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Female Founders: Lydia Simmons of Moms Official Objective (MOO) On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

You need someone who understands business to entrust with your ideas, deals, difficulties, and errors. It’s always nice when this person is a true acquaintance. However, whether a friend or therapist, this person should be able to listen, advise, and course-correct in a way that is acceptable and appropriate for the level of business that you are discussing. Often, this person will not be a close friend of yours. They could, nevertheless, be a trusted advisor or mentor. Avoid ranting to people who are unable to offer proactive answers or suggestions that may be applied to your business or problem, as this will deplete the relationship for both of you while frustrating you when voids remain.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lydia Simmons. Founder of M.O.O

M.O.O.- an acronym for Moms Official objective was created by a woman on a quest to advance equity in maternal health.

When Lydia Simmons was unable to obtain the level of healthcare support required during postpartum, she turned to her knowledge of food as a foundational and core means of health to create MILK Postnatal; a 7-Ingredient, vegan, 1OO% Superfood Postnatal that would support Moms from Day 1 of Postpartum up to 2 years of Breastfeeding and into Lifestyle Wellness. Lydia sought the advice of Chemists, Physiologists, and Nutritional Scientists to bring her product to market as a result of her personal difficulties to overcome the negative effects of Postpartum. Lydia realigned expectations for her sensitive community to assure premium ingredients, a 30-day supply to aid moms with the cost of affordable health and wellness supplementation. She developed items that were breastfeeding safe in order to best support other women who were and would experience the same.

Today, M.O.O. offers a full line of products that have assisted thousands of mothers worldwide in reducing the harsh effects of nutritional deficiency and hormonal imbalance during motherhood. M.O.O. continues to advance research in order to develop thoughtful and transparent products that appeal to all stages of Motherhood- from Fertility to Menopause.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

After the birth of my first child, I had a really difficult Postpartum period. I lost my hair, my eyes became deep-set and darkened, I became anemic, and my mental health deteriorated all while I was unable to adequately breastfeed my child. I was able to reverse my personal difficulties by using my understanding of food, herbs, and minerals, and I sought to serve other women in the same way.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? When the company was very new, I managed my own social media account.

I received a ping from Instagram as I was about to go to bed one night. I looked up my phone, expecting to see a like or a follow, but instead it was a Mom who was up breastfeeding and struggling with her mental health. She was alone, unsure, and fatigued, while her husband slept much of the day and worked at night. She was essentially on her own, with no additional assistance. This was a crisis, and I had no idea how to reach her, where she was, or what to do. I provided her my personal phone number in the hopes that she would call and talk to me rather than sending Direct Messages. I sat up all night talking to her, learning about her postpartum struggles, traumatic birth story, family, and that she was a Military Spouse in California.

We were having fun together in between her nodding asleep, changing the baby, feeding her baby, and returning to check her phone, “Hello?” “I’m still here. “How are you doing?” I was determined to be there when she awoke and picked up the phone again and again. I took out my charger, headphones, and laptop. I was on the phone with her from 11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., when her husband got home and discovered her sleeping with a live call in- progress.

Much to his amazement, a real person — me — was on the other end of the line! I introduced myself and requested him to step away so I could inform him about the call. I highlighted the seriousness of her mental health instability during this time, advised him on next measures, and exchanged contact information for myself and support groups I had discovered in their region during my awake time.

He simply didn’t know because he had been taught before leaving the hospital that Postpartum Depression was when the mother is “suicidal” and “wants to harm the baby.” I discussed some of the other signs to him, and he confirmed that he had seen some of the things we were discussing, but his lack of experience with anything similar had rendered him completely unaware that his wife was in crisis.

We are still in communication to this day and will always be. That day, he and I worked together to save his wife and child from a situation that still bothers me to think about. What a gift it was that night to be a small business owner with no employees. I can’t think of a more important service I’ve ever been a part of than the service we provide at M.O.O. for thousands of women.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My funniest mistake to date was getting dressed up and doing my hair and makeup for my first Instagram Live, only to learn I only had 30 followers who had no idea I was going live. Also, individuals who aren’t following you aren’t going to a live stream to get “professional advice” from an unknown company. I spent an entire career being restricted from social media and honestly had no idea what it would take to learn how to utilize the application at my age. I had 1 person show up who left the room as I was discussing “Baby Sleep Regressions.” I was later asked by a follower for the video feed for the live. But again, I didn’t know that was an option so there was no recording. Though slightly embarrassing, I mostly felt undeveloped in a critical area of my business and spent the next 30 days learning about every social platform we would work to create a presence within.

I had one visitor who left the room while I was addressing “Baby Sleep Regressions.” A follower afterward asked for the video feed for the live because she missed it and wanted the information. But, once again, I had no idea it was an option, thus there was no recording. Though slightly embarrassing, I largely felt underdeveloped in a vital area of my business and spent the following 30 days learning about every social site we would attempt to establish a presence on.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband. He’s been my nurse, errand runner, coach and counsel, accountant, regulator, and steadying influence…all while being the best father, friend, and spouse I’ve ever seen. He backs me up on every level, from trivial to unstoppable. He is my friend, and I am grateful to have him comfortably supporting me while I shoulder the weight of being a Founder and CEO.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Gender Roles. Period.

Gender roles have kept us hidden for years, while males miserably “act” the part and take credit for our labor. I’ve lived long enough to know who mostly run the corporate offices, the house, the kids, the hospitals, schools and the courtrooms. So, other than Gender Roles, what is preventing women from running businesses in real life? We already rule the world — inquire about us! I’m simply saying… who’s going to stop us? The world was borne and constructed by us! It would be naive to believe that we couldn’t conceive, birth, and raise a business, eh?!

