Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Conarty.
Hi Michelle, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Hi! I’m Michelle, Founder of Lily + Llama, mom of two little boys (Aiden, 3 + Austin, 2), wife to Landon (10 years) and a Phoenix native. It took my husband and I over three years to naturally conceive our first baby, but it finally happened for us in 2018, and the second one came shortly after in 2019. My pregnancies were both high risk, as I had high blood pressure and was teetering on preeclampsia. I was induced 1-2 weeks early for both deliveries, to mitigate the risk for myself and the babies. Both labors lasted over 40 hours, with the first resulting in a normal delivery and the second resulting in an emergency c-section.
The pregnancies and deliveries were a bit daunting at times, because the unknown can be scary. Prior to becoming pregnant, I had little to no experience with babies or pregnancy, so I had to educate myself on things like what to expect, how to manage preeclampsia, and naturally, what to pack in my hospital bag. Like many new moms, I texted other mom friends with a million questions about all things motherhood and there was endless Googling of topics such as “what to pack in my hospital bag” and “pre-packed hospital bags for sale.” Not only were there no all-inclusive packed hospital bags available, but the checklist information was inconsistent from one site to the next, making the entire process a challenge. With my first baby, I ended up packing many items I didn’t need and forgot items that would have been helpful. While I was much more prepared with my second baby, it was still a lot of work trying to pull it all together. I thought to myself “packing a maternity hospital bag shouldn’t have to be so hard, confusing or time consuming.”
In July 2020, I made the decision to launch Lily and Llama, providing pre-packed hospital bags for expecting moms. The main mission of L+L is to help expecting mamas worry about one less thing while pregnant, and to provide them with the convenience and education I wish I had when I was pregnant. Coincidentally, nine months later, on April 13, 2021, Lily and Llama was born. I have always had the entrepreneurial itch, but have waited for the right product and service, which would provide a solution for people, and I finally found it. 😊
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Overall, the road has been fairly smooth, but certainly with many learnings along the way. One of the struggles I faced when launching L+L, was simply time. In addition to having two toddler boys at home, my husband and I both work fulltime for large tech corporations. So, this was a passion project which was built whenever I had the time: at night once the boys were in bed, on the weekends, during nap times, etc. It has taken a lot of sacrifice and hard-earned money to create Lily and Llama, but it has been well worth it, to see the impact it has had on the mama community. We are continuing to build the brand online, and are also focusing on getting our products on the shelves in local AZ retail stores.
On a personal note, my family had a few unexpected tragedies in 2020, with my Mother-In-Law, Debbie, passing away in October, and my older sister, Erika, passing away in November. My sister was the fulltime nanny for my two boys during Covid for 6 months, and she was Lily and Llama’s #1 fan. She believed in the company so much. We had plans for her to run the day-to-day Operation once it was launched, but unfortunately, we will never have that opportunity. While it was by far the hardest time my family and I ever had to go through, I did not let it stop me from building L+L, in fact, it gave me something very positive to focus my energy on. I knew she wanted me to finish what I started, and she would be so incredibly proud if she were here. Soon, my husband and I plan to sell two L+L individual products in their names, which 100% of the proceeds would go to the charities and causes that were important to them.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
It has been a lot of work launching and managing Lily and Llama, but the response and the challenge has been incredible. I am no stranger to staying busy, multi-tasking and finding new ways to challenge myself. In college, I learned firsthand how to juggle important commitments, as I worked full-time when completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from ASU in four years, and my Masters Degree in Business Management in two years.
Working for a massive, fast-growing tech company for the past six years has also given me tremendous insight as to what it takes to build something from scratch. Prior to the tech company, I worked for a start-up company which grew by 400% over the course of my five-year tenure. Throughout my career, I have worked in the recruiting and talent acquisition space, specializing in roles including recruiting, people management, branding and program management.
I have always connected naturally with others, so working in the recruiting space has served me well in my new venture, as I genuinely enjoy build a rapport with not only my customers, but other partners in the industry. Working for start-up companies over the past decade and seeing the direct impact of my contributions, gave me a lot of the tools I needed to start my own company. It has been amazing to have the opportunity to blend my passions for motherhood, education, communications, and entrepreneurship together to create Lily and Llama.
Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
1) In addition to selling pre-packed hospital bags, we also work hard to provide educational blog topics on our website, for our mama community. Each week, we highlight different subjects, ranging from topics such as breastfeeding tips, to preeclampsia, how to prepare for baby number two, product highlights, etc. The educational component of Lily and Llama is a very important one, as we strive to be a community which provides information and convenience for new moms: including why we have selected each of the products in the hospital bags.
2) In the coming weeks, we will be announcing a Brand Ambassador program! We are very excited to let others advocate for Lily and Llama, while receiving a commission and providing a unique discount code for buyers.
- Large Mom+Baby (20 items): $325
- Small Mom+Baby (13 items): $225
- Just For Mom (15 items): $275
- Just For Baby (7 items): $155
- Free Shipping for all US Orders
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.lilyandllama.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/lilyandllama/
- Facebook: facebook.com/lilyandllama
- Other: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LilyandLlama
Nicole Scribner Photography