Kaitlin McGreyes is the founder of Be Her Village, a gift registry for parents to get the funds they need to pay for the support they deserve. Kaitlin has been a doula for seven years and was called into this work after her own birth experience. She is a fierce advocate for mothers, and created Be Her Village to help all parents be able to afford and access the care and support they need as they welcome their babies.
Intro: Welcome to Becoming a Sleep Consultant! I’m your host Jayne Havens, a certified sleep consultant and founder of both Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management. On this podcast, I’ll be discussing the business side of sleep consulting. You’ll have an insider’s view on launching, growing, and even scaling a sleep consulting business. This is not a podcast about sleep training. This is a podcast about business building and entrepreneurship.
Kaitlin is the founder of Be Her Village, a gift registry for parents to get the funds they need to pay for the support they deserve. Kaitlin has been a doula for seven years and was called into this work after her own birth experience. She is a fierce advocate for mothers, and created Be Her Village to help all the parents be able to afford and access the care and support they need as they welcome their babies.
Jayne Havens: Kaitlin, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to be chatting with you today.
Kaitlin McGreyes: Thank you so much, Jayne. It is my absolute pleasure. I’m so excited. I just love you and everything you do. So, I’m excited to be able to be in the room with you and talk about the work that I’m doing and the work you’re doing. I’m just really grateful for the chance to be here. Thank you.
Jayne Havens: Well, the feeling is mutual. I guess, before we get started, why don’t you share a little bit about your story? I bet a lot of our listeners don’t know who you are and don’t know what you’re all about. So, why don’t you give us a little background? Maybe tell us a little bit about Be Her Village and how you came up with the idea.
Kaitlin McGreyes: Absolutely. I was a special ed teacher in New York City. My husband still works at the school where we met. I thought that was my path until — like many of us birth workers — I had a chance to experience the maternal health care system in the US. The experience was underwhelming to say the least. I had this beautiful out-of-hospital birth plan turned into emergency C section, turned into breastfeeding, latch issues, production issues, all these things. I got the whole nine.
I remember sort of being in my house postpartum alone, trying to figure out how to nurse my baby, trying to figure out how to get us ready to go to the pediatrician, and just having my nursery. That was so perfect. I had spent so much time and energy to make it perfect. I have gotten so many gifts at my baby shower. We painted this huge mural mural on the wall. Then I was like, “Wait, this is not — none of those things are what I need.” I need so much help right now. Just trying to figure out which way is up and trying to figure out this new way of existing.
After my second birth, I ended up using a doula for that one and having a VBAC, which is a vaginal birth after a cesarean. I ended up becoming a doula, because I saw how incredibly impactful my own doula experience was. I saw how much you could really shift and experience in this maternal health care system, how much was actually in our control.
So, I very quickly just dove in, in a way that is really — I think one of the universal experiences that we have as postpartum doulas and birth doulas and sleep coaches and lactation consultants and anyone who’s in this work, supporting mothers, I think there’s just this totally illogical, heart-led, like I need to do this because it’s important and impactful. It’s not necessarily the way I can make the most money. Although, there are ways to make money. But it is just, I have to do this because every cell in my body needs me to help people. I might also have a people pleasing complex, but that’s besides the point.
I founded a doula team. I founded a mentorship. I had another baby. I was doing all these things, and I started to learn about the inaccessibility of our services. I started to think about how we could broaden our reach as doulas, as birth workers, to a larger segment of population.
Because the reality of it is, we are and have been historically niched. It’s something only some people can afford. There’s a huge majority segment of our population that is missing out on our support, which is unfortunate for them because they deserve it. It’s unfortunate for us as business owners. Because look at us, we’re amazing. Everybody should be able to use our services.
I started thinking about using the baby shower as an avenue to help people access money to pay for their support team. That was where Be Her Village was born. It was just sort of like lots of people are working on this. Lots of people are thinking about how can I be impactful. We all have really beautiful and unique gifts. So, I thought to myself, I think I can create a baby shower registry that re-envisions how we gift and how we celebrate new moms.
How about instead of overloading them with a bunch of baby stuff — which most of us know who have had babies and worked with people who have babies, they don’t use most of it — what if we instead take those thousands of dollars that’s being spent within communities on the new mothers and redirect that into support? That was where Be Her Village was born.
We’ve had over $100,000 gifted on our platform. We are watching parents be able to afford their support teams, their doulas, their midwives, their lactation care, their sleep coaching, their pelvic floor therapy, their maternal mental health specialists. They’re able to afford these important members of their “village” through their gift registry, through this occasion, where their friends and family are already opening their wallets and spreading love and showing them their love through a purchase. We’re helping them purchase the right things.
