It wasn't my best day as a mother.
Let me set the scene: me, five years ago, sitting on a bench in the Target pharmacy, nursing my squalling newborn. I try to cover my belly without smothering the baby, ducking behind my grocery-laden cart. Antsy four-year-old climbs on the cart, dismantles product displays, plays with the blood pressure machine... and my own blood pressure rises as I eye the kooky-looking guy in the condom aisle.
What I really needed back then was our new SocialMom of the Month, Courtney Gillard.
Courtney, 41, a married mom of four step-daughters from Tucson, AZ, is the co-owner and designer behind LaDy LaDuke, "home of handmade, chic-mobile, full-coverage nursing covers, maternity clothing, accessories and nursery decor."
Her Nouveau Nursing Cover (pictured below) would have saved my life... and I'd have looked a lot cuter, too! (Who doesn't need a fashion boost to the ego when your body is adjusting to motherhood?)
She and her sister Betina, 35, a mom of three (soon to be four!) were inspired to start the company in 2008 when they witnessed their sister-in-law experience the "joy" of nursing a baby, chasing a toddler, and trying to stay covered -- all in a Halloween pumpkin patch. (In photo, Courtney is on the right, Betina on the left.)
"After research and prototypes, and unearthing that design seed planted by our own very talented mother, we came up with our Feeder Frock nursing cover invention," says Courtney, pointing out that their unique designs allow for better breathability than most others on the market. LaDy LaDuke offers styles where the baby nestles inside the garment, as well as outside.
The sisters (whose maiden name is LaDuke) opened their first shop on Etsy in 2009, and continued to develop their ideas and product lines. Soon they added nursery decor, the Nouveau Nursing Cover, post maternity wear, Little Artist Covers and accessories.They are stocked by Swish Lily, Lottie Da Baby, Olivine and HomeSav -- and in addition to Etsy, they sell directly on Artfire and Zibbet.
"There is always something new in the works, and we get a lot of inspiration from our customers' custom requests," says Courtney. "That's the beauty of being handmade... the possibilities of what you can create are limitless!"
Who inspires you, design-wise?
"Coco Chanel -- both her work and her amazing story. Also, Gwen Stefani and Rachel Zoe have fabulous style."
What's it like, being business partners with your sister? Do you have an entrepreneurial history together?
"We don't have an entrepreneurial history actually. It's funny to think back to how Betina and I used to fight like cats and dogs, sharing a room growing up. She was always stealing my clothes, and I was always locking her in some room in the house, but here we are now, the team of LaDy LaDuke. We combine a good mix of input. She has all of the hands on, in the trenches so to speak expertise, and I have a different take and eye on Mom/baby products. We are a good blend."
Tell me about this hilarious "Battle of the Leading Men" on your blog. I'm voting for George Clooney!
"We are moms on the blogosphere too, who sometimes need a little diversion! And just like our LaDy LaDuke, it's about the 'LaDy' in the Mommy. This week, you just have to vote on the 2 battles: Pitt vs. Clooney and [Bradley] Cooper vs. McConaughey, by commenting the 2 chosen names. We need 2 winners to move forward into the next round. Every weekend will be 2 more pairs to vote on, and those winners will face each other in future rounds, until we get to a semi final and a final battle. All battles open for voting and closed battles will be listed here to still vote or check results. This week, if you link up, you are entering to win a hand stamped, personalized pendant from Pendants by Steph."
What are you passionate about?
"Family, treating others well, challenging ourselves, pushing towards our goals, and learning new things."
What makes you crazy?
"People pushing their shopping carts into me, or standing too close while paying at the grocery line."
What's your biggest regret?
"Not buying Apple in the 5th grade."
What makes you proudest?
"My husband and step-daughters, and I'm sure Betina would say the same for hers."
What fun things do you like doing with your family?
"My husband and I play croquet in the backyard with his dad's old, beaten up croquet set."
Describe your perfect Saturday.
"I have to make checklists, and get things done and checked off for peace of mind, so having everything completed on my checklist, then catching a movie while browsing through Vogue magazine is bliss!"