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Paying for 1 year of Maternity Leave (as compared to 12 weeks) while waiving insurance principles would be an amazing start. Did you know that Postpartum Depression starts to show up right around this time in 70% of postpartum women? So just as the mental health declines from the inability to regulate hormones, non-restorative sleep and nutritional void (to name a few culprits), you have to return to work.

Not to mention, there is no federal paid maternity leave — it’s left to the states to figure out. 40 percent of women don’t qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which grants 12 weeks of protected job leave, unpaid, at the federal level. Only 12 percent of women in the private sector have access to any sort of paid maternity leave. 25 percent of women are forced to return to work within 2 weeks of giving birth to support their families. The only states with an active policy are California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Women engage with many other women. Women need women in business to think about issues that affect and promote women. For M.O.O., it’s equity in the maternal healthcare system, but for another founder, it could be feminine goods in a vending machine because of the “one-time” when you were delayed at a train station and started your period (which is a fantastic concept). When we make our thoughts public and create opportunities based on personal experience, we allow ourselves to fill gaps in other people’s lives; we assist to improve equality and equitability for other women.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

“If you build it, the people will come.” Guuurl, it’s a lie. What we should be teaching other founders is that they need a plan. Without structure, research, and a marketing budget, you cannot be effective. Make a marketing supplemental budget. Otherwise, you generate amazing ideas for someone who is eager to steal your idea and will plan, organize, study, and MARKET the idea that you created.

Do you sell a physical product or provide an online service? Engage the services of a professional photographer to capture your product in a professional manner. Work with someone who can correctly configure and optimize your website. Make an investment in your social presence. Also, don’t rely on friends and family to keep your business going. These people adore you, but they are not marketers; at best, they are word-of-mouth braggers!

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

In my opinion, there are no prerequisites or qualifications a person must embody to create a business. Anyone can start and run a profitable business. The world was constructed on the backs of ordinary people who had a brilliant idea and saw it through while learning the trade. Some of our most successful business leaders have demonstrated that education is not required because theory and practice are incomparable. However, I would recommend discipline, time, and repetition as major job criteria.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

MENTAL HEALTH

You need someone who understands business to entrust with your ideas, deals, difficulties, and errors. It’s always nice when this person is a true acquaintance. However, whether a friend or therapist, this person should be able to listen, advise, and course-correct in a way that is acceptable and appropriate for the level of business that you are discussing. Often, this person will not be a close friend of yours. They could, nevertheless, be a trusted advisor or mentor. Avoid ranting to people who are unable to offer proactive answers or suggestions that may be applied to your business or problem, as this will deplete the relationship for both of you while frustrating you when voids remain.

ORGANIZATIONAL

Employ Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) as employees- not friends. Filling organizational chart voids with your personal network is not a good idea just because they may be easier to onboard and afford. When familiar people are hired as talent, the lines of communication and assistance are often blurred, and micromanagement may be required to ensure success in the role. Hire individuals who can perform the work, not people who can be taught to do it. Remember that auditing and timelines are still necessary for SMEs. If you have to micromanage them, they’re not the right talent for you, Sis.

FINANCIAL

Resources. You require resources, my friend. Cash will always reign supreme for certain Founders. In some areas, though, your company may be able to prosper through networking, introductions, and other direct resources rather than cash. Whatever your currency for success is, align yourself with resources or people who can assist you in obtaining those resources. There are numerous grants, special loans, and fundraising programs available to assist you in your aspirations as a woman-owned business.

ETHICAL

Make a point of terminating professional partnerships that are no longer beneficial to your organization. Don’t allow problems to fester because you like the person if the effort isn’t beneficial to your company. Holding on to stagnant relationships for too long is one of the most common mistakes we make as founders. Fairness takes precedence above niceness. So, instead of “burning the bridge,” be unwavering in your ethics for business objectives while providing a high-level assessment of infractions. Terminate the relationship, execute the terms of the agreement, and always pay any remaining balances under the agreement.

PERSONAL

Set personal limits that allow you to escape the humdrum of corporate operations — and commit to the time away. Whether you have a day set aside for a family function, brunch with friends, a regular spa appointment, or simply prefer that interaction finish at a certain time of day. Set that time, tell your partners and team about it, and stick to it. Remove the app from your home screen and put “do not disturb” on a planned start and stop time if you have a problem with not being able to adhere to your personal boundaries and find yourself still reading emails or taking business calls while at a little league game. Remember that even Major League pitchers look away right before throwing a strike. Throw a strike (later) and look away!

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I personally leverage my access to increase equity within Maternal Health. I continue to expand education and access on topics that improve health outcomes and reduce health inequities. I have found that additional studies, publications, scientific evidence and real moms sharing real experiences help quantify these effects and differentiate the benefits of care expected and its effects on health disparities. Therefore, I push to provide as much transparency as I can give on topics, products, ingredients and known warnings of said ingredients allowing women to both expect and utilize well-informed decisions about their health.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Every employment opportunity should have the option of being remote or in-office. We’ve witnessed a shift in perspective on this in the last two years as a result of economic and health improvements. However, as the world continues to progress, this level of concern should be maintained.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I’d be honored to sit down with Serena Williams. She fought a battle that many women of color, particularly black women, face after childbirth: campaigning for the preservation of their lives. This number includes me as well and it excludes affluence or education. Her experience is my story, as well as the stories of countless other women. I’d love to introduce her to M.O.O. and stimulate a plan that will continue to improve education and access to safe health outcomes in the reduction of health inequities in Maternal Healthcare for all women.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this

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