Jayne Havens: I love it. It’s so magical on so many different levels. I love how it’s positioning moms or parents, not just moms, to have access to services and support that maybe they didn’t even know existed. I love that birth and postpartum professionals are being highlighted and put in front of families in a way.
I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot as a doula. I can’t even tell you how many times I hear, “I didn’t even know sleep consultants existed.” I know that people say that about doulas, too. Actually, I, personally, didn’t know what a doula was until my brother had a baby a few years ago.
When I was having my babies — my kids are 10 and six — I had what we call a “baby nurse,” which now I know better. Now I know that if I were to ever have a third baby, I would hire a postpartum doula or a newborn care specialist, somebody that actually has training and qualifications.
But I had never even heard of a postpartum doula. What is a doula? So many new moms say that. How amazing is it that now there’s this platform to educate new parents and show them what’s available to them beyond the $30 rattle that they don’t need. Who cares, right?
Kaitlin McGreyes: Absolutely. That’s really when the deeper I got into this process. I started out as a special ed teacher turned doula, turned sort of just optimist. I’m an optimist at the end of the day. I can call myself lots of negative things, but I’m an optimist always.
What I started to realize is that the reason why people don’t know, the reason why we all know what strollers are and Rock ‘n Plays are, and swaddles and blankets, and all of these things is because that is what this multibillion dollar industry has told us about — that we get signaled and marketed to again and again and again and again in ways we don’t even realize.
The truth of it is that right now, birth workers don’t have that capacity. I don’t have the capacity. You don’t have the capacity. Anyone listening to this doesn’t have the capacity to take on Buy Buy Baby, to shift the entire conversation through traditional advertising and marketing dollars.
But we do have something that they don’t have. That is access to new parents, at a really critical time before they get marketed to, and we have their trust. When new parents are working with us and lining up their support teams, they’re hiring us and working with us and enlisting our support because they trust us.
It’s such a beautiful thing that we have grown our platform, because we are growing completely by word of mouth. We’re helping birth workers tap their own businesses into this industry by getting themselves on Be Her Village, by joining our groups, by getting our reports, by just sort of becoming aware of this industry and getting the tools they need to tap into it.
Because unless every single one of us works together, we’re never going to be able to shift that messaging from, “What stroller are you getting” to, “Who’s your postpartum doula going to be?” I want that question to be as ubiquitous as, “Which diaper bag are you getting?” It needs to be part of the consideration — the support and that stuff at once.
Jayne Havens: I totally, totally agree with you that we do all need to work together. This is something that I’m constantly emphasizing within my CPSM community and just in my conversations at large with birth and postpartum professionals. We are all stronger together.
I cannot tell you how many people ask me, like, “Is the market for sleep consultants oversaturated? Is the market for doulas oversaturated?” No, most new parents have never even heard of a postpartum doula, or a sleep consultant, or even a birth doula. New parents don’t even know what this stuff is. How can a market be saturated if parents don’t even know what it is? We need to all get out there and spread the word about this type of support.
I’m always telling a lot of doulas take my sleep consultant certification course. A lot of them will ask me like, how do I find sleep consulting clients? Well, the same way that you find doula clients. But a lot of doulas don’t do sleep support, for example. Other doulas might refer business to you as a sleep consultant because they’re not doing that type of work. So, that’s just one example of how I’m always looking at the big picture of our “village” as birth and postpartum professionals, how we can all support one another and help each other to have thriving businesses and careers.
Kaitlin McGreyes: Yes, and it’s so true that we can. Every time one of our clients has a positive experience with us, we’re advertising for everybody else in our field. You’re 100% right. When I got on the phone with Doula Darcy, who introduced the two of us — I feel like she’s Doula Darcy, up on a pedestal over there — one of the first things I said to her is like, I just really strongly believe in collaboration.
Because the other doulas are not my enemy. Jeff Bezos is my enemy. Not that we’re enemies. But the reality of it is that we’re in this position where we can build and grow. But we have to work together to be able to do that. So, the more that we can bring our services and support into the mainstream, the more that we can reach people.
That’s what I feel excited about with this Be Her Village Gift Registry. It’s that we are taking the super familiar container. It’s like everybody knows how to make a gift registry. Everybody is getting baby shower gifts. Why don’t we just take our birth businesses and plug them into this thing that is super familiar, so we don’t need to start from the beginning and fight for our right to exist?
No. Here, you need this just as much as you need the other things. Quite frankly, probably more. Maybe you need a lot of the stuff that’s on the aisles of Buy Buy Baby. But let’s make it really easy for people to access that.
Jayne Havens: Tell me how the platform actually works. Walk us through it. Obviously, we’re not going to be staring at the computer screen. But give us an oral rundown of what it looks like to maybe register as a new parent, and then also how to sign up and participate as a birth or postpartum professional.
