Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Forget the Stuff! New Parents Say They Need Support, and This Mom Wants to Make Postpartum Services More Accessible.

The founder and CEO of the Flourish Collective shares how her baby registry platform is helping new parents.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

After having a newborn, many parents need extra sets of hands, but instead they often get bombarded with lots of presents. This is what inspired Melissa Bowley to create her company, the Flourish Collective. Through the Flourish Collective comes the Flourish Fund, the first-ever experiential baby registry where parents can register for support, self-care and, of course, stuff. Think honeymoon funds, but for parents to flourish during their prenatal, birth and postpartum journeys. Bowley sat down with Jessica Abo to discuss how the Flourish Fund supports moms and dads, and her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Jessica Abo: Tell us about the Flourish Collective and the Flourish Fund.

Melissa Bowley: When becoming a new parent, a lot of people focus on the baby showers, the baby stuff, the really expensive crib. And then they realize in the postpartum period, as I did myself, that it wasn't so much the stuff I needed. I felt like I had tons and tons of stuff surrounding me after the birth of my two boys, but really it was about the services and the support I needed.

As a biomedical engineer by training, I spent my entire career inventing medical devices for women’s health. And then all of a sudden, I had my own babies and I felt like there were tons of resources and services that made the biggest difference for my postpartum mood, my sleep deprivation and breastfeeding journey. But I wasn't told about any of that by the medical community. The Flourish Fund is about prevention. We focus on helping moms in need by getting them the support they need for recovery, sleep deprivation, postpartum depression upfront like doulas, lactation counselors, yoga instructors and sleep consultants. By being proactive with registering for needed support services, instead of being reactive during a time of crisis we can prevent those issues from happening in the first place. 

What was the first step that you took to get the Flourish Fund up and running?

We actually started out as a directory of services, focusing on the essential services needed by parents. We brought together doulas, physical therapists, sleep consultants and newborn care specialists, under one directory. Then we talked to many parents and learned 75 percent of new parents regretted the stuff they purchased before having the baby. They wished they had spent more time and money on their own health and wellness. When we heard that, we asked if they would put those services on their registry. Eighty percent of women answered the question with a resounding yes, but said it wasn't an option. 

The other challenge moms mentioned was the funding for those services. They can be expensive. So, our goal was to pull together the two concerns. The first was bringing awareness to the services (which was the directory) and the second was finding a way for parents to fund those services. That's how the Flourish Fund was born. We wanted to make those support services accessible so all moms can take care of their health and wellness. 

The platform is resonating with moms-to-be since they are starting registries; we’re seeing more than 150 percent growth month-over-month on our website.

How does your registry support moms and dads as their needs change over time?

One really incredible thing we learned from our moms was they know they need certain things but don't know what those things are going to be until after baby comes. It's why all the funds are flexible. Here's how it works: When friends and family fulfill the registry request, the money goes into the expecting parents fund. Once the baby comes, the money in their fund can go towards any Flourish Fund support service. It’s impossible to fully plan for what support you are going to need when the baby comes, but you are going to need support. And with the Flourish Fund, you now have the money available in your funds to go towards whatever support you need to flourish as a new parent. 

Here's an example: Let's say you put a $100 gift card for a lactation counselor on someone’s Flourish Fund. But then it turns out for whatever reason, they’re not breastfeeding in the postpartum period, they can go and turn that into a postpartum massage instead. So it's completely flexible. So you go and you put these gift cards in for the things you think you will need, but just as motherhood constantly changes, it's like the only constant in motherhood, you have that flexibility to then use those funds within our vetted network across all various providers.

Education is another big part of the platform. Not everyone is talking about these issues or talking about what real motherhood can look like. We provide educational opportunities from the time you find out that you're pregnant —  from that positive sign — through one year postpartum. 

I know you still make it possible for people to register for the fancy crib and all of the toys and clothes. Tell me more about that.

