WORDS: Liv Williams
PHOTOS: Monica Cugnier
The reality is of course much different – as any of the 4 women gracing this issue’s front cover would attest. From the 2 years of research and development before their eye-catching tins even landed shelf-space on independent grocery shelves around South Australia, to launching in the middle of a pandemic and scaling nationally through a cost-of-living crisis – the road to here and now has been as rocky as any entrepreneur worth their salt will understand.
That’s not to say the journey hasn’t been fun – the team are stronger than ever, galvanized by their recent wins at the 2023 South Australian Premier’s Business and Export Awards, winning both the Small Business of the Year award and prestigious major Business of the Year award.
To say it was unexpected would be an understatement.
“We were absolutely humbled to win to be honest,” explains Belinda Humphris, Business Development Director. “South Australia has such a strong heritage of innovation and high-achieving businesses, it is incredible to think we are even close to being in the same league when the 4 of us still start our day working out what to put in our kids lunchboxes every morning,” Belinda laughs.
The focus on family is in fact, integral to their success. Their intimate understanding of how parents shop, research, and want from a product right down to functional design – are all key to the incredible amount of consumer goodwill the brand has.
When a parent is struggling with how to formula feed, or have run out of formula sooner than expected – it’s one of the 4 mumamoo mums answering the calls and emails of the sometimes panicked and emotionally vulnerable parents.
“One of the fascinating – and equally concerning – things about the formula industry is the absolute lack of information available to new parents through the health system,” says Belinda. “We are often the first point of contact for mums especially, who have made the decision to use formula. Often it’s not what they planned, so they can be incredibly exhausted and overwhelmed,” Belinda explains.
It’s something mumamoo is passionate about, guided by their own experiences as new mums. With over 96% of new mums initiating breastfeeding, the numbers fall dramatically by 3 months, with only 39% of all babies exclusively breastfed and about 15% by 5 months.*
For Belinda, her feeding story informs the ethos of the business today. Her daughter Kit, now a happy, healthy 10 year old was born with a congenital heart disease in Adelaide. Airlifted soon after birth to Melbourne for life-saving surgery, Belinda’s entire pregnancy experience was beset with complications and fear she might lose her baby.
The pressure to breastfeed was enormous, the weight of being encouraged to do the only thing she could do personally to help her baby was crushing, causing Belinda to spiral into anxiety when all she could produce under the stressful circumstances was a few drops of breastmilk. With all the focus on baby Kit, no one in their medical team even noticed Belinda slide into the depths of despair as anxiety and stress enveloped her.
In all, it was a traumatic experience that still bears scars today and one that drives the whole team to do better by all women.
“You could say we’re in the business of removing guilt,” Belinda says.
“With the health system designed to stymie information around formula to protect breastfeeding rates, you end up with a complete void of information. This inevitably frames formula as a secondary, inferior option and saddles new mums with guilt and perpetuates the cycle of stigma and shame,” Belinda explains.
This is why mumamoo have chosen to donate a portion of all online sales to Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) since launch, to support their free national hotline service for new and expectant parents.
“The correlation between PND and shame around formula feeding is very real, which is why supporting PANDA is so important to us. We’re here to let mums know that breastfeeding is incredible if you can and want to do it – you should be supported in any way possible. But if you can’t or choose not to – here is a premium Australian product that is scientifically developed to meet every nutritional requirement your baby needs,” she says.
While that seems logical and obvious to some, the 4 women can feel the impact of their message sitting at the very precipice of change as they tackle the system to undo years and years of societal expectations and attitudinal norms around women and feeding.
“We field calls and emails on a near-daily basis from women who thank us for helping them feel less guilt around their choices,” Belinda explains.
No-one really talks about the grief women feel when breastfeeding doesn’t work out or when you finish. It’s shocking to us that women are still made to feel as awful as some of them do in those formative months when establishing a bond with baby.
“All parents deserve access to information and support – no matter what their feeding journey is…that includes better access to lactation services as it does the basics around choosing a formula,” Belinda says.
With such clear messaging around support, it’s little wonder mumamoo has connected so strongly with its audience.
“We are so grateful to receive these highly regarded awards, but knowing our customers are happy is truly the biggest reward. It’s a privilege for us to feed someone’s baby, and we have a huge sense of responsibility to every parent that puts their trust in us,” Kristina Scutella, Co-founder & Operations Manager says.
This sense of purpose resonates strongly through their reviews, where mumamoo almost feels like part of the family. “Our reviews are incredible!” Kristina exclaims.
“Some of them are incredibly detailed and talk to the pressure and guilt and shame some women go through until they felt like mumamoo gave them permission to use formula. As a team, we have sometimes been moved to tears by these raw and very real accounts…actual goosebumps!” she says.
Making an impact in these womens’ lives fuels the passion the women have to change the conversation around support for new mums.
With each new award comes a bigger platform to advocate for their customers. Most recently, mumamoo became the state winner for Accelerating Women in the 2024 Telstra Best of Business Awards. If they win in February, the scope to take their message even further grows as burgeoning interest in the brand extends beyond South Australia.
“We are proudly South Australian,” Kristina states emphatically. “We know our success lies largely in the support we received at a retail level and a consumer one,” she explains. “We are so lucky in that South Australians have a strong history of getting behind local brands – it can’t really be said about other states. It’s incredibly special and we hope to one day make it to the same echelon as some of the iconic South Aussie brands that we all know and love Australia-wide,” she says.
It caps off a huge 3 years in operation for the women who can add the recent wins to their impressive tally of awards including winning the Emerging Business award in 2022 and New Product in 2021 in the South Australian Premiers Food & Beverage Awards, as well as Kristina’s Inspiring Leader award in the InDaily 40 under 40 awards earlier this year.
“It’s been a massive few years for us and we are enormously proud of what we have achieved. We have all sacrificed a lot of time with our own families to get the business to where it needs to be, so to see the progress we’ve made is really satisfying – but we also know there is a huge amount of work still to be done,” Kristina says. “It’s a good job we all get on so well and are absolutely in love with what we do!”
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