In Conversation with Gina VanCant of The Milk Mission
Describe The Milk Mission in a few words?
Virtual maternal wellness services.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
After going on an amazing journey of motherhood with my sister and business partner, one thing that really stood out to us, was the lack of imagery of African American women breastfeeding.
Digging a little deeper into breastfeeding we found that African American women have the lowest initiation and duration of breastfeeding and that only 14% maintain breastfeeding for the recommended six months. In addition, African American infants have the highest rate of Infant Mortality than any other race.
Here at The Milk Mission we address the lack of introduction that breastfeeding has in the African American community.
We have made it our mission to promote breastfeeding in communities of color through our inclusive virtual Lactation Consultations, Breastfeeding Classes and curated curriculum for health care professionals.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
My business partner (Kendra Valton) worked in Digital Corporate Marketing. My background is in public service (county/state) government.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes, as children, my business partner and I sold magazines door to door to earn extra money during the summer. We always had an entrepreneur spirit even as kids!
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Our marketing strategy when we first launch was really by word of mouth. We were able to cultivate a supportive network through this approach but it did not necessarily bring us our target audience.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
A big challenge for us was trying to do it all. We received great advice from a mentor who said focus on what your strengths are and then find someone else to do the task that you don’t have experience with. This saved us a lot of time from spinning our wheels!
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
We are most proud of our ability to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, maternal wellness services are provided face-to-face. We were able to essentially restart our business as a telehealth service. Our customers were very receptive of this and we foresee this being the future of The Milk Mission!
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Tell us why maternal wellness matters to you – what’s driving you to address it?
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Traditional Breastfeeding care is received in a hospital setting face-to-face or through a home visit. However, due to COVID-19 many women of color have found accessing the Lactation care they need difficult to find. The Milk Mission decided to make our services 100% virtual by utilizing a Telehealth platform. Women can now receive the same quality care from the comfort of their home.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We see our future in the next few years in the health-tech space. We are in the MVP stages of our Mobile app. Our app empowers women to take control of their maternal wellness. End users are energized with accurate health data and telehealth options to fuel maternal wellness and health longevity.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
You must always be ready to reevaluate your business and never get complacent because change can happen with or without your approval!
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Entrepreneurship is hard! But with determination and passion anything is possible. You may hear a lot of no’s but when you get your first yes it’s an amazing feeling!
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Focus on what matters the most (health, family etc..) and tune out the negative noise.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe in work life balance but it’s not always achieved like I would like. My best tip is to put your family first and the rest will follow.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
We initially started the Milk Mission as a breastmilk delivery service for corporate mothers who were away from their baby and wanted to ship breast milk home to them.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Calendar is a must. Write down daily goals. Take a break to laugh and eat!
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Everyday is a new day and you never stop learning. Value family and friends and never give up on your dreams!