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Meet the Woman Behind Annee Matthew

Posted by Administrator to Maternity Clothes
annee matthew clothesI recently had the pleasure of meeting Annie Neo, founder and CEO of Annee Matthew maternity nursing clothes, in person at the ABC Kids Expo and maternity show. 

When I saw her, I immediately knew who she was because I recognized her from the photos of many Annee Matthew clothes! Indeed, it turns out that Annee is a model in many of the photo shoots for her clothing designs. In fact, she was modeling the Ruffles Maternity Cardi at the ABC Kids Expo.

There I am (left) and Annee (right). Annee flew to the exhibit from her home in Singapore to introduce the upcoming Spring 2014 collection of Annee Matthew nursing clothes. (In between us, in fact, is a new maxi dress  coming in 2014.) It was so fun to meet her and have her give me some pointers on how to pose for the camera! 

I've appreciated the opportunity to carry Annee Matthew maternity and nursing clothes because they are well-made and colorful, facilitate modesty while breast feeding, support comfort and style while pregnant, and most are made of sustainable bamboo or modal fabric. And because they're imported from Singapore, it was really nice to make an in-person connection with the woman behind the company. 

To help you make a connection with her, too, I followed up with Annee to learn more about her and introduce her to Maternitique customers. She was kind enough to answer as follows:
What inspired you to create Annee Matthew?
The lack of proper nursing wear that are not only discreet and functional but also, fashionable.
Do you have a background in fashion, retail, manufacturing or design?
No. I just love fashion and I love to sketch just about anything. And when you put two of them together, everything falls into place!

You’re a model and a beauty as well as a successful business woman and mom. How do you do it all?
Lol! I'm not a model, not professionally at least..! I model my own designs to save time (and money!!). I guess, finding the balance is key. Everyone has the same amount of time and if you have more on your plate, then you just have to learn to juggle better! But seriously, I think I'm too relaxed and should really do more for the business.
Did you have any beauty challenges while you were pregnant?
I gained weight like most people. I was 72 kg (158 lbs) at my heaviest during my pregnancy. I was perspiring all the time and I had my hair very short! I only wore tees and shorts. I refused to wear maternity clothes because they were hideous in those days. I resorted to wearing bigger size clothing but on my frame, they looked like table cloth! So, I didn't look nor feel great at all! 
What are your must-have recommendations for pregnancy and breastfeeding?
  1. Nursing bra - get them when you no longer fit into your normal cup size (even with extenders). For most women, this will be in the 3rd trimester. 
  2. Nursing tops - most nursing tops are for dual wear, which you can wear even after you have stopped nursing. It's a great value for the money. Have a few basic ones which you can wear throughout your pregnancy as well. A nursing cami with drop-cup access is a great one to have. It goes with everything and act as a good layering during winter. Build your wardrobe as you go along.
  3. Maternity bottoms - choose those with a good stretch and with an adjustable waistline preferably. Tights are always great to have; get one in every color to add more variety to your style. Get good maternity shaper shorts to help create a smooth look under skirts and dresses. 
  4. Nursing dress - everyone needs a LBD! Get one that suits your body shape. Be proud of your growing belly and be proud to show it. Don't hide it under a big baggy dress that will not flatter your figure and does little for your self esteem!
  5. Skin care - invest in good skin care, especially those with vitamin E. Make sure you moisturize your skin on all areas that are prone to stretch marks. Do it diligently twice daily. 
You live in Singapore. How are pregnancy and breastfeeding changing in Singapore? What cultural differences have you learned about pregnancy and breastfeeding from the west and east?
Breastfeeding wasn't popular in Singapore when I had my children. After year 2000, it became more acceptable. However, breastfeeding in public still was frowned upon. I think to some people, is still is! What we need is for more people to breastfeed in public so it will become a normal sight. People in the east are more shy and discreet when it comes to breastfeeding compared to the west. In the east, there is a one month confinement period after delivery. During this one month, new mothers will eat specially prepared food that contained more ginger, wine and herbs to dispel the wind in the stomach. And, they will have special massages and tummy wraps to help regain their figures. Most new mothers will hire confinement nannies to help them during the one month period. I don't think there's such practices in the west. So, in many ways, new mothers are pampered in the east. :)
Annee Matthew clothing is ideally suited for breastfeeding mothers and your own experience as a breastfeeding mom inspired the clothing line. What kind of breastfeeding challenges did you encounter and how did you resolve them?
Breastfeeding clothes were almost non-existent when I was breastfeeding! We are talking about 1997! Those available were very expensive and ugly. This is why I resorted to creating my own line. Apart from having too much milk, with nothing nice to wear, I was lucky to have had no other big challenges while breastfeeding. 
What are you most proud of when it comes to Annee Matthew?
The style. The fit. The colors. We design styles that I would personally wear. A lot of thought goes into every design; we try to choose the most flattering cut and colors for all figures. 
Every woman complains about the cost of buying maternity clothes. Can you help us explain why maternity clothes are more expensive?
Generally, maternity clothes use more fabric. And maternity clothes are for a niche market, hence, they're not produced in large quantities. Therefore, we [maternity clothes producers] work with smaller factories, and these factories have a higher cost of manufacturing per garment due to the lack of economy of scale. The smaller factories don't compromise on quality, though. However, this ensures that you and your pregnant friend will not end up with the same clothes at any party!
What tips do you have for women about buying maternity and breastfeeding clothes online?
Buy one piece in your size at full price. In this way, you can try out the fit and return it for an exchange until you are familiar with the label's cut. However, do check the return policy before you make your purchases. If unsure, do write in for further advice. Most stores, however, do not offer exchanges or refunds for discounted items.
What advice do you have for women about looking and feeling their best in maternity clothes or while breastfeeding?
Love yourself first. Don't be afraid to show your bump (if pregnant) and be proud to breastfeed! Experiment with colors. Mix and match contrasting colors. Accessorize. Don't worry about what society thinks. It's your body! Be proud. Be happy. Wake up daily and love that person you see in that mirror!! 

Trust me, in person, Annee Neo is just as happy and lovely as she sounds in this interview. See the current Annee Matthew fashions for maternity and nursing available now and thank you for supporting woman-owned, mom-owned businesses! 

Thanks for reading and sharing,

Tara Bloom, owner

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