On the up · 29 September 2016

A clothing business centred on staying active “with style and confidence” during pregnancy

Staying active during pregnancy
Staying active during pregnancy

Alexandra McCabe first got the idea for her business when she was looking for some maternity fitness-wear for her sister in law. Seeing a gap in the market, McCabe founded FittaMamma.

Founded in 2012, FittaMamma provides supportive maternity sportswear, stylish pregnancy gym clothes, advice for exercise during pregnancy and prenatal nutrition inspiration.

“The business was started after I tried to find some clothes for my sister in law when she was pregnant and couldn’t find anything – she was pregnant and wanted to be active and there was just nothing that existed,” explained McCabe. “The more I looked the more I saw other people were looking for the same thing.”

Since then the levels of competition in the market have grown, but McCabe thinks this is a good thing, as “it makes the market more credible”.

Initially, McCabe came up against some people resistant to the idea of pregnant women keeping active, so a certain amount of education has been necessary. “We provide the information to explain why you should be staying active [when pregnant] – the medical and physiological reasons behind it,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t a good idea.”

Some women find it is useful to have access to this content to share with worried partners or family members. In fact, a lot of women come to the FittaMamma site just looking for resources, or information about safe ways to exercise during pregnancy.

There are some videos for Pilates and yoga programmes on the website to help people decide if it’s for them, and FittaMamma partners with providers and links to relevant classes to guide visitors if they decide they want to do a class.

As a rule, McCabe thinks her clients fall into two camps: “People for whom fitness is a huge part of their lives and they don’t want to stop that because they’re pregnant,” and people “that want to start making healthier lifestyle choices now that they’re pregnant”.

People in the first camp are more likely to make a purchase, but McCabe keeps a positive mind-set. She said: “Even if they don’t buy from us if we can help inspire them to make healthier lifestyle choices we still feel like we’re making positive change.”

Now that there are new players in the market however, it has become increasingly important for FittaMamma to carve out its own style and unique selling point. “We want to empower women to stay active with style and confidence during pregnancy and as they become parents,” said McCabe.

“The clothes are supportive in a way that no other fitness wear is for pregnant and postnatal women – the clothes distribute the weight of your bump and boobs to the areas of your body that are still stronger. It supports around your pelvis as your baby grows and pushes down and your body changes shape to adapt to that.”

In addition to this dedication to quality and style, the brand is looking to launch a new range in December for more high impact activities.

“The range we’re bringing out is even more high performance – for people who are still running and training at a higher level and need an even more technical product.”

To help the business achieve its ambitious growth goals, McCabe signed up to Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest’s business accelerator programme and is located in the Brighton Hatchery.

“We’ve only been here a couple of weeks but so far it’s been really great – it’s a very inspiring space with lots of interesting people. Everyone wants to help each other,” she said.

For McCabe, the important thing is deciding what success looks like for your business, and really focusing on making it happen.

“Running a business, you’ve always got a hundred ideas of things you want to do, and actually you need to focus on what you’re working on right now, complete that and move on to the next thing.”

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Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Business Advice. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.