Meet Sprout Collection: a fashionable, affordable and sustainable solution for expecting moms
It's no surprise that some of the best ideas come from determined moms looking to make life a little simpler. That was certainly the case for the Joyce Lim, founder of the subscription maternity rental service Sprout Collection that's gaining praise and popularity among Canadian moms.
When Joyce became pregnant she, like most expecting women, had a lot of questions: How will this work? How hard will it be? What will my new baby be like? Am I ready? With the litany of initial questions and considerations, the last thing on her mind was, "What will I wear?"
Joyce figured she'd continue to wear oversized knit sweaters, loose-fitting dresses and go up a few sizes at her favourite retailers but soon discovered this wouldn't work throughout her entire pregnancy—the fit wasn't quite right and she ultimately lamented the idea of purchasing items she would likely never wear again. When she ventured into shops tailored to expecting women, her disappointment deepened after finding the options lacked the quality and durability (and weren't offered at the price point) she was looking for. "I don't consider myself a fashionista, but I do prefer to buy quality to unsustainable fast fashion," says Joyce. "Maternity clothing seemed to be this afterthought or like some kind of fashion black hole, and I didn't think it had to be like this."
The corporate lawyer and the soon-to-be mom of Georgia (now nine months old) took to the internet to find a solution. She looked at Rent the Runway—a subscription clothing service that allows you to rent items for an event or every day and return them afterwards—and dreamed that something like it could be available to pregnant women like her. Out of all of this frustration, she came up with a goal: to find a way to bring quality maternity clothing to Canadian women at an affordable price.
Sprout Collection is a subscription service that offers just that. Starting at less than $100 a month, pregnant and nursing women can pick four items from their collection of more than 2,000 styles, wear them as many times as they please then return the box and receive four new pieces the following month. The pieces range from formal dresses (for that one-off event like a friend's wedding) to cozy sweaters to trendy jumpsuits. Each of the fashionable selects is made with motherhood in mind, too—think snap buttons for nursing, wrap dresses and stretchy material for a changing body, and high-quality textiles for #SproutMamas to rent, wear, return, and repeat to their heart's desire (and growing belly's needs).
The idea was straightforward, but getting there certainly wasn't. "As a lawyer I was always the one who would lay out the potential risks and options for my clients for them to choose, but in deciding to start this business I had to both consider the risks and take the leap of faith," says Joyce. For every month her tummy grew, so too did Joyce's determination to make Sprout Collection a reality. In a true testament of her own hard work and having a supportive husband, Josh, to bounce ideas off, the official launch of their website coincided with the birth of her firstborn Georgia Rose—we'll call it fate. "For every update we had with my delivery, there would be one to match it on the business side," recalls Joyce with a laugh.
The process—both pregnancy and building a business from the ground up—was a whirlwind but Joyce and her husband have only just begun. As the company's subscribers grow, the couple rightfully take a pride in their user's positive feedback (renewed confidence, peace of mind, making maternity clothing fun again) but also look to include an environmental mandate as well. In the era of fast fashion and overflowing landfills, Sprout Collection's rental model is a sustainable solution—they even encourage subscribers to re-use the same box for returning items. "We'd like to be akin to Canada's Rent the Runway and encourage people to seek renewable options where possible," says Joyce.
Today, mom, baby and brand are doing well—Joyce and Josh are continuing to navigate the sometimes challenging, always rewarding realities of raising a child and growing a business.