Identity shifts in Motherhood with Marnie Madras of Rumbly: Podcast Episode #109
Kristin Revere chats with Marnie Madras, founder of Rumbly, about the identity shift in motherhood and how to incorporate self-care into motherhood.
Hello, this is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am so excited to chat with Marnie Madras today. Marnie is the founder and CEO of Rumbly. Welcome, Marnie! So happy to have you here!
Thank you! I’ve been looking so forward to this. It’s great to be here.
I would love for you to give us a bit of your background. I know you worked in the corporate sector and also in the startup landscape, and then I’d love to hear how your journey took you into working with women in pregnancy and early postpartum and also starting a subscription box.
I’ll try to go through it a little quicker because my background is really diverse. I’ve kind of dipped in and out of corporate and entrepreneurship, I would say, throughout most of my working career. I was working for large, multinational organizations and for my entrepreneurial side, I had a tea shop at one point; very different from what I’m doing today with Rumbly. I had a jewelry business. Otherwise, in corporate, I was in food and beverage and toy. So I’ve kind of been all over.
My journey to Rumbly really started with – I’m a mom of four right now. I have four littles. My oldest is almost eight, and my youngest is eight months. My journey really started after I was pregnant with my second daughter. With my first, I wanted nothing more than to be pregnant. I had a bit of a struggle to get there, and then I got there. It was in my eyes the most magical thing. It really struck me that I was kind of alone in that thinking. Most of the women I knew around me that I spoke to really disliked being pregnant. And I get it. Pregnancy is hard. There’s a lot of challenge and physically, emotionally, spiritually, everywhere. And that’s there, but personally for me at the end of the day, I still was so excited to be pregnant, and it really saddened me that other women around me didn’t feel the same.
So fast forward to my second pregnancy. After I had my baby, I felt really off. I loved my pregnancy. I loved being a mom. And something just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t postpartum depression, and I really couldn’t understand what it was. And after really spending a lot of time working through that, what I learned was that I lost Marnie in the process of becoming a mother, and that loss of identity was very, very hard on me. Before going into pregnancy, I was confident, multipassionate, very career-driven. And when I came out as a mom, I became just a mom, and Marnie was second. And my whole universe around me identified me as mom first and Marnie second. So going on a long story, that feeling of transformation and loss of identity and new identity, mixed with the fact that women didn’t love their pregnancies, and my background in entrepreneurship, I knew this is the place I have to be. I have to do something. I have to do something for these women, and we have to change the narrative, and we have to make pregnancy more focused on women and their experience and improving that experience.
Yes, 100% agree. I feel like especially after the first baby, women do get lost in motherhood and our identity as moms. With the baby shower the first time, it is more celebrating baby than the mother, so I love that your subscription box is focused on the mother, that unique journey, and quite a bit of self-care items and just ways to celebrate. Whether it’s baby number one or baby five, you’re still going through that transition to motherhood every time.
Absolutely. Absolutely. I’ve personally been through it four times over, and you continue to evolve, but I believe so strongly that the way you start off this journey will impact your journey through motherhood, and that’s really why for Rumbly, I want to start connecting with women the moment they find out they’re pregnant and really being there for them. And being there, it means supporting through the hard times, but also celebrating the good and the milestones. Every time you hit a new month, a new week, that’s a milestone, and we should be celebrating it because the journey is so hard. If we can work on improving that part of the motherhood experience, then I really think that in postpartum and those early years of motherhood, we’re really going to set ourselves up for a better experience.
Exactly. And it certainly seems like the perfect gift from family members or friends to just have a lovely reminder to take some time for yourself and focus and just have the anticipation of the next box arriving. Are you doing a lot with gifting or showers?
Yes. Rumbly has really two main purposes, and one is to show up monthly for women on their pregnancy journey, and that’s gift them basically a box of stuff that’s really timed to where they are in their pregnancy journey with items that are for the woman they are and the mom they’re becoming. And that’s consistent. In every single Rumbly box, you will find half the items for where you are today, and half the items to remind you of who you are and where you came from. So the subscription journey is a monthly experience, and it does end at the end of your pregnancy. And then we also offer a line of themed gift boxes that are encouraged for women to purchase on their own. If they want just one specific box and they don’t want to commit to an entire subscription with Rumbly, but it is also the best gifting solution. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart because so often, everything is about the baby, and again, mom is going through a tremendous amount of transition and change, and she needs stuff, too. Rumbly is really – we love babies, but we’re not here for baby. We’re here totally for the woman. And when you get a gift from Rumbly, you will find items in there that are all catered to her. And yes, you’re right, it’s a combination of self-care items. There’s apparel. There’s tech. There’s books. Beauty, wellness. We really cross every single product category that you will find sprinkled throughout every Rumbly box.
