Kate Torgersen came up with the idea for her company after facing a difficult working-mom challenge.

The married mother of three had to travel for work back in 2014 when her twins were about 7 months old and still relied on her to produce breast milk for them.

Figuring out how to package and ship two gallons of pumped milk or travel through airport security with the liquid gold — all while making sure it stayed cool and didn’t leak — was a major struggle.

That’s was when it hit her: There had to be a better way.

Thus, Milk Stork was born.

A Solution for Business-Savvy Moms Who Nurse

Kate Torgersen works with her father and business partner, Mike Torgersen at a table with Milk Stork boxes.
Kate Torgersen works with her father and business partner, Mike Torgersen, on February 3, 2018. 
Eric Kayne for The Penny Hoarder

Milk Stork helps working mothers pack and ship their pumped breast milk when they’re away from their little ones.

“Milk Stork really alleviates the logistical challenges involved in breastfeeding and business travel for working moms by giving them everything that they need to easily — in the simplest possible way — overnight their milk home,” says Torgersen, now 44.

The company works with both individual moms and employers who offer breast milk shipping as a workplace benefit for their employees.

Torgersen, who lives in Lafayette, California, created her company from the ground up over the course of about a year, with her father serving as co-founder. While working full time and raising three kids, she built the business little by little when she had a spare moment — which meant during pumping sessions and when the kids were asleep.

Kate Torgersen, center, hangs out with her family in their Lafayette, Calif., home.
Kate Torgersen, center, hangs out with her family in their Lafayette, Calif., home. Eric Kayne for The Penny Hoarder

Milk Stork officially launched in the summer of 2015, but Torgersen held on to her day job until last spring. She now runs the company as her full-time endeavor.

“The decision to go full time required careful thought,” she says. “Being an entrepreneur, you’re entering a riskier proposition versus working for an established company.”

Torgersen wanted to make sure she could pull her weight financially for her household before making the switch. She also wanted to wait until her oldest son made the transition to kindergarten.

Though she earns less running her own business than when she was a full-time employee at another company, Torgersen says there were some valuable trade-offs.

An important one: she no longer has to endure the 45-minute commute, which saves on travel expenses.

“By reducing my commute, I was also reducing the number of hours [my children] were in child care,” Torgersen says. “Three kids, two hours a day less in childcare makes a difference.”

Charting a Course All Her Own

Kate Torgersen, talks with her daughter Zoe Morantes.
Kate Torgersen, talks with her daughter Zoe Morantes. Eric Kayne for The Penny Hoarder

Before coming up with the idea for Milk Stork, Torgersen says she never thought of becoming an entrepreneur.

“I especially did not intend to be an entrepreneur when I had three kids under the age of 5,” she says. “But once I had the idea, I felt absolutely compelled to see it through.”

Torgersen says she enjoys running her own company because she gets to take on the adventure of doing a bunch of different things every day. She also appreciates being able to work side-by-side with her father.

But being your own boss does come with its set of challenges.

“I think the challenge of entrepreneurship is that there is no off switch,” she says. “It’s a lot like being a parent. You’re always on.”

However, being a parent has helped Torgersen manage the demands of running her own business.

“I think, actually, parenting prepared me for entrepreneurship, because parenting is relentless, and entrepreneurship is relentless — but it’s also incredibly gratifying,” she said.

Torgersen says helping working mothers maintain their commitment to breastfeeding is what she views as her business’s biggest success. She also finds satisfaction in normalizing breastfeeding and bringing awareness to what it means to be a working mother.

Kate Torgersen shows the Milk Stork packaging which includes a cardboard carton, cooling unit, and Styrofoam insert.
Kate Torgersen shows the Milk Stork packaging which includes a cardboard carton, cooling unit, and Styrofoam insert. Eric Kayne for The Penny Hoarder

Torgersen advises other moms who are considering entrepreneurship to “just go for it.”

Like the common saying, “There’s never a perfect time to have a baby,” she says there’ll never be a perfect time to become an entrepreneur either, so you just have to jump right in.

“Moms always have these great ideas for solving problems and addressing these pain points, but it’s really easy to kind of just dismiss them when you’re up to your elbows in dirty diapers and you’re sleep deprived,” she says.

Torgersen’s suggestion for moms entering entrepreneurship is to “focus on the part that excites you the most.”

That, she says, will help create the necessary momentum to get the business up and running.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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