Two shocked new moms meet one day in a moms group and become strong friends. But when they have their second baby around the same time, a new business idea is also born.
Lily and Cress is a Canberra-curated gift basket start-up taking orders locally, nationally and even internationally. Her baskets are specially designed to provide practical and meaningful support for new mothers, not a generic flower bouquet or bub onesie. Lily and Cress also provides baskets for mothers who experience pregnancy loss or the death of a baby.
When Sarah Bampton had her second child, Susan O’Reilly brought a gift box she had thought about for a long time. It contained practical, nutritious and beautiful items such as iron-rich foods, a variety of hot drinks, snacks, Epsom salts and books on postpartum care. AAnd it made Sarah feel seen and supported.
“We both received lots of baby gifts and well-meaning but not particularly useful or meaningful items for us. But there was no gift that was just for us that recognized our birth as mothers that gave us real support and knowledge to help us grow,” Susan said.
“We realized that our journeys of motherhood showed us that what we really needed to thrive and survive the intensity of the “fourth trimester” and beyond, was not another jumpsuit, rattle or toy. Bringing our bubbles home for the first time, we needed hydration, energy, comfort and healing plus all those practical things to survive because ‘what just happened? ‘
“After growing a human indoors and now raising him, we needed to feed ourselves, fuel our bodies and find ways to boost energy. Once the buzz died down and we were meant to be “everywhere”, we wanted someone to reach out and remind us that we were amazing and supported. We couldn’t find that wrapped up in a beautiful gift. So we created it. We wanted to harness the excitement and love that comes from gifts, but changing what we were giving moms.”
The collection of baskets has many choices :
The Necessity Box contains local handmade soap and hand cream, nipple gel, nursing pads and hydrogel breast pads, organic maternity pads, dark chocolate, energy balls, nourishing tea, an online yoga voucher and more.
The Nourish Box, designed in collaboration with nutritionist Alison Loeliger, contains a selection of healthy premixed meals, chocolate, granola, energy balls, turmeric latte mix, Altina non-alcoholic sparkling drink, trail mix and seed crackers and more.
There are smaller boxes, the Snacky Box, the Nurture Box and the Bundle which contains absolutely everything.
Sarah and Susan said each item was chosen for specific purposes (mental health, nutritional value, physical comfort) and they include a card explaining why each is included. For example, the candy bar isn’t just for chocolate goodness. It is dark chocolate which contains more iron and minerals. Those wonderful bath salts? Relaxation plus the benefits of magnesium.
“We’re also pretty sure we’re the only gift box company to send out a tracking card one month after the box arrives!” We really wanted to create real support through our gift boxes that last beyond the short duration of the gift experience. There’s a rush almost immediately after having a baby: family and friends passing by, food deliveries and gorgeous gifts. But the rush slows, partners return to work, family members leave, and food and gifts fade.
“This is when women can really need a little extra love to experience motherhood. This is also when women can be most at risk for health issues. mental health. That’s why we’ve created our unique Connection card which provides a link to a curated list of activities, services, groups and organizations that support new moms. Mothers can navigate their way and find new ways to connect,” Susan said.
Over 20 of the vendors are Canberra locals and each purchase sees $2 donated to five mothers and family-focused charities.
The addition of a Loss Box grew out of the personal experiences of Sarah and Susan and, unfortunately, those of many of their friends.
Susan’s first daughter was born again at 25 weeks and Sarah suffered several early losses. Neither felt loss was recognized in the same way birth was celebrated – and yet each outcome has a fundamental and lasting impact on a woman’s life.
“We also saw friends and family members wondering what to do to support and help us. They were looking for something to turn to because their loved one was suffering. As with our other boxes, we wanted to create a box that would provide practical and emotional support to mothers going through pregnancy and baby loss. So our nonprofit Loss Box is our small contribution to reducing the stigma of losing a baby and providing loved ones with a supportive and reflective way to acknowledge the baby’s existence and experience. from the mother. To be understood, to be seen, to be supported and to be recognized.
“The design is about making space for the mother, providing physical and emotional support and acknowledging the lost life of their baby. We organized this box with other people who have lost babies and the wonderful staff at Red Nose and Sands Australia in Canberra. And, yes, it includes the Connection Map with a personalized list of activities, organizations, and materials to read, watch, and listen to as they work through grief and loss,” Sarah said.
The box includes a candle with a custom label “A candle of Light. Forever Loved, Always Remembered” a lavender heat and cool pack, bath salts, the book Miles Apart: A Candid Guide to Surviving Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Baby Loss by Annabel Bower, tea, chocolate and a blank card that mom can write to her baby to express her grief, among other things.
Feedback on the Loss Box has been overwhelmingly positive,
“For us, not separating that from the other experiences of motherhood was also important. We are both angel moms and earth babies and you can’t be a lost mom away from your other parts. That’s the same fabric, so we placed our Loss Box on the same platform as our other boxes,” Susan said.
As for the first name Lily and Cress, moms are often asked about it.
The Lily part is inspired by the native vanilla and chocolate lily found around Canberra, while watercress is also taken from the Ginninderra Watercress which is an herb native to the ACT.
“Listed as endangered, it needs protection and its eco-plan aims to raise community awareness of plants to help with conservation. We felt this tied into how we want Lily and Cress to help mothers be seen, understood and supported. By those who love them and the community around them,” Sarah said.
Since preparing their first box in April last year, Lily and Cress have sent orders all over Australia and overseas and the women who have received boxes have returned to order more for their friends and their family. It’s a part-time labor of love for the two day workers, with boxes packed and sent after hours and on weekends.
While the learning curve was steep as both women had to focus on business administration, food safety, social media, registration, taxes and marketing, comments from mums who expressed their deepest gratitude for the emphasis on love and care being focused on them – while everyone is tending to the baby – made every evening worthwhile.