In this episode, we will explore Brood’s story, one that came to be through a passion for babies, friendship, and families. Emma Devin and Lizzy Karp have developed a language of care and through this conversation we are able to learn how the words we use affect the experience people can have. This conversation reminds us to look at parents and caretakers as whole beings, highlights the need for better education around setting up parental leave systems and brings awareness to creating workplaces that are safe and inclusive for all kinds of parents, caretakers and families.
Emma Devin is Co-Founder and Chief People and Product Officer at Brood Care Inc.
Lizzy Karp is Co-Founder and CEO of Brood Care Inc.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 00:44
Welcome to the Startup Women podcast a show where we connect you to Canada’s powerful cohort of women-identifying founders to real stories and case studies of women building businesses supported by true tactical advice from thought leaders and industry experts. I’m your host, Kayla Isabelle, CEO of Startup Canada. Each month I’ll be sharing the mic with one founder and one expert. Together we will dive into real stories and scenarios and uncover actionable advice for women entrepreneurs across Canada from funding and hiring to sales and scaling strategies. On this show, we cover the most important topics so you can deconstruct the challenges of starting and running a business with knowledge that goes beyond the surface level. Let’s get started. Startup Canada’s head office located in Ottawa is situated on the unseeded and surrendered territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabe. A nation startup Canada recognizes the inherent and treaty rights of indigenous peoples We acknowledge the ancestral and unseeded territories of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. The Startup Women Advocacy Network, SWAN is a curated group of 11 women-identifying early-stage entrepreneurs who advocate and champion the needs of women entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast. Practical research aims to help patients with Parkinson’s disease monitor their conditions using their flagship software. Prims is a patient assessment tool for supporting neurologists in the clinic practically and envisions a world where patients can get help faster and with more accurate results as Atlantic Canada’s 30 under 30. Craig McLean, CEO and co-founder of Bronwyn Bridges, is passionate about equal access to health care, neurodegenerative diseases, mental health awareness, and driving change to digital health solutions. We are delighted to have her as our Newfoundland and Labrador representative. To learn more visit practically.com Keisha Turner is an African Nova Scotian woman, innovator, and philanthropist. She is the co-founder of Starbery Drink CO, an all-natural refreshing drink made of whole strawberries, maple syrup, and water, and runs a quick on enterprises a quick on guides organizations and their leaders on how to solve some of their most pressing complicated problems by reconciling conflicting worldviews to build unique and distinct solutions. We’re honored to have her as our Nova Scotian Swan representative. To learn more visit Aqua con.ca and starbury drink.com. To learn more about Swan and the amazing work of these women founders Head to www dot startup can.ca/startup-women-advocacy-network-two 1023 Emma Devon is the co-founder and chief people and Product Officer at Brood Care. A modern care agency and community of birth workers doulas and parents brood is the future of family care and offers doula services, birth and postpartum care, and education through courses, webinars, and thought leadership. Everything Emma does is born from the intersection of their lived experience caring for families, their identity as queer and trans persons, and their passion to make care work sustainable and legitimized.
Emma Devin (Brood) 04:24
People think Okay well, I just got a daycare I just got a spot and daycare works well back to work. Yeah, right. Like the first like, entry into daycare can take a minimum of a month in terms of gradual entry and then like literally having the hours in time that your kid is in care, let alone how your kid is adjusting. And then hello September, October, November, December, January, February, all illness months at a minimum. So not only are your kids constantly being sick and not in care, but then you’re being sick and so you’re sick at home with a kid with that you’re taking care of and that If you’re trying to like work off the side of that,
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 05:03
We are also joined by Lizzie Karp, co-founder and CEO of Brood. Lizzie’s passions converge around creativity, entrepreneurship, and finding ways to expand accessibility and impact.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 05:16
It was during my parental leave and Jill’s parental leave that this idea came to be and was developed. It’s a very meta story for Brood, our startup that had begun in the experience of care and caring for one another.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 05:30
We must use gender-inclusive language. When we speak about families, parents, and caretakers, we must remove our assumptions around what family structures look like, who parents are, and what they need before, during, and after choosing to take parental leave, Emma and Lizzie have developed a language of care. And through this conversation, we were able to learn how the words we use affect the experience people can have. This conversation reminds us to look at parents and caretakers as whole beings. It highlights the need for better education around setting up parental leave systems and brings awareness to creating workspaces that are safe and inclusive for all kinds of parents, caretakers, and families. Welcome to the show, Emma and Lizzy!
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 06:17
Emma Devin (Brood) 06:18
We’re so glad to be here. Thanks for having us. Kayla
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 06:20
Right back at you! I have to say the Podcast Producer Maddie and I have just been so excited about this conversation. And the more research that we’ve done in preparing for today’s episode, the more important I think this conversation has become, in my mind and the mind of so many women entrepreneurs. So I’m so excited to dive into today’s topic. Let’s kick things off with some general background. Take us back to the very beginning of Brood. And how all this started. Why did you feel that it was really important to start this together and offer everything that Brood does to families and communities to kick us off?
