Photo credit Zach Klein
Interview

Courtney Klein

09.01.15

Courtney Klein, mother and founder of chic maternity line, Storq, gives us a peek into her business and lifestyle with our final interview in our very special motherhood-inspired series. The idea for Storq was born after Klein listened to pregnant friend after pregnant friend lament the lack of maternity basics available in the market. Seeing an opportunity, Klein developed the San Francsico-based brand which debuted with four key pieces, sold as a bundle, every pregnant woman should have in their wardrobe: leggings, a skirt, tank top, and midi-dress – all to be worn throughout the entire nine months. As the brand has grown to include other essential mom-to-be products – the ethos has stayed the same: your sense of style shouldn’t have to change while you’re pregnant. Storq offers the luxurious and comfortable basics allowing their customers room to express their own personal style.

Interview

Tell us about the journey launching Storq.

When my husband and I relocated to San Francisco from New York a few years ago, I had to decide whether I was going to continue n my previous job or use the opportunity to reset and try my hand at something totally new.

Meanwhile, I was at that stage in life. A bunch of friends and family were becoming pregnant and I kept hearing the same theme from all of these different women, this strong desire to maintain their identity and style throughout pregnancy and into motherhood. The complaint was that most of the maternity clothing out there felt like a compromise in some way.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something to this idea and as I started looking into the market I found the demographics of motherhood are actually shifting in the US. Forty percent of babies are now born to women over 30 and first time mothers are increasingly more educated, in the workplace, and have disposable income to spend. We’re having babies at this totally different life stage, but maternity wear still feels stuck in a bygone era.

To me, it looked like this growing group of women out there wasn’t being addressed, so I started working on Storq. We focused on comfort, fit, ease, styling, and efficiency. And above all else, treating pregnant ladies like people.

Do you have a background in fashion?

I don’t! The clothes were designed in collaboration with one of my dearest friends and now Storq creative director, Grace Kapin. Grace has worked her way around the fashion industry and immediately got the idea of Storq and how to bring the basics to life.

My background is actually in digital design and strategy. In New York, I was a partner at an agency called Hard Candy Shell where I worked with clients like Jetsetter, The New Republic, Discovery Channel, Of a Kind, and Rent the Runway.

A woman’s body goes through so many confusing phases when you’re newly pregnant – how does Storq help with this transition?

Storq basics are designed to get you through all nine months without sacrificing style or comfort. We wanted to be sure these pieces were comfortable for everyday, regardless of the season. Everything is ultra soft, stretchy, and breathable. The styles are completely tagless, with minimal seams and understated silhouettes that mix effortlessly with your existing wardrobe.

How did you settle on the basics your bundle offers?

The best basics take the stress out of getting dressed in the morning. We started by asking ourselves what would be the most useful items for a woman who would otherwise completely opt out of maternity shopping. These are the pieces that bridge the gap (so to speak) so women can continue to make use of their regular wardrobe during pregnancy.

Did you always have this sort of idea of uniform dressing even before you were pregnant?

Uniform dressing is something I aspire to, but I do like to add in unique pieces to make an everyday look feel more special (usually shoes).

Why do you think most maternity clothes are so cheesy?

Good question! I just don’t think there are a lot of voices out there speaking to a new generation of parents.

Can you develop a few options for new moms?

Pretty much everything on the site canbe work pre- or post-babe. We assumed everyone would (understandably) want to burn their Storq clothes after giving birth, but we were pleasantly surprised to hear that women love wearing the pieces postpartum as well. We’re also developing some nursing specific styles as well as a few other things with overarching goal of making life easier for new moms and dads.

What other pregnancy-safe brands do you love?

In addition to the brands we carry on the site, we love what SW Basics and Meow Meow Tweet are doing.

How do you select the other products available on your site? Do you test it all?

We consulted with doctors, doulas, and herbalists. But most importantly, we talked with lots of pregnant women and new moms to decide on a lineup of everyday products that can easily be swapped in for the stuff that may not be safe for mom and baby. We also added in a few specific products that are tailored to the specific needs of pregnant women.

After scouring the marketplace and testing everything we could get our hands on, we settled on a selection we personally believe in. These products are safe, effective and beautifully designed. Everything is cruelty free and made in the USA. Many of the products are also handmade, vegan, all natural and use environmentally friendly packaging.

As cliche as the question remains, it’s still a difficult balance – how do you juggle a successful business and being a working mother?

The business and the babe are both still relatively new, so I am still figuring out how to navigate the unchartered terrain. Work and family are all-consuming and oftentimes I feel like I am always doing both. I think this quote from Dear Polly pretty much sums up my approach so far: “Choose both. Choose career AND choose the baby. Don’t put off one for the other. Choose both now and later and accept that you’ll be juggling for years no matter what you do. Even if you never have a career, you’re going to feel like you’re juggling. Parents juggle. Why not juggle things you love? Sure, you’ll have to work hard and make some sacrifices. Accept it and move forward.”