Are you feeling fat, frumpy and very, very pregnant? Have you got absolutely nothing to wear? Then it’s about time you explore Bellyssimo - offering a collection of clothes for women who are looking for fashionable and functional maternity wear that they can grow glamorously in. With everything from corporate suits to evening dresses, Bellyssimo is the solution for the mum-to-be. You can expect trendy, high quality maternity clothes from a trusted online maternity store, and best of all – the garments have been specially designed so that they can be worn after the pregnancy too!

Through a Q&A session with owner Melanie Watson, we find out what inspired her to start Bellyssimo, and why she believes marketing and packaging is important.

Q: What inspired you to start your business?

A: I was pregnant with my first child in 2005, and was unable to find anything that didn’t make me feel fat and frumpy. For some reason a size 32 looked as though I was wearing a size 36.

Q: How did the concept come about?

A: I decided at the time that this was unacceptable. A pregnant woman should be able to feel her best during this period – as pregnancy is a joyous time which needs to be celebrated in every way! And as everyone knows; if you don’t look your best, you don’t feel your best. I was designing ladies wear at the time and thought to myself: “why should a pregnant woman’s style have to change just because she is pregnant?” This is when I came up with the whole idea of Bellyssimo.

Q: Tell us about your product and how it’s unique

A: Bellyssimo is a trendy and high quality maternity wear range which compliments the ever-changing figure of any pregnant woman. Bellyssimo offers international style in a maternity wear range, while keeping up with the latest fashion trends and styles.

Q: How many people does your business employ?

A: I run my factory from home and I have five staff members who sew for me. One of these ladies is a qualified pattern maker as well as a machinist – she is the production manager and does all the training of new staff. I also help out her where I can, but I like to focus on the designing of new ranges.

Q: In what ways do you think your business is benefiting the community?

A: I am supplying jobs to the community – to people who have been retrenched due to the high number of clothing factories who have closed down over the years. Most of these ladies come from townships, and have not been able to find a source of income.

Q: What are the main challenges when running your own business?

A: Running your own business is a huge responsibility. If something goes wrong, everything falls on your shoulders… I would say this is probably one of the main challenges of running your own business!

Q: What are the main rewards when running your own business?

A: The feeling of knowing you have accomplished something. It has taken a lot of time, hard work and perseverance to get Bellyssimo to where it is today. And it hasn’t been easy! I would say the best feeling is when a customer congratulates us on our overall service and delivery.

Q: Why do you think your business is successful?

A: I think it is because I found a niche market – I am offering something that was lacking in the market.

Q: What advice can you give to someone starting their own business?

A: Start off with small steps, and don’t rush.

Q: How important is marketing and packaging?

A: Marketing is important to a degree, but I think that by meeting your customer’s expectations and going the extra mile, you will achieve a lot. Word of mouth is a very important factor when it comes to advertising! Packaging is also very important, as the presentation leaves the first impression.

For more information, tel 084 209 4045 or e-mail info@bellyssimo.co.za

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