Miriam Williams & Tara Elwell Henning
Business of Friendship
They’ve got benefits on the brain.
Miriam Williams and Tara Elwell Henning are the co-founders of Superkin, a small business on a mission to create better corporate policies and culture for working parents.
We chatted with the longtime friends to see how they went from making clothes to calls to HR, how snacks sparked their biggest campaign to date, and what’s next for their crusade.
How did you two meet?
TARA: We met over 10 years ago working our first job together at Louis Vuitton. We kept in touch over the years, [then] came back together on the West coast at a retail technology company called Narvar. That was where we had started families and the idea of Superkin.
Why did you decide to start a business together?
TARA: It just felt natural to the next step in our careers. We were always talking about who’s the cool new brand, and we realized that as new moms, the parenting space did not speak to how we were living our lives; it felt outdated.
MIRIAM: I remember I found this card at this really chic stationery store. It said, “Let’s do this,” in bright neon. I wrote a handwritten note to Tara, “We’re starting this company. We have to do this together.” She got it in the mail, and it was like a bridesmaid proposal. [Laughing.]
TARA: Superkin originally launched as a maternity apparel brand for work, but at the core, we were always focused on the conversations happening around working parenthood. When Covid hit, women weren’t going to conferences and work. We pushed pause on apparel and we launched our Add to Resume campaign to allow parents to flex their biggest superpower.
Where did the idea for the Add to Resume campaign come from?
MIRIAM: In March 2020, we were home with our kids. My son was running around every 5 minutes. I’m trying to get emails done and phone calls, and it was death by, “Can I get a snack? Can I get a snack?” We started [thinking], “What’s going to happen to moms if this goes on for more than 2 weeks?” As summer waned on, moms were talking about powerful cultural issues [like] how to raise anti-racist kids. We started to think, “How do we galvanize our community around something meaningful?… We have this great tagline ‘Add to resume: Grew a human.’ Let’s put that on a shirt.”
So you had the shirts. How did you spread the message?
MIRIAM: We found amazing ambassadors and lots of Instagram friends. We were blown away by the way people responded. We quickly added 2 more shirts—‘Raise a human’ and ‘Raising humans’—[to] acknowledge all the different paths to parenthood… In building up the content for our maternity brand, we had done a lot of research about the Black maternal health crisis, and the fact that Black and brown women are 3x more likely to die of a pregnancy-related cause than white women. We thought that was f*cked up and could be fixed, so we decided to raise money for the Black Mamas Matter Alliance [from our sales].
Now that the world is slowly reopening, what’s next for Superkin?
TARA: The pandemic magnified and amplified the challenges working parents were facing [with corporate] benefits and policies. Taking the momentum from the Add to Resume campaign, we are now pivoting to consulting for companies on policies and programmings for caregivers and parents. So many headlines right now are of the “Great Resignation.” Companies are having a horrible time recruiting new candidates and retaining existing candidates, so [they’re] having huge internal conversations around, “What are we going to do?”
That sounds like a huge undertaking. How are you approaching it?
MIRIAM: A lot of times companies just want to understand how they are stacking up, so we gathered data about what’s out there. Then our whole pitch is to go beyond parental leave, to think about all the different aspects of corporate culture that are going to make sure [companies] attract and retain parents.
TARA: We need better support. There are more dual-income households than ever before, [and] corporate America is based on the structure that a man works in the office and the woman stays home with the kid. It’s not the 1960s anymore. Things are different, so we’re helping companies humanize their policies around this cohort.