BROOKFIELD, Conn. -- On the surface, little has changed in the working day for Brookfield’s Tracy Gravius. She’s still an early-riser, works late into the evening and during the course of the day, handles priorities and tasks better than a juggler with six balls.
- Who : Tracy Gravius, Brookfield
- What : Founder and owner of PREGASTYLE, which resells maternity clothing and accessories
- Info : https://www.pregastyle.com/
Dig deeper, however, and people will see that everything has changed since Gravius launched her maternity clothing business, PREGASTYLE, from her home in October. The online company resells lightly worn maternity clothes and accessories, all at a fraction of the price from retail stores. “Maternity are our sizes. Pregnancy is what we dress with style,’’ Gravius said. “We want moms to forget our clothes are like-new and be reminded when they see the price tag."
Gravius, who spent 16 years in the finance sector, became inspired by the birth of her children, Ally, 6, and Ryan, who will turn 3 in January. She started working on her business plan while on maternity leave after her son’s birth. When she was laid-off from her position in May, all of the stars aligned to create the perfect time to launch.
“When I became pregnant, it was like a whole new world for me on many fronts,’’ Gravius said. “In terms of clothing, I had to build two wardrobes, one for business and one for casual. I had no idea how to style my bump, either. After I had my first baby, I started thinking there is not much going on in terms of buying maternity clothes in great condition.”
Friends with children felt similarly, and Gravius’ situation exacerbated after delivering Ryan, a winter baby, while Ally was born in summer. “I had to go out and buy even more clothes,’’ Gravius said. “After the second baby, my husband referred to my clothes as closet clutter. I worked crazy hours, was being pulled away from my biggest priority, which is my family, and I had to figure out a way to do something with all these clothes.”
Women sell maternity clothing and accessories to PREGASTYLE. Women can request a free “clutter bag kit” from the company and send them to Gravius at no charge. Items must adhere to the business’ quality standards, and unaccepted items can be returned for a shipping charge.
Women can purchase items by shopping online through the website, everything from career to casual, sleepwear to swimwear. Prices are deeply discounted in comparison to department stores and other retailers. Unlike consignment stores, women who submit items are paid before it sells.
“We are giving moms the opportunity to look and feel beautiful and fit their budget,’’ Gravius said. “These clothes look brand new. Some of them still have tags. Once you’re done with them, it’s great to know that you can sell them back to us from your couch.”
Gravius recognizes some women may be reluctant to purchase items without being able to physically see them.
“We try to showcase and convey the quality of the items through videos and Snapchats,’’ she said. “We do more than photography. It could be a potential challenge for us. But the entire e-commerce industry has expanded. Consumers have become much more comfortable purchasing online. Women will never know that our clothes once hung in another mom's closet."
For now, Gravius runs the business out of the basement of her home. She also has a home office for administrative tasks.. “My kids will jump in and take a picture with a pregnant mannequin,’’ she said. “A lot of times the kids are in their playing. They’re getting exposure to the business.”
The new career is a seismic shift for Gravius, who traveled to Greenwich each day for work in her previous career. She worked with high net-worth clients, and she took valuable bits of information from her position and clients into establishing PREGASTYLE.
“One of the things I took away is they’re visionaries,’’ Gravius said. “You dream big, and you don’t let other people take you down. If you feel passionate and think you can make a difference, go for it. Surround yourself with positive people and they’ll boost you. They won’t always agree with you, but they’ll push you forward and bring valuable advice.”
While Gravius brought business expertise, she needed to acquire skills in merchandising, marketing, website development and maternity manufacturers. She even writes a blog that features pregnancy style and fashion tips for expecting moms. She’s adapting to them quickly.
“It was hard to leave the finance business,’’ Gravius said. “There are pros and cons to everything. This has been like my third child. There have been a lot of labor pains and lost sleep. The challenges change, but somehow it always works out. As much as you try to lay out a road map, it doesn’t always work out. I can do it because I have the support of my family. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
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