Bridget Cutler and Megan Deaton of Moms Helping Moms never set out to create a nonprofit organization—they were moms who just wanted to give diapers to moms in need. Our NJMOMpreneurs of the Week first met in 2011 when they lived in Hoboken, and Megan offered to help Bridget with donations for underprivileged moms with newborns. Joining forces allowed them to grow into the largest baby supply and diaper bank in NJ, and during the height of the pandemic, they donated over 633,000 diapers in every county in the state. We caught up with Bridget, who lives in New Providence, and Megan, who lives in Chatham, to discover the catalyst for starting the foundation, why diapers are possibly the most important thing you can give to a mama who’s fallen on hard times, and the reason why Jersey diners are always a good idea.
How did Moms Helping Moms come to be? Tell us about each of your professional journeys and what led you to this venture.
Bridget: After graduating with a business degree in accounting, I worked in public accounting, banking, and hedge funds, but after having my first child in 2011, I was looking for a career change. I decided to pursue a Masters in Education so that I could make a difference and help people. Around that same time, I came across an article about a mom who gave up her baby for adoption because she couldn’t afford formula, and it broke my heart. I looked around at all that I had for my baby, Brynn, and knew that many of my friends were the same, and I knew that I could do something about it and make a difference. When I first started, I wasn’t setting out to launch a business—I just wanted to help moms who needed some help.
Megan: I worked for large nonprofits and international and higher education, and then I went back to school for my Masters. When I found out I was having twins, I realized that my teacher’s aid salary wouldn’t carry the cost of childcare, and I wanted to do something apart from being a stay-at-home mom. When Bridget was picking up some of my donations, I offered my help, which she quickly accepted, and I haven’t looked back.
What makes Moms Helping Moms different than other charitable organizations?
Bridget: To our knowledge, we are the only organization in New Jersey distributing a variety of baby essentials. We don’t always have everything in stock, like strollers and pack-n-plays, but we can always guarantee food and diapers for the babies. Pretty early on, we realized the importance of diapers in helping a family thrive. Without enough diapers, babies are more prone to rashes and infections, and without a day’s supply of diapers, you can’t drop your baby off at daycare. It doesn’t matter if a parent has someone help them with housing, job opportunities, or subsidized daycare. They cannot go to work or drop their baby without having diapers. This small but crucial piece of the puzzle is so important, and it wasn’t being filled before we existed. Our foundation serves other needs too, but diapers are at the core of our work.
Megan: And it works because there’s a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds in our state and a great need for this. We receive personal donations, support from small businesses in the community, and a network of partner organizations and businesses that step up time and time again. We couldn’t do it without them and are forever grateful.
Besides diapers, how else does Moms Helping Moms help?
Megan: Another essential aspect of our foundation is helping women. On the first National Period Day in 2019, we started collecting and distributing period supplies because it’s another aspect many overlook. But if you don’t have period supplies, you’re not leaving the house for a week every month. It affects mothers, caregivers who would have to stay home from work, and girls in the home who would have to miss school every month—it’s a giant barrier for so many families.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
Megan: Very early on in the pandemic, the need skyrocketed. It was overwhelming and scary because we were frantically figuring out how to handle our own families and sort out life. We started focusing exclusively on diapers because we were limited in our staff and couldn’t rely on our volunteers because of safety issues. But we made it work. Our program director connected us with new agencies to help out, and we arranged for contactless pickups. In 2020 we donated 633,000 diapers, which is more than double what we donated in 2019. People who previously had been fine were finding themselves in financial hardship, and we stretched to serve every county in the state, making it a real period of growth for us. It was also scary because many grants were on hold, but many donors stepped up to give, and it made all the difference.
What was the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself after launching Moms Helping Moms?
Megan: I didn’t know Bridget before this journey, but I learned how to speak my mind, trust my gut, and take chances from her. She’s pushed us to take risks, and it’s always worked out and brought us to new levels.
Bridget: And Megan has taught me the importance of listening more than talking. Our relationship is very yin yang—we balance each other out!
How do you unwind after a stressful day?
Bridget: I’m kind of a homebody and love being around my family, so if I’ve had a rough day, I’ll put on a record, make a nice dinner and have a glass of wine or curl up with a great book or magazine.
Megan: A walk helps me de-stress, so my husband and I will head outdoors with Jambo, our golden retriever, while the kids ride along on their bikes. Since quarantine, we’ve been spending more time outside, and being in nature does the trick.
Please share some of your favorite local businesses and why you love them.
Megan: Two come to mind since they add something special to the Chatham community. One of my favorite local businesses is Fleur de Sel, a patisserie and bistro in Chatham with the most amazing French pastries. I also really love Sorriso Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant that serves the special needs community by teaching them invaluable work skills.
Bridget: Since I’m Jersey born and raised, diners are in my blood. When we started looking at towns to live in, we’d always check out the closest diner, and Prestige Diner definitely helped win us over. Great diners are important because everyone can always find something they’re in the mood for. My favorite thing there is probably the Breakfast Quinoa Bowl, but their soups are out of this world good, too. And I love that they’re very involved and support so many organizations in the community. I also have to mention Elefante Music, a family-owned business that has been so incredible for my children, who take musical theater and dance classes there.
Please share some of your families’ favorite places to visit.
Megan: My family and I are big fans of Sandy Hook. As great as it is in the summer, we especially love it in the off-season because it’s much quieter, and we have so much fun riding our bikes there.
Bridget: We are a big beach family. We have an apartment in Long Branch so that the kids can swim and surf all summer, but we spend time at it throughout the year. Also, we love Pier Village and Asbury Park, which reminds me a lot of New York City with its diversity of businesses and people and everyone hanging out together on the boardwalk and beaches and in the bars. And because music is big for us, we love The Stone Pony and even take the kids there. I’m sure that later on, we’ll end up retiring in one of these towns.
What advice do you have for a MOMpreneur just starting?
Bridget: Get advice from others in your industry. Mentors are the best way to help you navigate uncertain waters.
Megan: It’s okay to run your business or organization at your own pace. Sometimes something is going on at home that needs your attention. Take a minute, and focus more of your time and attention on your family. When it’s your own business, you make the rules.