This is the fourth of five interviews with small business owners at their boutique shops on Bergen Street, Brooklyn.
Wares: Contemporary designer maternity clothes for the pregnant urban shopper
Location: 464 Bergen Street
SaSaDi Odunsi and Hannah Macdonald, how long has Bump been in business? Two years this June.
What were you doing beforehand? I worked in wholesale jewelry, and then I took a break to be a mom, and then ultimately met my business partner [Hannah Macdonald] at Mommy Baby Yoga in Park Slope. The two of us decided that this area needed a maternity store and Bump was born.
What do you think was the biggest challenge opening the store? Well for one, getting this together as new mothers became a family endeavor. Trying to figure out the best neighborhood to open the store in for another. And we were ultimately the first store to open up on this block. We took a leap of faith.
Has the bad economy had an effect on the business, or your plans for the business? It definitely affected us, but thankfully we’re a niche, and sort of a destination store. So because of that we—knock on wood—have been able to carry on and hold through. We haven’t seen a huge amount of growth, but our numbers are staying where they should be. We definitely want to expand but we’re not jumping to do any expansion.
Park Slope seems like the perfect neighborhood for that niche you spoke of. Was that a major consideration? It was. My business partner lived in Clinton Hill, but there’s a joke: Don’t drink the water when you move to Park Slope because you’ll get pregnant. There are a lot of young families in this neighborhood. We also like the fact that Bergen Street is not just Park Slope. We’re sort of on the edge of Park Slope, but we’re close to Prospect Heights and we have a lot of customers coming in from all over Brooklyn as well as Manhattan. We were two young moms in a circle of young moms, none of whom had really shopped for maternity clothes in Brooklyn. All of us went to Manhattan to do it, and we wanted to bring it back to Park Slope and have people be shopping in this neighborhood. Also, there are a lot of second time moms that don’t go into the city as often but want to be able to shop.
There’s a bit of a reputation for Park Slope parents and mothers. There definitely is.
The mommy mafia, they call them. It has a bit of a negative connotation. There’s always something about the Park Slope parents from the bloggers, but it’s great. I love the fact that it’s very neighborhoody, and I know so many of the moms. I can’t walk down the street without bumping into somebody that I know. So it is an absolutely great neighborhood in that sense, for a family. I didn’t know anybody before I had kids, and having kids completely changed that experience.
It’s a very lively store, which I guess is appropriate. Yeah, exactly. And we still really want it to be a boutique environment for the first time mom to be able to come in and feel like she’s not bombarded by baby stuff yet, since that’s all to come. At the same time we have a really welcoming and comfortable shop for a second time mom, or a new mom to come in with her baby and not feel out of place.
Do certain fabrics work better? Stretch! Anything with stretch usually will work. We also carry some organic fabrics. People like wearing bamboo, or some organic cotton just because it’s a nice fabric, it’s soft, and better for your body. But generally things that have stretch, or lightweight fabrics, are very good. And dresses. Dresses were definitely a favorite of mine through my pregnancy, and to most customers. It’s comfortable, it’s easy, and you can look great.
Have you been able to do promotions around the neighborhood? One of the key things that Hannah and I wanted to do when we were planning the store was to do as much as we could for the community around us. So we do monthly mocktail evenings. We have done events with doulas, with pediatricians, with lactation consultants, with some of our skin care lines. We do evening events where we invite someone to talk about the services that they offer and do Q&A with our customers. It’s great because it’s an intimate setting, but it’s also our way of creating a community environment within the store, as well as, hopefully, benefiting other businesses.
Do mom’s follow-up after giving birth? Do you ever get baby pictures? We get a lot of moms coming back in with their babies and talking about how they love shopping in the store, or coming back and looking for interesting stuff. We get a lot of repeat customers coming in to show us their babies. We’re even on Facebook now!
And it’s pretty great that an adult shop is right next door. Yes, indeed. Actually, for about a month it was Babeland, then us, and then a Gymboree store.
Wow, like a Kinsey sex chart. It was like the perfect progression.
Have you ever considered 9 month coupons? (laughing) That or we’re going to sabotage Babeland’s stock of condoms. Actually, we really want to team up with them because we know Claire the owner. We actually met her in Mommy-Baby Yoga as well. We talked to her when she was looking for areas and this was sort of a good neutral spot for her to open. They do a great Sexy Momma series.
I think if you’re going to have a sex shop next to a maternity shop that’s the best one that I would choose to have next to us. But it is really funny sitting here and watching people walk by laughing at both the two stores. And some people do think it’s a baby store next door, which might be a little more appropriate next to a maternity shop, but it’s great. It sparks a conversation. It’s not your common line of shops, but that’s what it’s all about.
How to get there: Use the Hopstop Link below for specific directions. (Bump, 464 Bergen Street, btwn. 5th Ave. and Flatbush Ave., 718.638.1960, bumpbrooklyn.com)