Back in 2009, Amy Upchurch was beyond excited for her first pregnancy with her husband Thomas. She had always imagined that her first pregnancy would be a fun and amazing experience. This dream was altered when Amy had to be hospitalized due to extreme nausea and vomiting. She was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum- a pregnancy complication that is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and possibly dehydration.
During this time her husband Thomas was away on military deployment in the Marine Corps. So, when Amy saw her husband walk into the hospital room with the doctor, still covered in war paint, she knew that something had to be very wrong.
The doctor told Amy that she and her son had 24 hours to live. At that moment, a light went off in Amy’s head that said, “No, you’re wrong. This isn’t the end for me, it’s just the beginning.”
Fortunately, within 24 hours she had made a “complete turnaround” along with little John Hamilton who was later born premature, but healthy, nonetheless. Her next two pregnancies were spent dealing with the same debilitating symptoms caused by hyperemesis gravidarum, so when Amy found out that she was pregnant with a fourth child she was determined to make things different this time around.
After extensive research and working with different doctors and midwives, Amy discovered the power of natural and organic remedies. She was finally able to have the pregnancy experience that she had always dreamed about. Amy knew that God was calling her to create a space for women that would provide healthy, meaningful products to help them throughout their life.
Pink Stork now offers a variety of products for women throughout every stage of life, including wellness, beauty, and fashion products. Pink Stork is Women-Owned + Run because they believe that women should have a brand that they feel confident will empower and support them by normalizing the challenges that women face daily throughout every stage of life.
Amy’s most recent addition to the brand is Faithfully Female, a community created for women to support each other through acts of service in support of their company’s mission. She wants to inspire hope for women who are experiencing their own struggles and to create a safe space for them to support each other.
Pink Stork gave Amy the chance to watch her children grow, help other women, and give back to those who need it most. Pink Stork dedicates themselves to producing products for all women in all stages of life so that the generations of women to come are ready to take on the world.
How did you start your business?
I started Pink Stork in 2015 after overcoming my own personal health issues. During my first pregnancy, while my husband was away on Marine deployment, I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum which tested me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was in and out of the hospital throughout my entire pregnancy and was even told at one point that me and my child only had 24 hours to live. The next 3 pregnancies were spent similarly, so when I found out I was pregnant with a 4th child I was determined to have a different experience. I was able to overcome my health issues after researching and discovering the power of natural remedies. I felt called by God to start a company that would allow me to help other women and inspire hope for them the overcome their own personal challenges.
What values and principles do you adhere to?
As a Christian, my faith is very important to me. I started Pink Stork as an opportunity to glorify God through the opportunity that He has given me. I treat my personal and business values the same; as an opportunity to inspire hope and share the love with others.
Can you expand a brand without losing focus?
Most definitely! When we first started Pink Stork, it was just for morning sickness relief. Now, we do everything from a woman’s first period to her last. The focus of our brand has always been around women and their many dimensions. As our customers grow and change, we have gotten to grow with them which has added a lot of value to our brand. We always keep our focus on our customers and their wants and needs, so they trust that we will offer them the best products. A brand can lose focus if they are not intentional and consistent with everything they do from packaging to the logo, to the message.
Can you share some marketing tips on how to launch a new product?
We started the company with 9 products and now have over 100 different products. Every time that we launched a new product, we learned something new! Sometimes our customers enjoyed it when we completely surprised them with the release of a new product, other times they enjoyed the buzz leading up to a product launch. Our product launch strategy is very particular to each product and how the consumer will react to this product. We also have different strategies for products that are released in retail stores or on our website. We always try to include our customers as much as we can in every launch by letting them pick out ingredients, packaging, and even the names of products. We are inspired by our customer’s wants and needs when creating every single product.
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken and what in you has prompted this risk-taking?
I have always naturally been a pretty big risk taker! When I started Pink Stork, it was just me betting on myself. I didn’t go to business school or have any experience running a company. I used no outside investments and relied on my own personal finances. Another risk was continuing to get pregnant after being told that I wouldn’t survive the first one, since then I have had 5 pregnancies total. If I had never overcome my fear of getting pregnant again, then I would have never been inspired to start my company. I have learned that it is important to not be afraid to fail because the more you fail the better you get at overcoming failure. I have learned to look at risks as opportunities.
How do you balance work and life?
As a business owner and the mother of five kids, I HAVE to prioritize my day. This requires keeping perspective on what I think is important in life and finding a way to balance it all. There is always more work to be done for the business, but my kids will only be kids for so long. I have to look at what I want to accomplish every day and prioritize when and where I will give my attention.
How would you describe your leadership style and what has made it so effective?
I would describe myself as a servant leader because I believe that when my employees feel personally and professionally empowered, they’re more effective and more likely to produce great work. I want to cultivate trust between me and my employees. I also take pride in being a feminine leader. I aspire to create a real and authentic work atmosphere by showing my vulnerabilities and weaknesses, so my employees will know that we will work together to handle mistakes and failures as a team. Parenting has taught me a lot about being a leader as well- kids watch and copy you in the same way that your employees do. I am growing in both of these roles at the same time, and I am always learning and evolving on how to become a better mother and leader. Luke 12:48 states, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” I hold myself to high expectations when it comes to leadership.
Busy startup entrepreneurs have lots of demands on their time and are often pulled in lots of different directions, do you have any tips for effective time management and what to focus on first?
Having 5 kids in 6 years and starting a company all at the same time, I had no choice but to learn effective time management. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed and a lot of different ideas come into my head at once I will write them all down or speak them out loud which helps me prioritize how I will accomplish them. While my husband Thomas was away on deployment, I felt like a single mother sometimes. We would be stationed somewhere where I knew no one so I had to prioritize my day. Sometimes that means not getting to do everything I want to do all of the time, but I am okay with the trade-off when I get to see my accomplishments.
Any advice for women entrepreneurs?
To learn your strengths as a woman and own them! Women usually have a stronger intuition than men, but this is often undervalued in our logic-based society. We all have the capability to trust our gut, but we have to treat it as a muscle that we must exercise!
Share us some tips for women who are in doubt about leaving their secure jobs and starting their own business.
I have noticed that people sometimes have a hard time pushing themselves out of ruts and stepping into the unknown. You have to create the life that you want and that often involves having to step out of your comfort zone. You have to take initiative over your own life. When I became pregnant a 4th time, I decided I was going to deal with my challenges and overcome them. If you believe that something better is out there for you, then you have to take a chance and see what happens. The result probably won’t be as bad as you think.