Coming from her successful business pitch in Canadian television reality show Dragon’s Den, Pinay mom and entrepreneur Lian Delos Reyes shares her story to NewsFeed 360 on how she turned her difficult post-birth experience into an opportunity to reach out to all mothers across the globe.
Pinay mom Lian Delos Reyes is slowly making waves among nursing moms in Canada – thanks to the instant success of her product Milksta Mommy Brew – a coffee and tea alternative containing powdered Malunggay (Moringa) leaves.
The popularity of Delos Reyes and Milksta Mommy Brew was further boosted after she managed to impress the six venture capitalists in the Canadian TV-reality show Dragon’s Den with her business pitch, with one of the judges praising her as a “one mighty woman” who was “able to singlehandedly do a CA$600,000 sale” in just a span of two years.
Admittedly, the self-taught entrepreneur from Taytay, Rizal had never imagined that her business would boom, and that her product would be an instant hit to many nursing moms here in the Philippines and abroad.
“I don’t have any business degree or background. I can be considered as an amateur in entrepreneurship. I knew a bit of sales and branding but the bigger picture of running a company is something very new to me,” Delos Reyes said.
“When I decided that I want to pursue running a business, I just did everything that it takes,” she added.
Breastfeeding: A vital element of mothering
Delos Reyes said she conceived her business after her difficult post-birth experience with her second son, who was born in Brazil in 2016.
Unlike her experience with her firstborn son, she recalled that milk didn’t come easily from the first days after giving birth to her second son and that breastfeeding was much more painful because her second son suffered from lip and tongue tie.
Delos Reyes also shared that she tried a prescription medication to boost her milk production but found the side effects tiresome. She later on abandoned her prescription medication and switched to using formula in addition to breastfeeding.
“But I was feeling guilty of not breastfeeding my second son. I didn’t want this vital element of mothering taken away,” she said. “I was really determined to breastfeed my son because my son needed to be healthy.”
Upon returning to the Philippines, Delos Reyes recalled that her mom started serving her food with Malunggay as it was believed to boost the milk production of nursing mothers due to its nutritional value. It then dawned on her to experiment with powdered Malunggay and infuse it with other beverages. After mixing and matching the ingredients and beverages, Delos Reyes soon found the right taste for her drink.
However, it was only in 2019 when Delos Reyes got Milksta Mommy Brew up and running. It was also during this year when they migrated to Canada after her husband landed a job in the oil and gas sector.
Delos Reyes said she used some of her personal savings and borrowed money to fund her so-called passion project.
“Somehow, I would say it’s not very big of a risk. I really started it as a passion project – if it works, amazing! If not, it’s okay and I will just move on and keep doing what I am doing being a working mom,” she said.
As if Lady Luck smiled upon her, Delos Reyes was thrilled to see that the first 1,000 bags of nursing coffee she initially planned to sell for five to six months was sold out in a month. She soon started increasing production of Milksta Mommy Brew as the demand for it increased.
When asked why there’s a demand for her products in the U.S. and Canada, Delos Reyes pointed out that it was only recently that the movement to normalizing breastfeeding in these regions started.
“I realized that breastfeeding mothers are to be considered an underserved market, yet they are the best and sweetest people to deal with,” Delos Reyes said.
Empowering breastfeeding mothers
Perhaps some of the valuable lessons that Delos Reyes learned from starting her retail business is that breastfeeding is definitely one of the toughest parts of raising a child and that breastfeeding culture differs depending on which part of the world one is from.
Based on her observation and talking to other nursing moms around the world, Delos Reyes pointed out that breastfeeding is seen as “more natural” in Eastern countries compared to Western ones.
Delos Reyes also believes that the reason why more women in developing countries practice breastfeeding is due to economic considerations. In the Philippines, formula milk is expensive while breastmilk is free.
“The movement here is typically ‘normalizing’ it – which I found odd in the beginning because way back home in ‘Pinas, it’s totally normal, I would say. Breastfeeding was very normal and natural as I just let him ‘help himself’ with milk while I sleep. In the west, co-sleeping and bedsharing is not a good practice as it’s commonly linked with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” she said.
As a breastfeeding advocate, Delos Reyes has created a Facebook community page called Milksta Mommy Crew #letitflow (https://www.facebook.com/groups/milksta) to encourage nursing moms to share their experiences with breastfeeding, pregnancy, and motherhood.
“Let us not forget that breastfeeding is a choice and we should not discriminate or judge any mother who chooses not to do it (so sad that this is the usual conversation I noticed here in the west). What is more important is for the mother to be doing what works for her and her baby,” she said.
About the Writer
Leonard James Postrado
Leonard James Postrado is WSP Inc. Senior Manager for media relations. He is also a former Manila Bulletin reporter who covered the Police, Local Government Units, Government Agencies, and the Justice beats for nine years. He also contributed stories to several news agencies such as Agence France Presse, Xinhua, Rappler, and GMA News. He joined the PR industry as a Communications Officer of Senator Win Gatchalian in 2018.
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