Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Lezak.
Jennifer, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in San Diego and was living on the East Coast when I moved back to California, to Los Angeles in 2008, when the country was in the middle of the financial crisis. My partner (now husband) and I had been living in Manhattan. I was selling real estate and my partner worked in the entertainment field. Needless to say, my real estate career was put on hold for a while due to the economy.
My sister, who lived in San Diego, had recently had a baby and was having a lot of issues with breastfeeding. One day I was at her house, and she had a woman over—a lactation consultant who was helping her to breastfeed. It was the first time I had heard of this being a job. I had always assumed that breastfeeding was an easy, natural process, but was surprised when Karina (my sister) experienced feeding issues and low milk supply. I saw the struggle she went through to make it work and the guilt she felt when it didn’t. When the lactation consultant she saw referred to “formula” as the ‘F’ word, I knew that more compassionate support around new mothers was needed. And so I began my journey to becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Soon I found myself pregnant and back in college at UCSD. After a few years and many clinical hours later, I sat for the board exam and became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. In the professional world, I was lucky to find great mentors who took me under their wing and help me learn and grow.
Ironically, what I liked about real estate, I also liked about Lactation Consulting. I am meeting people at a crucial moment in their lives and helping them transition into something new and unknown. It is soul-filling work for me, and I really feel I can make a difference.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Building your own business without a steady paycheck and having only yourself on which to rely always presents challenges. As my husband and I took on the daunting task of raising two sons in Los Angeles, I began to build my career as a Lactation Consultant. I started my private practice, Milkmade LA, which allows me to meet clients in the privacy of their own home for more intimate support.
Milkmade LA – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I hope it’s my judgment-free attitude that sets me apart. I recognize how difficult it is to have a child at all and so I serve all forms of families— no matter what you look like or how you define it or whatever your goals —I will provide you judgment-free support. Along with my private practice, MilkmadeLA, I also work part-time at Kaiser Permanente (on Sunset Blvd.), where I’ve been in steady employ during the past three years. I work both inpatients in the hospital and outpatient in their lactation clinic.
I enjoy working in a hospital because it keeps my lactation skills sharp and allows me to see a wide variety of patients, which I may not always come across in a private setting. You can also find me teaching prenatal breastfeeding classes and consulting clients at Loom, an education hub for new families and working with LA local company Ergobaby where I write blog posts about parenting and breastfeeding along with moderating live questions on social media. On average, I would say I help support at least 30+ new mothers a week!
My philosophy is simply to meet new parents where they are at— meaning wherever they feel most comfortable. I personally never judge anyone for their decisions on how they want to feed their baby. I work to educate people to the best of my ability, and after that I am there to help them meet their goals, whatever they may be. If it’s breastmilk, formula, combo-feeding, nursing for one month or one year, all parents deserve the support and education that best help them take care of their little ones. I’m there to help them manage the daily tasks of surviving parenthood while also finding a balance with their family’s ever-changing needs.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Making it work in Los Angeles! Living in LA can be hard. Having found a career, I’m passionate about which allows me to help new families along with my own by make a living is my proudest accomplishment. My husband and I have worked hard to create a tight-knit community and home for our family. Life is what you make it, but for us, it also is optimism and refusing to be unhappy.
After more than 11 years here, we are so happy to call Los Angeles home. I’ve just turned 45 this year and never felt better. At the beginning of the year, I started taking guitar lessons and recently began playing tennis. This city has a way of keeping you young at heart if you’re looking to stay that way!
We love our small community of Jefferson Park, a suburb of West Adams, where we bought and have been restoring a historic home. Our kids go to school locally at an amazing dual-language charter school in the neighborhood, called City Language Immersion Charter.
I feel invested in my community and the larger communities I encounter through my work. Los Angeles can be isolating for new parents, as most of us are transplants from somewhere else, so I take my job helping people to connect and adjust to new lives as parents seriously, I also try to introduce as many new parents with other families I think they may enjoy. It helps us all to have a village on which we can rely.
- Website: milkmadela.com
- Phone: 619-733-6037
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @jenniferlezak and @milkmadela
- Facebook: MilkmadeLa
- Yelp: Milkmade LA
Michael Rababy, Kristin Anderson