Please tell us a bit about yourself, and describe your company.
Co-founded by Loren Heller & Hillary Cullum, Berkley Clothing is a luxury activewear line designed to make women feel beautiful, confident, and heathy during every moment of pregnancy and beyond. Berkley believes that when you look good, you feel good and that women should never have to sacrifice comfort for style (and vice versa.) The company celebrates pregnancy through soft, luxurious clothing that empowers women to stay active, celebrates every moment, and most importantly, be themselves.
Social norms around age and motherhood have changed significantly in the past decade. Women are waiting longer to have children than ever before, with the largest increase in birth rates in women between 30 and 40 years old. Older mothers are more financially stable than younger ones, so in turn, they have more discretionary income to spend on themselves during pregnancy.
Loren “birthed” the idea for Berkley Clothing while she was pregnant with her daughter, Leighton. As a health-conscious mom-to-be, Loren was unable to find maternity activewear that was fashionable, comfortable and functional. She identified a gap in the market and immediately shared it with her friend. Hillary shared Loren’s passion for style, health, and wellness, and was dismayed by the gap in the maternity market. Determined to change things for future moms-to-be, Loren and Hillary set out to design the perfect pair of maternity leggings for before, during, and after pregnancy.
The perfect leggings turned out to be two pairs of leggings, The Janey and The Cindy, named for Loren and Hillary’s moms, of course. With a focus on quality, the leggings have key features including four-way stretch, moisture-wicking, and antimicrobial properties, and are available in go-to classic tones and on-trend prints that are a rare find in maternity departments.
What has been the most challenging thing you have faced in the first two years of operating your business? How did you overcome it?
The Covid-19 delays that impacted the supply chain and our production timelines shifted the entire launch strategy and timeline for our product. We had to reevaluate everything from our fabric selection to the lead time to get finalized products. We overcame these challenges by reconfiguring our timeline and adjusting expectations – and coming to the realization that small steps lead to longer-term successes even if everything does not fall into place in the way & time that you had planned.
What are some of the biggest digital marketing challenges you have faced to date? How have you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges has been testing customer acquisition strategies while working within a budget. As a small, new brand competing with major players in the activewear market we quickly learned that we could not compete financially across all digital marketing platforms. The result is that we have to be very selective and honed in on our approach to spread our budget to the most effective areas. This in itself remains a challenge as it takes time to learn from each campaign and audience we are testing. We are constantly refining and adjusting the digital marketing strategy to determine what the right spend and platforms will be to convert at a workable customer acquisition cost.
Please tell us what led you to the path of entrepreneurship.
The identification and realization that there is a huge gap in the maternity activewear market as well as a personal passion to empower women pushed us into entrepreneurship. Neither of us had planned to make the pivot to launch a brand, however we found the need for our product a great enough impetus to take the leap. Both of our professional backgrounds lead us on a collective journey to this and we are excited to continue on this path.
What are the three most important things every woman entrepreneur should do, when first thinking about starting a business?
Our advice for any entrepreneur, male or female, would be:
1. It will take years: realistic expectations are one of the more important aspects of entrepreneurship and knowing it will be a journey is key to success.
2. You’ll make at least one mistake each day: it’s important to acknowledge and remember, that you don’t know what you don’t know — especially when starting a business. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and the sooner you view them that way, the easier it will be more move past them.
3. The idea is only the first step: from conception to fruition is a long and winding journey. One of the biggest things that has helped us at Berkley, is remembering the steps and understanding that ideas are just the beginning.
6) Are there actionable steps a woman in business should take to ensure that her company is successful in two years?
The most important measure of success begins with setting realistic goals and milestones to measure your progress and success. Success is much more than money in the bank as that portion of your business may take longer to build. We recommend putting together a comprehensive list of things you wish to achieve from business launch to first sale, etc. in order to keep on track and navigate the highs & lows of running a business.