Emma Devin (Brood) 06:53
I mean, we always joke that our punch line is a doula and two parents walk into a bar, and then brewed was born. But the way the way we started was I was a practicing doula. In an active pandemic. I had a small agency with a handful of doulas on my team. What’s a doula? A doula? Yeah, a doula is someone who supports people through their conception journey, their fertility, journey, their pregnancy, and postpartum and first year postpartum into parenthood. And we support people with knowledge, education, emotional support, physical support, logistical support, emotional labor, and a whole host of things. I like to always joke that we are like a family member or partner who is also a walking, pregnancy, and parenting book, but we have no bias or judgment. All those things kind of wrapped into one. And so I was in a place where, like, I said, doula, and a pandemic, a couple of folks in my agency and someone in my family structure suggested that I be the doula for our other co-founder, Jill damn Borg. And so I supported her through her postpartum in that was in the first few weeks of the pandemic. So it was intense. I was with her and Sunny and our partner Brad when no one else was around, her family wasn’t around. And we navigated some pretty intense feeding journeys. Postpartum mental health recovering from a surgical birth was really, and it was profound for me to have this kind of like, underneath connection through someone who was in my family structure. So there was a lot of intimacy built in. And then Jill passed me along to Lizzie when Lizzie got pregnant in June of that year, and I supported you through your pregnancy and postpartum journey.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 09:01
This is all true. This is true. I found out I was pregnant with my first kid the weekend that George Floyd was murdered. Pretty intense time for all of us and an intense time to start a pregnancy journey. And at the time, I was running a film fund at TELUS. I’ve been in and out of organizations and have, but I’m an entrepreneur at heart and wrapping my head around. healthy pregnancy in a pandemic, isolated from my family in the States. I was born in the US. It was it was a lot it was a lot to hold. Knowing that we would have Emma would have support through birth and right after just gave me the confidence to navigate those pieces and find joy in them, even when it was kind of the scariest thing that in many ways that we’ve all we’ve all lived through. And Hank was born in February 2021. Mo was with me through a day-long birth and labor. And right after that Pat, my partner also in the other room here. And it was an illuminating experience to access care and have care. doula care in our home care that was based in, in person in-person care education within a larger medical system. Our eyes started opening and thinking about understanding this business that they were running, and seeing what the impact of this care had on my life Jill’s life our community’s life on our kids. And imagine what if this care was accessible and understood by everybody. One of those care workers had different access to support had different access to marketing and business models and just provided this for more people, more families. And those were the first terminations of Bruton imagining what it could be, Ironically, and we’re gonna dig into it more it was during my parental leave, and Jill’s parental leave that this idea came to be and was developed. So it’s a very meta it’s a very meta story for Bruton, our startup that began in the experience of care and caring for one another. And you’ll see that in how we talk about our work and how we work together, we are very enmeshed in our understanding of family and the way that we support the people that we work with.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 11:44
Hmm, I love that and so tell us more about what Brood is and what are the you know, resources, courses, services that Brood offers? And who do you offer them to? You mentioned sort of the dual legs, I guess a brood? What does that look like?
Emma Devin (Brood) 11:58
So Brood offers support to families and communities of folks who are pregnant and curious through to the first year postpartum. But we also support doulas and the doulas on our team and care workers on our team to be able to it’s like, you know, nice little circular economy moment, we when we have care workers that are well, they can provide much more impactful care to families that are needing that and that are in really vulnerable kind of acute care times and their lives. And so how we do that is with our families, we provide them, you know, with care workers that are well and supported and have mentorship and community connection and support from us as a foundation at Brood. As well as making sure that you know, there are lots of continuing education opportunities that, you know, with my little care worker brain I’m going in and I’m thinking okay, like, what’s the next thing that we can support them to learn more about? What am I seeing as sticky points, and we’re kind of wrapping that all into how we take care of our care workers? And then for our families, we’re looking at, okay, so you’ve got these care workers that are well, they’re coming in and supporting you and your home and your hospital, wherever you’re birthing, wherever you’re postpartum, as we’re coming in and supporting you there, again, with knowledge, education, emotional support, mental support, logistical support, resources, all of that. And then what we also wanted to do is, when you’re like 3 am, in the middle of the night, you’re up here nursing your baby, you’re like, what’s that thing my Doula told me? Or what stuff? You know, like how do I? How do I do? How is like, you know, adjust this latch, or what’s this thing that I’m supposed to remember about baby sleep, we also have our family membership that families have access to. So you have access to all of our courses, which are, they range from topics like pregnancy, birth, and postpartum through to feeding your baby, for the first year, into the first year postpartum. We have a course on postpartum in the fourth trimester, we have a course on early parenthood. We also have a course on miscarriage and loss, which we hold dear to our hearts because there’s not a lot of education and support around a loss. So we have all those courses. We also have an online portal, which is kind of a place where I always joke and say, I hope that people go there instead of Dr. Google.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 14:24
Dr. Google, yeah, just the worst.
Emma Devin (Brood) 14:26
So it’s got articles we love, podcasts we love, and all of our educational resources. Everything’s gathered in one place trusted practitioners. And then we’ve also got lots of our free resources. We’ve got our blog, we’ve got, you know, lots of little bite-sized pieces we’re putting on social media. And then the last thing that our families that don’t have access to is our private virtual online community of parents and doulas. So it’s another place where I get 3 a.m. You may not want to text your doula. Throw it in our group. We’ve got all of our doulas in there we can all come in and answer your question and, or bias, but we also have a cool community of parents that we think are so awesome and engaged and valuable and incredible.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 15:15
Amazing! But like just this focus on community I’m connecting the practical resources like that is my whole rezendentre is streamlining support for those that need it. That’s what we do at Startup Canada, for founders, this is what you’re doing for folks in general, who are often bombarded with so much information, you’re saturated with all of these different sources and all of these different perspectives and not knowing what you should be, you know, exploring your intuition and what you should be seeking support from various professionals, where do you reach out to community, it’s, it just feels like a whole flurry of information at all times. So I love that you created these safe spaces to, you know, provide those opportunities for people to access on their own, on their journeys, and respecting the places that they might be at all of these different parts of what the parenting journey might look like, for them. Incredible, absolutely incredible. So to kick off the conversation, we’re gonna be going into parenthood in entrepreneurship, that will be kind of the root of our conversation. But I want to talk about families and the idea of families and parental leave first, just to give some context to our listeners around what sort of this nuclear family, and this bias or this tilt, where we often consider, you know, father, a mother, their children, usually a couple of who’s married and heterosexual. Of course, we know that family structures look so different than this today. But why does this nuclear family still inform so many of the policies, the expectations, how we structure how we talk about parenthood, who a family is, and what they might need? What issues arise when we don’t consider and include everything that families can be and look like? Walk us through your perspectives on that.
