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More women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to become mothers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Because women over 35 have had time to solidify their personal styles--and generally make more money than younger moms--they're creating new opportunities for businesses to cater to their upscale tastes.
Enter entrepreneurs like Lynda Fassa, 43, founder of Green Babies Inc. in Irvington, New York. Inspired by growing interest in organic foods, the former Ford model decided to start an organic fashion business in her New York City apartment in 1994. Today, Green Babies clothing can be found in more than 200 specialty stores nationwide as well as in more than 100 Whole Foods Markets.
"I thought I could make super-cool--not sappy--clothes out of organic cotton and sell them to people like me: moms who didn't want a life filled with pink and blue and plastic toy clowns," says Fassa of her initial vision. "Many of us aren't looking forward to giving up all, or any, of [our own sense of style] when we have a little one. And why should we?" By targeting more discerning mothers with higher incomes, Green Babies projects 2006 sales of nearly $2 million.
Today, moms are seeking hipper all-utility diaper bags, fashionably fabricated baby slings, contemporary nursery items that don't scream "baby," and child-care accessories that blend with sleek wardrobes without compromising functionality. "Celebrities have really acted as role models for this trend," says Amy Henry, vice president and director of research at the Insight Research Group. "The whole idea of parenthood has become more glamorous."
One company successfully satisfying these cravings is Babystyle, started by Laurie McCartney in 1998. McCartney, 39, developed an online catalog of products reflecting the more sophisticated lifestyles of moms like her. Today, Babystyle is a $50 million company that includes the website and a catalog; it will also open 20 stores in eight states by year's end. Besides clothing for moms-to-be and infants through toddlers, Babystyle offers furnishings, gear and accessories such as diaper bags, toys and gifts.
"All the products I've designed are things I would [use]," explains McCartney. "The company is my brainchild, translating what worked in my own life to a lifestyle retailing experience for my customers."
McCartney identifies the company's target market as women in their late 20s to mid-40s looking for "good quality, great prices and high value."
So how can you tap into this growing market? "Necessity is the mother of invention," says McCartney. "If you need or want it, chances are there are others like you. Create products with passion. Don't compromise your creativity, and don't be afraid to let your imagination drive you."