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Hit or Miss

Jumping on a hot trend at just the right time can be a great way to launch a business. But how can you tell if a trend has enough staying power to stake your startup on it?

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This story appears in the June 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Three years ago, Rebecca Cutler and Jennifer Krane saw big changes happening in the athletic wear and maternity industries. Women were wearing athletic clothes for going out, not just working out. Obstetricians were encouraging pregnant women to keep up a modified exercise regimen to stay fit, whether it be yoga, walking or another favorite sport. Designers were creating fashionable clothing lines for pregnant women, and celebrities were making pregnancy look hip, beautiful, fashionable, even athletic. Cutler and Krane did some research and learned that 4 million babies are born every year in the United States, and American women spend an estimated $1.2 billion annually on maternity wear.

There was a pregnant pause, however, when they compared what they saw to what was on the racks at sporting and maternity stores-especially when it came to tennis, a sport Cutler and Krane both love. "[Pregnant women] were buying extra-large nonmaternity tennis skirts-pulling them on, feeling awful and not really fitting into them," says Cutler, a mother of two. They thought a box set of fashionable maternity athletic clothes that included a mix-and-match reversible tennis skirt, a few V-neck shirts, and shorts that could transition from the tennis court to a night on the town just might sell.

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