Kaitlin McGreyes: Absolutely. Awesome. Okay. For the parents, it is as easy as we could possibly make it. Our goal is to create access to care here. It was like, what are the obstacles, and how do we remove them? It’s super easy. They come to our website. All the information is right there in front of them. They don’t even need to know what type of support exists. Because we do two things. One, we fill their registry. As soon as they make it, it’s filled up. It’s totally editable, and they can customize it. But the support is already there on their registry.
We also have a registry guide where our practitioners sign up and they add their services. We don’t have products. We don’t have strollers and diaper bags and cribs. We have, although, unique cribs. We have birth workers and lactation consultants, and doulas and sleep consultants. They can find the people that are working in their area in our registry guide.
From there, it’s super simple. They connect their bank account where they want the funds to go. They share the registry with their friends and family. Then people come, and they purchase meaningful, impactful gifts with intention. Rather than sending someone $100 and just being like good luck being a mom, it’s saying, “Hey, here’s $100 towards your sleep consult because I value you getting rest. I know you value this part of your parenthood experience.”
There’s this really beautiful connection between the love that they’re sending with their funds and the services that those funds are helping you purchase. So, it has been an incredible journey watching those numbers grow and hearing the stories from the new parents saying, “I feel so supported. I feel so joyful about this experience because of the gifts that are coming in.”
For our birth workers, this is actually a whole different thing. You can come in. You can create a free account, or you can get a paid account with some upgrades. That gives you access to our registry tool. You can do exactly what I said. Add your services. You get a business profile. There’s a portal associated with it. You can see how many registries you’ve been added to, how many gifts, how many people are looking at your site on Be Her Village.
You can also join our Mastermind Groups that are actually coming out this month in December, where we are building the coalition. We’re coming together with the sole question of saying, how do we each individually plug our businesses in to the $12 billion gift industry?
At Be Her Village, we are working. We have the tool to do it. We’re also creating the relationships and creating the challenges and bringing the stakeholders, which are all of you, to the table to be able to make that work. So, it’s half political because we’re just tired of the status quo. It’s half, how do I grow my own personal business in this way?
I’m really excited about it because it’s something that is just so needed — this movement, this mission to shift this conversation while also growing robust businesses. Those are my two favorite things. I don’t know what are.
Then the last way to get involved is actually through our brand new Gift Registry Expert Certification. Part of what we are learning is that there are professionals out there that do gift registry consultations and are teaching their clients that they’re working with.
Like you just said, Jayne, how do I get these clients? Well, you already have them. You’re already working with them, and they need more from you. So, we’re realizing that there are a lot of people out there that want help with their gift registries, that feel totally overwhelmed by the amount of products on the market, and feel totally stuck at how do I even figure out what kind of support. It all feels like too much.
We are training them. Actually, we’re working with somebody who has been a nanny and a postpartum doula and a gift registry specialist herself for decades. She crafted this amazing course with us, so that we can make birth workers the experts, and help them grow their business, get money in the door at a revenue stream, while also shifting this conversation and helping us sit down and talk.
Because you can’t just say to people like, “Oh, you don’t need any of that stuff. Get a sleep consultant.” That doesn’t fly. You have to meet people where they are. Where people are are wrapped up in the marketing channels of these big box stores. So, we are teaching birth workers how to understand deeply what that marketing is, which products are good, which aren’t good, which ones will help you reach your goals, your client’s goals, and the support that goes along with each of them.
The way that we’ve structured the course is actually by goals, not necessarily by product, but what are your sleep goals? What are your feeding goals? What are your postpartum goals? What are your birth goals? How can we support you with products and services along the way? There’s tons of ways to get involved. It’s really easy. Just go to our website, and click on businesses. It’s all right there.
Jayne Havens: I love that. One thing that I want to bring up with you is, I think that there’s a really big hurdle to making sure that parents receive the support and get what they deserve. I think there’s a lot of stigma attached to postpartum support, right?
I know that there is stigma attached to needing help with sleep. Parents don’t want to admit that they need that type of help. They don’t want to admit that they haven’t been able to figure it out on their own. I see that a lot with postpartum support in general. New parents, they’ll say, “My parents didn’t have any help. They made it out a lot.” People say that stuff.
How do we overcome the stigma that’s attached to the work that we do? How do we normalize the fact that it’s okay to surround yourself with a village, even if that village is paid support?
Kaitlin McGreyes: I love that. It’s a really great question. It is something we ask ourselves all the time. I think, for me, part of why we went after the baby registry is because that’s how we normalize it. Because it shouldn’t be this thing where you’re struggling the way I did. I struggled. I struggled alone in my house, not even knowing where to go. I didn’t have the skill even to ask for help. Asking for help, apparently, is a huge skill — which doesn’t come easily when you’re in crisis, right?
