Two Best Friends Change the Maternity Industry Landing Nordstrom

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Valerie and Sabina, the girls behind BLANQI. Their story something that took hard work, determination and the right direction. From the beginning big retailers were their target and they were out to make a big impact. This is how it started... It began with a simple conversation between best friends Sabina Melarti and Valerie Darragh – on the playground with their one-year olds, Sabina pregnant with her second, they shared their stories of frustration by the nonexistence of chic and practical support garments and the lack of support for the after-baby body.  The only items available on the market were bulky and incredibly uncomfortable Velcro contraptions that  you wouldn’t dare leave the house wearing, shapewear that squeezed too tightly, and activewear that wasn’t made with a baby bump or jiggly post-baby belly in mind.  Due to this, they had both combined different items in their closets to create a makeshift garment that would fulfill their needs. So here they were, two young moms from Atlanta who believed in their product, and in each other. They’d done the research. They’d worn other maternity tanks and hated them. They’d spent $150,000 — pretty much everything they had — to manufacture thousands of units of a new maternity tanktop they could love. They even had hang tags and UPC symbols for their product ready to go. And they’d even made a visual mock-up of what their tanks would look like on the homepage of Nordstrom’s website. “We had the mindset of ‘go big or go home,’” Melarti says. “We wanted to change the world.” So they were ready when the buyer emerged from her cubicle and invited them to sit. I had a baby eight months ago, she told them, and I love your product. “We left that meeting and immediately started getting onboarding emails from Nordstrom, welcoming us as a vendor and teaching us how to run this business,” Darragh says. This was 2010, and the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship between Nordstrom and the supportwear company Darragh and Melarti founded. BLANQI has disrupted the maternity, post-partum, and nursing spaces with undergarments that lift, hold, and smooth heavy bellies and bustlines instead of squeezing women into skinny shapes like shapewear. Now, in addition to the tanks, which feature their patented built-in support, a proprietary stretch-and-recovery seam-free knit, BLANQI sells tops, bottoms and support bands that give abdominal lift and support with graduated degrees of compression to redistribute weight while smoothing lumps with a seamless design. There’s also the Maternity Built-in Support BellyBand, the first ever breastfeeding leggings with higher-than-average waistband that give nursing moms more coverage if they lift their shirts to feed their babies. “Nordstrom took a chance on two girls that nobody knew — no history, no data — with a product that was totally new,” Darragh says. “They don’t say yes to everybody. When they said yes to us, they changed everything.”

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