THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON CAREER CONTESSA BY ERIN DOHERTY. IT IS REPUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION.
If you ask her, Latham Thomas didn’t choose her career. It chose her. The doula, best-selling author, and Founder of Mama Glow, a wellness site for expectant and new mothers, sees her career as a spiritual calling to help women embrace the miracle of birth.
Latham’s story is one of organic growth and diverse experiences. A graduate of Columbia University, she also studied with a master herbalist and is certified from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Latham herself says she didn’t approach entrepreneurism in the typical way: “I did everything backwards. I didn’t start with a plan, I started with a passion.” With the support of a few famous faces (Christy Turlington, Alicia Keys, Tamera Mowry, and Rebecca Minkoff to name a few), Latham has grown Mama Glow from meet-ups in her living room to a nationally renowned practice featured in the likes of Vogue. Read on to see how this spiritual mama is celebrating the miracle of birth, one delivery at a time.
Photos Diana Zapata; additional images provided by Latham Thomas
HER STARTING POINT
Looking back, how did your education influence your career?
My education was largely outside of school, when I studied with a master herbalist. [But] I’m grateful for the undergraduate experience I had at Columbia University—it undoubtedly helped open doors for me. For high school, I attended an independent boarding school in Colorado, Fountain Valley School, so I was already well adjusted to campus living and workload. I believe this prepared me for the university in the big city.
I think the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was a great program for me because it helped me develop my counseling technique—I became well-versed in nutrition in the program. I attended the live class, [but] it has since become a popular online program. I believe each path has its value. it’s what you do with your education and life experience that makes all the difference.
What exactly is a doula and how do you become one?
A doula is a birth worker who provides education, emotional support, and advocates for the expectant mother and family. A birth doula will help mentally and emotionally prepare a mother for birth. She attends the birth and also offers postpartum support.
I was led to doula care. It chose me. I was already working with many expectant mothers in my last practice, [where] we offered nutrition, culinary support, yoga privates, and classes. Clients started asking me to attend their births because they wanted my nurturing touch to extend beyond the yoga mat into the delivery room.
Then I had a vedic astrology reading where the guru told me “you’re supposed to mother the mother.” I knew exactly what he meant—I needed to take the practice to the next level.
Since then, it’s been an amazing whirlwind. We have served women of all backgrounds and our practice is world renowned thanks to the public support of people like Alicia Keys, Tamera Mowry, Rebecca Minkoff, Doutzen Kroes, and others.
Where did you first get the idea for Mama Glow?
I saw a need to celebrate the experience of pregnancy and motherhood—to elevate birth. I did everything backwards. I didn’t start with a plan, I started with a passion. Gloria Steinem said “dreaming is a form of planning” and that’s how I fashioned this brand. When my baby was sleeping, I would dream up ideas, write, and work on what would become Mama Glow. What started off as meet-ups in my living room turned into a booming practice.
“Mama Glow” is an abundant, radiant energy that comes from within. Birth is our rite of passage, and Mama Glow is our birthright—to walk in grace, power, and wisdom, to have understanding, reverence, and trust in our bodies. The act of standing in your power ignites a force within that glows from the inside out. It’s a personal style that reflects confidence, beauty, radiance, and balance.
Over time I wrote the bestselling book Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to A Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy, which has been endorsed by Christy Turlington, Alicia Keys, Dr. Christiane Northrup, and more. I knew things were taking off when Vogue and Destination Maternity called me to partner on a maternity fashion and wellness initiative. I’ve been so blessed to work with incredible brands aligned with our messaging.
What about wellness and maternity sparked your interest?
I’ve been inspired since the day I gave birth to my son Fulano. Mama Glow, maternal wellness, and well-being isn’t an interest, it’s a lifestyle, a rubric to live by. I committed myself to growing a brand that served a larger purpose—to transform the way women perceive their bodies, to help women reclaim their bodies as sacred, and give birth in an empowered way on their own terms.
I knew there was a group of women whose needs weren’t being addressed. We needed to serve them. I saw the media wasn’t speaking about the power of women in birth in a way that celebrated and glorified the process. So I put my own spin on it and put the sexiness back into birth.
HER BIG BREAK
What makes you and your services stand out from the crowd?
I focus on the work first. I meet a lot of up-and-coming entrepreneurs who are focused on recognition and media attention to grow their brands. I provide an impeccable service first.
I claimed a niche—everyone said it was too small a sliver to really make a difference, but 6.4 million women get pregnant every year in the U.S. alone. That’s a huge group. So I created an elevated brand experience and culture that catered to them, one where women feel like they are swaddled in support. It inspires women to birth the best iteration of themselves.
