No one tells you about being a mom. Yes, there are parenting books, magazines and websites galore, but they lack the frontline accounts, from exasperation to exhilaration, that you can only get from a mother. Enter Mamalode. What started as a local magazine, co-founded by Dori Gilels ’91, is now a multi-media company for moms, by moms.

What sets Mamalode apart from other parenting media, according to Gilels, are the first-person stories about authentic parenting experiences. Seldom will you find “how to” advice, tips or recipes.

Contributors range from New York Times best-selling authors, to mom bloggers to first-time writers.

“Mamalode started as a free magazine supported by local advertisers in Missoula, Montana,” notes Gilels. “But our readers started mailing copies to friends and within a year we had paid subscribers across the country and abroad.”

As with any business start-up, adaptability is crucial. When strategizing how to engage more people beyond their print publication, Gilels and business partner Elke Govertsen revamped their website to include essays, podcasts, videos and playlists, which extended to their social media sites. They publish three stories a day, five days a week.

“We know that moms' lives are complex, so we want to give them the content they want to read, listen to or look at whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them. Becoming multi-faceted and multi-platform is really about honoring the lifestyles of moms,” says Gilels.

A marketing major from the Isenberg School of Management, Gilels worked in the outdoor recreation and adventure industry in Vail, Colorado after graduating from UMass Amherst.  She became an environmental advocate before joining the Missoula-based Women’s Voices for the Earth.  As the group’s director, she led national campaigns to address the health impacts of chemicals in consumer products.

Looking for change and an opportunity to do more creative writing, Gilels submitted a small piece to Mamalode. It wasn’t long before she became a business partner and started looking at national opportunities to strengthen the company’s brand as a media company.

In May, Mamalode is partnering with Kate Spade & Company to share stories about a program called On Purpose, which establishes business women and artisans in Rwanda as manufacturing partners of the fashion brand. “We’re running a series of interviews with some of the moms working in Rwanda, in part to show that despite very different cultural circumstances, there is also a lot we share in terms of how we parent, what concerns us and even day-to-day routines,” says Gilels.

The company is also exploring different distribution channels for the print magazine. Understanding that moms are very important healthcare consumers and decision-makers, Mamalode is developing a supplemental piece exclusively for the hospital industry. “A Mamalode magazine, exclusively sponsored by a hospital, is a tremendous product to put in take-away bags for moms leaving a maternity unit,” remarks Gilels. “It’s the kind of thing that a mom would get and think to herself, wow this hospital really understands me and this experience I’m about to embark on.”

Mamalode has created a powerful point of connection for today’s moms and the myriad brands, services and industries trying to reach them. “We’re actively looking to establish creative business partnerships where we can add value and grow together,” says Gilels. “We believe we’ve struck gold and now we’re just looking for more ways to get it out of the mountain.”

Profile by Elena Lamontagne
Photo by Alicia Watkinson.