Maternity fashion has come a looong way over the years, but still only serves women for a few short months. Frustrated to have to buy so much new clothing for both her pregnancies, heymama member Laura Forman co-founded TILDEN. Leve
How did the idea for TILDEN come about?
My co-founder and I started Tilden to empower moms to transition confidently to motherhood. Moms today are older and more educated than ever. In many cases, that means they are entering motherhood at a time when they are hitting their stride in their respective careers. Too many moms feel like they lose themselves as they become pregnant and become moms – there are no classes or degrees in “mom,” and there’s no way to fully prepare yourself for what will come. The transition is especially difficult to navigate when you’re sleep deprived and your body seems to fluctuate every day.
Like many moms, I struggled to find clothing that made me feel like myself, given all the physical changes my body underwent as I got pregnant for the first time. Everything I saw out there either felt like a big step down from what I’d normally want to buy, or a waste of money because I’d only want to wear it for a few short months. For me, the struggle felt especially real as I was one of few women in my wall street office – definitely the only pregnant woman!
How is your line different from what’s out there?
We’re all about taking a slow-fashion approach to a mom’s wardrobe. Most women think they need to go out and buy maternity wear and nursing wear for each pregnancy. Most women tell us they want to “burn” or “destroy” everything they bought during this period – it’s generally made for a specific use (nursing bra, for example), and too often unflattering and poorly made.
We offer moms the ability to avoid maternity and postpartum wear entirely. We curate from contemporary and advanced contemporary brands women loved most before they became pregnant (e.g. Vince, Equipment, Rebecca Taylor, A.L.C.), applying data and decades of expertise to hand select only those pieces that offer versatility to work through all stages of motherhood – even pregnancy. In doing so, we offer moms one elevated wardrobe they can wear before they get pregnant through (and beyond) their last pregnancy.
We photograph all pieces on non-pregnant and truly pregnant models (second and third trimester only – no fake bumps) to show how a garment will grow with you in an effort to promote transparency. Soon, we’ll be making our own designs in areas where we see the most need – undergarments, denim, and transitional work/diaper bags to name a few.
You’ve mentioned that TILDEN is displacing maternity clothing. What do you mean by this?
I’m excited to be empowering women of all stages to have a positive experience facing their closets every morning.
Tell us more about your pivot from working in finance to launching a maternity brand?
I loved my years on Wall Street, but positive female role models on the trading floor were few and far between. Growing up an only child of a working mom, I knew I would want to find a way to balance dedication to my family and to my own career, which I’d invested so much in before motherhood. I caught the entrepreneurship bug in grad school. I started my program with a six-month old and finished three months pregnant with my second. Probably because of the stage I was in, I couldn’t help but notice the gaping hole in the “mom” market for elevated clothing during such a tricky (yet crucial) period.
Why was it important for you to change the way maternity fashions were created?
Most women already have so many wardrobes in their closet. They’ve got options for skinny days. Options for fat days. Options for period days. Options for facing the world days. Options for staying at home days. I looked at maternity wear and thought, do I really need another wardrobe? Especially one I don’t particularly even like and I’m never going to wear again? With TILDEN, I wanted to build something that was transitionable. Something that would work for all of the days, pregnancy included.
TILDEN become a celeb favorite quickly! What was it like for you to see celebs like Coco Rocha, Jessica Alba and Julia Stiles wear your pieces?
We’ve been so flattered to have worked with most major celebs who have been pregnant since we launched 18 months ago. I think it underscores the breadth of the market need. Even Hollywoods hottest celebrities who have incredible personal stylists helping them every day have trouble during periods of acute body fluctuation like pregnancy. Even supermodels feel like they lose themselves when they wake up to a closet full of clothing that no longer fits. The fact that Hollywood’s darlings feel stuck made me feel a lot better about wanting to give up and throw on sweatpants most mornings I was pregnant. We want to be that professional stylist, that trusted best friend, celebs can afford but everyone needs.
What are some of your favorite picks from TILDEN for pregnancy?
All of our looks are meant to work for pregnancy, but if I were to get pregnant again, the top pieces I’d want to get my hands on would be:
1st trimester: It’s the Vince Floral Pleated Cami Dress. I love it because it’s long and flowy to hide your bump when you’re not quite showing, but can also be belted for later when you’re ready to show off your shape. It’s a favorite of celebs like Lauren Paul, who told us she paired it with a black turtleneck underneath for a chic winter look.
2nd trimester: Our Enza Strappy Drop Rise Jumpsuit is literally the most comfortable piece of clothing I’ve tried on and it always fits.
3rd trimester: Our Yumi Kim Spin Me Around Dress is one of our best-selling baby shower dresses. It was also recently worn by Julie Stiles to her Riviera premiere in Paris).
Post-partum: I love our Equipment Rosemary Sweater Dress that I wear it in some combination all the time. It’s so cozy and easy!
How do you balance your work/home life?
I think this is a struggle every mom tackles every day. Mom juggle so much that it seems we have 50 balls in the air and are only able to catch a few of them. My best advice is to stay as engaged as possible, wherever you are. That means when you’re at home, not constantly checking email, but trying your best to focus only on your family; and when you’re at work, turning your phone on silent so you aren’t constantly distracted by what might be happening at home. This might seem impossible in practice but will really help you to feel like you’re at least “nailing” whatever it is you’re doing that minute. Even if that means you have 250 unread emails in your inbox by 7p. There’s always the night shift and a glass of wine, right? My husband and I have had huge success instituting a “family day” on Saturday where both of us pledge to stay offline while our kids are awake. They know now to look forward to it every week and it really helps them when one (or both) of us have to travel or stay late at work.
What’s next for TILDEN?
We launched last year curating from outside designers, but we’re really looking forward to partnering with some of our favorite names to create quality, versatile pieces for moms where we have seen the most demand. We’re also looking forward to investing in an improved site design and UX and enhancing our assortment with new designers and more SKUs from our favorites thus far!
How do you treat yourself?
We’re all so busy wearing so many hats. Most of what we do is for others – our kids, our husbands, our customers, our investors. I try to carve out at least 30 minutes a day where I shut off and do something for myself. I’m big on exercise, so most days it’s that. Other days it could be a long shower, a meditation, or even a quiet drive to get frozen yogurt after the kids are asleep.
What do you find to be the most challenging thing about owning your own business?
When you work for someone else, you have to live by their rules. At the same time, you enjoy a structure that’s already been created for you. When you own your own business, you’re not only doing your job, but you also have to build a framework for yourself and for your employees to work around. It’s hard to know the right answers when it’s never been done before.
What are some things you’ve learned as a business owner since you started?
We started out thinking TILDEN was solving fit issues women had while pregnant. We realized quickly that a big percentage of our customers weren’t pregnant, or even moms. The fashion industry sells us on this one “Instagramable” moment in time, but women’s bodies are naturally dynamic and change, often daily. I’m excited to be empowering women of all stages to have a positive experience facing their closets every morning. We’re too busy to be wasting time every day with self-doubt.
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