We had the good fortune of connecting with Magda Lasota Morales and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Magda, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I launched my business in 2019, though, as with most boot-strapped startups, it took years to get to that point. There are two major drivers that inspired me to launch MLM Brand: 1. my boys (and the desire to have flexibility during those early years of motherhood) and 2. my personal experience as a working mom who had to pump, but didn’t want to give up wearing dresses.
At MLM I focus on creating elevated basics that can be worn during pregnancy and transition seamlessly into the postpartum period. I want to empower this new chapter in women’s lives by designing reliable, high-quality, functional, stylish and versatile pieces that are made in an ethical and sustainable way.
When I had to go back to work at the end of maternity leave in 2014, I couldn’t find a nursing and pumping friendly dress that could take me through my busy day. I needed a dress that was versatile and comfortable (and long) enough to hop on a bike in the morning (which is how I got my son Adrian to daycare before heading downtown to work), and “office-y” enough to wear around the office and during presentations. I was a multitasker and I needed a dress that could do the same.
Finding the right partners for my project, as well as the initial design and development process, took a very long time to complete. I was inexperienced and I didn’t know much about the fashion industry, which probably added to the timeline, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Finally, in June 2019, I launched my label with one design — the Little Breastfeeding Dress — which has since then became our number one bestseller and a new mom’s favorite.
What started as a passion project has now evolved into a full time job. The dream I had last year is now my reality. Still, every day I keep dreaming bigger. And I feel extremely grateful and fortunate to be able to do that.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I started MLM Brand in 2019 with a mission to empower moms to feel their best while breastfeeding and/or pumping. I wanted to create a modern, chic, sustainable maternity brand that truly focuses on the postpartum period. When I first began researching the maternity fashion industry in 2016, as far as I knew, there was no dress like the Little Breastfeeding Dress (LBD) on the US market. Multitasking, versatile, high quality and stylish. Our LBD can be worn during pregnancy and comes with a discreet breastfeeding and pumping friendly access ideal for postpartum. The silhouette is simple, yet elegant and flattering. The LBD quickly became our bestseller!
All of our products are thoughtfully designed and thoroughly tested by other moms before they are released on the market. We use organic, sustainable fabrics and manufacture our dresses in Chicago in an effort to support local communities. We opt for compostable packaging and all secondary materials are 100% recyclable. Whenever you purchase a piece from our collection, it’s a purchase you can feel great about! There’s something really cool about having an idea and bringing it to the market, and that’s something I’m extremely proud of.
From a perspective of an early stage founder of a boot-strapped apparel business, I would say my biggest challenges so far were finding the right partners in the fashion industry, managing cash flows, and overcoming self doubt. There are still nights where I lay awake worrying about the finances, but typically it all works out in the end. I’ve learned that keeping an open mind and a grateful heart always helps. I’ve also learned to reach out to other women who are juggling entrepreneurship and motherhood. Luckily, I now have a wonderfully supportive circle of women who are changing the world in their respective fields. I can’t think of anything more inspiring than the success of other women! Asking for advice, bouncing ideas off of one another or simply sharing highs and lows with women who truly “get it”, makes being a sole founder a little less lonely.
In terms of how I want the world to remember me, I hope my work and my children will become my biggest legacy. There’s no job more important than raising the next generation and it’s time we rebranded parenting as such. It takes a village to raise children, but in the US parents are expected to work like they have no kids and raise kids like they don’t have to work. I have a hard time wrapping my head around this rhetoric. The need to revamp our family policies fuels my passion as an advocate for all parents in workplaces. Parents, especially mothers in the US, deserve better.
My hope for the brand is that people will remember it as a chic maternity clothing line empowering women who wear our dresses to feel confident, supported and stylish. Those first months, even years, of modern motherhood can be challenging; getting dressed shouldn’t be.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh, I love this question! Our family has only lived in West LA for about a year, but we already have a few favorite spots and activities. If I had a friend in town, we would definitely spend a lot of time outside, opting out for a sunny morning at the beach in Santa Monica, a hike in the Franklin Canyon or a stroll through the Getty Villa Museum. I’m fairly certain my kids would request In-N-Out burgers for lunch — this spot is always a big hit with the whole family. My favorite option for a kids-free night out is the FELLOW restaurant in Westwood. The venue is classically cool, the food is impeccable and the gallery space beautifully compliments the dining experience. For dessert, I recommend an ice cream sandwich at a family-owned Daddy Reese in Westwood or a celebrity-loved ice-cream shop Gelato Festival in Beverly Hills. A must-see part of any LA vacation, the Griffith Observatory, sits on top of the Hollywood Hills and it has the best city views during the day or night. It’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset and slow-end a day in sunny LA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m dedicating this shoutout to my mom and my husband — they have been my biggest champions from day one. My husband still helps with taxes, takes pictures and ships orders whenever he can! Instead of imagining the worst in situations, my mom always encouraged me to imagine the best, and think of the steps I could take to bring it about. I’m forever grateful to all the moms who helped with the initial product testing, to my girlfriends in Chicago who participated in our first photoshoot and to my pattern maker, Jessica, who helped with the launch of the first three styles. I wouldn’t be here today chatting about the making of MLM Brand without Jeannine and the Ready Pretty team. They truly understand my vision and have been instrumental in helping me to tell my brand story with visual content. I’m thankful to all of the incredible moms in the Hey Mama community who provide daily inspiration and support in a form of mentorship sessions, email connections, accountability groups, late night texts and collaborations. I’m so incredibly lucky and honored to be surrounded by talented women who inspire me daily!
Anna Sodziak Photography