Mom creates maternity line for fashion-forward women

Jan Norman

Ladera Ranch, Calif., mom Julia Christensen gained 83 pounds when she was pregnant with her son Bradford.

Nothing in the stores looked attractive or fit with style for this self-described fashionista. “Clothes either cost $400 for a one-time wearing or weren’t made nicely,” she says.

Sound familiar? It sure seemed to Christensen that maternity clothes were designed and made by people who had never been pregnant.

So she decided to do something about it. And fortunately for her and other style-conscious pregnant women, Christensen actually had the training, patience and entrepreneurial spirit to follow through.

Her great, great grandmother had been a seamstress. Her mom was “quite a fashionista who took me clothes shopping with her,” Christensen recalls. “One of my earliest memories — I was 4 — was in the evening wear department of a store, and I was taking the sequins off the dress.”

Christensen learned to sew and later to make patterns as a costume design major in college before switching her major to art history.

Add to those experiences, Christensen’s early exposure to entrepreneurship. Her father owned his own business “and he said of all his kids I’d be the business owner.”

Christensen wrote a business plan for a line of fashionable maternity clothing called Jules Ford Maternity.

“I wanted to make sure I had every detail set,” she said of her research. “I wanted a one-year plan, a five-year plan. There’s a book out about how designers put themselves out of business because they lack a business background.”

As she studied financials, she held Ford in one arm and a business book in the other, she says.

“My dad was my mentor,” she says. “I had no sleep. The baby was teething. I wanted to quit. And my dad said, ‘Julsie, maybe you’re being tested to see how much you want it.'”

So far, she has created 15 designs and Aug. 19 introduced another four designs that will be available for fall. Prices range from $65 to $150.

“I took my own experience. It’s not only the belly (that must be considered in a design) but the chest and the back. And then after you have the baby it takes a while to lose the weight,” she explains.

She found six seamstresses and an assistant through word of mouth who are all mothers and know what it’s like to be pregnant.

Christensen planned to start small and grow slowly. She would sell her clothing only through her own website until she could start a boutique in order to control merchandising and branding.

“I didn’t hire a fashion PR firm. I didn’t take out crazy-expensive ads in maternity magazines,” she says “I attribute my sales to my Facebook page. I’d post photos and friends would tell friends.”

She was conservative in her financial estimates. Sales are running 327 percent ahead of her projections.

“In September I’ll start a nursing mothers line,” she says, “and the five-year plan is a retail store that also sells baby items, handmade blankets. The company is a celebration of being a mom.”

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