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Every family has a unique story. Not every family is adequately represented in media, literature or—as Lettie & Co. co-founders Carlee Aschenbrenner and Kim Csek will tell you—baby books.
“When I had my daughter, I wanted to buy a baby book to record all the special moments along the way,” Kim explains. “I didn’t see my experiences reflected in any of the products on the market, and it didn’t feel very good to have to leave spaces blank or skip over certain sections.”
“They all talk about mom and dad getting married, mom carrying a baby to term and giving birth with no issues,” adds Carlee. “But every family deserves a baby book that reflects their journey, no matter what that looks like.”
Carlee and Kim are uniquely positioned to understand the many forms parenthood can take. They have both spent the past few years working as registered nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“We meet all kinds of parents from all kinds of backgrounds,” Kim says. “At the end of the day, we all just love our babies and want to celebrate every win along the way.”
In fact, the idea for Lettie & Co. baby books was born in the NICU.
“Part of what we do on our shifts is create journals for the babies we care for,” Carlee says. “We spent many night shifts together dreaming up ideas for a baby book that would incorporate some of what we were writing about in the NICU.”
By using inclusive language, providing flexible journaling prompts and offering a number of different variations, parents and families can purchase a book that best reflects their experience.
“Same sex parents, adoptive parents, single parents and any other family members can all use Lettie & Co. books without feeling shame or frustration about having to leave spaces blank,” says Kim.
Carlee and Kim have also included a NICU pack available as a custom option for the books. With NICU specific prompts, this version helps parents reflect and celebrate during a stressful and scary time.
Both are excited to be starting a business that perfectly combines all their passions and skills.
“I think there’s an expectation that when you enter a field like nursing, you’re locked into a career for the rest of your life,” Carlee says. “But Kim and I have both always felt like there was more that we were meant to do. And when you feel like that, you just have to trust your gut and follow your passions.”