For most people, pregnancy is a time to focus on their personal well-being and make choices that will help them and the baby. It can be exciting, though also a bit stressful, as parents get ready to welcome a child to their home.
With pregnancy or any other major life event, however, things don’t always go according to plan. The way we respond to these unexpected setbacks determines our ability to get through such challenges, while also setting ourselves up for the future.
This is certainly the case with Mushie Feigenson, co-founder of Mushie. As I learned during a recent interview, the challenges she experienced during her pregnancy didn’t keep her down. Instead, she used them as a launching pad for a successful baby brand.
Staying Productive During Challenging Times
For Mushie, the challenge began when she was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during her second pregnancy. This condition causes extremely severe nausea during pregnancy that can lead to persistent vomiting and dizziness while standing. Many women with the condition must actually be hospitalized due to the severe dehydration that stems from this.
“To protect my own health, I had to leave my job as a teacher and go on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy,” Mushie recalls. “I didn’t want to just lay there all day doing nothing. One of the things that brought me joy was researching products to find the best items for our new baby. This way, even though I couldn’t be up and about, I was still doing something productive.”
Being productive may not be the ultimate key to happiness, but it can certainly help. Our brain releases dopamine when we accomplish a task, which provides a natural mood boost.
Of course, there is a difference between being productive and simply doing busywork. As sales trainer Brian Tracy notes, “Productivity is vital when it comes being happy. But don’t confuse being productive with being busy…Being busy means doing more and more things while being productive means doing something with purpose. Always strive for accomplishing something rather than simply doing more.”
Solving Their Own Problems
While researching baby products gave Mushie a sense of purpose and fulfillment while she was on bed rest, she soon discovered a new problem. “The more I researched products online, the more I realized that what I was looking for just wasn’t out there. I wanted to avoid products with harmful plastics and dyes. But the eco-friendly products were generally too pricy, or they weren’t practical or aesthetically pleasing. To get what I wanted, I would have to come up with something myself.”
Mushie’s journey is similar to that of many other entrepreneurs. They discover a problem that needs solving, but soon learn that a ready-made solution doesn’t exist. If they want to solve this problem, they are going to have to come up with their own solution.
This is what Mushie and her husband Levi did. “We had to do a lot of research, figuring out how to source the eco-conscious materials we were looking for and finding product designs we liked. But we were determined because we knew that we couldn’t be the only ones facing the same challenges we were. We wouldn’t be the only ones who would benefit from these baby products.”
Developing an Entrepreneurial Spirit
The research and idea generation naturally led Mushie and her husband to decide to launch a baby products brand that would serve like-minded parents. This brought its own set of challenges, as entrepreneurship is full of risks. But it was a challenge they were ready to handle thanks to their backgrounds and the lessons they’d already learned from the difficult pregnancy.
Levi used his background in e-commerce to build off Mushie’s product ideas, and in 2018, the couple invested $1,500 to start their company. Mushie had already left her job, and Levi soon left his position as a marketing consultant to focus on their brand.
“It was a bit scary,” Mushie admits. “After all, so many startups fail early on. But we were confident because we’d done the research. We’d put in the time to figure out what we wanted, and we knew that there were other parents out there who were looking for the same thing. This gave us the drive to push forward with launching the brand. The success has been beyond what I could ever have imagined — I never would have thought we’d be selling our products at places like Target or Nordstrom.”
The research and preparation that came from a difficult pregnancy clearly paid off, because it helped Mushie understand the market they would be serving. CB Insights reports that 42 percent of startups fail because there is “no market need” for their product or service. By using a difficult time to know their market inside and out, Mushie ensured this wouldn’t be a risk and expect revenue to hit $15 million in 2020.
Difficult challenges will come to all of us sooner or later. Whether that’s in the form of a pregnancy with health complications, like Mushie experienced, or something completely different like job loss, it’s up to us to determine how we respond to these situations.
Supporting your own emotional well-being during tough times is an important first step. But don’t be afraid to take things further. By turning challenges into opportunities, you just might create your own Mushie.