When we found out the Nathalie Walton, a new mother and the CEO of Expectful - a meditation and sleep app for fertility, pregnancy, and parenthood - was a fan of the Ritual Rug we couldn't wait to learn more about her and how she balances work and family life. Her journey and life path, as well as her candid conversation around issues facing mothers, and particularly women of color, are refreshing and inspiring. Enjoy this conversation with Nathalie!
Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming CEO of Expectful, both as a business woman and a mother?
I’m an unconventional entrepreneur. In 2010, I was introduced to entrepreneurship at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business — it was love at first sight. From there, I spent two years studying entrepreneurship, and yet, I didn’t dare to follow my dreams. At the time, there weren’t any entrepreneurs that looked like me, and that lack of representation made me feel uncertain: could I really be an entrepreneur? I didn’t know if it was possible, so I took another path. I spent eight years climbing the ranks of eBay, Google, and Airbnb, where I gradually built the confidence to venture into entrepreneurship.
Then, in 2019, I had a traumatic high-risk pregnancy. As a Black woman, my experience is far too common. During pregnancy, I came across an app, Expectful, and Expectful’s content quickly became an incredible resource during a period of intense stress. While on maternity leave, I came across an opportunity to advise Expectful. I connected with Expectful’s founder, Mark Krassner, who was looking for the right person to succeed him as CEO, and when we met, something clicked. As a user, a new mother, and a longing entrepreneur, this felt like the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. I joined Expectful in September 2020 as a late stage co-founder and CEO, and I couldn’t be more confident that I made the right decision.
Can you share some of the challenges around modern motherhood that you've experienced or witnesses and how does Expectful's offerings provide resources to combat that?
The state of modern motherhood is one where many pregnant and new moms feel an overwhelming lack of support. Sadly, some groups face more dire circumstances than others. For, example, Black mothers are 3–4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications (and are more likely to have pregnancy complications) than White women, and it’s an issue we’re only beginning to discuss.
Expectful started as a meditation and sleep app for fertility, pregnancy, and parenthood, and since we launched, we’ve supported thousands of women on their journey to motherhood. Now, we’re quickly evolving to meet other pressing needs women face. For example, we recently launched Mother's Circles to support postpartum moms in a vulnerable state and a hypnobirthing course to guide women through labor. We also launched Black Mama's Meditate, a free meditation collection to help Black women navigate the maternal mortality crisis
What are some other wellness practices, resources or tips for things that help support you, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually or practically?
Meditation is my most important wellness practice. As a new mother, sleep has become one of my biggest challenges. Meditation improved the quality of my sleep; without it, I would be a zombie.
Yoga is another wellness practice that has supported me throughout my life. I began practicing yoga in 2006, and it’s a tool I keep coming back to. The mat (in particular, Ma Wovens mat) is like a home base. I can always depend on yoga to brighten my day.
Has motherhood changed your perspective about what's important or meaningful to you, and if so how?
Absolutely. Motherhood has forced me to live my life in a more urgent manner. My favorite quote is from Seneca, “It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.”
After having a child, it became so clear how much time I used to waste on things that weren’t important. As a mother, and a CEO, my time is extremely limited, and I simply can’t do it all. Parenthood is the perfect mechanism to force us to eliminate everything that, at the end of the day, doesn’t actually matter.