Emma Devin (Brood) 16:59
I love that question. Families and kind of pulling apart family structures and understanding, you know, how nuclear like the the focus on nuclear structures came to be. And then what does it mean, when we speak so focused on nuclear family structures, as opposed to you know, what larger family structures and abstract families can look like? And I mean, that’s something that we focus on a lot of brood with, like our family structure, and all of the kids in it. And, we see the benefit of being able to navigate the challenges joys, and obstacles that life throws at you as a larger family structure. And it’s also interesting, you know like we have our own. We have our challenges and restrictions and that, and then there’s, you know, like policy restrictions within that. You know, there are logistical restrictions within that. And so I think it’s really interesting when we look towards how can we create a landscape that’s more accessible, where there’s more equitable care where there are more resources where there’s more representation, and we can kind of open up the dialogue and open up how we support people, and what that can look like, and how logistically we can adjust to include more families, even if it is potentially a more typical family of, you know, two parents, whether one is working, both are working like, you know, 2.5 kids white picket fence like you can still find that in queer communities. And those folks are still kind of being left out of many conversations and policies. And so I think it’s interesting when we can open it up and look at what all of the different kinds of families are and how we can, yeah, look at focusing on creating that more diverse, accessible landscape.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 18:53
Yeah, and another like, my hearing you talk about that, and thinking about this conversation within a startup context is, this community is already making decisions to do things differently. And if you’re having a kid today, it’s already going to look different than it did for our parents, even friends who had kids 10 years ago because we’re juggling different career expectations, a, you know, climate crisis, economic ups, and downs, we’ve all been through a pandemic, an ongoing pandemic. The decisions that we make are different, and I’m biased, but from what I’ve personally experienced in this community, especially women and nonbinary folks and startups we are down with the uncertainty and we’re okay to do things differently. Now, it takes more effort to understand, unpack, and then learn as we go. But we’re already here. So it’s taking that time to we’re revising the rules as we go and we’re trying to capture those learnings so that our kids, our friend, As the people behind us can do things differently, and there’s nothing better than looking at the queer community, for example, or black entrepreneurs or other people in this community who are already breaking rules to look at them and say, how, how have you been doing this? How have you made it work for you? From that moment to is, it might sound really scary, but this is a place of power and a place of joy. And a place of choice. We, we, you know, we brewed, we chose each other, and we choose this work, and we choose to do it within a like startup context, we’re proud to be a part of the fam tech community, like focusing on startup and tech solutions for families. And it’s a whole community of people doing it differently doesn’t make it any less hard. But we’re sort of figuring this all out together.
Emma Devin (Brood) 20:54
And I love that I just had to pop in, you’re just talking about how other folks have done it before us. And I think that that’s something that, I lean into when it does get hard. And when we’re like to him, we’re like rewriting some stuff. And that’s not easy. And there’s Yeah, a lot of beauty and choice and joy in that. And when it gets hard, I just lean into, you know, think about all the elders that have paved the way before me like, there’s no way I’d be at a microphone, like a good handful of years ago. And so I lean into that, and that. Knowing that, yeah, we’re paving the way forward for the people behind us. And looking, you know, ahead to all of the folks who paved it for us is also. So fortifying.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 21:40
I love that I love that before we get into some of the technical lessons on families and parental leave, and all the nuts and bolts of that, which I’m very excited to get into. I want to talk about language, and what it means to be gender inclusive in the context of parental leave. And even as I think of the parental leave policies that we have at startup Canada, I naturally think of particular, you know, pieces of language. And I’m personally very curious in this conversation, or most organizations operating within an understanding of gender-inclusive language? Do you have prompts or questions that leaders can ask themselves to, know, and assess if the language that they are currently using is harmful or helpful? Can you walk our listeners through maybe some of those pitfalls, or those blank spots that we often find ourselves in when talking about families, and making sure that we’re all aligning to much more inclusive language moving forward? Maybe from this episode?
Emma Devin (Brood) 22:34
I mean, I think it’s such a beautiful question. It’s so it’s so incredible to see you kind of understand the power of language and how it impacts parental leave. And having such an interest and willingness to host this conversation is so beautiful, and like, oh, man, look at that major step forward. So that fills me with so much joy. And I think unfortunately, a lot of folks and organizations and companies and corporations and the government there, there is not an awareness of the impacts of language and how it impacts families and how it impacts accessing parental leave. And I mean, my brain is already firing, thinking, you know, of course, there’s something about families that are queer, but I’m also thinking about families. You know, I’ve worked with a lot of surrogate families this year. And I’m thinking a lot about those parents. And how do we pick who goes on parental leave? How do you and you know, there’s a specific family, I’m thinking of that one of the parents and partners is in the educational sphere. And so navigating that intense bureaucracy, and how he wasn’t able to get parental leave because of some language that was so specific, and it’s so heartbreaking knowing Wow, you, you can’t access this. And yet you have a newborn at home that is demanding. You need to support your partner and support your family unit, and you’re not able to access that because of this language. So it’s been interesting seeing the impacts of that in the past few years, as we’ve been working with more queer and trans families and alternate family structures. I think my big thing is obviously, how do we kind of de-center the CES narrative and cis assumption? So how do we you know that that classic, like you were saying, Father and wife married with 2.5 kids, how do we kind of pull that apart and go, Okay, how do we include? Yeah, the surrogate families where there’s, you know, potentially it’s, you know, two men having a baby, how do we, you know, include them in the conversation about parental leave? How do we include trans families in that how do we include you know, how do we understand pull it apart outside of okay, whose body is birthing the baby and what gender is happening? If we just really zoom out, I find that a lot of time, if we zoom out, we parental leave, instead of, you know, maternal like maternity leave, or whatever, if we just zoom it out tends to include a lot more people. And it’s usually as simple as that. So that’s, that’s my big takeaway.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 25:18
And then, like an organizational way, what’s important to us, and you were saying earlier, like our words, make our worlds, and that starts with how we talk about ourselves, and how we understand how you know what our family looks like, and how we speak about our own experience. And then it also means either leaders or founders or I mean anyone in an organization is taking the time to do the research. And whether that’s, you know, listening to other voices, talking to people in your community, paying someone with lived experience, something that we’ve all been sort of learning and talking about, I hope, I think within the last few years, but we don’t have to be perfect, and there’s so many amazing resources, we’re going to send a bunch, but it is taking the time to learn and invest in creating words and structures that can work for everybody. And it’s an investment in yourself and your organization. This sounds very meta, but there are some little things that we have done in all of our courses, We made the effort, not the effort, we made the decision and the commitment to use all gender-inclusive language for our courses. We don’t advertise this, it just says, and it’s amazing to know that that’s out there, which means anyone, any partner, any person can learn about pregnancy and right after in a way that works for them. And that’s a, you know, small and bold decision. We also give our families like our clients lots of opportunities to talk about themselves in a way that works for them. Whether it’s telling us like about their pronouns their family, whether they’re partnered or not, what do they have multiple partners. We also and if things change, things change in people’s lives, especially between one partner and the next. You know, that’s even elements outside of, you know, pronouns people use or their partners, it could be other health elements or things going on in their life. Just letting people talk about themselves helps and taking the time to listen. And oh, this one yeah, not being perfect. We’re gonna mess up we do we always do. And that has been helpful for me personally, in my journey, being a co-founder and supporting lots of families with different kinds of care workers is knowing that we can still make assumptions about people about their parenting journey, about their role in a startup, we make assumptions about resources that people have, people think that we have lots of resources right now, like we do not. So it’s, it’s just taking a beat. And you do end up being so much better for it. But saying a lot, it is a lot of work. We’re also here if you need to message us and ask questions like we’re, we are a nonjudgmental, works-in-progress
