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Entrepreneur

Naomi Kelman

The CEO Helping Breastfeeding (and Pumping) Moms Unplug from the Wall

All hail modern technology. Naomi Kelman is making waves for all the moms who’ve spent decades desperately seeking an outlet (and pockets of time) at the office so they can pump, with the introduction of the Willow—a wireless and actually wearable breast pump that fits right into your bra. But that’s not all. Kelman, who spent over ten years in leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson before joining the Willow team, has a much loftier long-term goal: to use innovation to normalize breastfeeding for all women. First step? Giving them their time and mobility back.

When did you realize what you wanted to do in your life?

“I am very blessed in that I had parents who told me I could grow up to do and become whatever I wanted; and I believed them! Some people know from a very young age what they want to do as a career...I wasn’t one of those people. It took me a lot of tries and experimentation to figure out the path I wanted to be on. For me, I am inspired to develop products that make women’s lives better. Helping women and young girls to have strong self-confidence and self-esteem is a personal passion of mine.”

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

“Introducing Willow to help moms accomplish their breastfeeding goals has been my biggest professional accomplishment. The Willow breast pump gives moms their life back by untethering moms from the wall and giving them their hands and their time back. It’s been truly humbling and rewarding to hear the feedback from moms and to see how Willow has helped improve their lives. And on the personal side, as a strong advocate of mentorship/sponsorship it’s been truly rewarding to see the personal growth and advancement of up-and-coming talent.”

What’s something you’d like people to know about you or your job that they probably don’t?

“I think we are all better people, more interesting and better at business, if we have interests and passions outside of work. It’s part of what makes us all unique and interesting. For me, I’ve always sought out unusual hobbies; in college I ran spotlights at music concerts and played ice hockey. My current hobby is flying; I’ve been a pilot for many years.”

What does being a woman mean to you today?

“I am the oldest of four sisters and so for me it was natural to expect that women can lead and accomplish anything they want. Women have the vast majority of spending power and are the primary decision makers as it relates to healthcare, day-to-day needs and many big-ticket items. Yet we are severely underrepresented in business and even in companies that make products for women. I am personally committed to developing female talent and in advocating for her success.”

Habit that has changed your life?

“Do fewer things, better. When I was young I thought that doing a lot of things was the way to be most effective. As I’ve gained more experience, I realize that striving for simplicity and doing only a few things—but doing them super well—is a good recipe for success.”

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