You know that feeling you get when you look in the mirror and actually feel excited about showing off your outfit? Maybe you’ve found your new favorite shirt or you finally come across a pair of jeans that fits just right. Have you ever had that feeling when you’re getting dressed with your breastfeeding needs in mind? Probably not.
Celine Cohen and Oksana Pavlowsky, founders of Brooklyn-based company Allette, have set out to change that. “We wanted to create a line of nursing clothes that breastfeeding mothers would actually be excited about wearing,” they explain. Their goal is to provide clothing that mothers will still want to wear even after their breastfeeding days are over.
Founded in 2016, Allette offers clothes that are chic and flattering yet also practical; Cohen and Pavlowsky want to make life easier for new moms who already have their hands full. “When you're a nursing mom, you have to be practical with your wardrobe on top of everything else,” they realized. “We wanted to create an effortlessly chic collection of dresses and tops for nursing moms so that they don't have to compromise on their style and look and feel beautiful during this amazing (but challenging) time.”
How did Cohen and Pavlowsky go about doing this? They recognized that women who are nursing are prioritizing convenient clothing over cute outfits -- and they decided to reverse that thinking pattern. Rather than designing with convenience in mind, Cohen and Pavlowsky first design clothes they love -- and then figure out how to make them nursing-accessible. They say they see themselves “as a fashion brand more than a ‘mommy’ brand, and that's helped form decision-making on so many levels.”
Allette was established as a brand in January 2016 but launched its first collection just last June. The founders are now working on their third collection for spring/summer 2017. Since enjoying an overwhelmingly positive response from consumers, Cohen and Pavlowsky have been able to take more risks with their designs and have had the chance to explore more wholesale opportunities.
They’re also forging strong connections with their local community in Brooklyn, inviting women to come to their office/showroom to try on clothes, grab a coffee, and hang out and nurse their babies. To top it off, their neighborhood is full of other women-run business and entrepreneurs -- including Wild Was Mama, Krysos+Chandi and Weepea Children's Marketplace -- and this offers a sense of support and camaraderie.
Both mothers of young children, Cohen and Pavlowsky say that they left the corporate world in part so that they could prioritize their parental obligations and time with their kids. Their current team is quite small, but the freelancers they work with are often local moms who share a similar outlook on work-life balance.
While fashion and aesthetics drive their design sense, the women behind Allette are ultimately concerned with boosting women’s self-confidence. “Whether a mom is at home with her baby or pumping at work, she can feel confident. A positive self image is a real benefit during this time of a woman's life when she's questioning everything else. And in many cases, women have told us [our clothes have] allowed them to nurse longer because they feel less constrained.”
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