There are certain things you're going to need, and we focus on what will promote health and wellness. It's why we've bundled together those essentials with services. One example is our Get Some Serious ZZZ's bundle, which is all about sleep. We have the Dohm sound machine, a pacifier and a gift card for a sleep consultation in there. So you can talk to the sleep consultant about, how do I set up my room for the best sleep? How do I use the sound machine? When should I be using the pacifier that's in there? And then there's a little sleep well kit in there for mom that has the sleep mask and aromatherapy so that the mom can get some much-needed sleep. Our value is, if mom is taken care of, baby and the whole family will be taken care of.

What’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and new parents?

For any person starting a new business, the number one thing is to listen to your customers. We've talked to thousands of mothers about their biggest challenges, where the biggest problems were and how we could have the biggest impact on maternal health. We all see those Pinterest moms or Instagram, and are like, "Oh my God, we need to be them. We need to be out and running one week after birth; we need to get our bodies back."

But it's not about that. It's about flourishing as a family. And the only way to do that is by getting a village to support you. And it's a village of a lot of different specialists.

I also think when people offer to help, tell them exactly what kind of help you need. For example, ask them to bring you a meal. Or if you want to nap, ask them to come over and help you take care of the baby so you can nap for two hours. But be very, very specific. Otherwise, people will come over and they will just hold the baby, which may or may not be what you need.


This Physician Is on a Mission to Empower Home Health Aides. Here's How She's Doing It.

Dr. Madeline Sterling shares how she's working to improve the lives of home health aides and their patients. Plus, her advice on other researchers trying to pioneer a new space in their field.

Celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani on Finding Food Fame

Interview with the CEO Fabio Viviani about how culture should be the number one goal for any business, finding — and using — celebrity, and learning to stick to a specific system.

How to Fix Brain Fog and Boost Your Focus

The No.1 productivity killer is brain fog. Here are Ben Angel's tips for beating brain fog and boosting focus.

How One Small Button Can Transform the Creator Economy from a Buzz Word to an Actual Economic Model

The co-founder and CEO of PIP, a creator economy monetization solution, shares how his company is helping content creators get paid more easily.

This Company Wants to Pay You for Your Steps. Here's How it Works.

The co-founder and CEO of Sweatcoin explains how the company’s move-to-earn vision is helping people be healthier while also getting brands in front of 100 million users.

Javier Correa of Sombrero Mexican Food on Restaurant Expansion Strategy

Interview with Sombrero Mexican Food Owner Javier Correa Jr. on celebrity endorsements, finding an effective pace, and the balance of scaling a business.

Do You Inspire the Best in People? Apply for the Tony Hsieh Award

The Tony Hsieh Award seeks out progressive, value-driven leaders and innovators

3 Ways to Achieve 'Superhuman Focus' in Just Two Weeks

Focus is a valuable asset for any entrepreneur. Here's how to upgrade your energy, focus, and drive.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself If You're Thinking About Becoming a Health Coach

The chief revenue officer at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition shares how the program works and the myriad of ways you can use a health coaching certification.

Josh Altman and Matt Proman Are Teaming Up to Disrupt the Real Estate Industry

Serial entrepreneur Matt Proman and real estate mogul and 'Million Dollar Listing LA' star Josh Altman have joined forces to launch

Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins of Brooklyn Chop House on Opening Restaurant Doors

Interview with the Brooklyn Chop House owner and franchising expert about working in the music industry, opening restaurants, and creating avenues for black entrepreneurs.

Feeling Unmotivated? 3 Biohacks to Supercharge Your Focus and Drive

Here's Ben Angel on the top three motivation myths and how to use biohacking to become more focused.

This Physician Wants to Change the Way You Carry Your Baby

Dr. Lena Shahbandar is a physician and entrepreneur who designed a new baby carrier to help parents and caregivers reduce back and joint pain.

Jennifer Allen of Levy Restaurants on a Commitment to Company Culture

Interview with Levy Restaurants VP of Restaurants Operations Jennifer Allen about running successful businesses, being a "restaurant girl", and her company's strong values.

Discover Entrepreneur Series

Whether you need advice on how to get your business off the ground or you’re just looking for inspiration, our video series have something for everyone. Browse our library below to find a series that speaks to you and your interests.