BOOB’R, a member of the 2021-22 Social Innovation Lab cohort, was founded by Kimberly Haven.
SIL: Tell us about your company. What are you working on?
Kimberly Haven: A woman’s right to pump her breast milk is legally protected in the United States. However, the privilege doesn’t extend to incarcerated moms. Just like the ability to deliver with dignity, the ability to breastfeed is a right that prisons constantly violate. For incarcerated mothers who want to breastfeed their children, not being able to do so becomes a cruel addition to their punishment.
BOOB’R is an innovative program that encourages incarcerated new moms to maintain their breast milk supply, reinforcing maternal bonds and providing health benefits to their newborns.
As part of Reproductive Justice Inside (RJI), BOOB’R will work to challenge and erase the stigma for individuals who want to breastfeed while incarcerated, advocate for change within the prison system, and the establishment of lactation support for mothers behind bars.
BOOB’R — for when mom can’t be there, her breast milk can.
What constitutes success for you?
Success for me comes in a lot of ways but one way that really jumps out to me, especially when I am talking about BOOB’R, is seeing others have the “a-ha!” moment where they understand not just the how of the work but the why.
What have you accomplished so far?
We have actually gotten good traction. We applied to SIL and got accepted. This was huge, as it took the idea out of the head and started to breathe life into it.
Through our involvement with SIL we have:
- evolved from a project to a concept — this opened unique and undiscovered opportunities to and for us. We have started to rethink our model as both a service and a solution.
- engaged a broad range of supporters and interest through our customer discovery.
- created a new work plan for 2022.
- begun to retool our distribution channels
- begun to develop our organizational structure and leadership team and to explore business models.
How can people get involved in supporting you in your venture?
Now is the best time for people to get involved. We are looking for dedicated board members, volunteers, and interns. Additionally, we can use any kind of pro-bono assistance and, of course, we need fundraising and a grant writer.
People can also support our venture by sharing with their networks, participating and promoting events and conversations and staying engaged with us.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in scaling your venture during the pandemic?
Prisons closed down and populations were decreased, creating a huge disconnect with service provisions and education. Additionally, because everything was locked down, the key corrections officials we wanted to speak with were (rightfully) dealing with the impact of and trying to mitigate the spread of COVID in institutions. We were able to have conversations with potential allies and supporters and build goodwill but moving forward was challenging.
What do you like most about the Baltimore entrepreneurial community? What would you like to see more of?
I love that Baltimore has an amazing entrepreneurial community. The talents, the skills and passion that is evident of our entrepreneurs is nothing short of incredible. There also is an incredible sense of collaboration and a willingness to be open, authentic and engaged that no longer exists in other spaces. This community is amazing and powerful at creating change in our communities and redefining how we approach contemporary problems.
What I would like to see more of is funding for these entrepreneurs, as well as an increase in opportunities to participate in programs such as SIL and access to the resources that this program offers. I also would like to see more promotion of these incredible entrepreneurs who are real change-makers but are not recognized enough.
Why did you apply to SIL? What attracted you to SIL?
I actually applied to SIL a few cohorts ago and was not accepted — it was not the right time, it was not the right fit, and it was not the right initiative.
I applied this year in a “why not?” moment, and the minute I hit “Submit,” BOOB’R became real. It went from my heart and head to a thing. Being in SIL and working with them and my amazing cohort, breathed life into what started as a snarky idea and is now moving fast.