AUSTIN (KXAN) — A South Austin coffee shop hosted a “Nurse-In,” welcoming breastfeeding mothers to the store Saturday afternoon. The event came after the business received social media backlash when a customer claimed the business does not welcome nursing mothers.
On Wednesday, Stephanie Barlow Scott posted a review on Stouthaus Coffee’s Facebook page that said “Be warned: nursing mothers are not welcome. According to the barista, SHE wasn’t uncomfortable but there were a lot of men there and they probably were.” Within a few hours, hundreds of comments and reviews flooded Stouthaus’ page criticizing them on their nursing policy.
Scott said on Wednesday morning, she and a friend – along with their babies – went to Stouthaus Coffee to catch up over some breakfast. Scott has a 4-month-old and her friend, Amberly Worley, has an 8-month-old.
“[Worley] was nursing him and was pretty discrete,” said Scott. “A lady came over with a towel and asked ‘if she wanted to cover up?’ and my friend said ‘No, am I making you uncomfortable?'”
According to Scott, the lady – who was the business owner – said she was not uncomfortable but that some of the men in the shop might have been.
Since the incident, Stouthaus Coffee has been proactively reaching out to customers and apologizing for offending anyone in the breastfeeding community. KXAN attempted to speak to the shop’s owners Saturday, but they did not wish to go on-camera. On Wednesday, Sandy Hughes, the owner of Stouthaus Coffee, told KXAN News she regrets that what she said made Scott feel awkward.
“I’m really sorry for how everything was misconstrued. I was a breastfeeding mother myself, so I welcome it,” said Hughes. “We are glad to have families come in here, especially with their children. We are a family business and a family environment. I welcome breastfeeding and I support it.”
To extend their apology, Stouthaus Coffee hosted a “Nurse-In’ event at their store Satruday from 3 to 7 p.m. Local breastfeeding mothers were invited to enjoy cupcakes and coffee. Stouthaus also donated 10 percent of all their Saturday sales to the Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin. Many people originally upset with the business are now showing support for its effort to welcome nursing mothers. Breastfeeding customer, Veronica Ainsa says she does not think Stouthaus could have handled this situation better.
“We hear stories like this all the time, and all you see is a public apology or something where they’re letting the press and social media know that ‘oh we realize we did something wrong,’ but Stouthaus is actually turning this into a benefit,” said Ainsa. “The charity and donations to the Mother’s Milk Bank really shows that they understood the issue and wanted to make it right.”
Ainsa, a member of the Austin Area Birthing Community, said she heard about the incident through social media. Another breastfeeding customer, Maddison Creameans says she was initially really hurt and disappointed by Stouthaus’ actions. However, her viewpoint later changed.
“After reading more news articles, I see that it wasn’t intentional, Creameans said. “I felt that the owners were very respectful and they didn’t know. They weren’t trying to hurt anyone or step on anyone’s feet.”
“But that’s the problem with this issue– is that people don’t know,” she added. “People don’t know that it’s our right to feed however we want to feed– bottle, breast, covered or uncovered. And that needs to change.”
Creameans says she is happy with the way Stouthaus handled this issue and will continue to support their business as they support the nursing mothers community.
“Now that they have taken the steps to educate themselves and their staff, and took a stand towards breastfeeding– I will definitely support them,” she said. “Had they not taken a stand, I probably would’ve boycotted them and let everyone I know not to go there because they are not supportive– which is not true. So I’m very glad about that.”