Bear & Moo founder and mum-of-two Hannah Porter’s story is one of resilience and reliability.
I am sitting in the room where it started”, says mum of two Hannah Porter as we chat over Zoom for this story. She’s talking about a small bedroom in her home where she packed and labelled cloth nappies, then dispatched them to the first customers who heard about her business for little bums, Bear & Moo.
After two premature births and a desire to form an e-commerce business rather than head back to a career in event planning and management, Hannah turned her frustration of not being able to find nappies that were affordable, friendly, and cute AF into a business idea. She hustled hard to find suppliers and confirm styles and took Bear & Moo from conception to birth in just five weeks!
“I’m a big believer that done is better than perfect,” she explains. “I invested in my first wholesale order, created a brand name (based on her boys’ nicknames), threw together a website and social media pages, and crossed my fingers…”
Her “hobby” made about $200 in its launch month. It was time to flesh out a brand philosophy.
“I was never going for the super ‘green’ vibe with Bear & Moo,” explains Hannah, who has no issues using disposables as a nighttime nappy option. “We just want to be a judgement-free community for parents who want to give cloth nappies a go. I simply want to give them an option to buy and use nappies that are affordable and better for the environment.”
The success of Bear & Moo means that nappies and wet bags are now ordered in the thousands, and the retail offering includes decor and other baby items. A move into a huge warehouse gave them much-needed storage and freed up space at home – a key decision, because Hannah is 31 weeks pregnant with her third child (a fact you’re already well aware of if you follow @bearandmoonz on Instagram).
Being able to relate is important
“I love showing up on social media. Sometimes I’m in my pyjamas chatting about nappies or just life in general. I don’t wear makeup. I’m just me. And I think that’s relatable, particularly to sleep-deprived, overwhelmed new mums.”
As much as Hannah shows connection with her customers, valuing her staff is crucial. “Most of the people who helped us out in the early days were new mums or grandmas who just wanted to volunteer. But it got to a point where I wanted to show them how much I appreciated their time and support, and I was able to offer payment.”
Bear & Moo business and babies
As Hannah approaches her third year as a business owner she is reluctantly separated from Bear & Moo HQ, due to strict orders for bed-rest from her midwife and specialists. Her first two pregnancies were rough – she suffered severe nausea, vomiting and dehydration (Hyperemesis Gravidarum), and both boys arrived prematurely at 31 and 36 weeks respectively.
“Richard and I were on our babymoon when my waters broke unexpectedly at 31 weeks. I knew nothing about birth and our antenatal class wasn’t starting until the next day, but thankfully I had read an article a few days prior that said babies born at 31 weeks gestation are likely to be okay. Twelve hours after rushing to hospital, Regan was born with an audience of an obstetrician, two midwives, and four paediatric specialists. He was little – just 3lb 3oz – and would require time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for six weeks to gain strength, but it was a relief to know that he was okay.”
It was never known why Regan was born premature; however, during a dating scan of their second baby, the sonographer pointed out that Hannah had two uteruses.
“It’s called uterus didelphys,” explains Hannah, who was as baffled as the woman holding the scanning device. “Basically, a baby only grows in one half of my uterus, then runs out of room, which brings on labour symptoms.”
UTUERUS DIDELPHYS: A DOUBLE UTERUS IS A RARE CONGENITAL ABNORMALITY WHICH HAPPENS IN FOETAL DEVELOPMENT. THE STRUCTURE OF A UTERUS DEVELOPS INTO TWO SEPARATE STRUCTURES RATHER THAN ONE STRUCTURE. A DOUBLE UTERUS MAY HAVE ONE OPENING (CERVIX) INTO ONE VAGINA, OR EACH UTERINE CAVITY MAY HAVE A CERVIX. WOMEN WHO HAVE A DOUBLE UTERUS OFTEN HAVE SUCCESSFUL PREGNANCIES, BUT THE CONDITION CAN INCREASE THE RISK OF MISCARRIAGE OR PREMATURE BIRTH.
The newfound diagnosis answered a lot of questions about Regan’s early arrival, and meant that Hannah’s second pregnancy and any subsequent pregnancies would need to be treated with extra care, and bed-rest would be required from the 30-ish week mark. After following doctor’s orders, Hannah and Richard welcomed second son Hadley into the world at 36 weeks via a C-section birth, because he was footling breech.
Prior to Hannah’s third pregnancy, she sadly experienced two fetal losses. “We’ve got a great ‘village’ and support around us. My way of coping was to just keep trucking on. The business kept my mind busy, but the second loss hit me hard because I thought I may not be able to carry another child. Being pregnant again is exciting, but it’s been flanked with anxiety: I was hospitalised for dehydration, this baby is breech, and there’s a big difference in how my body (and mind) handles pregnancy than it did six years ago.”
Hannah’s put her event planning skills back into good use preparing for the new arrival. “My hospital bags are packed, meals are in the freezer, and I’m ready to meet our baby – oh, and get him into some really awesome nappies!”
Check out all of the gorgeous Bear & Moo cloth nappies here
Story and interview by Pamela McIntosh. Published in BUMP&baby Magazine issue #12
Originally published in BUMP&baby issue#12