Being a parent isn’t easy, especially when it comes to keeping your child safe. Even very basic parenting decisions, like choosing a sippy cup, can feel far too complicated.
“You face this dilemma where you just want your child to be able to drink of out something that’s safe, but you’re worried about the risks posed by chemicals in plastic, and you’re worried about the risk of glass breaking. It’s frustrating to feel like there aren’t any truly safe options,” said Laura Belmar, “Momtrepreneur” and Co-Founder of Mason Bottle. “
As a company, we want to make life less complicated for other parents. So, we designed a sippy cup made out of silicone so that parents don’t have to deal with the Catch-22 decision between plastic and glass. What’s really key about silicone is that you can have the peace of mind that it won’t leach chemicals, but it’s also virtually indestructible,” Laura explained.
And although there have been health concerns around silicone products, particularly when heated to high temperatures as with silicone bakeware, Laura conducted additional research and found that silicone is safe when used in baby bottles and pacifiers. In particular, a 2012 study confirmed that siloxane (the compounds found in silicone that have raised safety concerns) does not migrate into milk and infant formula. The Results showed that no contamination was detected after six hours of direct contact with silicone.
Why Parents’ Relationship With Plastic Has Gotten Complicated
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned baby bottles that contain bisphenol A (BPA), a compound frequently found in products made with plastic. The ban happened after manufacturers’ responded to consumer concerns over BPA's safety. Several studies have since found that these chemicals mimic estrogen and could harm brain and reproductive development in fetuses, infants and children.
Parents are now seeing BPA-free bottles and other children’s products being sold. Yet, recent research reveals that a common BPA replacement, known as bisphenol S, (BPS) may just be as harmful as products made with BPA.
“As parents, you think that it’s safe if you buy something that says BPA-free. But, as more research emerges, we now have to worry about BPS too. No parent has time to constantly stay on top of which new version of plastic is safe. Raising our son, it was simpler for us to leave plastic behind and switch to silicone since it won’t leach chemicals and is unbreakable,” says Laura about the experience she shared with her husband and co-founder, Sebastian.
The Belmars are now taking pre-orders on Kickstarter to make their silicone sippy cup, “The Toddler Tumbler.” In addition to being free of chemicals and indestructible, The Toddler Tumbler can also be used 4 different ways according to their Kickstarter video: as a sippy, a straw cup, a refillable food pouch, and a snack cup.
“Going Green” With Less Green
Of course, going green and switching to sustainable products is a great concept when it comes to protecting children (and ourselves) from harmful chemicals. However, many people associate “green products” as being much more expensive.
As a “momtreprenuer” though, Laura was also familiar with the high-costs that come along with raising a child. This in mind, she was determined to create a multi-use, eco-friendly sippy cup.
“I started my career in Teach for America, and when I left the classroom and eventually started Mason Bottle, it was important to me to make sustainable products affordable to everyone at all income levels. In order to stay USA-made and affordable, we have to make our products as multi-purpose as possible. That’s why our mason jar baby bottles can also be used for milk storage, baby food, etc.. And that’s why The Toddler Tumbler had to be much more than a sippy. That compatibility helps parents save money and reduce waste over time,” Laura explained.
The Women Behind The Product
Creating sustainable products within the US had been a major goal for Laura, but often times this can be very expensive. Laura eventually connected with two female manufacturing experts, Lynn and Joanne, who run Extreme Molding in New York. These two ladies saw great potential in the Mason Bottle brand and decided to “take a risk on the little guy” (or girl, in this case). Since then, Laura has been able to produce all of the Mason Bottle products in the USA.
“We looked for a US Manufacturer for a year, and we finally found an incredibly innovative factory that was founded by two female manufacturing experts. These women had the moxie to take a risk on other women with good ideas, when no other factory would,” Laura said.
Not only were Lynn and Joanne happy to take a chance on Laura, they also came up with creative ways to reduce manufacturing costs. For example, they sourced aluminum molds for Mason Bottle instead of stainless steel, a much more cost-effective solution for manufacturing equipment.
A few years ago, these ladies also recognized the trend towards e-commerce. Lynn and Joanne started to offer fulfillment for their manufacturing clients. This business model is great for clients like Laura, as she can save money by not having to invest in shipping containers across the ocean. At the same time, Lynn and Joanne are increasing the lifetime value of their customers.
“Having manufacturing and fulfillment all under one roof saves us a lot of money. Everything happens so fast that on good months, we can sell most of our inventory before we even have to pay for it. It also allows us to be perfectly positioned for the rise of e-commerce because their fulfillment system means orders from our website and Amazon go out seamlessly,” Laura explained.
The Importance of a Strong Co-Founder
Clearly, creating an innovative product takes teamwork. Laura, along with Lynn and Joanne, have been able to produce sustainable products for parents everywhere. Yet, Laura would never have been able to do this without the support from her co-founder and husband, Sebastian.
“I was lucky to find Lynn and Joanne, but I’m even luckier to have my husband as my co-founder. He has the financial background, the coding skills, and drives the vision of the brand--all the skill sets that have really helped this grow from an idea into a well-rounded company. We have virtually zero overlap in our strengths, which makes him a great co-founder and gives us the opportunity to learn a lot from each other,” Laura mentioned with a smile on her face.