Tara Elwell Henning on Creating Her Startup’s Maternity Policy
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Tara, co-founder of Superkin. I live in Sausalito CA (just at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge) with my husband, Louis, two daughters, Alexandra, 5 and Taylor, 3, and our sweet black lab, Parker (or as we affectionately call her, Miss P).
What was happening in your life when you decided to start your family?
My husband, Louis, and I met in our early 30s. After dating for two years, including an eight month stint abroad, we were engaged, and seven months later, we were married. Louis and I were both 34 and knew we wanted to have kids right away. For me, I just assumed it would take awhile. We are very fortunate that we celebrated our 1 year anniversary with a 2 month old, our daughter, Alexandra. It was a wild year—got married, bought a house, got a dog, and had a baby! And just 23 months later, we welcomed our second daughter, Taylor. Not a day goes by where I don’t acknowledge how fortunate we are in our journey to parenthood.
Tell us how you found out you were pregnant. We'd love details!
I took a test because one of my best friends was coming to SF/Tahoe from Chicago and knew there would be large consumption of wine and hot tubs. When the test read positive, I was both in shock and elated. I just left it on the bathroom countertop for my husband to see. I vividly recall him responding, “Whoa! Really!?” We were thrilled. It was so fun to tell our parents. Alexandra would be Louis’ parents’ second grandchild (within six weeks of the first grandkid!) and my parents’ third granddaughter!
How did you care for your body while pregnant?
I felt so nauseous for the first 16 weeks! It was like a permanent hangover. I was in great shape (I did just get married!), so I continued to do barre classes and long walks. I took prenatal vitamins and LOVED massages (make sure you find a good masseuse trained in prenatal massages!). Mid-way through my first pregnancy, I experienced one of those strange pregnancy-induced problems: carpal tunnel. I even got shots to help alleviate the pressure. Luckily, it went away when Alexandra was born!
How do you think about doing your best work while being a parent? Has that understanding shifted over time?
You have such a different perspective. Parents have already accomplished so much before the workday begins. A mom doesn’t have time for office BS.
A mom doesn’t have time for office BS.
You can’t be as spontaneous (ie, carefree happy hours), but it is important to maintain relationships, so every now and then, find a way to stay a little later or take a lunch break to catch up with your team or mentor.
What is your favorite Natalist product?
My skin was SO itchy during pregnancy, and I always love a good oil, so the Natalist Belly Oil for the win!
How did your experience becoming a mom inspire you to start Superkin? What does modern motherhood look like to you?
I was the first person at a fast-growing start-up to have a baby. I was lucky that the CEO was both a dad and a considerate leader when it came to supporting families. At the time, we didn’t have a HR department, so I was tasked to research and define the maternity policy. It was a shock to learn that the US has such poor standards for women and families. That lit a spark in me that I couldn’t sweep under the rug.
The millennial generation has different expectations around parenthood. It coincided with the evolution that retail is experiencing, so creating a brand and community around modern parenthood is a dream.
Last question: what advice do you have for other aspiring mamas?
Find your people. The journey to parenthood is so wildly different for everyone. It’s important to seek out resources (like Natalist!) that speak to you and your lifestyle!