Emma Devin (Brood) 28:26
Yes. works in progress.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 28:30
Love it, aren’t we all? deeply. And I think that the research piece is so important because even if I think of myself creating sort of Canada’s parental leave policies and consulting many legal experts to make sure you’re aligning your legal language to what the Government of Canada might be positioning, that is only going to bring you so far. And that language I would say is not as inclusive as it needs to be. So balancing the structure that we are naturally living in, and that we are still having to adhere by to try to even attempt to receive any type of benefit, you know, AI aside, which many founders are not able to access, which we’ll talk about in a second. But taking all that Intel, and then also doing your independent research and finding out, you know, within your company structure, what is the policy you’re able to create? What is What are aspirational targets you might be able to create in the future as you get more stability, etc……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Like, I’m really curious to get both of your perspectives for early-stage founders who are navigating this potentially with their first employee or their second employee, who don’t necessarily have the financial means to offer as generous of a benefits policy as they might be able to, but that’s an aspirational goal. What are some incremental steps that can honor some of these commitments to supporting parents in the workplace, but recognizing the resource implications of that, like this is a tricky thing a lot of founders come to us with and I know I don’t have the answer. I’m navigating this similar journey with myself. What are the incremental sort of babies That’s to begin that journey,
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 30:01
Okay, we’re gonna get into it, we’re gonna get into it parentally we’re gonna, we’re gonna breed this, we’re gonna, we’re gonna duel a parental leave together. You were just setting this up perfectly. This is one of the most complex parts, of parenthood or supporting parents. It’s emotional, it’s logistical, financial, you’re navigating policy. And if it’s a startup, it is unsafe, like it is so fucking uncertain. It is, everything is also a milestone in, you know, this person, this family’s journey. This year, it’s real. It’s happening. We often, in my profile, talk a lot about my personal experience. And we’ve spoken to a ton of friends with different roles. And I’ve got lots of stories to share, too. But what’s interesting is we focus on the beginning of parental leave. When is this person off? How long are they taking? How are they sharing it with partners or partners? And we often forget about the end of coming back to work, what that looks like, their options, what they need to balance two jobs, because parenting, being a caregiver, whatever that looks like, you now have two jobs, or probably more than that in a startup role. So it’s taking a beat to say, this is complicated. Killer, the reason why it’s hard is because it’s designed to be hard. And we’re creating the rules, like, from brand new, and because we don’t want to do this, right? And we’re navigating a lot. So that being said, it’s a big mess. Let’s dig in a little bit further with
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 31:44
that it’s not, am I missing this playbook that’s on the internet of how someone takes parental leave? This is deeply complicated,
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 31:51
We do have some playbooks that we will share with them. There are in there, there are people who’ve done and focused on the, like, the policy piece, the HR piece, like really putting this down. And again, it’s so great, I’ll share some wonderful resources. But we often find and especially in supporting, like we are in home supporting families, it’s it is this identity piece, like people, really people who are planning on taking parental leave, having their work identity stuff, especially in the startup role where your work is your worth, and you’re who you are, there’s that there’s planning for your finances for the business. Especially right now, very scary. There’s planning for your financial health. There’s thinking about your work relationships with your team, your co-founders, your big clients, like, that’s a lot. You’re thinking about navigating these government systems, right? Like managing. If you are privileged enough to live in work in Canada, most of you probably listening are like it is Although it is hard and imperfect is a privilege that our friends in many places, especially in the US are fighting and dying for right now. So it’s political, as an airline political, being a parent, it’s very political. Being an event body is very political, and you just want to take time to recover and be with your baby or baby healthy, healthy kids. So no policy, no manual is going to take all of that away. But we know that naming and acknowledging all of those pieces just helped us make sense of why this feels so hard, right? Why does this feel so much like what I missed in the lead-up, Then we’ll talk about what to do now.
Emma Devin (Brood) 33:53
Yeah. And I think that this is something we talk a lot about how can we support? How can we support the entire like, we want to do the thing where we’re giving you all of the information, and we want to make a joy forward evidence-based, but we don’t want to overwhelm someone, or bring a lot of fear-mongering and like we don’t want to do any of that? And so it’s this tricky dance of how do we give you as much information as you can to make as much of an informed decision as you can without overwhelming you and not making sure that you’re more resourced to also make this decision. And so I think that that’s, that’s another piece that we struggle with a lot.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 34:33
So Kayla, Where where are you at right now and thinking about this within your team?
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 34:39
So we are implementing a new parental leave policy. So we have been working with our lawyers to add top-ups to review language to support this to our expanding team as well. We went from a very kind of volunteer to contract to full-time journey over the last you know, a handful of years and it has been a priority of mine, it has also taken way longer to get this policy up and running. And that’s with full board support that’s with full obvious support from our team management support, etc. And it felt like this dance almost of what can we offer everyone who wants to be on this journey of parenthood. But also, I mean, assuming that not every single person on our team would want to become parents overnight today, what would be that implication for the organization? And could we withstand that additional support financially would be able to, you know, hire and manage the HR implications of that it’s just thinking through, I guess, structurally, financially, but knowing that this has to be a priority, and it it has the space and energy and urgency, but still, I can see myself even is this enough? Is it not enough? What is enough for parents, et cetera, and just sort of looking and researching at so many different models, and being a little bit overwhelmed through that process as well, right, there’s, you know, the best government of Canada policy, the, you know, all these different corporate structures, we can look at other startups that are doing things differently. There’s a lot of information out there. But it’s also very hard to find, I’m discovering. So it’s been a lot of uncovering and kind of going through the back end, you know, conversations, etc. Because a lot of this stuff isn’t published either, which I find super fascinating, but it’s been a journey.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 36:30
Have you had anyone use it? Maybe not yet?