I noticed that from your website and love it. It’s not solely focused on the typical subscription box that might have tea and very self-care focused items, like cozy socks. There’s much more to it.
Yeah, it’s very, very thoughtfully curated. I spent two years before I actually launched Rumbly, just on the curation. And it was really interesting because first when I was working on it, I sat down – what am I going to put in these boxes? And really thinking back to my own experience and speaking to women, whoever I could speak to and what they wished they had or what they did have and they loved, and then right before launching Rumbly, I found out I was pregnant with my fourth. So as I launched Rumbly, I really got to live through the experience myself. That was the best kind of way I could really test out, are these products that we’re putting in these boxes the best thing that we can give for women that are really going to support, uplift, celebrate, and really make the whole experience better?
Yes. I love it. Obviously, it’s ideal to subscribe very early in pregnancy, but there are options if our listeners or doula clients find you later in pregnancy. As you said, there’s the one time box, or you can join later.
Yes. Even with the monthly subscription, you select which month you want to start at, and we’ll start shipping you boxes then. If you don’t find out about Rumbly until you’re in your fifth month, then you start on your month five box. There’s a lot of flexibility, and I’m working on getting it on the website, too, but if there’s any items from past boxes that you wanted to add to a box if you were starting later, you’d be able to do that. Our first box in the subscription, our first trimester box, there’s a lot of items in there that you’ll use throughout your entire pregnancy and even after. Some of those items, if you start on month five, one of my favorite items that we created, and this was created in-house, is a countdown flip milestone calendar. It’s in a wooden frame. It’s really beautiful. It can just sit on your desk, your bedside. I’ve seen women put it in their bathrooms. It’s a weekly tracker of milestones, but the prompts are all about the woman. So it’s a little bit of a twist on your classic fruits and how big is baby because this is about the woman, and it’s about her experience and what’s happening. Things like, this week, later in pregnancy, you might be experiencing lightning crotch. Or they may be a tip of, hey, time to consider if you want to do any maternity photos. So it’s all about her, but it’s a weekly calendar, and that’s one of the items that is in our first trimester box, but women would use that throughout their entire pregnancy. So if you start later, it’s a product that’s also nice to add in to a later box.
Beautiful. Let’s chat about identity and that shift in the transition to motherhood. What are some of your tips in trying to reclaim your pre-pregnancy self and have a bit of time where it’s not as much of the focus on baby and more about your journey and celebrating motherhood?
Yeah, there’s a lot in there. I mean, the first thing is acknowledging that it’s happening, and there’s not enough awareness in conversation that you are going to go in as one person and you’re going to come out another. And that’s okay, but what’s important is keeping who you are in that process. What I mean by that is for me, I went in Marnie, and I came out Mom, but I lost Marnie in a way. And what I hope women do is they go in as one and they gain motherhood, but they don’t lose themselves in the process. So in terms of identity, it’s that motherhood becomes one of your multi-identities, but it’s not your only identity. The first step is really knowing and understanding that this will happen, and other things that I think women can really do is know that you can hold space for the “and” too. It’s that I’m Marnie and I’m a mom. I’m Marnie, and I love to do yoga. I’m Marnie, and I love to cook. So holding that space for the and, I think, is also something that women can practice doing as soon as they’re pregnant because there’s a lot in pregnancy that you can’t do, but then there’s a lot that you still can do. And it’s really important where we kind of shift our focus. I think, too, it’s finding within those cans and can’ts and making those modifications. You know, with my first, I heard from everyone that I can’t lift things; I can’t work out; I can’t eat certain foods. I can’t drink coffee. And it’s navigating what feels right for you, but also understanding, there is a lot that you can do. If you’re passing over that cocktail, reach for the mocktail. In terms of exercise, absolutely, women should still be doing exercise. You may just need to modify what your routines are. And we actually put wrist and ankle weights in one of our subscription boxes, as well, to motivate women, to inspire them to still keep moving. It helps not just from the physical point of view with blood flow, but mentally, it’s so important. Get fresh air; go for a walk. That’s really a point of inspiration. It’s about making these modifications.
