The Entrepreneur Whose Stillborn Baby Inspired her Startup

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A business born from tragedy.

Laura Grzelak of Link & Luna

It was during the excitement of her first pregnancy that Laura Grzelak got the glimmer of an idea for a business. “I came across these beautiful Moses Baskets from Africa on Pinterest,” she recalls. “But they were super expensive and so was the shipping. At the time, we were planning our wedding and renovating our house and I knew there was no way I could convince my husband that we needed this Moses basket. I thought, ‘If only I could get one here to Australia’.”

The idea planted a seed, but it wasn’t until two months after giving birth that Laura took action. “We were on holiday in Byron Bay and I saw some people with the baskets,” she says. “I thought, ‘If people in Byron have them, it’s only a matter of time before they get to Newcastle’. I also knew my paid parental leave was coming to an end and I needed to get back to work soon.”

The founder of Link & Luna – a supplier of handwoven, ethically sourced baskets – is not the only “mumpreneur” to use her maternity leave to start a business, but Laura’s story is tragically different. Her son, Linik (“Link”) was stillborn at 35 weeks, on November 14, 2016 – the night of a super moon – after an ultrasound revealed his heart had stopped beating.

Yet despite this tragedy, she decided to launch a baby-product startup, where every social media post, every marketing image, every customer interaction, would remind her of what she’d lost.

“I know how crazy it seems to start a business selling baby products after just losing mine,” says Laura. “When I first decided to launch the startup, the negative self-talk was loud. Who am I to sell Moses baskets? I have no baby! But after losing my son, I still had paid maternity leave from the government. I had four months to get my life back or, in my case, redesign it.”

She spent her savings buying stock (“My husband thought I had gone crazy”), and on March 8 the Link & Luna website went live, along with an about section that explained Laura’s motherhood journey. The first order came in three minutes later. Today, they stock three types of baskets (Moses, Market and Planter) and new designs are often sell-outs.

An important part of the brand is Laura’s honesty and openness about her relationship with grief and the anxiety she continues to suffer. “Some days I don’t cope with it all,” she admits. “I have to message my husband and let him know that the house is a mess, I’m a mess, I can’t go out in public, so forget about me getting the groceries. I’ll probably be working through dinner because I can only find enough calm to focus when he gets home.”

To ease the pressure, she only posts on social media once a day, uses the guided meditation app Headspace and limits her to-do list to three items daily. “Overwhelm is my biggest enemy,” she says. “I’m pretty tough on myself and if I don’t complete all my tasks I’ve set out to then I’m super disappointed and anxiety ensues after that.”

As well as equipping Australian parents with beautiful Moses baskets, her aim is to support other parents of stillborn babies. This year, she has donated 400 Personalised Keepsake boxes to parents through the Red Cross Organisation, which came to take imprints of Link’s hands and feet after he was born. She is also in the process of setting up a charity in his name, where a percentage of business profits go to buy more boxes.

“When I first decided to launch the startup, the negative self-talk was loud. Who am I to sell Moses baskets? I have no baby! But after losing my son, I still had paid maternity leave from the government. I had four months to get my life back or, in my case, redesign it.”

“Looking back, I definitely suppressed how [launching a baby-related business] made me feel at the start,” says Laura. “I felt total horror to my core every time someone asked if I had children. But I believed in myself. I know this is what I’m meant to be doing, not just selling baskets, but speaking out and sharing my story.”

In July, Laura made a special announcement on the brand’s website. She is now expecting a “rainbow baby” – the name given to a sibling born after a stillborn. “At times, I feel nervous and scared, but for the most part I feel excited and have unwavering faith,” she says. “I want people to know that I am living proof that beyond any darkness, there is light and, with a little belief, you can really do anything.”

Photography by Caitlin Sims

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