‘Breastmilk’ and ‘jewellery’ are 2 words that I’d never have thought I would see put together to describe something.
I’ve heard of mothers keeping their baby’s umbilical cord, hair, nails and milk teeth as keepsakes, but never breastmilk.
So, imagine my surprise when I first came across Woodie Pie, a startup that creates breastmilk jewellery, among other ones made of DNA keepsakes.
But in an interview with Vulcan Post, Heidi and Cassandra, the sisters who founded Woodie Pie in the November of 2015, revealed that they actually started out selling handmade soaps with wood flakes.
So how exactly did they go from making soap to breastmilk jewellery? We needed answers, and seek them out we did.
A Single Request That Changed It All
Well, even with their handmade soaps, the sisters had taken customised orders for breastmilk soaps from the beginning.
Most of their early customers who would order breastmilk soap were mothers with an oversupply of breastmilk.
On the other hand, there were mothers with an undersupply of breastmilk who wanted to make keepsakes, but their only option was soap, which lasted no more than 1 to 2 years.
One day, a husband sent in a special request. He wanted to surprise his wife by getting something created with her breastmilk.
It also had to be more permanent than soap. With his request in mind, Cassandra and Heidi browsed the internet and found someone turning their own breastmilk into jewellery.
They tried their hand at formulating it with construction materials (since Heidi’s husband worked in construction) and eventually made their first breastmilk stone.
Speaking about their little pivot, Cassandra said, “We’re still going to the same target market, just with a better product which is more meaningful and eye-catching to the public. This would also be the best selling point while we’re still working with our same goal.”
And indeed, their goal of having Woodie Pie be a business that supports breastfeeding and motherhood is still very apparent.
Starting From Scratch
Heidi and Cassandra never had any experience in jewellery making. Heidi was an accountant and Cassandra was a bank officer, and now they do R&D and Marketing, respectively, for Woodie Pie.
As they began their new journey, they went through several difficulties like setting up a website and having to figure out their customers’ behaviours.
Nonetheless, 4 years later, they’ve stabilised and now run a business that’s found its footing and enjoys customers from Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and Canada.
So far, they’ve gotten 10,000 orders since starting up, with a few repeat customers.
“There is a significant increase in customers in recent years. Therefore, we would think the demand will continue to increase in the future,” Cassandra commented.
Turning Liquid To Stone
Where a bar soap used to require 100ml to 200ml of breastmilk, a breastmilk stone for the jewellery only requires about 5ml per process.
This enables both oversupplying and undersupplying mothers to get their own breastmilk jewellery.
In order to get a stone made, a mother would have to send in 30ml of breastmilk first.
“We accept spoiled, leftover and expired breastmilk as the process does not need fresh breastmilk, unlike for the soaps, and it doesn’t affect the result of the formulation of the breastmilk stone,” Cassandra said, adding that they’ve received an 8-year old supply of breastmilk before.
Once customers have sent in their breastmilk, Woodie Pie preserves it and removes gas molecules trapped in the liquid before starting the solidification process.
Before sending the stone to the final stage with a metal part attachment, Woodie Pie may do some touching up and polishing if needed.
“We need 3 days for preservation and 7 days for solidification generally. Some designs may take a shorter period to process while some take longer,” Cassandra shared.
“In case we need to redo a stone, we will take a longer period because we’ll need to start the process from the beginning again.”
A Woodie Pie product made from breastmilk can usually cost RM109 up to RM259 or slightly higher, depending on its complexity.
Malaysians that spend over RM150 can get free shipping and see their breastmilk jewellery completed within 4 to 8 weeks.
Other than breastmilk jewellery, Woodie Pie also processes orders with umbilical cords, baby’s first hairs, nails, milk teeth and gallstones.
A Keepsake For Generations
Woodie Pie’s breastmilk jewellery definitely carries more meaning than we expected.
Undoubtedly, mothers or fathers would find these keepsakes the most valuable as they’re related to the early stages of their child’s life and their parenthood journey.
Cassandra and Heidi want their work to continue touching the lives of breastfeeding mothers, especially since breastfeeding is a fleeting experience.
“Mothers can pass down their breastmilk jewellery with their own DNA to their next generation,” Cassandra said.
“We also hope it can become a fashion in the future, and be more than a keepsake. Mothers can then wear their own DNA jewellery instead of getting normal jewellery.”
The two sisters hope that in the coming years, they’ll be able to have some collaborations to expose their craft to more breastfeeding mothers and memorialise their hard work and journey in jewellery.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups we’ve written on here.
Featured Image Credit: Woodie Pie