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 36:35
No, that’s such a great question. We’ve never had somebody on our team take a parental leave, which is shocking to me. And, you know, we’ve been around for about 10 years. And so that I think speaks volumes, to the lack of support, I think there has been historically on our team, to be honest, and even more urgency that we need to make this a safer space for folks to take a parental leave. But, yeah, that’s a really important question. And something I’ve thought about all the time.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 37:04
It’s, I mean, you, you’re doing the work, and you’re so committed to the team. And, you know, we are only, you’re only going to learn from people’s experience and learning from them as they go. As we were saying, if you have all the legalities and you have a team, you’re thinking about the capacity of your team. It really will only be having someone who’s like having someone you know, have a kid take that leave in whatever way that looks like, reintegrate back into the organization to then understand, it’s always about, you know, reiterating, one thing that we were talking about is an assumption piece and why like really deconstructing family before we dove in is so brilliant, is making assumptions that people want to become parents or biological parents, that’s also an assumption we’re not making any more. But it’s using parental leave to think about, grief and loss, whether that’s for parents or friends or pet bereavement, like having that as a policy. All of us are heading into being part of the sandwich generation. So we’re having different kinds of caregiving needs come up our, in our families in our lives. So is it taking time off to like using the thing to take time off to take care of an elder or an aging parent is, is thinking about those family needs and those family care needs? There’s possibly a bigger way. Granted, yes, we’re working within, you know, parental leave, like the government, paying to EI, you know, managing those benefits, and that’s different. But there is a lot of work that we can be doing, and their expectations from think art, like share generation and the people behind us that, that they need to see that commitment. And that understanding that that family needs that family care needs might not be just about having, having a baby.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 39:06
It’s a great point.
Emma Devin (Brood) 39:08
There’s something I also like, in my experience of taking care of families. It’s gonna be a version of what you’re experiencing Kayla with, you know, parental leave, how do we do this? They’re going parenthood, how do we do this? And something I’m always telling families is like, don’t feel like you just need to ace at all and, you know, do everything right and have all the answers and I feel like that’s the thing I want to share with everyone here too is outsource. You know, like, like, who is the can you for example, obviously I’m gonna go this way. But if you want to support your, you know, employees, the people who are working with you, your community if you want to support them, then like come to brood. For example, give them educational resources through courses like make people more He’s listed that way, as opposed to feeling like you need to tackle it all on your own and figure it all out from scratch. Like, some people have figured it out before us and who have resources and an understanding and have done research and how can we involve them in the journey? And how can we pay them for all of that work as opposed to being like, Oh, my God, I need to redo it all by myself. Like we need to, you know, rewrite the playbook to okay, how do we how do we outsource some lube folks, and
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 40:32
That’s such a good reminder.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 40:34
Another thing while I’m kind of holding to people, I’m thinking about to people right now, if people like to ask you to have teams who are supporting them, imagine I’m stepping into parenthood, or whatever family means they have, then those folks who run their organization or work for a startup and they’re pregnant, curious, or they’re newly pregnant, or maybe planning on stepping into that. And when I was thinking and reflecting on my own experience, and talking to friends who’ve taken parental leave, some of the things that helped, like for those who are experienced, like are pregnant or on route to being that is I loved having two kinds of mentors or friend tours, we call them like friends going to source I was pregnant at the same time with a very good friend who I worked with I was her manager, Kristie, love you. And we were able to navigate incredibly complex, like family leave scenarios together, compare notes, shared deeds, like reminders, with like three-week-old babies on doing paperwork, there’s a lot of paperwork, and go through it together, that was so powerful. Having someone that is not your partner helps you. And then having a mentor who is six or nine months ahead of you, someone who especially in Parenthood, has been through it enough that they can show you that there is another side through whatever, you know, exciting hurdles that you’re going through that you will make it and they just keep growing with you and I am but I feel so lucky to be behind amazing parents of, you know, 18-year-olds all the way down to like five-year-olds and three, my kid is two and a half. So that’s something I would like to recommend, if you are moving through this right now, that find those, find those friends to navigate it with you. Um, and then thinking more holistically, like if you’re planning your parental leave, whether it’s sharing with a partner or yourself holistic planning is again, not just for like getting your nursery set up and having your birth plan also call us, we can help you with that. But it’s parental leave, whether it’s three months, six months, nine months, or 18 months we see a lot of challenges when people are planning to go back to work or they’re slowly tiptoeing back into work. You’ve had this experience, you’ve maybe had some feelings of grief and loss about your identity. There’s a term of presence, it’s interesting, which is about like really stepping into motherhood or parenthood, you’re a completely different person. But you can’t work the same way I cannot work the same way that I did, which is a good thing and a hard thing. But how, you know, how might you give yourself the space to, tiptoe back into work to face back into work, to engage with it? We were brainstorming brewed. There’s a legend that we were brainstorming during labor, I can’t remember that cause true, we were brainstorming like
Emma Devin (Brood) 43:50
seven business ideas and labor. And labor. people cope and
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 43:58
Always think of good ideas in the shower good ideas when you’re birthing, you know, same same.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 44:05
But this concept was so real. It’s like it’s a passion for us. But I was so excited to work on something to have support. And then I’d walk through the neighborhood with a pain that was like, I don’t know, three weeks old. And I was able to step into a different place of work. A friend had mentioned that she loved working on volunteer boards during her parental leave because she was able to not do the work, write an email do anything time-sensitive, but she was able to still be engaged, still feel like like herself, which is what a lot of new parents parents talk about. So that that work identity piece and that returning to work is something that we think about a lot. And then there’s the really the logistics about recovery and sleep to talk about like sleep support. Yeah.
