Sisters Alex and Jenny McFadden set up Pretty Mama when Alex was pregnant with her daughter in 2017 and struggled to find any pretty and feminine nursing lingerie and stylish clothing.
“My body changed so much during pregnancy and the nursing wear available really lacked in boosting my post-birth body confidence. That’s when I decided I would design my own as I seen a massive gap in the market. I told my sister Jenny about my idea and she loved it so much she wanted to be involved.”
Fast forward to 2022 and the pair secured investment from FOUR dragons on BBC TV’s Dragon’s Den! We caught up with Alex, who started by explaining what issues Pretty Mama hopes to address:
“Firstly we hope that every customer who receives and wears our products feels amazing and special – because she is! Thanks to our designed registered discreet feeding zips, our customers can wear our products and feel confident, stylish and comfortable to breastfeed, especially in public, which isn’t always easy and can feel very intimidating. Our UK manufactured products are made with purpose and respect for the environment with a mission to influence positive change within our industry.”
Why should a retailer stock Pretty Mama – and how do you support them?
“We have a product that closes a massive gap in the market, our beautiful nursing jumpers and t-shirts are feminine, functional and an easy-to-wear option for nursing mums. Our luxurious jumpers have been designed with comfort in mind and made to support a nursing mother throughout her breastfeeding journey. The jumper and t-shirts open discreetly with design registered diagonal zips on either side which adds coverage encouraging mums to feel comfortable whilst breastfeeding while our oversized jumpers are a mum’s wardrobe essential. We want retailers to know they are getting a fab deal with us by offering some stock exclusivity – whether that’s a limited edition colour or style of jumper/t-shirt.”
How do combine sustainability with on-trend maternity clothing – and keep to a sensible price point?
“This has definitely been one of our big challenges so far but I feel that we have balanced effortless style and quality with a fair price point for our customers. At every stage of growing our brand we have tried to incorporate sustainability, this includes our mail bags which are made from 100% recycled material, our tissue paper is 100% recycled and produced from sustainable sources, and our gift boxes are made from recycled materials and can be fully recycled throughout the UK. Our lingerie is made from dead stock fabrics and our UK made jumpers and t-shirts are made from recycled fabrics – which is something we are super proud of.
The idea of our nursing clothes is to buy while you are breastfeeding however once your nursing journey has ended, we still want our customers to wear our jumpers and t-shirts, without anyone knowing they are specifically designed for breastfeeding. When I had my baby and was searching for nursing-wear, the clothes that I bought were never worn again once I stopped breastfeeding which I feel was such a waste of money and they were not my usual style. I bought them purely for the convenience of nursing. We receive a lot of messages from our customers who say they still wear their jumpers long after they have stopped breastfeeding – which is amazing!”
You left the BBC’s Dragon’s Den with not one – but FOUR investors – congratulations! How are they planning to support your business from now
“Thank you, it was a complete shock – as you could probably see from our faces on the episode! There is a lot of due diligence which took place before the show but also after. We went into the Den asking for help with manufacturing, specifically with production costs, marketing and guidance to grow the brand especially internationally.”
Did the pandemic help or hinder the progress of your business – and how?
“We actually launched in April 2020 so right at the start of the first UK lockdown, which was a time when the majority of people were struggling with money and worried about their jobs. Neither of us had any experience setting up a business or running a brand and we actually found the slow start with the lockdown helped us get to grips with it.”
What role does social media play in the success of your business?
“We mainly market our products and brand on social media – especially Instagram and Facebook. It’s a great way to show our followers and customers how our unique diagonal zip access design works through videos and ways to style our collection. We also like to show our followers some behind the scenes of our brand for example at our studio photoshoot or while we are out taking content pictures locally. We can also ask our customers their opinions on new season colours they would like to see from the brand, we really value their opinions – after all it’s for them!
We have recently started a new social campaign called ‘Our Pretty Mamas’ which shows real breastfeeding mamas taking photos of themselves wearing our products, we absolutely love this and therefore we encourage all customer to tag us in any photos of them wearing the items.”
What’s next for Pretty Mama?
“We have so much planned for this year – we are so excited! We plan to always have our three core colours available in black, grey and beige however we will have on trend and potentially limited-edition colours available throughout the seasons too.We have the most amazing nursing jumper launching in the early Autumn, something that we have never seen before which we really hope our customers are going to love as much as we do!”