends and mentors – people who keep you in check and you can count on for honest feedback.

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We want to keep this supportive and collaborative community thriving so we encourage all our users to reach out and introduce themselves to other moms or moms-to-be on our platform.

What are you currently researching?

NF: I’m researching toddler behaviors and anything about raising a toddler. My son has a very strong personality and the tantrums are already surfacing (he’s not even 2)! I’m currently  reading “How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen” by Joanna Faber and Julie King, it’s wonderful and helpful. I’ve also read “1-2-3 Magic” by Tom Phelan which was recommended by one of our founding contributors, Jessica Rose, on our site which I found incredibly insightful.

BP: I’m very interested in alternative medicine as a way to proactively manage health so that I can prepare my body for pregnancy. I’m also researching about getting there mentally and what to expect so I have the time to think about how to approach these challenges when they pop up. I also love reading about women and their work life juggles — particularly our bbstories. It has been an incredible opportunity to not only get to know our founding contributors but also to get inspired by their stories, resilience and accomplishments.

What’s next for bellybrief?

NF: We already have some very exciting things planned for 2019! We will be hosting some more amazing events and we’ll be adding new website applications.

BP: We are also introducing workshops and special membership perks for our community! Stay tuned!