Emma Devin (Brood) 44:59
Well, I think there’s a little-known fact. And I was doing an in-service for a physio clinic, full of pelvic floor physios, right, like experts in our field. And I just came in to talk about, I was kind of talking about, you know, parents capacity, which are the clients of this clinic, and we were talking about them, because there are clients and families too, and it was so funny to be in a room of physios and be like, Hey, here’s all the ways that parents are impacted by parenthood, and they were all kind of like, Oh, my God. And so then you’re like, Okay, right, if the experts are also, you know, sometimes in shock as to how diminished the resources like parents are in their resource nests the average person is going to be like, have such a far, far, far away understanding of that. The one fact that all is illustrated to highlight is that infants and newborns do not have a circadian rhythm for six to nine weeks. And I just kind of tell parents nine weeks because it’s a gradual, you know, turn on, it’s not like it’s six weeks, we have a circadian rhythm. No, it’s usually about nine weeks, where you’re kind of partying through the night, every single night. So you’re waking up every two to three hours for a minimum of nine weeks straight. And Lizzy is gonna laugh at this as is every parent listening to this? In what world? Does your baby then sleep through the night at nine weeks old? Not enough of them? So then you have to decide Okay, wow. So now my kiddo has a circadian rhythm. But what is sleep for the next 12 to 18 months? You know, how are we going to engage with it? What does our family want to do with that There’s a whole new set of decisions in terms of are we sleep training. Are we not? How does this feel in terms of like, our family’s values and morals and like our style of parenting, and then it’s a practice, you know, like sleep was a practice, we all again, as founders understand how our sleep is impacted and how much work we have to take to protect our sleep health? Well, imagine you’re trying to teach that to a tiny person, while your sleep is getting impacted. And it’s really interesting and wild and heartbreaking how many parents have postpartum insomnia, That’s something that we talk a lot about brood Jill’s open about her own experiences with postpartum insomnia. And it’s this, you know, phenomenon that we see a lot when parents are so focused on curating healthy sleep habits for their babies. And, you know, navigating, again, feeding them through the night, what does lactation look like? What does nursing look like? How do we keep doing this as we’re going on vacation, or just, you know, having Daylight Savings Time, and then your sleep as a parent is usually deprioritized? And then you Oh, well, you have insomnia, six to nine months postpartum, potentially, and then you’re gearing up to go back to work. And not only are you sleep-deprived, but now you also have insomnia. So it’s so much, and that’s why I think, you know, the focus on supporting parents to be more resourced and to engage in their community and ask for care and understand what asking for care is and what receiving help and care is, is vital to navigating all of these things, because that sleep piece is just a very small percentage of what parents are navigating in the first 18 months, but when we kind of dial into it, people are like, oh,
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 48:21
Yeah, absolutely. And then on the startup side of this as well, one element that I hadn’t considered until fairly recently was, you know, if you come back to an organization that is naturally, you know, in a startup mode, it’s growing, it’s changing, it’s constantly evolving, you come back six, 912 months later, you’re potentially coming back to an entirely different company, if you’re the founder, if you are, you know, somebody that plays a senior role if you’re an employee, how does that feel coming to not only you know, this, this brand new role as a parent, but also coming back into an environment that is completely unfamiliar word processes have changed, all these different elements have evolved. There’s so much turbulence, that that in that moment, I can, I can imagine. And, and we don’t talk about this, like, I don’t think a single person that, you know, I’ve talked to through an incubator program and our accelerator or any formal programming when it comes to entrepreneurship. This is not even a small bullet under any of the formal, you know, learning about setting up your business incorporating, you know, considering all these different growth trajectories for your business, there’s no space for this conversation. Why do you think that is?
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 49:24
I’m, well, I’m in patriarchy, capitalism completely, like how cool is it that we’re having this conversation and we’re making parenthood and family care the priority and we’re saying that this feels different, but it’s true, like people would? I’m from? I was born in the States. I’m a dual citizen, and I think about my friend’s reactions when I said I was taking 18 months off
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 49:53
there so well, it’s 12 weeks in the US it is
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 49:57
If that’s that One, parenthood is both, like, celebrated and performed. And it’s also really hidden away, you’re pumping in rooms, you’re not asking for help. And we are at this crisis moment, it’s taken this crisis, maternal death rates, lots of horrible stuff, this care crisis for people to say, this sucks, this is not okay. We do need to talk about this because we can’t do our jobs. And something that, that so it is hard. And we do need to work differently. We need to manage each other differently. I think, you know, women and queer people in leadership positions are ready for this we are we are better at this at holding all the truth the truths differently. But there is power. And there is power in this moment. And there’s something cool. You know, Brewed was started with gentlemen I on parental leave, she took a job strategically knowing that she would have a supportive parental leave with a childcare belt, and didn’t know what she was going to do next. On parental leave, I knew I wanted to do something different. I didn’t know what that was, Britain was born at this moment, there’s something so magical about that. We’ve met and collaborated with so many businesses that were also started during people’s math, like Matt and parental leaves, which are basics. Friends of ours that like the same thing happened. Sam is about to go on her second parental leave. Maven says they’ve they’re in Toronto, they also tell the story about starting these amazing slippers built for. Mostly, we like women’s feet and foot challenges, especially after having a kid like these are problems that people are solving during this time. And they’re developing their business models based on this moment. So something is amazing here. And yet, it’s harder for people to fundraise. When people know that there are kids involved in caregiving involved, our capacity is lower, we can invest 16 hours a day in our business. So we’re just holding these these two truths at the same time. But I just want to go back to something you said about like, you’d be returning to a completely different organization. And maybe there’s a way to plan for that. That’s less about excluding someone from that evolution, but an example. So we’re sitting in the Kellyanne Kelly podcast to do in Vancouver, Lauren Bercovich, is a managing partner for her second parental leave, she had wanted to be different than her first time around. And so she running her own media startup said, I know that I’m going to return a different person. So I’m going to outsource. I’m going to get a fractional CFO, I’m going to get a fractional marketer, and they’re just going to be built into the business plan now because I will mom with two kids and be able to do that work. And that structure, which is now almost five years old, really served her and this company to this day, finding these opportunities when we are in control of how we can change and shift to make those more than that’s why we say like, look at this holistically. And also look at the return as a big part of the plan. And make it better, like better for business and better for the organizations. And parents just get it done. It’s so true. Parents are like, I might work differently. I might have a different ability. Or, like time than I did. But the output and the passion are unlike anything
Emma Devin (Brood) 53:39
