Take 12 takes aim at parental leave challenges

Take 12, a Twin Cities-based maternity leave registry platform, is striving to reshape the landscape of parental leave.

Marguerite Scott, Take 12’s founder and president, will present at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, March 27.

While the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 guarantees some employees 12 weeks of maternity or paternity leave, even if you are lucky enough to have access to them it isn’t always easy to make the financial aspects of those 12 weeks’ time work the way you want them to once you’ve brought a baby into your home.

Scott is a working mother of four children, and she has gone through unpaid or partially paid maternity leave three times.

For one period of maternity leave, she was working for a San Francisco company that allowed her to take advantage of short-term disability through FMLA. Although she was entitled by law to take 12 weeks, when she crunched the numbers she realized she would not be able to afford to take the time.

Later, when she was preparing to have her third child, her family was in better shape financially. Then, in fairly short order, she found out she was having twins, her husband was laid off, and she was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver disease. On top of all this the twins came early and required an extended hospital stay before they could be brought home.

“My maternity leave had started, was two weeks into my 12 weeks, and the twins weren’t home yet,” Scott said.

She added she felt defeated by these circumstances. Family and friends wanted to help, but they were bringing gifts she didn’t always need because she’d already had children. As a response, Scott started working on the first version of Take 12’s website. Her eyes had been opened to the maternity leave system’s inadequacies for many parents.

“We expect the mom to just kind of deal with it,” Scott said.

Take 12 allows people who are expecting or who have loved ones who are expecting to set up parental leave registries as well as estimate the financial needs they will have during their leave. The people users share their registries with can then help them fund their leave. The company’s website also offers helpful resources for planning one’s maternity leave.

Now, Take 12 is working on its second version as well as a b2b product.

They are hoping to pursue more brand partnerships to benefit their users, a move that has its roots in a successful partnership with Dove Men Plus Care, who reached out and helped fund families on Take 12’s registry. Scott would like to create similar collaborations with other companies.

“How can we do this in a scalable, repetitive way?” she said.

One challenge the company has faced, per Scott, is developing their product in such a way that it is empowering to its users and doesn’t feel like they are asking for a favor or crowdfunding.

The new website will have a new design and new messaging, and it will offer brands the ability to provide discounts to families on Take 12, or to help them fund parental leave through the platform.

“It’ll reflect a little more of the movement we stand for,” Scott said.

The company’s b2b product is intended to enter pilot testing this summer.

“The Take 12 product for businesses will help them improve retention and attract talent,” Scott said.

Scott has a background in sales, and she was motivated toward entrepreneurship because the issue Take 12 tackles is important to her.

“I didn’t care that I didn’t know how it was going to work out,” Scott said. She hopes the company can be a catalyst for change.

“I definitely want Take 12 to stand out as the solution to fixing both workplace and national culture as it pertains to the parental leave experience,” Scott said.

1 Million Cups Fargo takes place each Wednesday a from 9:15 – 10:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park. For more information on Take 12, visit mytake12.com.

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Austin Gerth