Every Friday, we send out a weekly roundup of what’s new on Blood & Milk along with articles you may have missed from the archives. We also include an interview with an inspiring woman, and this week we’re excited to feature Lisa Kiser. To get the newsletter, sign up here.
Lisa (Wojcik) Kiser is the founder and CEO of UpBring, a company that simplifies baby product purchasing for parents through milestone matched subscription kits. A constant problem solver and innovator, Lisa found many issues with the baby product purchasing and was inspired to create a better solution.
In addition to running UpBring, she currently acts as Vice President of Beacon Adhesives, a fourth generation family business that Lisa joined after years in advertising.
Lisa also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for two organizations; NYCFEC, the New York City Family Enterprise Center, and the AFCI, the Association for Creative Industries. In 2020 she was named “Westchester’s 40 under 40,” and currently contributes to Family Business Magazine.
In her free time, Lisa enjoys spending time with her husband Cam and 1 year old daughter Quinn. They enjoy hiking and being “tourists” in their hometown, Manhattan.
You launched UpBring after the birth of your first child, in which you experienced some surprises regarding the products you’d purchased, even after diligent research. Can you share a bit more about that experience?
I considered myself a Registry Queen. I emailed friends for their product recommendations, read blogs, followed influencer recommendations, and then collected all the data in a very large spreadsheet.
For as much as I registered for, I realized that registries focus on the big, important stuff, or mostly newborn items, but not necessarily the small, yet essential items–like teethers, pacifiers, products for starting solids, sun safety, etc. Those product purchasing moments tend to sneak up on you when you approach a specific milestone, and as a new parent, I found that really stressful!
I was trying to manage my day-to-day life with a newborn; I didn’t want to be sending texts to friends asking for their favorite lotions for babies’ dry skin. I also realized, as a new parent, that even the most raved about product may not work for your baby. We had a pacifier everyone (including the hospital) swore by, and it just didn’t work for Quinn (our daughter). Lastly, I was having a really hard time juggling all the new adjustments in my life. After a struggle with breastfeeding I became an exclusive pumper, waking every 3 hours to pump–even if the baby was sleeping, so I wouldn’t get clogged ducts. Between that, trying to find a new groove with my partner, and raising a tiny human, the last thing I wanted to do was spend time researching.
The combination of these dilemmas brought me to create UpBring. UpBring carefully selects various brands and those small yet essential “trial-by-error” items to provide parents with products–prepared and worry-free at every milestone.
UpBring makes trial kits of the best products on the market for different age groups (0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months). How did your own experience lead you to this idea and offering?
Every milestone felt like a complete surprise to me! Even though these milestones are pretty well documented and available, I learned that all the planning and research I had done pre-baby went right out the window the second they placed my baby on my chest. From that moment forward, life was managed day by day and long-term planning felt like a thing of the past.
I was in several moms’ groups and so many moms felt the same way! Caught off guard by milestones and struggling to find the right products. I specifically remember Quinn started teething at 4 months and I thought to myself, no way—this is way too early, sure enough, I had to panic-buy several teethers to find something to satisfy her.
How do you vet the products you include in UpBring kits?
There is a variety of criteria that we base our decisions upon. First, we select products based on their differentiation in the market. For example, for our pacifiers, we’ve chosen 3 that have different purposes: one nighttime glow-in-the dark pacifier (great for finding late at night), a cylindrical-shaped pacifier, which is closest to breast shape, and a pacifier that is easy for baby to grab for self-soothing.
We survey parents, scan blogs, moms’ groups, and social media to find some of the most highly rated brands and the most common recommendations that we parents are making to other parents. We also make it a point to try as many products as we can in the kit with our own team members’ kids. I switched Quinn to Dyper diapers because I wanted to make sure I knew the quality, in case we had questions from parents.
Lastly, we are so grateful to have close relationships with all of these brands and look forward to working with them to provide all of our customers with more information.
You can consider UpBring your well-researched “mom” friend who is realistic and provides you with several options, knowing that what works for one family might not work for the next.
Products aside, what’s been the most surprising part of new motherhood?
The dynamic change of how my time is spent and navigating the time I have with others, including my partner! Time is everyone’s most valuable resource; we can’t get it back. My purpose with UpBring is to help people cut down on research and shopping, and give them a little more time with baby, partner, sleeping, whatever they choose!
With bloggers, friends, and targeted ads just scraping the surface of all the often unsolicited advice new moms can receive, do you have any advice for new moms when it comes to trusting your instincts or deciding who or what to pay attention to?
What works for some people, may not work for you and your family, and don’t be afraid of that! That’s why I try to give so many options with UpBring. Just because everyone SWEARS by something doesn’t mean that it’s a good fit for you, be confident in that.
Lastly, how are you balancing being a new mom, running a business, and your mental health during the pandemic?
I’m also newly pregnant again, so add that on there—haha!
Honestly, starting a business during a pandemic was what GAVE me balance. I had Quinn in December, and was meant to return from maternity leave in March 2020, when everything shut down. My husband works in healthcare, so I became the work-from-home parent, as well as Quinn’s sole caregiver since my husband was at the hospital. By the end of the day, I felt so drained and my tank was always empty.
I joined a course in October 2020 that shifted my whole mindset, Selfmade by Brit + Co. This course gave me back my drive and energy and encouraged me to start UpBring. I learned quickly that by putting myself last I was actually being such a bad parent and partner. I started making myself and my business a priority and it shifted everything. I felt more fulfilled, I was a better partner and a better mom to Quinn. I think the only way to find “balance” is to make sure you stay true to your passions, prioritize your dreams, and the rest will fall in line.