For Melanie Disbrow, business and motherhood collide on a daily basis, but she makes it work. Case in point: This interview was conducted in her car, while her then 16-month-old daughter Quinn rode in the back. You see, driving around and around — even with no destination — occupies her toddler, and so Disbrow kept driving the neighborhoods of Allen, while revealing how Milk Snob, the Dallas-based company that makes the all-in-one car seat, nursing, cart, high chair and swing cover, became the successful brand it is today and how this multitasking mom manages to make it home in time to cook dinner for her brood every night.
Originally from Germany, Disbrow and her family moved to the United States in 2006 and eventually settled in North Texas. She and her husband Gabe (formerly director of real estate at Aldi stores, now president and COO of Leevers Supermarkets) are proud parents to now four kids—Josephine (Josie), 17; Eli, 13; Quinn 6; and Eleanor, 2—and live in Colorado, but she frequently travels back to Dallas for Milk Snob.
While her early career days found her behind the lens of a camera photographing other people’s babies, it was her own quest to find a fashionable, snug-fitting, multipurpose car seat cover for her oldest that put the wheels in motion for Milk Snob. Disbrow designed the functional cover herself and soon found herself knee-deep in orders from local moms.
But it was her appearance in November 2016 on Shark Tank (where she partnered with Lori Greiner) that catapulted Milk Snob onto the radar of every mom and mom-to-be in the country — and abroad too. Look for a collection of luxury multifunctional covers made from an ultra plush, super soft fabric in her online store and collaborations with Target, Nordstrom and other retailers.
RELATED: Meet another mom who found greater success after Shark Tank, Sleeping Baby co-founder Stephanie Parker
Disbrow now runs Milk Snob’s organic social media content (check them out at @milksnob and Facebook) as well as her own personal Instagram account. Follow her at @melanie_and_darlings to see more about her life today, and read below for our original interview with Disbrow in May 2017 when she spoke with us about how it all started.
DFWChild: How did you wind up in Texas?
Melanie Disbrow: My husband got out of the military [after being stationed in Europe] and we moved to the U.S. We first moved to California, then we moved to Michigan and lived there for five years until we moved to Texas.
C: You were a photographer. How did you start designing car seat covers?
MD: There weren’t a lot of neutral accessories for baby, so I started making my own. Then one of my good friends, Brittany Woodall, who was photographing Pink’s daughter Willow, asked me to make a headband for her [for the shoot]. I did it and when the photograph was published, people wanted [to know where the headband came from].
From there, I started a company called Faas Design [which made baby wraps, nursing kimonos and infant and toddler clothing and accessories]. That company morphed into Milk Snob. I am working to create a lifestyle brand for the modern parent.
“I listen to 15 minutes of positive affirmations. It sounds silly when you first listen to it, but it will change your subconscious.”
C: What’s does your schedule look like these days?
MD: Monday to Friday, I go to work [after taking the kids to school]. We have a nanny for Quinn. I get to work at 9am and I’m there until 4pm. Then I go home and cook dinner. That’s usually the normal [weekday routine]. But there are days when there’s a lot of driving around — Eli plays basketball, baseball and does horseback riding and Josie plays softball, tennis and does horseback riding too.
At the office, I make the schedule work for [the staff] so they’re able to be home before their children come home. It’s very important to me that they have their freedom to be with family.
C: How do you spend your weekends?
MD: Sometimes we drive down to San Antonio and spend the weekend with the grandparents (Gabriel’s parents). We ride horses. At home, we just hang out as a family — Gabriel likes playing basketball with Eli; I sit outside with the kids. Sometimes the kids have birthday parties [to attend], so we’ll go to those.
C: So there’s no working on the weekends?
MD: If there was something really important for work that I didn’t get done or (need to do), I usually try to do it early in the morning so we’ll have the day free. It doesn’t happen very often but it does happen.
C: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
MD: I listen to 15 minutes of positive affirmations. It sounds silly when you first listen to it, but it will change your subconscious; it will change the way you think. I do it every morning and before I sleep if I can.
C: You mentioned you cook at home. What’s your favorite dish to prepare for the family?
MD: I wrap chicken breasts in bacon. Then I put pineapple on it and pour coconut milk mixed with salt, pepper and a little bit of cumin and curry powder over the top before putting it in the oven. The chicken is like butter. I serve it with rice. I also do like German cooking, so I do a lot of things with potatoes.
C: Does your family frequent any particular restaurants?
MD: Our favorite Mexican place is Mexican Sugar in Plano — they do the most amazing cocktails (even virgin drinks!).
C: How about for date nights?
MD: We go to Ruth’s Chris, that’s our favorite place. In the past years, we never had babysitters and were always taking care of the kids, but now that they’re older and we have somebody that we trust, we do little trips. We’ve flown to Colorado; we’ll go to Los Angeles…The trips are really nice because we can spend time together one on one and exploring. So Gabe and I don’t go on many dinner dates—we go out all together with the kids—but we’ll do those little trips.
C: You seem like such a positive person, I can almost feel your energy over the phone.
MD: I wasn’t always like this. I was not in very good place [before]. I missed my family [in Germany]; I was homesick a lot … Then, I realized that you can put yourself in a certain mood. You are in charge of that. I changed the way I was thinking. It is a lot of work (positive thinking) — to actually watch and pay close attention to your thoughts — it took a long time to actually go through that process.
C: What are your favorite activities to do during your me time?
MD: Horseback riding. I also do watercolor painting, which relaxes me a lot.
C: One superpower you wish you had.
MD: Teleportation. I wish I could take my kids to visit my family in Germany whenever I wanted.
C: Your day isn’t complete without ______.
MD: Putting the kids to bed and praying with them.
This interview was originally published in May 2017.
Top photo courtesy of Milk Snob