How This ‘Coffee’ is Helping Moms Lactate
By Kristelle Bechayda
Given the many health benefits of breastfeeding, it’s no wonder why a lot of Filipino mothers have become advocates. One of them is mom-of-three Lan San Juan-Perez who founded Mother Nurture, a company that offers the very first lactation coffee and chocolate mix drinks in the Philippines
At the launch of the brand’s products, Lan shares her humbling journey of becoming a breastfeeding advocate who empowers other mothers to not just breastfeed, but earn as well.
How it all started
Though the 36- year-old mom has been exclusively breastfeeding for years, Lan’s journey didn’t have an easy start. When she had her firstborn, Lan opted for formula milk because she didn’t know there was an option for her to breastfeed. With no one in her circle of family and friends who were breastfeeding, Lan was unaware of this feeding option until she was added to a local community on Facebook that supports breastfeeding moms. Having just given birth to her second baby at the time, she wanted to give breastfeeding a try.
“So it was on July 23, 2013 when I relactated,” Lan recalls of the eventful moment. “It made me realize that there were a lot of things I should be doing. It all started there until I became a breastfeeding advocate, then later on a breastfeeding counselor also.” As someone who drank coffee on a daily basis, Lan had to give up her caffeine fix when she decided to breastfeed, which eventually became an inspiration for her to create coffee lactation mixes specifically for breastfeeding mothers.
In June 2014, Mother Nurture released its first batch of the seven-in-one CoffeeMix and ChocoMix drinks. Each sachet composed of seven key ingredients, including non-dairy creamer, galactagogue ingredients like stevia leaves, malunggay, or moringa, ashitaba, gotu kola, calcium lactate, as well as coffee beans or cocoa. Taking into consideration other mothers who don’t drink coffee, Lan also added the chocolate flavor as an option.
Lan, who became a stay-at-home mom at the time, had no one but herself when she entered this business venture. She consulted with her friends who were also breastfeeding advocates on the right ingredients to use. When asked about the challenges she encountered in establishing her business, Lan says she had a hard time gaining the trust of their buyers.
“They were questioning the credibility of the product. ‘Where is this made?’ ‘Is this FDA-approved?’” she says. “It took us a while because we had a hard time securing the needed permits, which we’ve completed already. That’s why now is the perfect time to launch it because we already have the documents to back it up.”
One fateful day, Lan was online and about to purchase a pair of preloved pants for her daughter on Instagram. Little did she know that this was the start of getting her business running up to full speed. “I got to talk to the child’s mother. She asked me what my product was and I told her we have a lactation drink. She said she would like to try it and I offered to do an exchange instead. My drink for her child’s pants,” Lan says.
After the said mom shared her feedback on Breastfeeding Pinay, which is an online breastfeeding community on Facebook, the orders started coming in. Through this and other word-of-mouth recommendations, more mothers were informed about Lan’s unique product. “We didn’t expect to get this much acceptance from mothers, because I thought it was just me who took coffee seriously. I didn’t know it was also a big deal for them if they were allowed to drink coffee or not. That’s why I’m so happy they appreciate our products,” Lan says.
What the future holds
Lan has come a long way from experimenting the right formula by herself to having her own staff. The mom-of-three now has more than 150 resellers around the Philippines and even abroad to help her distribute her products and all of them are breastfeeding moms like her.
When asked on Lan’s tips for parents who wish to build their own business, she stresses the importance of planning things correctly. “You should have a realistic schedule and also set your priorities. As much as possible, have a good support group where you don’t need to check on them because you know they will deliver your delegated tasks correctly.”
Aside from the seven-in-one lactation drink, Mother Nurture has also released a hair mask to address the hair loss problems mothers go through during pregnancy and postpartum. Lan’s business may have only been running for five years, but she already has a vision to take it to the international scene. “My dream really is for it to grow global. I’ve been checking overseas for a counterpart of our product, but so far, there’s none. So we’re really praying for it to grow global and become a household name that will be carrying a Filipino branding,” Lan says.