LOGAN SQUARE — Eden Laurin remembers her reaction when a nurse handed her big, mesh underwear, a “puppy pee pad” you fold inside of it and an ice pack “meant for your dad’s cooler” after giving birth to her now 2-year-old son, Bo.
“I said to her, ‘Are you serious?'”
Laurin couldn’t believe those were the postpartum products being handed out — by a prestigious Chicago hospital, no less. But no one had told her what to expect.
“My brain was so fried — you haven’t slept and you haven’t eaten anything — but I was looking at this pile in my hands and I was kind of shocked,” Laurin said.
From then on, Laurin talked about the sad state of postpartum care with anyone who would listen.
“I became obnoxious. We just had a rash of friends all getting pregnant, and it was all I would talk about, all I would ask about,” she said.
Laurin, a longtime Logan Square resident, had been working at the speakeasy cocktail bar Violet Hour for years and doing creative projects on the side. Along the way, she had developed close friendships with Violet Hour coworkers and creative collaborators Aubrey Howard and Mia Clarke.
The three friends all had babies in succession. Howard had her baby in fall 2016, Laurin’s next came next in summer 2017 and Clarke had hers last in fall 2017.
After the birth of Clarke’s baby, the three decided to do something about the lack of postpartum care they had all experienced firsthand.
That’s when Nyssa was born.
Last summer, the three launched their own company dedicated to supporting women after childbirth. Nyssa means “new beginnings” in Greek. It’s derived from the word “woman” in Arabic.
“Nyssa is a movement. Led by women just like you: Women who believe in a better way. For themselves and others. Women who know that women thrive in the company of women. In the companies of women,” the company website reads.
With Nyssa, the three entrepreneurs are creating and selling their own postpartum products and hoping to spark an honest dialogue about life after childbirth through a podcast (called “The Unmentionables”) and other creative endeavors. Nyssa is headquartered out of Laurin’s live/work building in west Logan Square.
Next week Nyssa will launch its first product: Fourthwear, “empathetically designed” postpartum underwear with room for an ice/heat pack for C-section and vaginal birth recoveries. The fabric, sourced from California, is made from post-consumer recycled plastic.
“It’s very soft, supple and stretchy,” Laurin said.
Laurin said the new product is a year in the making. New moms and design professionals were consulted along the way.
“You get a lot of opinionated consumers. I’m an opinionated consumer. I’m nervous about what happens next but also extremely excited,” Laurin said.
To help fund that project and other Nyssa endeavors, the trio is aiming to raise a total of $215,000 in donations. Laurin said they’re halfway to that goal. Anyone interested in donating can do so online. Those looking to become an “equity” partner should contact the founders directly.
Fourthwear will be available for purchase on Nyssa’s website beginning Friday. If all goes according to plan, there will be more Nyssa products down the line, including Fourthcare, branded ice/heat packs.
Laurin also said to expect a social component once things are up and running with Fourthwear. She said all of their returns will be washed and donated to a local shelter.
“Social programming is really important to us. As soon as we go into market, we’re going to start doing volunteering that people can participate in,” she said.
Nyssa isn’t so much about making money off the products as it is about creating a community of women who are working to change the narrative around postpartum life, Laurin said.
“Success, for me, would be participation feedback. Women that engage with us and say, ‘I like this. What should we build next?’ or ‘I want something for incontinence or something that helps through a meeting when I have a heavy period,'” Laurin said.
“Being able to have a conversation with our consumers — that would feel like success to me.”
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