and your perspective, right? Oh, yeah, that’s unreal. Like just cuts through the noise like, oh, my gosh, the lessons of parenthood. And I mean, I’m thinking back to the first like, year of developing and building brood and thinking about, you know, the things that held us when we had no resources, very little resources. And we were just, you know, really bootstrapping, still, are we leaned into what we called flexible accountability. Leaned into that and be like, Hey, these are goalposts, these are the things we need to do. And we’re going to be flexible, because two new human beings are a part of this, and aren’t helping with the workload, but they’re a part of this. And love you, Sonny and Hank. And we also leaned into really meeting each other where we were at and helping to reduce barriers wherever that was. So if that was a Zoom meeting, where the amount of amazing Zoom meeting screenshots I have, where Lizzie and Jill are both feeding the babies and all of the different ways is amazing. Or being like okay, we couldn’t get childcare today. Okay, here’s where we’re going to have the meeting. Here’s how we’re going to do it here. You know, the priority is meeting together. Here’s barriers, we’re gonna reduce, here’s, you know, I can feed you in this way I can do this in this way, you know, will the A lot of meetings we’ve had on the way to pick up or whatever daycare pickup, we just really have developed a language of care. And the language of support and how, yeah, but it’s, it’s a, it’s a whole language like we had to develop it. And I didn’t work together.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 55:17
It’s not perfect. And we’re, you know, we were right before we jumped on, we’re saying this is so timely. Because we know at some point, not immediately, but at some point, we will be supporting me through a parental leave. We don’t know what that looks like. But it’s a commitment, you will be the first, well, maybe not, who knows, who knows. But this, like, we have these experiences to take from our own from us, and then our community to say, this will be very meta when you have kids to do this, but it’s gonna, it will happen, it will change the business, it will. We won’t be starting from scratch, but we love even naming that now. It could be years from now, but we know we’re like we are committed to making sure that we are in a place that is stable enough and supportive enough to make that happen. And that’s what we were saying earlier, it’s like why don’t we talk about this we have to both not make assumptions, and just normalize the conversation so that if people want to opt into parenthood, they can’t they can. But you don’t want to be you know, a person with a uterus over 30. And people looking at you being like, So
Emma Devin (Brood) 56:43
Are you a ticking time bomb?
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 56:44
Do you have a secret? Yeah. Are you going through something? Are you not? Yeah, it’s Yeah, yeah.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 56:51
And that’s a different podcast, which is fundraising while pregnant or with kids.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 56:55
It could be
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 56:57
that we are currently that we aren’t currently doing.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 57:01
And to that, I think part of the challenge and even in my research of seeing, you know, different models to even look to for inspiration, this information is not in one consolidated place to say, here are all of your different types of parental leave options, if you’re a nonprofit, if your corporate, you know, looking at different fundraising cycles, that naturally your business might be going through as a startup, all these different options are amorphous, they’re impossible to find. And you’re often just having conversations, which, you know, is helpful to get more texture and color, etc. But it takes a tremendous amount of time for many founders to even conceptualize what those options are. And I would love to get a sense from both of you, if you could illustrate or paint a picture of different structures you’ve seen to maybe help our listeners kind of see what this can look like, you know, we have these conversations often around, you know, women, identifying founders, and to see it and be it, et cetera. But this is never a secondary sort of level that we share these types of stories of how have they navigated through. And how can we use those templates to inspire change for the future in things that weren’t as supportive as we thought, and share those learnings actively? So I’d love to get maybe some concrete examples from both of you. If you wouldn’t mind sharing, I have a few dreams that come to mind for you. Yeah, you go for it.
Emma Devin (Brood) 58:11
I mean, this is a sad story, a joyful story. I know someone who is queer. So anytime you’re queer family planning is just a thoughtful thing to be, which, again, joy, choice, heartbreaking, all the things in one. As this person was planning to take parental leave, they understood that EI wasn’t an option, it didn’t feel worth it to them in terms of the financial investment and the return. And so what felt like the best option was taking a line of credit out. And then using that as a DIY parental leave, to then be able to take some time off. And, like the priority was, okay, what’s my parental leave, so I can take time off and heal from birth and understand like, what it means to be a parent, like, start that journey. And then also, the second part of that was okay, so I have enough time to organize childcare. So I can then be more resourced to, you know, engage with work in a new way. So it also had this fluidity to a timeline where, okay, that could be three months, that could be six months, whatever it looks like, I have that flexibility in a way that EI didn’t give in terms of the money, freedom.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 59:29
That’s one example of DIY buying it. So we have seen everything from solopreneurs to, like small founders to people, not larger organizations, the solo like printer people writing or working for themselves. There is flexibility in planning for this financially. You’re not worrying about a team or capacity it is on you. The stories we have heard and have asked our community to share have been the return to work has been harder. Getting back into a flow balancing childcare, which is also why we did not get into that because it is a whole other conversation, but balancing childcare and support, to then go back to your business, if you do not have a team is challenging. But that parental leave is usually a combination of personal savings, business savings, and then EI government support for those in more like larger organizations and startups or like Kelly Kelly, like running a business. It is also a combination of ensuring that employees or founders are on salary and that they are paying into EI as well as savings. And if the company can do a top-up as a part of a benefits package, or larger benefits package, that is also an option. In startup, I haven’t heard about it being longer than an additional three to six months, I don’t think many can afford more than that. But often the flexibility, the ability to work from home, and the flexible hours are more supportive for parents on the other side. So many people do stay in those roles, which is interesting, sort of that holistic pullout of what works for people. And then, like personal experience, and many others, where they either have a startup or they can plan for the future, go into a more corporate setting for a What am I want to say more fulsome package, we see a lot of people do that, yeah, that was my own experience, knowing that I was ready to build something but stayed for parental leave. And in Canada, I was able to take 18 months some of that was unpaid, but a combination of paid and unpaid. We’ve also seen and heard from lots of different kinds of parents who have shared their parental leave with parents of all different genders, handing off that primary caregiver role. And sharing those making sure they have those paid months to cover the basic costs. Those can all be different. Having examples of, of, you know, different kinds of families navigating that or even like a sis hetero family and having the like dad that takes three or five for six months of parental leave, I think it’s really important. We need more examples of that. Yeah, so really, the elements and people in our community, it’s people want time with their kid, they want time to recover, they want time to recover from burnout. So it’s finding ways to give them as much time and capacity as possible. If people want to go back to work, this is also something that we’ve seen fairly recently. Some people want to go back, some people want to go back to work as soon as six weeks. And it’s also making sure that they have that choice and that option to do so. So these are the things you’re balancing government money and top-up benefits, figuring out if people are on your salary and payroll, understanding what the business can afford, and whether you have backup. Do you have a backfill? Like a pat leave backfill? Is there an opportunity for someone in your organization to take on that role? And you know, level up in some way? Yeah. So it’s a ship mix, there’s no one size fits all. Choice. There’s a spectrum of what we do now that works is a choice if you’re the first one in the organization that you look outside, and that there are so many conversations about the reentry, the reentry year around sleep around sickness around this ongoing pandemic. It’s it’s more about that first year back to that that needs a lot of care.