A lot of change happens in our relationships, as well. Rumbly tries to support that a bit in our subscription boxes with games and other products that really help you reconnect with your friends and partners. We have letters in every box, as well, that kind of provide little tips, as well, to really support your relationships. And something, too, I found I really struggled with, and I’m still struggling with, to be honest, is kind of rebonding with a lot of loved ones in my life. There are a lot of shifts and changes in pregnancy, and I think that being really cognizant of that, too, is really, really important.
Then carving out time for yourself. Think about what did you love to do pre-pregnancy? Still do that. Still do that. Don’t lose those things. Especially when you become a mom – I really dislike when women are like, I’m a mom and I can’t do that anymore. You can. You can do everything. You can do everything. You just have to be creative and find the ways, but you can still do it.
Such good advice. And spanning everything from relationships to friendships to just finding that self-care time. I agree about the exercise component. If you’re medically able, it can make your labor much quicker and smoother, as well, having that consistent, simple exercise, as you mentioned. Walking; I love swimming during pregnancy.
And you may discover new passions. That’s something to embrace and look forward to, as well. Again, we’re continuing to evolve; be open to that, too. But make sure there are things just for you.
Exactly. So what are your top self-care tips for our listeners? As a busy mom and entrepreneur, how are you taking time?
The number one thing is do one thing for yourself every single day. Something totally, totally selfish, if that’s a word you’re comfortable using. Whether it’s going to get a coffee, whether it’s taking a moment to scroll Instagram or TikTok. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s whatever, as long as it’s something that’s just for you and feels that way, even in a rebellious way. If that’s the response to that, if it feels that way, it’s magical and amazing. And someone gave me that advice, and I’ve really stuck to that every day. A lot of times for me, it may just be that I have a small dinner with my kids, and afterwards, I sit alone and eat alone, and that brings me so much happiness. I can’t tell you.
Avoiding the criticism of what self-care means is also important. I hear a lot of women trying to tell you what self-care is and isn’t, and that’s kind of why I mentioned that if self-care to you is that you just happen to have a moment to go on your phone and scroll or whatever, that’s okay. No one is here to tell you what is right or wrong. It’s really whatever feels good for you, and find that one moment in a day.
The other thing that I would really recommend for all women is setting boundaries, and that’s something that I’m really working hard on now personally. I think, again, as early as your pregnancy, start setting those boundaries to really help set you up for postpartum and the early years of motherhood. Spend time understanding what your boundaries are, and then verbalize them so those around you know what those are. It really helps to hold yourself accountable to it.
Great advice! So how can our listeners find Rumbly and subscribe? I know you’re on quite a few social media channels. Feel free to share away!
The best way to find Rumbly is on Instagram. We’re @rumbly_co. It’s the same on TikTok, and you can follow us on either of those channels. Otherwise, our website is rumbly.co. You can also send an email. My personal email – I’ll drop it, too, because I’m always happy to have a conversation with anyone, anything to do with pregnancy, motherhood, identity; I’m here. It’s email@example.com.
Love it. I know you shared a bit about the calendar in the box. Any other favorite items in the box for our listeners to get excited about?
I would have to say two things for that. Our Rumbly exclusive items are probably my favorites, and I created those because they don’t exist. They didn’t exist, and they still don’t exist, and they were things that I really felt would be really useful in my pregnancy. One is that countdown milestone calendar. The second would be that I have a pregnancy felt folder organizer. It has two ultrasound photo slots in it, as well, and this is your personal PA. It’s to hold all your papers, your pamphlets, your documents, your appointment reminders, ultrasound photos, everything, in this one chic folder, your go-to, and I absolutely love that because I found when I was pregnant and even after birth, I just was inundated with tons of papers and things to read up or even ultrasound requisitions, and they were scattered around my house. So I absolutely love that item. I used it in my fourth pregnancy. Those would be my top two favorites. The rest of the box – we hold a very limited inventory of everything in the boxes. Currently, we’re only partners with female-founded brands across four continents, and those are typically independent brands. So we’re not always working with big brand names because part of, I think, the delight is to discover new brands that we absolutely fell in love with and that we want to share with you. And so we’re constantly rotating products to keep it fresh but also keep, as we discover new products on the market and new other businesses that we want to support, those are always rotating through.
What a wonderful way to support other female entrepreneurs. My business is a certified B-Corp, so I always try to support local and support women. So I love everything you’re doing, Marnie.
Amazing. Thank you so much.
And thank you for your time. I can’t wait to share Rumbly with our doula clients and our online course, Becoming A Mother, students.
Amazing. Thank you. It was so great to talk to you. I really enjoyed everything.
Same. Take care!