Two environmentally-conscious teens based in New York City, Christine Yan, 17, and Chelsea (Zi) Yan, 16, are one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. The dynamic duo are the cofounders of ZigZag Mommy’s, a maternity clothing company focused on using eco-friendly materials in their products to bring reusability and sustainability to maternity wear, allowing mothers to save money and time while helping to improve the environment.
We spoke with Chelsea and Christine to learn more about the business venture:
Tell us about your business/product:
We want to reinvent the maternity wear industry with ZigZag Mommy. Our maternity apparel company is focused on using eco-friendly materials and adding reusability and sustainability to the maternity wear market. Our innovative product is an environmentally friendly maternity style that uses a zipper design on the side seam for contracting and expanding to accommodate the growing fetus. The product can be worn during pregnancy and through motherhood while solving the problems of poor circulation and limited usage period. The mothers can continue to wear the zip-up even after pregnancy, allowing them to save money for other necessities for the baby. They will no longer have to throw out their old maternity wear, which is both beneficial for the environment and community.
One added bonus of ZigZag Mommy is our devotion to sustainability. Our maternity wear is comprised of RPET, an organic material that is made with recycled water bottles. Since eco-friendly products are now gaining popularity, our sustainable material will appeal to these expecting mothers. With a handcrafted prototype, we conducted several modeling tests on various pregnant women to find the best sizing possible and have tweaked our design accordingly. With our focus on sustainability, we researched potential, eco-friendly materials, and determined RPET is the best fit for our standard and vision.
What inspired you to start ZigZag Mommy’s?
The inspiration came a few years ago when Chelsea’s mother was pregnant. Although her mother needed maternity jackets to keep warm in the freezing winter, she refused to buy one and struggled to keep warm with her existing jacket. Chelsea came to understand that her reluctance to buy maternity wear because of the discomfort caused by elastic bands commonly used in maternity wear today. Not only that, but she felt it would not be used again after she was no longer pregnant. A consultation with her obstetrician proved that the elastic bands can result in poor circulation for the mother and baby. This experience led us to our signature zipper design. Our initial prototype was created by using one of Chelsea’s old sweaters and installing zippers and fabric on the sides. The problems proposed by Chelsea’s mother sparked Christine’s interest as well. Although many types of maternity clothing are available on the market, they are often expensive and are differentiated by stages of pregnancy. Christine wanted to offer maternity clothing that changes as a woman’s body does throughout her pregnancy. Together, we have perfected the zipper design and pitched it at multiple business competitions.
How will ZigZag Mommy’s impact the world?
Our target market is urban millennial moms who are willing to invest a little above market price for a healthier, more eco-friendly maternity wear alternative. Millennials have no problem trying new, innovative brands such as ZigZag Mommy. Millennials place value on the experience of their purchase and we believe motherhood should be an extra special one. We want to start with hosting special interaction events at parent classes and support groups offered through places such as NYU Langone’s Center for Perinatal Education and Lactation. As our startup grows, we want to sell our maternity wear at these parent support classes, who would serve as a distributing platform from us to the customer.
The movement to wear sustainable clothing has been going on for a long time, but we hope our design will inspire more mothers to join the movement. Sustainable consumption and production promote resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, access to green jobs, and a better quality of life. ZigZag Mommy’s brings mothers together in their community to promote the ideal of sustainability around them and to the future generation. In addition to our sweater prototype, we will also expand our product line by investing in other designs to make our online shop the single destination for all prenatal needs, reducing the stress of shopping during pregnancy. We will follow the same concept of expandability and sustainability on outerwear, bottoms, dresses, shirts and possibly even more!
What are the next steps?
If ZigZag Mommy’s is funded, we plan on using the money to apply for a utility patent as our design satisfies the requirement for one. This patent will protect our idea in the fast fashion industry in order to have intellectual property protection. We will also use the funds to hire additional models to increase the preciseness of our measurements. Ultimately, most of the funding will be attributed to production costs.