So, part of what we’re trying to do is normalize it through the gift registry. Oh, here. Look. These are all gifts that you can get. It’s super easy. It’s right on there on your gift registry. It doesn’t have to be this special, separate thing that you have to pay out of pocket for. It can be normalized along with other things.
The other things that we do are videos and blog articles. We are always asking for content from people who are actually using our site. One of the things we hear from people is, “Oh, well, I added a doula to my baby list, doula fund, and nobody put any money towards it. Why? I don’t get it?”
Well, the reason why is because when you go to the baby list, they don’t make any money when you’re getting your doula funded. They don’t make any money, and they don’t want you to do that. The baby list is not incentivized to try to get people to donate to that fund. Whereas you come to Be Her Village, and we have videos from mothers that the gift buyers are watching, that they’re hearing from actual stakeholders — from people who have received gifts or not received gifts of support. They’re hearing why their gift of support will be so impactful.
A lot of it is just breaking down those stigmas by sharing stories and normalizing it for people. One of the things I have to say — it’s not something we talk about all that much — one of the numbers that I love watching is the number of gifts. We’re almost at 1000 gifts funded on Be Her Village.
Each of those gifts is somebody who has said, “Oh, this. Yes.” There’s so much more than just the money. We have converted a person from being someone who would otherwise go to Buy Buy Baby, and they have realized, “Yes, this is a better gift. Yes, I will put my money behind it.”
That is really how we change that stigma. It is not this huge sweeping change. It is one person at a time. Every single person then tells another person and tells another person. The shift will happen before we even know it. Quite frankly, it already feels like it’s begun.
Jayne Havens: That gave me the chills a little bit. I totally agree with you. When I buy a baby gift, I’m so quick to go on Amazon. I buy a sleep-related product. Because I’m a sleep consultant, I like to send my favorite sleep stuff. But now I totally want to give money towards a postpartum doula 100%, or a sleep consultant or any other birth or postpartum professional. It’s so valuable.
I actually sell not a lot but a handful for baby shower gifts or new baby gifts. People will buy an Ask Me Anything call from me. To me, it’s so special. Because the person who’s buying it is saying like this mom deserves support. That’s what they’re saying when they buy that gift. To me, it lights me up. It’s so special. It’s not just another thing in their nursery or in their playroom.
It’s support. It’s helping them to be better parents. It’s setting them up for success. You and I are on the same page. The more that we can get out there and normalize this type of support, it’s better for our businesses. It’s better for moms and parents.
Kaitlin McGreyes: Yes, and what I’ve realized that keeps me moving forward every single day is that people are so generous. The reason why they spend $12 billion a year on baby gifts is not because they want to overload parents with a bunch of stuff. It’s because that’s just kind of all that’s ever been out there.
Now that we’ve created this vehicle for them to fund somebody’s support team, to fund that call, to fund that actual hands-on support, it really is unbelievable. We just had, yesterday, somebody gifted $1,000. We’ve had multiple gifts of just your entire doula is paid for, your entire whatever is paid for. Thousands of dollars of gifts.
It blows me away how generous people are. The generosity of the gift buyers and the love that communities want to share with their mothers is constant. It’s just a matter of what is the tool that we can offer them to get the right gifts. It feels really exciting to have launched this platform and to have thousands of birth workers on it who are seeing that, and seeing that money come into their businesses and growing their businesses. It’s like this beautiful alignment with heart-led work and also having a robust birth business.
Jayne Havens: For those that are listening — I think most of the audience that listens to this podcast is either aspiring sleep consultants or existing sleep consultants and birth and postpartum professionals — if they’re interested in getting on to the Be Her Village platform, can you talk a little bit about the process and what that looks like?
Kaitlin McGreyes: Absolutely. It’s super easy go to behervillage.com/partners or you can just find the Businesses link at the top. Everything is right there. It explains our mission. It explains the ways to get involved. Then you can also use SLEEP25 and get 25% off of any of our subscriptions or our gift registry expert certifications.
Please get involved. This is something that we’re all going to do together. Everything that we do is going to elevate the entire industry. That feels really exciting. We need you. So, come and and join. If you don’t have money to join right now, just come. It’s free. You can be involved.
Because the important part is that we show up and that we’re here. So, we want you to come. Show up. Be part of Be Her Village. Be curious. Get involved.
Jayne Havens: I love that. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. This was fabulous.
Kaitlin McGreyes: Thank you so much, Jayne.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, it would mean so much to me if you would rate, review, and subscribe. When you rate, review, and subscribe, this helps the podcast reach a greater audience. I am so grateful for your support.
If you would like to learn more about how you can become a certified sleep consultant, head over to my Facebook Group, Becoming a Sleep Consultant or to my website thecpsm.com. Thanks so much, and I hope you will tune in for the next episode.