5 things I learned on my unexpected and unconventional career path.
Code Blue — Emergency...
My incredible nine-year-old daughter, Mia, was born with “a little something extra” (three copies of the 21st chromosome to be exact – more commonly known as Down syndrome), so I look forward to Down syndrome Awareness Month every October. This month of awareness encourages us to celebrate the lives of individuals with Down syndrome, educate our communities and the broader world about this condition, and inspire meaningful change in the form of acceptance and inclusion. We use this month to share not only facts about the most common genetic anomaly; occurring in 1 out of every 691 births, but to celebrate all the unique things about Mia and how she has dramatically enriched our lives. As our society progresses toward a more inclusive future, there are still those who pass judgment on which lives are “worthy” – who has a right to live. October is the month where we strive to get the message across that a life with Down syndrome is worth living, often in Mia’s own words, as she is the one carrying that “something extra” along with her as she journeys through life.
My daughter has profoundly inspired me. She is a sort of guru who teaches me lessons I never otherwise would have learned. Mia faces each day without lugging the baggage of the day before into it; she laughs when I spill the milk and says, “really, Mom? It’s just milk” Mia (seemingly effortlessly) conquers things that doctors told us she would never do. Mia simply doesn’t see limits. Before she decides she can’t do something, she always gives it a shot.
I have strived to emulate Mia’s fearless attitude since I decided to automate the infant formula bottle-making process. Because Mia could not breastfeed due to low muscle tone, I struggled to make bottles by hand… and it was infuriating. When I learned that parents had been making bottles the same way since the 1800’s I said – this needs to change, this can change, and I’m going to change it. Mia was the inspiration behind the creation of the Baby Barista Infant Formula System, a complete ecosystem of products that revolutionize the infant formula customer experience. I approached my entrepreneurial journey with the grit and determination that Mia exemplifies every day.
Baby Barista made the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School’s third annual Most Fundable Companies ® List. We beat out over 4,500 early-stage U.S. startups, spanning all 50 states, to be recognized as a Silver medal company on an exclusive list of twenty companies. The Most Fundable Companies initiative recognizes exceptional entrepreneurs who solve today’s problems with inventive solutions and are also seeking investment capital to fuel their company’s growth.
Being recognized by Pepperdine during Down syndrome Awareness Month is particularly poignant for me as a founder and as Mia’s mom. Two worlds, the world of entrepreneurship and Down syndrome advocacy, harmonized for me in a way that made me step back and humbly appreciate my privileged journey. Last year we celebrated Mia’s birthday at a rock climbing gym. Against all odds, Mia had strengthened her arms and legs enough to reach the top of the 45-foot wall. She invited all of her classmates to come to climb with her. We had commemorative shirts made for all of them. On the back of the shirts was a quote from Mel Robbins, a motivational speaker, and author. The selection was perfect for that magical occasion and sums up exactly how I feel in October 2020.
“You have been assigned this mountain so that you can show others it can be moved.”
Cara Armstrong, R.N. is the inventor. founder and CEO of Baby Barista.