Emma Devin (Brood) 1:04:18
Yeah, I think to touched on the childcare piece because it’s it’s an iceberg. It’s so people think okay, well I just got a daycare. I just got a spot and daycare work is good back to work. Yeah, right. Like the first like, entry into daycare can take a minimum of a month in terms of gradual entry and then like literally having the hours in time that your kid is in care, let alone how your kid is adjusting. And then hello September, October, November, December, January, February, all illness months at a minimum. So not only are your kids constantly being sick and not in care, but then you’re being sick and so you’re sick at home with a kid with a You’re taking care of and then you’re trying to like work off the side of that. And so I think that it’s this, again, the continued leaning into flexible accountability and understanding that you have a kid now that’s a part of your life or kids that are part of your life. And you just really have to, like, they’re folded into what this all looks like. And there’s not going to be a patchwork solution where they just disappear. And you get to be this person that you were before and you get to perform in this way. And so I think that that’s the thing to think of, when we have expectations for parents, like yes, they’re powerhouses of work and perspective. And oh my gosh, what can they bang out in an app in an hour is unreal, the like, bursts of work are phenomenal. And the like power of like, when they happen is unreal, and understanding that parents need that ability to rewrite what it looks like for them and when they access that because if we force them into it like that’s just never gonna work, ever. Do you
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 1:06:03
think there’s been a massive shift in that? Historically seeing okay, you’re physically in an office, you’ve you’re putting on work hat versus, you know, coming home and putting on childcare had or that type of thing now that we’re working much more remotely are now that that conversation is entered in Have you seen that be a catalyst for more conversations around this flexibility and approaching Parenthood in a more blended fashion versus just, you know, you’re either wearing hat number one or hat number two,
Emma Devin (Brood) 1:06:28
totally. And I think that, you know, it’s like all the viral videos of like, kids bursting into, like, really important meetings that like, you know, we saw the first year of the pandemic that are so like, This is so funny. And it’s such a beautiful thing to get to kind of blend those worlds and have access to parenting. And it’s also a huge burden, because now you’re not changing hats, you’re wearing a stack of like 10 Hats constantly. And that is a huge burden to constantly carry and not to be able to get to have the privilege of compartmentalizing. So I think it’s it’s, it’s, it’s twofold as is everything in parenthood, but I don’t necessarily think it’s just an easily beneficial thing. We’re like, Yeah, this is amazing. I’m kind of like, yeah, parents are suffering, I don’t think that it’s necessarily been an overall positive thing.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 1:07:29
Interesting. Very interesting. So rounding out our episode, I feel like we could have a part two, childcare, and part three, looking at all these different parts, which we may have to do. Because this is not, you know, going to be, we’re not going to cover everything in just a one-hour podcast episode. But if you had any final advice, or final words that you want to leave with our listeners, what can leaders reflect on after this conversation to bring into their teams, solo founders, etc…. What are some final thoughts you want to leave with our listeners today,
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 1:08:00
Thinking about care and centering care in your workplace is better for everyone better for you better for your team for your clients, it is the most important value right now. And we’re seeing that in all of the conversations that are happening. The investment might feel uncomfortable, and it might feel tricky, but you will, you will need care, and you will be providing care at some point in your life. So stepping into that leadership space, and knowing that you have the ability, and the Flex, like do you have the power and control to do that, in your organization is an incredible place to be. And it’s a privilege and a place of power to take that on. I love that
Emma Devin (Brood) 1:08:50
looking at parents as whole beings that have whole selves and that are coming to this, like we’re talking about wearing the many hats, needing flexible accountability, like understanding that concept. And that a parent is going to be many things and also has incredible power within that. I think that that’s such a good place to start when we’re thinking about okay, what does parental leave look like? What does reorganizing your role look like? What do you as a person in this moment look like? I think that when we understand the layers of a person as a parent, that’s a really bad and beneficial way to start and continue these conversations.
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 1:09:29
And joyful. It’s there’s so much joy. It’s hard, but
Emma Devin (Brood) 1:09:36
It’s the best. It’s the best. It’s the best.
Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada) 1:09:39
I mean, that’s the entrepreneurship journey, right? It’s unbelievably challenging, and hard and lonely often, but can be better than you can ever imagine. So I feel like that’s an interesting parallel right there. Thank you so much, Emma, Thank you so much, Lizzie. This was an amazing episode. And again, we might just be doing multiple extras on top of this to cover even more ground But final ask for you where do we find more information about brood? What’s the best way to access these resources and find more intel
Emma Devin (Brood) 1:10:06
brood care.com For our website and at brood care on social media, all of them,
Lizzy Karp (Brood) 1:10:13
Thank you for making this conversation happen and being so thoughtful and curious. It’s it just says a lot about your team and what you’re thinking about.
Emma Devin (Brood) 1:10:25
Couldn’t agree more.