It's a familiar scene: two women slide into a restaurant booth, order happy hour drinks and spend hours chatting after a long day.
But happy hour isn't quite as easy for Breonna Ferraro and Molly Zwelling. That's because they are moms with newborn babies. And those babies need to be fed and their diapers changed. The restaurant needs to have enough space to park two strollers. And after months of many sleepless nights, just staying awake is a challenge.
Despite all that, Ferarro and Zwelling's conversation never stopped. It was as if they'd known each other for years. But they had just met.
You can swipe right on mobile dating apps and find your soulmate. Now, you can swipe up and meet your new best friend.
Peanut is an app for moms to connect with other moms, and it’s available for download throughout the U.S. Similar to dating apps, users create a profile, add their interests, and comb through other profiles in their area.
But unlike dating apps, Peanut is exclusively for moms. Instead of scheduling blind dates, moms can schedule play dates.
“It really is about bringing women together,” said Peanut CEO and co-founder Michelle Kennedy in an interview. “Motherhood is like the excuse.”
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Peanut actually is bringing women together. There are 160,000 other women around the world using the app to meet life-long friends.
Launched in New York and London in February, Peanut is now available on iOS and Android everywhere. There are growing Peanut communities in many cities throughout the U.S. including Dallas, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago and Atlanta.
Here’s how it works: Users swipe up to give a mom a “wave.” When the other mom waves back, they form a match, “like peanut butter and jelly,” as the app says. Then they can start a conversation, plan a meetup, send a poll to schedule a time that works and eventually hang out in real-life.
Kennedy said Peanut is for all moms. “Whether it’s an empty nest, whether it is that you’re part of a group of people where you’re always on the move, I think everyone can find a use for it.”
Two moms meet up for the first time: “It’s like a date but without the stress.”
Peanut was exactly what Ferraro needed as a new mom.
A bakery owner in Washington, D.C., Ferraro's pregnancy with her first child was difficult. She was essentially bedridden after being diagnosed with hyperemesis graviarum, a condition causing severe nausea.
“I wasn’t able to go out and make friends, so I was just left with the Internet and my phone,” said Ferraro. She chatted with other moms on Peanut and combated her loneliness.
Even after giving birth to her son Wes, now four months old, Ferraro continued to make new mom friends. That's how she met Zwelling, another new mom and health coach, and her son Isaiah.
Ferraro and Zwelling swiped up because they have a lot in common. They're both new moms. Their babies are around the same age. They're also in biracial relationships, something Zwelling said is important to her. And they were both excited to meet for an afternoon happy hour.
"Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I don’t like to go out for happy hour, I just have to take my little bundle-of-joy now," said Ferraro.
The focus on common interests, rather than location and physical attractiveness, is what makes Peanut different from dating apps.
“It’s about your state of life,” said founder Kennedy. “Are you a full-time mom? Are you working full time? Are you on maternity leave? What industry do you work in? Do you have any Facebook friends in common? How old is your kid? Or are you pregnant? We take all of that into account.”
Safety is Peanut's priority
At first, Zwelling’s husband was a bit uncomfortable with her meeting up with strangers. He worried about her and Isaiah’s safety.
But according to Kennedy, creating a safe community is Peanut's priority.
"You're not just dealing with women, you're dealing with women and their children, and you're dealing with women and children at a time when they're vulnerable," said Kennedy. "Because of that, we have to be extra vigilant."
They require users to log in with Facebook or Google so that they can verify information and confirm the user is actually a mom. They've also used machine learning and image recognition. Users even self-police and send Peanut a message if they see someone suspicious.
At the end of a successful mom date, complete with sangria and snacks, both Zwelling and Ferraro said they'll keep using Peanut to meet friends and get much-needed support from other moms.
“You need mom friends,” said Ferraro. "Parenting is something that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t do it alone.”
Contributing: Megan Yoder, TEGNA