Search for maternity wear prompts business idea
By Mike Nolan email@example.com June 29, 2012 7:58PM
Belle Up, a maternity apparel store in Chicago's Mount Greenwood community, is owned by Beverly resident Jamenda McCoy. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: August 2, 2012 6:02AM
Six years ago, during her first pregnancy, Jamenda McCoy became frustrated during her search for maternity clothes.
An attorney working in Chicago, the resident of Chicago’s Beverly community wasn’t happy with what she was seeing in stock at local stores.
“Everything I was finding was very casual, weekend attire,” she said.
To find something a bit more stylish and business-oriented, McCoy said she had to travel to the city’s North Side because she didn’t want to shop online.
For women who are pregnant “that’s not always their first choice,” she said of buying online.
“You want to see it (the clothing), touch it, see how it fits,” McCoy said.
After her second pregnancy in 2008, McCoy decided that the neighborhood needed a maternity store offering a more fashionable selection, and in December 2009 she opened Belle Up.
Pronounced “belly up,” the store, 3440 W. 111th St., in the Mount Greenwood community, is divided into sections that highlight color palettes and seasonal trends. McCoy said that before she opened the store, she consulted with friends and colleagues to find out what they wanted to see in a maternity clothing store.
“I know we wanted a space that was big enough, that felt open and welcoming,” she said. “I didn’t want a cluttered, claustrophobic feeling.”
Along with fashion-forward clothing, the store carries accessories and gifts, and McCoy said the store’s staff is composed of moms who’ve been in the same boat she was in searching for maternity clothes.
“We’ve all been through this,” she said.
Beyond clothing and accessories, McCoy said Belle Up has been a community gathering place, hosting a regular children’s storytime as well as lactation consultations for new moms.