I don’t fit in the crowd, so I am not worried about standing out. I don’t look at what others are doing—I focus on what I am doing, and that’s what has lead me to become an industry leader. The truth is—I don’t have a publicist—I’m my own publicist, my clients are my publicists.
When we launched the Mama Glow Film Festival with Christy Turlington Burns and Selita Ebanks, and the Mama Glow Salon Series with Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, things really ramped up. We were producing high quality events of substance and appealing to the people who needed to hear the message most. I don’t want to preach to the choir, I want to grow the congregation.
What’s your day-to-day schedule like?
My days vary, but I rise early for my mindfulness practice—glow time. Then I start the day—a mix of client calls, home visits, team meetings, lunches, events, and interviews. I start the day with breakfast at the table with my son and end with us preparing dinner together at home most evenings.
Many people are terrified of public speaking. How do you prepare for high profile events?
I was once shy. Well not shy, but afraid of public speaking. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. I would practice in the shower and act as if I were on stage. Before most of my engagements I prepare by tuning inward, turning off social media, taking deep belly breaths with my eyes closed. If I ever feel nervous, I lead a brief breathing exercise for the crowd that I benefit from as well. If you feel compelled to speak, don’t allow fear to be an acceptable excuse for not doing so. Deep within is a reservoir of courage—tap into it.
Tell us about working with your two business partners.
Haley was a client and I was getting great market research from her. Rachel was my close friend and confidante. The three of us came up with the concept of the Mama Glow Film Festival in Haley’s apartment. 20 days later, we had a sold out event in the Hamptons and knew we had something. It grew organically and duties always shift, but Rachel and I always joke that we could run a small country.
How did you come up with the idea for Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy?
I just started to write. I felt inspired by my experience and I had years of information within me that I needed to get out onto the page. I went through three agents before I found the one who helped me get it in the right format and then Hay House bought it.
I discovered my writing voice in the process. People think there is a magic formula, and it’s really a discipline of showing up to your desk and having a willingness to commit to the process and allow the work to be channeled through you.
I think blogging is a great testing ground. I didn’t have a blog first, but I launched the blog after the book. Now we have one of the most highly regarded maternity web properties. The marketing and PR is the real work. I got every single piece of press on my book by myself. You have to know that you will be expected to sell your own book. So learning to craft your message and communication objectives is key.
What’s the number one piece of advice you always give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Start a sister circle of supporters. This is something I always suggest to my expectant moms. Just like moms need the support as they are embarking upon the journey into motherhood, when you are launching a business it’s great to have the support of people you look up to from different industries who can provide advice, bounce ideas off of, etc.
My other piece of advice is nurture your relationships. When you meet people, don’t ask them for anything. What can you do to enrich their lives? What can you do to help them? Keep your new friends and acquaintances up to speed with what you are doing, invite them to attend events with you, remember their birthdays. Do not ask someone you have never met to do you any favors. Nurture trust and authentic relationships first. This will create a safety net.
If you focus on nurturing relationships and take genuine interest in those you want to connect with, they will likely want to help you through mentorship or share some pointers. Unless you have a genuine business proposition beneficial to both parties, do not ask someone that you admire, who you’ve never met, if they “can meet for a coffee.”
More and more people are adopting a holistic lifestyle today. What are some misconceptions you’ve encountered about holistic health?
Holistic living is all about a full circle lifestyle, embracing and nurturing all aspects of oneself to maintain optimal well-being. It includes a healthy diet, exercise, self care/respite (what we call glow time), thriving relationships, love and intimacy (even if you’re not in a partnered relationship, making sure you have some healthy outlets for pleasure), a self reflective practice (prayer/spirituality), and a passionate career or authentic connection to your work. It’s all about feeling your best and making choices that line up with those feel good moments in life.
The U.S. is one of the only developed nations without paid maternity leave. What is your view on this? What are some of the most pressing issues that mothers face today?
I have traveled all over the world and the U.S. is one of the only places in the world that is backwards in this way. Maternal bonding is essential for the proper development of children and for the emotional well-being of mothers. You can not expect mothers to be able to rest and rejuvenate after birth if they are worried about income, if they have to return to work in six weeks. It’s ridiculous that we don’t place more value on family.
Mothers are stressed now more than ever. They are overworked, they don’t have support in the work place for successful breastfeeding—many transition out to never return. I have so many moms who come to me wanting to go the route of entrepreneurship because they have no interest in getting back to their previous work environment. We help many mothers transition into happier positions and find their way after baby.
To keep up with Latham, follow her on IG @glowmaven
THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON CAREER CONTESSA BY ERIN DOHERTY. IT IS REPUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION.