When Joanne Shepherd emerged from a “mum and bubs” mental health unit for postpartum anxiety and depression, returning to an exercise routine was critical to her recovery. As she started running again and struggled to nurse her newborn in a sports bra, she figured there had to be a better option.
“Mums deserve so much more,” she remembers feeling at the time. “We give so much to our kids, and here I am in the backseat of the car trying to change, just so I can feed my baby.”
After looking around for nursing-friendly fitness attire, Joanne was disappointed by what she found. So she set out to create something more “glamorous” for women like herself who really needed postpartum exercise to thrive.
“If I can provide that little bit of something, so that mums can access exercise postnatally to be able to help them cope and survive things, that’s what I want to do,” she recalls.
The mom of three started MummActiv without any design or business experience, but that certainly didn’t limit her creativity and innovation. In fact, she’s been the recipient of fashion industry awards in Australia.
“Everything that you can wear during your pregnancy, you can wear postpartum,” she says. “I still wear the leggings now, every single day, even though I’m like 20 months postpartum, because I designed it so that you can fold down your belly band. So they’ve got some nice extra coverage as well as support through that abdominal region.”
Joanne designs all MummActiv clothing and swimwear to be worn for years to come. Many of her customers have already owned her pieces through multiple pregnancies.
How this Mompreneur Makes it Work
While building her business, Joanne takes care of her two toddlers and an older son, while continuing to teach primary school two days a week. She juggles it all while her husband works overseas for four weeks at a time.
“Once I put the kids down, I’m so shattered and exhausted but that’s my only opportunity to get real, chunky stuff done,” she says.
Joanne has also made time to get her personal training certificate so she can post online workouts for moms to do with their babies. When fires ravaged homes and wildlife in Australia a few weeks ago, she quickly set up a fundraising effort so proceeds of all sales could go towards providing relief.
“I like to be able to share my story so that mums can realize you can get there,” she says. “You can teach yourself how to do everything that I’ve done in my business.”
As a self-made entrepreneur, she’s learned by reading blogs, listening to podcasts and other online resources “to get myself to where I am right now.”
“I think that’s really important as well because a lot of mums find themselves, postnatally all of a sudden in this void,” she says, faced with the challenge of wanting to care for their children while making a living.
“But there are things that you can do,” she says. “You need a truckload of determination. You need a bucket full of resilience.”
It also helps to have the activewear to keep up with you.
“Anything is possible,” Joanne says.