How long have you been working in fashion?
Since I started working on Frances Hart in November 2018.
Have you always been drawn to this industry or did you jump into it with the idea for Frances Hart?
I jumped in with Frances Hart; I have certainly always loved fashion as a consumer, but professionally, I had never worked in the industry prior to launching Frances Hart. Before Frances Hart I had a number of different professional roles, but most recently I worked in a high-growth VC backed software company that was sold in December of 2018. The experience of working there really affirmed for me that I’m happiest in a fast-paced startup environment where new challenges and opportunities for learning are presented every day.
What made you notice this gap in the market for maternity wear?
I have many friends and loved ones who have kids, including my sister who recently had her fourth baby. I have always found the maternity offering underwhelming, and I heard the same account from my friends who were trying to dress through one or more pregnancies. Despite being such an important moment in a woman’s life, the category has been mostly ignored, and women have been forced to either buy options that are unflattering, low quality and unattractive, or avoid maternity altogether in favor of oversized, flowy or androgenous off-the-rack choices. It seemed to me that with women having babies later and many of them working throughout the family creation years, this need was more pressing than ever. It also seemed obvious that women should not have to give up on dressing like and for themselves, especially at a moment when feeling good in their own skin is critical.
What has been the biggest challenge with creating your own brand?
I think ‘maternity’ has a mostly negative connotation for consumers and so I believe that we need to train consumers to have higher expectations of the category so they will behave (and shop) differently during this chapter in their lives. We also need to demonstrate that garments that flatter and look beautiful throughout your pregnancy can also serve you equally well thereafter; whether thanks to stretch, adjustability, or the right silhouette, we are making products that are intended to have real longevity in our customers’ wardrobe.
How has building Frances Hart changed your perspective on the fashion Industry?
First of all, it has given me an enormous amount of respect for the creative process; it’s harder than I ever imagined to bring to life a creative concept, no matter how crystal clear the idea is in your head to begin with. It has made me really appreciate what it takes to make a beautiful product, and just how talented the individuals are behind the great brands and collections. My exposure to the industry has also validated for me that there is a lot of opportunity to create sustainable, environmentally-friendlier product, and I’m excited to challenge myself to do that as quickly as possible for the benefit of the Frances Hart consumer.
Would you ever consider expanding beyond maternity wear?
My goal right now is to make a product that consistently surprises and delights our consumer; if we succeed at that we can grow a healthy business by virtue of strength of brand, and the resulting word of mouth. I would only ever consider entering a new product category if I was sure we could do that within that category.
What do you consider to be the most important thing to consider when designing maternity wear?
In today’s marketplace many women are avoiding the maternity category altogether because they can stitch together an alternative approach to dressing throughout pregnancy. As I result, I feel strongly that we need to create product that can compete with the best womenswear brands in terms of style and quality, with functionality and great fit the baseline expectation. It’s a lot to do, but I think we can deliver on that.
What would you say is your favorite piece from your line?
I have been in love with our pleated knits from the get-go – they feel amazing, never wrinkle, and are staples in my closet right now, even though I’m not pregnant. They look amazing on everyone, and can be worn as separates or as an outfit.
Can we look inside your bag right now?
I always carry vaseline (especially when the weather is cold and my lips start to crack), RMS Lip2Cheek in Demure (I wear on my cheeks and lips, just like they suggest!), my Bose headphones (I reject the idea that you need to charge headphones), Glossier Generation G Lipstick in Crush, a notebook where I keep my daily hand-written to-do list, multiple Muji pens in .38 mm (all colors), my Apple airbook, and multiple chargers.