Miriam Williams on Motherhood Inspiring Innovation
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a mom to David, wife, friend, and retail executive turned founder. Every day I get to go to work and collaborate with ambitious women who want to make it easier to grow your career while you grow your family, and there’s nothing else I could imagine doing!
Tell us about your journey to motherhood.
I was laser focused on reaching professional milestones prior to starting a family, in part because I was surrounded by role models who started families after achieving a certain rung on the corporate ladder. It was a priority to get my MBA and to reach a Director title before we started trying, and so Jake and I were married for seven years, and I was 34 years old when David was born. There was a missing piece in my journey: an awareness of my fertility status. One of the reasons I admire the work Natalist is doing is that I was under informed about my ability to pursue a big career and a family on my own timeline.
We got pregnant right away at first, and I miscarried around six weeks. After spending more than a decade working hard to achieve my professional goals, it was deeply painful that having a baby was something I couldn’t achieve with my brains and business acumen alone.
Experiencing miscarriage, over the period of a week when I was also going to and from work, helped me to understand that each of us is going through something—and empathy is a critical element in leadership. About six months after my miscarriage we got pregnant again, and David has brightened every day since with his sweetness and humor.
Experiencing miscarriage, over the period of a week when I was also going to and from work, helped me to understand that each of us is going through something—and empathy is a critical element in leadership.
How long did it take you to get pregnant? What did you do to increase your chances of pregnancy?
After my miscarriage we were just crushed, but my husband and I experienced that grief in different ways, and we definitely weren’t on the same page about when to start trying again. My doctor advised that we wait two cycles, but that was a physical requirement as opposed to an emotional one. Someone recommended we see a grief counselor, and that was incredible advice for us. Having a space to hear each other’s grief and process together helped us to get back on the same page, and we started trying again soon after.
Tell us how you found out you were pregnant. We'd love details!
My boobs were a complete giveaway. We were at a Mets game with some college friends, and when we got to our seat, we took a group photo. I took one look at my torso in the pic and thought: time to take a pregnancy test—my boobs look enormous! I passed on a ballpark beer that day for a bottle of water, and sure enough, the next morning I peed on a stick, and I was indeed pregnant! I still see that picture in my Instagram feed and laugh to myself.
How did you care for your body while pregnant?
I had terrible sciatica in my third trimester. There were days I could barely walk! I tried yoga and heating pads—the only thing that worked for me was prenatal massage (those yummy ones where you put your belly in the foam pad and lie on your stomach). I took a personal day once and went for a prenatal massage, and it was such a relief to find relief. Of course as soon as my son was born, the pain went away.
How do you think about doing your best work while being a parent? Has that understanding shifted over time?
I changed jobs and moved across the country while on maternity leave—so my first day at work as a new mom was at a new company (a tech startup!) in a new city (San Francisco!). I was really focused on being my authentic self, which meant talking about my son, about our experiences looking for childcare, or even being pregnant. There is truly not a more focused, effective employee than a mom with a time constraint. I can crush any to-do list knowing I have a hard stop once it’s preschool pickup time. It’s my hope that one of the positive impacts of pandemic-era work from home is debunking the corporate myth that face time is a requirement of employee productivity.
It’s my hope that one of the positive impacts of pandemic-era work from home is debunking the corporate myth that face time is a requirement of employee productivity.
How did your experience becoming a mom inspire you to start your own business? What does modern motherhood look like to you?
Tara (my co-founder) and I were longtime friends and consumer brand junkies when we were both pregnant in 2017. We were so excited by what was happening all around us with innovative brands like Everlane, Glossier, and even Chewy. But when it came time to get dressed while pregnant, we didn’t see any brands that spoke to us—or our peers—as powerful, busy pregnant women. We didn't fit the “earth mama” archetype and set out to change the motherhood narrative—whether through maternity apparel or via our *Add to Resume tee collection.
What is your favorite Natalist product?
I am a huge fan of the subscription prenatal vitamins! When I was pregnant and working full time, I felt uncertainty about what prenatal vitamin brands had the best ingredients, and when I’d run out, I would panic and stress about what was available at drugstores or those GNCs that are on every corner in New York City.
Last question: what advice do you have for other aspiring mamas?
You are not alone. Seek out friends and community who can lift you up at every stage of your fertility journey, knowing that might not always be the same person.