Mamava: This Innovative Company Builds Lactation Pods For Breastfeeding Parents

By Amit Chowdhry • May 18, 2023

Mamava is a company that designs freestanding lactation pods and lactation room solutions for breastfeeding parents at work and on the go. To learn more about the company, Pulse 2.0 interviewed Mamava Cofounder and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) Sascha Mayer.

Sascha Mayer’s Background

Sascha Mayer

Mayer has always cared deeply about both design and social justice issues.

“I was the five-year-old kid who begged her parents to let her choose the paint colors in her room and had strong opinions about the household furniture. I was also very attuned to women’s and civil rights issues and even joined a group called “Students for Peace and Survival” at my suburban high school. We activated around issues like ending apartheid in South Africa, reproductive rights, and environmental issues. I continued my activism in college and minored in Women’s Studies,” said Mayer. “I started my career in design at JDK (now Solidarity of Unbridled Labour), a design studio based in Burlington, Vermont, where I helped develop the Living Brand, Solidarity’s philosophy on brands and brand creation. As Strategy Director, I designed and facilitated multidisciplinary creative-collaborative sessions with brands including HP, Levi’s, Lululemon, Merrell Apparel, Nike Women, and Seventh Generation. Prior to joining Solidarity, I served as assistant press secretary for former Congressman (now Senator) Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).”

Formation Of Mamava

How did the idea for Mamava come together? In 2006, Mayer was nursing her second child and reading a New York Times article describing the two-class system of breastfeeding.

“Women who could afford to stay home with their infants—or who had the autonomy to pump at work—were able to meet the recommendations to breastfeed for at least six months (and longer when possible). But the vast majority of mothers who worked outside the home often were ending their breastfeeding journey earlier than they wanted. Which meant that breastfeeding—this fundamental human function that sustains life—wasn’t actually an authentic choice for many mothers because they lacked the space, time, and support to do so,” Mayer explained. “My co-founder, Christine Dodson, and I were colleagues at the design studio and often traveled for work. Even with a supportive employer, we still found themselves pumping breast milk in unhygienic spaces like restrooms, closets, and the backseats of clients’ cars. We realized that this was a problem no one was talking about or doing anything to solve for the millions of working breastfeeding parents. With our background in design, combined with our belief that design can improve the world, we set out to create a solution that would offer parents a private space to express milk, while also being easy for facilities to install.”

Challenges Faced

What are some of the challenges Mayer faced in building the company and has the current macroeconomic climate had any effect on the company?

“Creating an entirely new category of products was hard, especially because our pods and app are used by breastfeeding parents, but pods are purchased by facilities and employers –so we are a B2B2C business. Thankfully, strong federal legislation supporting breastfeeding required employers —and some facilities like airports— to provide lactation accommodations,” Mayer replied. “If an employer isn’t in compliance with legislation they can be sued. Most of our customers have breastfed, or are close to someone who has breastfed, and really support our mission to make breastfeeding an authentic choice.”

Core Products

What are Mamava’s core products and features? The company’s product line of freestanding lactation pods are designed to be private and comfortable spaces for breastfeeding or pumping.

“Mamava pods are quick to assemble, easy to install, and meet all the legal requirements for lactation accommodations for facilities. An all-in-one lactation space solution, pods come fully furnished with the essentials—a locking door, seat, surface for a breast pump, outlets—as well as thoughtful details including a mirror, easy-to-clean surfaces, and a fan for optimal ventilation,” Mayer noted. “A key feature of our pods is their flexibility and mobility. Designed with built-in caster wheels, Mamava pods can be relocated as needs change. The Mamava mobile app allows parents to find and access our units through a BlueTooth-enabled smart lock.”

Evolution Of Mamava’s Technology

How has Mamava’s technology evolved since launching? Mayer told me that the free Mamava app was launched in 2015 to help breastfeeding parents find Mamava pods and 4,500 crowdsourced lactation spaces. And since then the app has evolved with Internet of Things (IoT) technology that enables parents to access the units, check for occupancy, and control lights and airflow inside Mamava pods. Other features include a “Words of Support” section where parents can leave notes of encouragement to other parents who are on the app.

“We are working on a scheduling feature, as well as migrating the technology to built-in lactation rooms,” Mayer revealed.

Significant Milestones

What have been some of Mamava’s most significant milestones?

“Placing Mamava pods in all of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Airports in 2015 was a major milestone. Airports work as pollinators to drive awareness for other sales, and it established the business enough to attract our first investors,” Mayer replied. “In 2021 we purchased our contract manufacturer which has enabled us to scale the business while reducing cost of goods, and provides a much more agile laboratory for designing and engineering new products.”

Customer Success Story

I asked Mayer about some customer success stories and she cited several examples.

“When we first started the business, we had imagined placing pods in public areas like airports and convention centers that were our personal pain points when we were breastfeeding and traveling. What we found, however, is that pods are needed anywhere breastfeeding parents work or go, which is everywhere,” Mayer replied. “Today we have units in military bases, healthcare facilities, police departments, factories, and museums (to name a few). In 2022, we placed a beautiful pod at the Museum of Modern Art that serves as a design object and a functional piece of infrastructure at the same time.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates Mamava from its competition? “Mamava is the category creator and the only truly intentionally designed freestanding lactation pod. We use human-centered design to create products that facilitate the proper physical space and head space required for the comfortable use of a breast pump or to breastfeed a baby,” Mayer pointed out.

Future Company Goals

What are some of Mamava’s future company goals? “We know our most valuable asset and biggest opportunity is the mom/parent audience and their engagement with our brand from pod, to app, and beyond. We are expanding our digital offering with new features to support lactation on the app, and working with enterprise accounts to create more comprehensive lactation programs at work,” Mayer concluded.