Thursday 24 August 2017

Look what the stork brought - a service for expectant parents

Sisters Vicky O'Dwyer and Sophie Cafolla have just launched a new service to help new and expectant parents

Sisters Sophie Cafolla and Vicky O'Dwyer have just launched The Stork Box. Photo: David Conachy
Sisters Sophie Cafolla and Vicky O'Dwyer have just launched The Stork Box. Photo: David Conachy
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

Vicky O'Dwyer may be an obstetrician at Holles Street, but she was still fazed when she went to give her own newborn son, Paddy, a bath. She enlisted the help of her sister Sophie, but alas for poor little Paddy, she wasn't much more clued-in. "We put water and suds in a tub and plopped him in," Sophie recalls. "He started screaming crying and we realised that the water was freezing cold. We totally messed it up, but it was hilarious."

Vicky recalls how Sophie minded Paddy while she and her husband Brian went to a wedding, but the baby started to cry and Sophie didn't know what to do. "She phoned her husband, Ivano," she laughs. "When we popped in between the church and reception, Paddy was in Ivano's arms, smiling and laughing."

The sisters grew up in Dartry and Ballsbridge, and their parents are John and Imelda Gleeson. Vicky was four when Sophie was born. "We got closer as we got older," says Vicky, "and we're really close to our parents. As teenagers, we shared clothes and make-up, and we also used to steal our mum's clothes because she is really stylish." Sophie says she was sporty and Vicky was academic and musical when they were at school.

Their dad worked in commodities, and their mum was as an Aer Lingus attendant before becoming a psychologist. The girls enjoyed some trips to New York as children thanks to their mum's job. Vicky (35) became interested in medicine when their dad had a heart bypass aged 40. She went to UCD to study medicine, and then specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology. Her training took her to hospitals in Dublin, Limerick and Cork, and she is now the maternal medicine fellow at the National Maternity Hospital, where she looks after pregnant women with medical problems.

She is also mum to three children, Patrick (seven), Holly (five) and Jack (20 months). Her husband, Brian O'Dwyer, works in sales and she first met him in sixth year in secondary school. They dated briefly and then got together a few years later.

Sophie studied economics and sociology at UCD and then did a postgrad in event management and PR. She set up her own consultancy, Muse Events, and currently looks after sponsorship for Taste of Dublin. After that is over, she will devote herself fully to The Stork Box, the new enterprise that she has just launched with Vicky.

Sophie (30) is married to Ivano Cafolla, son of well-known personalities Cindy and Ivano. They met at the Oxegen festival and he owns No. 5 bar. They have a daughter Sienna (two) plus Ivano also has a daughter Sophia (seven) from a previous relationship.

The Stork Box specialises in products for mum and baby, including a pre-packed maternity hospital box. The idea came to Vicky because expectant mothers were always asking her what they should take in their hospital bag. She regularly sees people with huge cases full of stuff they don't need or missing things they would have liked.

The sisters have come up with a range of pregnancy and gift boxes, plus hospital boxes containing essentials for both mum and baby during their hospital stay. The Baby Bag contains essentials like clothing, a blanket, nappies and wipes, and the Mum Bag contains toiletries and female hygiene products especially for a new mum.

"We were both working when we were pregnant, and I learned a lot from Vicky about what the actual essentials are," says Sophie. "There are so many lists online, but we wanted to create a service that takes the time and stress out of preparing the maternity hospital bag, while also providing the very best products to help make the hospital stay as comfortable as possible for expectant parents.

There are also a few extra touches to treat new mums, such as magazines and a Just Eat voucher, so they can order their first meal at home when they're too consumed by the new arrival to cook."

In addition to the Maternity Box and Pregnancy Box, there are three gift boxes - the Newborn Stork Box, the Night Night Stork Box, and the Playtime Stork Box. Sophie has also developed her own baby clothing range, Mini Style Addict, including baby vests and babygros.

The girls' dad supported them in establishing the business, and it is already being very well received. Going forward, Vicky will remain working in her hospital job, which she adores, while Sophie will devote herself full-time to the business.

"I will be doing the day-to-day running, but it will be myself and Vicky working on the full plan," says Sophie. "Going forward, we plan to launch our second range of boxes in July and then another range within the clothing side in October."

Vicky says Sophie is amazing at planning and organising, and is the outgoing, bubbly one. She also admires her sense of style. They are best friends as well as sisters and speak every day, and their children play together as they live five minutes apart. They actually lived together during their college years, and got to know each other's friends, and Sophie says that Vicky is more laid-back while she is "bossier".

"Vicky is super smart and determined, and I think it's impressive how she juggles her work life with her own life," she says. "She's a terrible driver though!"

www.thestorkbox.ie

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