Maman Chic Boutique – Maternity Shop, Aylmer
Maman Chic Boutique, Aylmer
This past weekend, I went to visit the maternity shop in Aylmer, Maman Chic Boutique. I had the opportunity to browse the beautiful products, get to know the owner Sarah Hampel, and ask her a few questions about her store. One of my favourite things about working in the industry is the friendliness of the vendors and shop owners, and our willingness to help each other out. I love meeting new people, and what better kind than that!
How long have you been running Maman Chic? What are your future plans for the shop?
Maman Chic opened in September 2015, while I was working full-time at the government, and newly pregnant with my third daughter. So it’s certainly been a challenging and rewarding 1.5 years since the boutique opened! Despite the ups and downs, it’s really been so amazing to watch “my fourth baby” grow. I’m proud of my achievements thus far and am really excited to see all that’s to come in 2017. I have so much planned including new Canadian-made products and fun collaborations!
Did you always know you were going to be a business owner?
Not at all. I love to shop and always thought having my own store would be fun, but that was about as far as I got. It wasn’t until I was on maternity leave with my first daughter that I really considered opening my own business. I had had a really hard time finding stylish maternity clothes (for both work and play) and figured I couldn’t be the only woman feeling that way. I signed up for a course on how to write a business plan and completed my business plan before my maternity leave ended in March 2014.
Why did you choose to sell maternity products?
It is SO challenging for pregnant women to find comfortable and stylish maternity clothes in the Gatineau/Ottawa area. I spent my first pregnancy wearing clothing I didn’t care for and to top it off, the quality was awful. During my second pregnancy, I did a lot of online shopping and found some really great maternity clothing brands that blended style, comfort and versatility perfectly. These are the brands that I brought into the boutique, knowing women would just love them (and they do!).
The boutique has expanded quite a lot in the last year. Maman Chic now offers maternity clothing, nursing clothing, baby products (all made in Canada) and a few non-maternity items that moms can’t live without (like great post-partum leggings, nursing covers and baby carriers). Choosing new products is one of the best parts of my job!
Do you have a favourite garment? Why?
It’s so hard to choose just one! So I’m going to cheat and pick 3: one maternity, one nursing and one post-pregnancy (or what I like to call #momuniform) item.
– Favourite maternity item: the cocoon dress. This dress is one of our bestselling items. So much so that we carry it all year around (with sleeves in the winter and sleeveless in the summer)! It fits like a glove, accentuates the belly in the best way and looks great from month 1 to 10. It can even be worn post-pregnancy which is a big plus!
– Favourite nursing item: the Tallulah bra. This bra is comfortable, feminine and sexy – a combination that’s super hard to come by when we are talking about nursing bras!
– Favourite post-pregnancy item: the Strong as a Mother tops. They are comfortable, soft and are made in Canada by a fellow amazing mama. My customers have absolutely fallen in love with the message behind these shirts and their celebration of every strong mother and her story (whatever her shape, size, creed, color or walk of life).
Why is your boutique by-appointment only? Tell me about the process. Can they walk out with their items same-day or are they custom ordered?
It is important to me that each one of my customers gets a completely personalized shopping experience, and one-on-one appointments ensure that happens. The process allows me to get to know my clients, their likes and dislikes, and also be able to answer any questions they have. I really want them to love the clothes that they leave my store with! There’s even a private change room in the boutique so they can try on the clothes and find their size. On the odd chance that I don’t have their style or size in stock, it can sometimes be custom ordered through the website’s online boutique, depending on the season and vendor.
What’s your favourite part of being a mom? What do you find the most challenging?
My favourite part about being a mom is definitely just being able to watch my kids grow into these independent little people with personalities! It’s totally bittersweet (why can’t they stay little forever?) but each new stage is so special. Trying to soak in as much as I can!
The most challenging part would probably be the self-doubt. I think it’s really normal for moms to always question themselves: Am I spending enough time with my kids? Am I working too much? Am I present enough? It’s so easy to start over-thinking things and to get wrapped up in the expectation that we should be able to just “do it all”. I try to not put too much pressure on myself but some days it’s harder to do than others!
– Sarah Hampel, Maman Chic Boutique
To learn more about Sarah and her maternity shop, visit www.MamanChic.com
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