As a New York City based, women-run company, we are particularly taken with our fellow female entrepreneurs. Each has a unique career trajectory that, in many cases, includes balancing a job, family and much, much more. Recently we caught up with Liz Lange, the pioneer of maternity chic. Her perpetual positive outlook and drive is inspiring and a healthy reminder. Thank you Liz for kicking off Travel Beauty’s #GirlBoss Series. And away we go!
TB: Where did the idea for Liz Lange Maternity come from, and how has it evolved over the years?
LL: In 1997 my friends were getting pregnant, I was newly married and had pregnancy on my mind although I was not yet pregnant. All my friends had the same complaint – they couldn’t find anything to wear. They’d buy expensive non-maternity clothing and tailor it to fit them as traditional maternity clothing at that time was typically very oversized and styled in a very babyish way (almost as if you were morphing into a baby rather than expecting one!) I noticed my friends looked better and slimmer when they wore slightly more fitted/body conscious clothing tailored – just like regular non-maternity clothing. I figured that if I could design a line of clothing using only stretch fabrics (which were new in the mid 1990s) that I could make things with a better fit that would still grow with a woman as she progressed in her pregnancy. I also thought that someone should be dressing pregnant celebrities (unbelievably back then nobody was!) so I set out to do both and succeeded way beyond my wildest expectations.
TB: What was your background prior to launching the line?
LL: I graduated from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature. I never studied fashion but did work as an assistant Editor at Vogue upon graduating from Brown and then for a women’s dress designer.
TB: What was the most significant unforeseen obstacle that you had to manage in relation to your business?
LL: Math! I am not good at numbers and business is all about numbers. I had to learn quickly to manage a budget, an open to buy plan, inventory, margins, markups etc.
TB: What prompted you to transition your line to Target?
LL: I could see that the success of my line was bringing a lot of attention to the space, and that I suddenly was competing with monster brands such as Gap, Old Navy, even Barneys for a while. I knew that only a few players would survive and that in order to do so it would be smart to align my brand with one. I loved Target’s philosophy of Expect More, Pay Less and approached them. I also really liked the idea of dressing pregnant women everywhere and not just the ones who lived near one of my three high end Liz Lange boutiques and who could afford my price points.
TB: To what do you attribute your success?
LL: Luck of course, hard work and an optimistic outlook. To be a successful entrepreneur you have to not let problems deter you. I always believe that there’s a solution for everything and that anything can be accomplished. I don’t let negativity enter into my thinking.
TB: As a working mom, what advice can you give on balancing career, family and life in general?
LL: Balance is very hard. Don’t beat yourself up. The best advice I was ever given is to be present wherever you are. If you are at the office, be there, don’t be there thinking you should be at home with the kids. And likewise, if at home with your kids, try not to be thinking that you should be at the office. And give up the guilt! We are so hard on ourselves.
TB: As a frequent traveler what are your top packing tips?
LL: Always go carry on! My children and I go carry on no matter how long the trip is and everyone rolls their own. Buy the biggest soft bag TSA allows (we swear by A. Saks brand sold at Lexington Luggage in NYC). Figure out a color scheme and pack a few pieces that all go together and can be mixed up to create different looks. Careful outfit planning is key. I also swear by zip locks. Use a large ziplock for your fun accessories – different jewelry can really change things up. Keep another ziplock under your sink packed with a set of your must have toiletries and makeup so you can always just throw that in your bag and never forget anything. Fold up your bras and underwear in a zip lock too.
TB: What beauty products can’t you live without, especially when traveling?
I swear by a light moisturizer like La Roche Posay Toleriane Facial Fluid – I never travel without it. I like to look tan but I don’t sit in the sun, so I love a bronzer like Laura Mercier Bronzing Gel or Michael Kors bronze powder. I don’t like a lot of foundation so I often just use a tinted moisturizer mixed with a serum. I like Biologique Recherche serums and Nars tinted moisturizer. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil is the best as it’s soft and so easy to apply and I love a natural lip color like Clinique’s Chubby Pencil in Whole Lotta Honey or some of the more sheer Tom Ford lip colors.
For more on Liz Lange, please visit her website.