If you’re a new breastfeeding mom, you know that there are only a handful of places you can turn to for trusted information and quality products . That was the thought behind the creation of the Pump Station – a store that dedicates its space and efforts to pre and postnatal info classes and products with an emphasis on meeting the needs of new breastfeeding moms.
We interviewed Cheryl Petran CEO of the Pump Station about the ins and outs of running this successful community business.
How did the idea for the Pump Station come about?
Parents often ask us how The Pump Station was started. It grew very organically out of the needs of new moms. The story began almost 30 years ago when our co-founders Corky Harvey (RN, MS, IBCLC) and Wendy Haldeman (RN, MN, IBCLC) met as fellow Lamaze teachers who were working as RNs with a specialization in maternal/newborn health. As young mothers learning to be mothers themselves, they saw a need for parent education beyond the birth process. They developed a Baby Care class, which provided parents with the ‘baby bootcamp’ they needed to care for their newborns.
A year later, The Pump Station expanded and began to rent breast pumps out of Corky and Wendy’s homes and the Pump Station was born. The number of women wanting pumps surprised them, but more importantly, they realized that these new and expectant mothers had a tremendous need for expert lactation support and information. Even though they had extensive experience in many areas dealing with pregnancy, birth, newborns and pediatrics, they recognized that they needed more education to be able to better support new parents. They applied to UCLA and were accepted into one of the country’s first clinical lactation consulting programs. Upon completion of this program they became certified Lactation Consultants and were now able to offer the expert advice so many women needed to successfully breastfeed their infants.
Happy moms soon spread the word and they quickly outgrew their home offices and opened their first little breastfeeding center-the first new parent resource center of its kind. Many of their clients wanted products to help them with breastfeeding and parenting, so they responded by carrying nursing bras and a selection of high quality baby care items. The Pump Station soon outgrew that first space and moved to its current location in Santa Monica 17 years ago. In July 2005 we opened our second location in Hollywood, and in December of 2009 our third location in Westlake Village.
What kind of resources can moms-to-be find there? What about after the baby is born?
Originally, expectant and new parents came through our doors every day to attend classes, groups and have access to the huge selection of expert-recommended products we carried. They also came for expert breastfeeding help by attending one of our new mother’s breastfeeding support groups, seeing one of our lactation consultants, or discussing breastfeeding issues with our trained staff. Now they continue to do this but with the proliferation of on-line resources they visit our website to gain access to the large amount of educational content we offer regarding breastfeeding and caring for your new baby.
Our growth into social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest allow us to take our community beyond the LA area – thus allowing us to be a resource for moms everywhere. Our addition of Mommy & Me classes has allowed us to support moms/dads/babies long past their first birthday something we didn’t do when we were first opened.
You’re known for featuring some pretty great educational classes. Can you tell us about a few of them? Do they change regularly?
Our pre-natal curriculum which we’ve been offering since opening our doors in 1986 includes Introduction to Breastfeeding, Baby Care and CPR. After baby is born new parents regularly attend our Breastfeeding Support Groups, Free Sling Clinics and our Hot Topics Lecture series. This series is offered weekly in our stores and features curriculum taught by local experts on subjects like Introducing First Foods, Developmental Play, Sleep Coaching, Baby Signing, Finding the Right Nanny, Babyproofing your marriage, Infant Massage and much much more! In 2009 we launched our Mommy & Me program. This program helps guide groups of parents thru babies first year providing much needed support and education regarding the various milestones in babies first year. The success of this program allowed us to expand into Toddler programs that often take baby thru to their 2nd birthday. We will often also feature Sizzling Hot Topics Classes where we bring in well known Parenting educators like Dr. Harvey Karp creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block.
You also sell a wealth of baby gear and accessories. What are some of the cutest/most useful finds you’ve come across recently?
Wow, lots of great stuff to cover here. When it come to cute and fun – we carry brands such as Kissy Kissy, Green Toys, Haba, Apple Park, Sophie the Giraffe, Petit Bateau, Pedi-Peds, Jelly Cat and much much more. But more importantly – useful products. We pride ourselves on “sifting thru the muck”. Unlike other retailers our products are not just selected by buyers. Our products are curated by our teachers who are credential experts in their field of expertise. For example, bottles are selected by our RN, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants – they recommend bottles that allow baby to go from breast to bottle without impacting Moms breastfeeding goals. We also select products based on the latest evidence based research. In addition to this, one of our greatest resources for our new product selections are our Moms. Our mom often bring us some of the best items. They make recommendations based on other things they’ve bought, gifts they’ve received. We then try many of these products and let other Moms vote. With regards to new products that are cute and useful.
We have recently brought in the new Woombie Air Swaddle Wraps, Cloud B Sleep sheep with motion sensor, Milkmakers Lactation Cookies, Chewbeads, Zoli Buzz-B Nail Clipper, Crane Animal nightlights and more! When it comes to our tried and true recommendations we have our “Corky and Wendy Recommends List” – we hand this to all of our expectant parents and tell them if they get anything – get the things on this list!
What sets you apart from other momcentric stores and resources out there?
Our teachers and group leaders are highly credentialed in their field of expertise. They maintain their licenses, regularly participate in continuing education and attend conferences where they can stay current in the most up to date advances in research in their fields.
Most important to note is that our on-staff IBCLC’s have more medical clinical experience than many others in the community based on their years as nurses in the maternal child health field. They have a great deal of experience with Pre-term babies, Status post NICU babies, Multiples and Mothers at high risk of lactation problems. With the growth of the internet there are a great deal of self-proclaimed experts out there. We pride ourselves in hiring “the real thing.”
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