The old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” perfectly describes a Brooklyn mom-turned-entrepreneur’s experience, shared by many breast-feeding moms.
After having her first child, Miosoty Melucci said she was “unprepared for the challenges that a new mother faces, such as nursing her baby.” She and her friends agreed that it should be done in a discreet, respectful manner, but felt strongly that the beautiful bond between mother and baby should be stress-free — unhindered by onlookers’ prying eyes and unfriendly vibes that were felt in certain public places.
“I wanted to give my baby the best nutrition possible, and I knew nursing was the way I could do so, though I encountered difficulties nursing in public,” Melucci said. “I was not able to be a part of my daily public interactions and nurse at the same time, without the fear that I’m being watched.”
As founder and chief executive officer of Me Beau Bébé Multi-Functional Nursing Blanket, Melucci’s out-of-the-box thinking fueled her desire to launch a unique yet practical concept in 2011, while her motivation and moxie turned it into a profitable small business, online. Now, her product is also being sold in six retail stores in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Hand-cut and stitched in a local textile factory, the 36-inch-by-36-inch “smart” blanket is made of soft, yet durable 100 percent organic cotton, and was thoughtfully designed to ease the stress of not only nursing in public, but also the need to carry multiple items, such as burping blanket, changing blanket, baby blanket, and stroller cover.
Created by moms for moms, it’s currently available in six contemporary designs, and Melucci says the spring collection will feature five new prints. Turns out both mothers and babies love it for its comfort, convenience, and cuteness factors. The sizeable open and close window allows for maximum viewing of baby, as well as ventilation, even when used over a stroller. And its patented breakaway design allows mothers to use the top portion as a burping blanket, while the unique neck design allows for optimal coverage and modesty.
Melucci pointed out that the company has received “a large amount of feedback from new moms after they fell in love with the blanket, indicating that it has helped them continue living their day-to-day lives in public,” while being able to nurse their babies peacefully and privately.
“They feel safe and secure knowing they are not being exposed or forced to stay inside to have the nursing experience. Every mother should have the right and the option to nurse anytime and anywhere, without the fear of being exposed,” she insists. “All mothers go through many challenges bonding with their baby, but nursing should not be one of those.”
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth, each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
However, employers are not required to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time. In addition, the general requirement that the employee must be completely relieved from duty or else the time must be compensated as work time applies.
Melucci got her hard work ethic at a young age. Emigrating from the Dominican Republic at age 16, with her parents and siblings, Melucci recalled that she started working at a very early age. At 7, she would get up at 4:30 am and travel to the farm to sell tomatoes and vegetables.
“I didn’t know much about running a business, but I loved working alongside my parents, so this became my first venture.”
She believes in perseverance but also in her amazing team, and is grateful to her professional partner, Issary Alba, who has been working with her “from idea to inception and creation,” to get Me Beau Bébé off the ground.
“Issary has taught and helped me a great deal with the back end support of the business,” says Melucci. “Her motivation is the same as mine — family, and our vision of an enhanced experience for all mothers and their loved ones.”
Melucci had to overcome many obstacles on her journey.
“Coming from selling tomatoes in the streets of the Dominican Republic to now being the founder and CEO of a business, and having my product sell in well-known retailers, makes me feel that everything in life has been well worth it.”
She credits her husband and two kids, Daniel, 9, and Hailey, 7, as her support team.
“My husband and I have been together for over 10 years and he has been my rock. With his support, as well as the support of my entire family and friends, I have been able to move forward with my company and dream. I consider myself a very lucky woman to have so much love and support in my life.”
The entrepreneur says she does this for all the other moms out there.
“For all the mothers that have felt lost, I want them to know that I was there, and I know how it feels, and that in today’s world they can overcome and fight for their dreams, just as I am,” she says.
Find Me Beau Bébé at your local baby retailer: Albee Baby (715 Amsterdam Ave. between W. 94th and W. 95th streets on the Upper West Side), Z’ Baby Company (100W 72nd St. at Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side), Soho Baby (251 Elizabeth St. between Prince and E. Houston streets in SoHo), Gumbo (493 Atlantic Ave. between Nevins Street and Third Avenue in Boerum Hill), and Lullaby Baby (488 5th Ave. between 11th and 12th streets in Gowanus).