How Pregnancy Inspired Of Mercer's Co-Founder to Perfect the Maternity Work Wardrobe
When Of Mercer landed on the online shopping scene four years ago, the women-founded startup had a mission: To dress professional women in stylish and SFW workwear that was made in NYC and wouldn't cost an entire paycheck. Aimed at creating functional and easy-to-clean essentials that would transition easily from the corner office to happy hour (and climb the corporate ladder along with its wearer), the New York-based direct-to-consumer brand is now outfitting its customers for another life milestone: motherhood.
After becoming pregnant, co-founder Dorie Golkin Smith decided it was time that the brand finally answer the call of its mama-to-be shoppers. "Customers were reaching out at all phases of their pregnancy needing outfit support," Smith tells us. "From hiding little bumps, to embracing the big ones, and ultimately finding clothes for returning to work after maternity leave."
Enter the affordable online label's first-ever maternity collection, which arrived on Of Mercer's digital shelves this week. Priced from $175 to $215, the line is comprised of figure-flattering dresses that are just as easy to slip on mid-pregnancy as they are to unsnap for mid-afternoon pumping sessions. There's the Brookfield Dress ($195) that features comfy four-way stretch fabric, hidden zippers for easy nursing, and an adjustable front snap closure to accommodate women during after pregnancy. The Mccaren Dress ($175) is a form-fitting silhouette with side ruching, making it perfect for 9-to-5 dressing and cocktail parties, too (and yes, it's also got those secret zippers). In addition to other maternity styles, the range also includes bump-friendly pieces from its main collection, like the Clinton Dress (a swingy dress made of chic Japanese cupro fabric) and the Sutton Wrap Dress (a lightweight jersey dress available in two different lengths).
Below, read on to find out more about the collection, what aspects of parenthood that Smith is most excited (and nervous) about, her best advice for women entrepreneurs, and more, then shop Of Mercer's new maternity line here.
What was the "a-ha" moment that inspired you to add maternity pieces to the line?
There wasn’t a single “aha” moment, but my own pregnancy was definitely the tipping point! As with any new product launch, we rely heavily on customer feedback and we were hearing from so many women that dressing for work during pregnancy and postpartum was a real struggle.
Women were frustrated with the oversized sacks they were expected to wear — which are both unprofessional and unflattering. It was especially difficult, and emotionally taxing, for women returning to work who didn’t fit into their old clothes and were anxious about pumping in the office. So we had already identified that this was a problem that needed solving, but when I became pregnant, the timing seemed perfect. As a data- and testing-driven company, we knew I could be our own in-house test drive to live and breathe our product through pregnancy and beyond.
Which piece is currently on heavy rotation in your wardrobe right now?
The Sutton Wrap Dress — I wear it at least once a week, pregnant or not! Our wrap is engineered to cross above the bust, so no need to use pesky safety pins or camisoles to avoid showing too much. The fabric is so comfortable too — it’s that dress you always look forward to putting it on in the morning.
As far as your own journey to motherhood, what aspects about being a parent are you most excited about?
I am excited to raise a little person who will make the world a better place. I know I’m not alone in thinking we have a lot of progress to make, and I have so much hope that the next generation will be a major component of this much-needed positive shift.
What aspects of motherhood are you most nervous about?
The lack of sleep! No matter how busy I get, I prioritize sleep because it allows me to be as efficient and effective as possible during my waking hours. But I think I can expect a bit of an adjustment!
What's your best advice for women who want to be successful entrepreneurs?
Make sure you have a strong support network around you. Whether that’s a co-founder (I rely on Emelyn [Northway] so much!), a partner, colleagues, or family, there are a lot of ups and downs, and you want someone to be with you when you’re feeling low, and share the bottle of champagne when you’re feeling high!
What productivity apps to do you swear by?
Postmates! There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a very busy night of work and getting a pregnancy craving for a kale caesar salad from by CHLOE or let’s be honest, beef brisket from Hill Country BBQ.
What's next for Of Mercer — can you tell us more about any exciting upcoming launches and new products?
We have a bunch of new fall styles that are about to go live that I know our customers will love. We’re also putting out more styles in extended sizes (14W to 20W) and introducing a petite collection! We also have a lot of storefront news! We just opened a new three month long popup in Boston on Newbury Street — and we are moving our NYC flagship to an amazing new storefront in Nolita!