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On Owning an Online Maternity Boutique

Posted by Administrator to Pregnancy
Our online maternity boutique celebrates its 5th year anniversary on Friday, and even as I say that, it’s hard to believe. In some ways, I feel like I've done a lot in that time. In some ways, it still feels like I'm just beginning.

I’m asked frequently why I got into the maternity business. The reason I started Maternitique is because I understand how alone first-time pregnant women can feel and how overwhelming a first pregnancy can be. There are so many pregnancy no-no’s along with new sensations, strange bodily changes and unexpected parts of expecting. From changes in diet and exercise to concerns about what you put on your skin and body, pregnancy can seem fraught with hazards.

Or so it seems. 

You’ve heard the news editor adage, “if it bleeds, it leads,” right? 

These days, there are more media outlets than ever before. You might be a pregnant woman today on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Yahoo!, or part of an online mom-to-be community. You watch tv, read the newspaper and/or magazines, and get news stories right on your smart phone. And nearly every media outlet seems to follow that news editor adage and offer up news articles or posts that feed fear, worry, and anxiety. 

I don’t like knowing that women are scared during pregnancy. I see your Facebook posts and tweets professing fear about birth and I feel sad. I read articles and blog posts by moms-to-be about feeling anxiety about pregnancy choices, birth choices, breastfeeding choices and diapering choices and I wish it weren’t so that so many women would be entering into motherhood doubting themselves, feeling inadequate, being inundated with conflicting information that overwhelms us. 

I believe that a body, mind and heart filled with fear and anxiety do not create a positive environment in which to gestate a baby. 

I know it both scientifically and from experience to be true that fear during childbirth only creates pain. 

I believe that we should have love and peace and faith in our hearts, minds and bodies when we are planning to get pregnant. 

I believe we should cleanse our bodies of toxins and our hearts and souls of negativity. 

And I know, again both scientifically and from experience, that our bodies were meant to be pregnant, birth and breastfeed. 

Our hearts are meant to mother. Our minds and instincts are meant to care for our babies. We have everything we need inside us to do everything. Just. Right. 

Maternitique is my vision of a place that helps women to feel and know and understand all that. My mission is to help you feel good about your choices, have faith in your body and its abilities to gestate a healthy baby and have a positive birth, and to truly be in a place of beauty and strength throughout your pregnancy. 

I want to help be the antidote to the fear of childbirth, the worry about toxins and pollutants, the modern need to try to control everything and do everything “right.” 

It’s not that I don’t understand or appreciate the gravity of the toxins and pollutants in our world—I do. But I believe that we each can do our own part to cut back on our own personal consumption of them, demand our government to hold their proponents accountable, and with both micro- and macro-efforts, we will make a better world. 

And it’s not that I don’t understand the fear of childbirth—I do. I spent my entire pregnancy terrified of giving birth. I used to have dreams at night about the baby being surgically removed and all other variations of somehow getting her out of my body without vaginal delivery. I was so scared of labor and childbirth and it turned out to be such a waste of emotion! Childbirth was the most profound, beautiful, and empowering experience I’ve ever had in my life. I did it without drugs or painkillers of any kind and it was utterly wonderful. 

For a decade after birthing my daughter I kept wondering how I could help change the course of discussion in modern media about birth from a perspective of fear to a perspective of positivity. I’m not sure I’ve made much progress on that yet, but I will continue to try. 

As for controlling everything, I understand that, too. I’m most definitely someone who likes to feel in control of her environment. The weirdest feeling I had during pregnancy was that of not being able to control my child’s movements inside my body. When I wanted to sleep, she wanted to kick and swim and move around. When I wanted her to move, so people could feel her, she’d be still. She’d lodge a foot around my bladder and I couldn’t make her move. It was absolutely bizarre and frustrating to not even be able to influence what felt like a part of my body. But that inability to control my unborn child’s movements taught me that she was her own person. She was her own self. And as much as I thought she was mine, she was not. She belonged to only her. It was a profound and humbling realization, and one that has allowed me, I think, to be a better mother. It meant that I accepted I could not control my body, my birth, nor even who my daughter would become. I had to put my faith in a higher power and trust in both my body and something outside of myself. And that changed me permanently–for the better. 

So all these things you’re going through, I understand. You are not alone. There are millions of women who have had babies before you, and those of us who have gone before very much want to help you first-time pregnant women have an easier, more enjoyable pregnancy. 

There is so much we want you to know! So much good stuff. So many tips. So many things we learned. With that first-hand knowledge, there are thousands of experienced mothers who have spent countless hours (and years) of their lives developing pregnancy products that can ease your discomforts, solve your pregnancy related problems and protect the baby you’re growing inside you. From these moms—who are also midwives, doctors, nurses and herbalists—I have assembled a unique assortment of beauty and body products that take care of you and your baby along the complete spectrum of the childbearing year. From your fertility to baby’s first teeth, I’ve hand-selected items of the highest quality and purity in an effort to give you things that are priceless to every mom and which you won’t find at any other maternity boutique: peace of mind and confidence in your decisions. 

Speaking of peace of mind and confidence, over the years since I’ve started Maternitique, those things have often eluded me. Launching a retail store right on the precipice of the US and global economy free-fall turned out to be a challenging way to cut my teeth as a first-time business owner. But, now five years later, we’re still around, while many of our competitors, and loads of small maternity stores across the country, are not. I’m not saying that to be smug; it’s truly shocking to me how the landscape has changed. Unless you’ve started your own business and struggled to keep it afloat while the credit market, retail market, and national employment crumbled beneath you and you had to live on the charity of your family to keep the roof over your head and food on your table, you can’t know what I’ve been through over the last few years. 

Many of the new families, brave and bold enough to have babies during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, have been buying pregnancy products with frugality at top of mind instead of comfort or beauty or fashion. I see a generation of mothers focused on sacrifice. The largest retailers of pregnancy products—Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon and its subsidiary Diapers.com—have grown to account for over 90% of shoppers over the last five years. Mom-owned small business like mine have suffered tremendously. Today, there are about 1,000 fewer maternity boutiques in the U.S. than when I started. 

As I’ve struggled and felt alone as a business owner in the Great Recession, your patronage at Maternitique has helped me feel encouraged, helped me to feel less alone. What I’m reflecting on about the last five years is that while I’ve been trying to help you to feel confident, be strong, and be optimistic about your future identity as a mother, you have been helping me have a parallel journey with my identity as a businesswoman. 

Thank you. 

Here’s to hoping we continue to do that another 5 years. 

Thanks for reading, thanks for being a part of my family, and for allowing me to be part of yours, 

Tara
 

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