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When entrepreneur Courtney Klein moved to San Francisco from New York for her husband's new job, she scoured all sorts of industries to divine her next big idea.
Most of her friends were in their early thirties and starting to have children, said the former partner at digital design agency Hard Candy Shell. As Klein, who is currently expecting her first child, became conversational with pregnancy clothing, she was surprised to learn how little attention maternity fashion received. It inspired her to start an e-commerce site, Storq, which will launch this month with maternity basics such as leggings, T-shirt dresses, all-natural creams, and makeup.
"It's tough for designers to give maternity [attention] because it's clothing women are going to wear for such a short period of time, and it's such a niche market. Most think the clothing should just be cheap, affordable and disposable," Klein told Racked.
Storq's clothing is seamless and tagless for comfort purposes. Designed and produced in California, the line is made of soft modal and spandex, which leaves room for stretching. Items come only in black and white, which was important to Klein, since many maternity looks she found on the market were pink, loud and floral.
Photo of Courtney Klein by Jamie Beck.
"Even when women are pregnant, they still want to maintain their sense of identity and style. I want to empower women through style as they do the most amazing thing, which is growing a child. They should look and feel awesome while they do it," said Klein, who is married to Internet entrepreneur Zack Klein, of Vimeo, DIY, Svpply, and CollegeHumor fame. "Fashion can often at times feel like a shallow thing but when you're having a bad day and now sure what is going on with your body at a strange time, it's important to feel good about how you look."
After the site launches, Storq will debut a library rental system for maternity clothes. Photo by Noah Kalina.
Storq will offer products in bundles. The clothing bundle will include a tank top, leggings, T-shirt dress and skirt. Available in three different sizes, bundles will retail for $195, and are designed to fit throughout each pregnancy trimester. The beauty bundle will sell for $75 and feature six items of natural makeup; the body bundle will sell for $135 and feature safe care products like shampoo, belly balm, and makeup remover.
Storq's clothing has no seams or tags. Photo by Noah Kalina.
Klein became intrigued by the maternity sector after doing market research on the rise of women having children later in life. Forty percent of babies are now born to women over 30, the US Department of Health and Human Services found in 2011. These women, Klein said, have an increased income and are more likely to spend money on maternity clothes to look and feel good.
She also noted how lucrative the industry is: reports from the Global Industry Analysts said the market of maternity apparel is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2015.
The maternity apparel market is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2015. Photo by Noah Kalina.
Budget retailers like Target and Wal-Mart currently rule the maternity industry, making moms resort to cheap, ill-fitting and unfashionable clothing, Klein noted. Designer maternity lines do exist through retailers like Pea in a Pod, but are expensive. Storq follows in the footsteps of Hatch, the ultra-stylish maternity line of Ariana Goldman of the bridesmaid dress brand Two Birds.
After the website is launched and products are available online, the Storq team plans to roll out a library rental system for maternity clothes such as Rent Maternity Wear and Borrow For Your Bump, but with a fuller assortment of offerings, she said.
"We are at a point where maternity fashion is something people are starting to take note of. Women are starting to take back their pregnancy, and think about what makes them happy," she said. "Storq clothing is comfortable, effortless, and the body and beauty bundles take the work out of sourcing stuff that is safe and stylish.