Meet the Team: Innovation Insights Manager Naomi Fukuda

At Plum, we’re reimagining nutrition from the very first bite and using business as a force for good. But we’re also parents and husbands and sisters and snackers and storytellers and Green Bay Packers fanatics (ok, that’s just one of us) who like to bring our dogs to work sometimes. And we’d love for you to get to know us a little better.

Meet Naomi, our innovation insights manager and new mom who shared incredibly thoughtful reflections on her recent transition to parenthood and how she’s keeping it together one day at a time.

Current city/living set up: 
I live in San Francisco with my husband and our nine-month-old daughter, in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the center of the city.

Favorite Plum product?
Naomi: Mighty Dinos are cute and delicious. I also snack on our Grow Well DHA pouches. When I was pregnant, I kept them on hand as emergency snacks!

My daughter: She’s been a Plum baby since the beginning. When she was a newborn, Plum formula totally saved me. I had always planned to exclusively breastfeed, but I had to supplement because I didn’t have the supply I needed. It was such a relief to know that I was giving her the best possible formula I could find. Now she has started solids, and she LOVES to eat! She’s a fan of Baby Bowls. She also likes Apple Spinach Super Puffs and our Little Teethers – anything she can pick up and feed herself.

What do you do at Plum?
As our innovation insights manager, I spend most of my time listening to and talking with parents about what it’s like to feed their little ones to make sure our product innovation is meeting their families’ needs. Since becoming a mom, I’ve gained a new level of understanding when it comes to our parents. We all come from different places, but there are so many aspects of parenthood that are universal.

Absolutely. Speaking of which – let’s talk about coming back to work after baby. How has that transition been?
When you go out on leave with a baby, you’re in this bizarro wonderland, mostly just trying to survive, but also soaking up those beautiful newborn days, all while trying to figure out how to actually be a parent. I came back to Plum last October after being out for four months. Honestly, the hardest part of coming back was making peace with leaving my baby in the care of someone else. Taking my daughter to daycare meant I had to force myself to surrender some control – when she eats, how she sleeps … it’s hard to let those things go. She just came out of my body!

But everyone at Plum has been amazing. There’s a high level of empathy for parents here – people genuinely care. They’ve either been there themselves or know someone who has. My team was incredibly kind and welcoming when I came back, which meant so much to me.

Logistically, have you been able to take advantage of some of the perks we offer?
Definitely. Plum does everything possible to make the transition back to work smooth. For me, the biggest perk has been not only having a clean and beautiful space to pump but also being given the time and space. Pumping three times per day takes a huge amount of time, but my team is so supportive that I never feel guilty about having to step out. I call into meetings from the pumping room! This makes a HUGE difference because it enables me to feed my daughter the way that I want to.

Our new Keeping It Together campaign is about the “life-altering experience of becoming parents.” What’s been the most surprising thing for you about becoming a mom?
It was surprising to me how little our culture supports parents themselves as they go through this crazy transition. There’s so much good information out there about early infant care – developmental stages, what gear you need, what to put on your registry. But there aren’t as many resources to prepare new parents for raising a baby in a culture that values personal independence, structure and predictability so highly. When caring for a newborn, you lose ALL control. So a lot of the stress of new motherhood comes from wanting to get that structure back. We want our bodies back, we want our schedules back, we want to be able to go a brewery and have our babies just come along.

We have such high expectations of ourselves as parents and as people, and it’s been hard to let go of all the things I expected myself to be able to do. But the truth is that motherhood changes everything. For me, it’s been important to accept that lack of certainty, and the embrace the instinctual need to care for this little one who needs my body, my time and my attention.

Have you been able to find pockets of time to recharge?
Believe it or not, but my daughter now goes to sleep at 6:30, so after she goes down my husband and I cook dinner together. We reflect on the day, try cooking something new or just have a moment of quiet time reading on the couch.

We also try to go on walks as much as possible. It’s so special being able to take time to be quiet and appreciate the fresh air, spring blossoms and barking dogs. We’re observing the world together.