Gender equality has come a long way, but women around the world are still bogged down by the pressure to become mothers. If that was not enough, society appears completely insensitive to those dealing with infertility. The mental and physical pain a woman undergoes during her infertility journey is unimaginable and humiliating. Enter Jill Mara Hamilton, founder of Big Happy Family, who took it upon herself to build a community for those braving infertility with support and knowledge.
A resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Jill is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from NYU. An accomplished marketing executive with an extensive background in the fashion and arts industries, Jill forayed into healthcare – particularly women’s health – after her own personal struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss. She served as the Head of Patient Experience at IntegraMed, the then largest network of fertility practices in North America, where she oversaw marketing, communications, events, social media, and philanthropic partnerships. Prior to IntegraMed, Jill led the creative concept teams at Avon and Macy’s in New York and was later recruited by the Whitney Museum of American Art to spearhead their rebranding in 2015.
Big Happy Smiles
Jill’s personal experience coupled with her many years of work with fertility patients created a deep-seated passion for elevating the family-building journey. After experiencing and recognizing a deep chasm in the industry, Jill decided to launch her vision of Big Happy Family —a destination of emotional, logistical, and financial support for those trying to conceive through IUI, IVF, Surrogacy, and third-party donation, a destination that included everyone from the get-go.
Inclusion and equality of the LGBTQ+ community, those undergoing Fertility Preservation due to cancer treatment, and Veterans were key drivers of the platform’s conception. Members can tailor their experience to precisely the education and content they need most. When Jill decided to build the company, infertility was becoming a very hot topic. “When my husband and I were struggling to have a baby, I didn’t even know what a fertility clinic was. It was only through my career that I started to learn about them. Now, it is an industry that is growing rapidly,” she recalls, “Thankfully, awareness is really building.”
Since infertility treatment is a costly affair, Big Happy Family evolved as an answer to the setbacks associated with the process. “It was heartbreaking to see the patients struggling so much just to achieve something that seemed to come so easily for everyone else. The emotional, financial, and physical toll it takes on a person is monstrous. At Big Happy Family, we provide guidance, resources, and support to everyone who is trying to build their families and address these needs,” Jill says.
The platform provides industry news, events, an extensive list of resources, stories from patients going through similar experiences, and more. One section focuses solely on grants and scholarships intended specifically for family-building expenses. Big Happy Family’s “Perks” category also offers exclusive discounts on fertility services and goods, including everything from surrogacy agency and legal services fees to IVF medication kits and more.
From Stigma to Empowerment
Big Happy Family is an all-inclusive forum for every gender and sexuality because as Jill believes, “Every family is unique and every family deserves to celebrate themselves, no matter how they are built.”
Here, everyone is included: straight couples, single women who want to have their own family, gay men, lesbian women, trans couples, you name it. Big Happy Family’s private, secure forum allows each of these groups to connect with one another without the worries of being trolled on social media. Even if you are just thinking about building your family, there is a place for you no matter who you are.
Jill truly believes that community groups and forums are the core strength of the group. Connecting patients with similar experiences to one another is another big component of the Big Happy Family platform. Their Events listing also showcases both virtual and in-person events being held across the country. In the Big Happy Family “Studio”, the company also produces live streaming events where patients can directly interact with industry professionals in a safe and secure environment.
Less Shame, More Sharing
For many women and men, infertility carries a hidden stigma. Although 1 in 8 couples in the US struggle with infertility, many still keep their issues under wraps and feel uncomfortable speaking about it with even their closest friends and families.
“We feel that communication is a major key to having a better TTC experience,” explains Jill. “By really focusing on connecting with your partner and understanding how you are feeling, you will be able to save everyone a lot of stress in the long run. At least that’s what we have found.”
While the conversation surrounding the growing infertility crisis is on the rise, it’s still not nearly as ubiquitous as it should be. Jill advocates that we as a community should build a non-judgmental environment for patients to discuss what they are going through, provide them with relevant information about treatments and normalize the conversations. Only then will more and more couples feel comfortable, and that will eventually reduce the negative impact of infertility on their lives. It’s a win-win for them and for the community.
Jill is intending to donate 10 percent of the company’s profits to RESOLVE – the National Infertility Association. An organization that, she believes, is doing the most to spearhead real growth and inclusion for everyone trying to build their families.
Word of Advice
Jill has valuable advice for couples going through infertility struggles. She admits that everyone has a unique experience, but that finding someone to connect with who understands to some degree what you are going through is invaluable. That is our goal in creating Big Happy Family – to help individuals connect with one another.
For aspiring entrepreneurs, Jill says that although building a business brings with it a wealth of obstacles, setbacks should not stop one from pushing forward. “On the contrary, as the author, Ryan Holiday would say, ‘the obstacle is the way.’ You need to be very clear in your vision about what you want to achieve. Then, just keep going. Ignore the haters out there. The one thing that all successful businesswomen have in common is that they never quit,” Jill explains.
Leave a Reply