Finding clothes that not only fit, but look good, can be a soul destroying experience for pregnant women.
Hazel Kinsella from Irish maternity wear brand, The Pod Collection, knew this first hand, and set out with business partner Emma Arblaster to make clothes that not only grow with mother and bump, but are fashionable enough to hang on to post-pregnancy.
Hazel speaks to The Daily Slog about her mission to empower confidence in women through fashion.
It all started when I found myself expecting my first baby. Although it was such an exciting time, I quickly realised that there was a massive gap in the market for stylish maternity wear. I used to say this over and over to my friend Emma who was in the fashion industry and we’d discuss clothes (or lack of) and what we’d like to do about it.
These chats progressed to thinking seriously about it and we started researching the market. When I was pregnant for the second time we decided to go for it and established The Pod Collection.
The first step after deciding our brand name was research – customers, suppliers, fabrics, manufacturers, and competitors – there was so much to do. But it was our consumer research with hundreds of mums-to-be that confirmed we needed to do this and that I wasn’t the only pregnant lady out there that felt that despair.
Quality and fit were so important to us as we wanted each piece to compliment the growing bump and streamline your figure.
Do you design the collection yourself? How did you go about sourcing a partner to manufacture the clothing and accessories?
We designed The Pod Collection range ourselves and we designed with the modern Mama in mind. Quality and fit were so important to us as we wanted each piece to compliment the growing bump and streamline your figure so it took a long time to get that right, but the range is something we’re very proud of now. Our range is currently a six-piece collection that is designed to be mixed, matched, worn together or separately.
It was paramount that we found the right manufacturing partner who understood our vision and whos quality of work was in line with our premium brand. After a lot of time, meeting with a lot of different suppliers, and a lot of samples and testing, we settled on the partners who were the best fit for us and our business.
How do you split responsibilities with your business partner Emma? What are the key considerations when choosing a business partner?
Our partnership works really well. We both have skills that compliment a growing business. With my advertising and graphic design background and her fashion and buying background it’s the perfect mix.
We share a lot of the responsibilities but I suppose there are things that each of us are better at. Emma knows how the design, production and buying process works and finding and working with the right suppliers/manufacturers is her thing. It’s a skill in itself.
Business goals, financial investment, responsibilities etc. – it’s imperative these conversations are had before getting into business with someone. Complementary personalities are essential.
Being a graphic designer, I manage the website, marketing collateral, branding, etc. And then we both manage the sales and PR and both designed each piece in our Collection.
We didn’t have to deal with the issue of choosing a business partner as we have been friends for nearly 30 years and both knew there was something in this idea when we first staring talking about it.
But it’s really important you are both on the same page – business goals, financial investment, responsibilities etc. – it’s imperative these conversations are had before getting into business with someone. Complementary personalities are essential – it’s so helpful when each person can look at things from a different perspective and viewpoint.
What has been the best bit of advice you’ve been given in your career to date?
Ohhh, that’s a hard question as throughout the years people have been so good at giving advice but I guess since starting my own business it’s realising that nothing happens overnight. There is a lot of hard work involved but don’t lose sight of your end goal.
A huge benefit of having two of us in the business is when one of us needs a boost, the other is on hand to perk you up and get you back into positive mode again.
Have there been any setbacks along the way? How did you overcome them?
Absolutely, there are always going to be setbacks with a new business.
We’ve had suppliers let us down, stock arriving late, things like that. When they happen you think it’s the end of the world but soon realise that everything happens for a reason and perhaps they weren’t the right partner for us and it just wasn’t meant to be.
But a huge benefit of having two of us in the business is when one of us needs a boost the other is on hand to perk you up and get you back into positive mode again.
What’s next for The Pod Collection?
We are currently working on expanding the range which is very exciting. We are hosting a Maternity Pop up Shop in Dun Laoghaire 17-22nd July and we can’t wait to meet all the Mamas to be. Our Pod bag is now stocked in a selection of boutiques in Ireland and shortly our clothing range will be too. We have had an amazing reaction since launch, not only in Ireland but overseas and expansion into other markets is happening already.
It’s all a bit manic but we are loving it and we are so happy that we are on our way to redefining maternity style and the ultimate goal to empower confidence in women.