Partnerships that Matter: Fulfilling Expectations for Maternity Clothes
October 19, 2011
By Tim Candon — This article was originally published in the Team Fuqua alumni magazine.
In most transactions, it’s better to own than to rent or lease. Marisa Moss (Daytime MBA ’03) has flipped that notion on its ear in one area of the sales sector, and she has the potential to tap into a market with nearly four million new customers every year.
Moss founded Mine for Nine, an e-commerce site that rents professional maternity clothes and special occasion outfits to women as they progress through their pregnancies. Business apparel is available to rent for one to three months at a time, and special occasion outfits are available in increments of two, four, or six weeks. Mine for Nine pays for return shipping and dry cleaning, and customers may purchase new clothing that’s currently in season.
Moss hatched the business idea while visiting Fuqua classmates Tera Ferguson and Melissa (Suckow) Giroux in Austin, TX, in July 2008. One of the women just had a baby and the other was due any day.
“We were just talking about the cost of maternity clothes and the limited selection,” Moss says. “Women don’t want to spend a lot on maternity clothes because they are so temporal in nature and expensive. As a result, they purchase a handful of staple items and wear them week in, week out, rather than have the huge selection of clothing they are accustomed to when not pregnant. That’s where Mine for Nine comes in; we allow pregnant women to expand their closet without the associated costs of buying a completely new wardrobe.”
Moss worked on her business plan from her home in New york, where she also currently works as a director at an investment bank. She officially launched the Mine for Nine website in April 2011, offering clothing at 75 percent off retail prices, and she says that the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Mine for Nine has already been featured in media including Women’s Wear Daily, Glamour.com, Daily Candy Kids, and People.com.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people I’ve been in contact with thought it was an amazing idea,” Moss says. “What surprised me was it wasn’t just women, it was also men. ‘This is such a great idea. I wish this was around when my wife was pregnant. We still have a closet full of maternity clothes,’ the guys say.”
Though Moss is the sole proprietor of Mine for Nine, she relies heavily on fellow alumni from the Daytime MBA Class of 2003, including Ferguson, Susan Bello, and Van Menard, who all serve on the company’s advisory board. All of their input has been invaluable, Moss says.
“Each of them brings a different discipline to my business model. They helped me with web design, content, marketing, and financial planning,” Moss says. “In launching your own business and being responsible for all the final decisions, it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and that’s what I have valued the most from them. Not only did they bring their enthusiasm to the table, but they also volunteered their time to make Mine for Nine a reality.”
In addition to her family and Fuqua friends, Moss has been blown away by the willingness of strangers to chip in. A client who works for Google put together a marketing proposal for Moss, while another client, an attorney for a large law firm that specializes in entrepreneurs, has helped Moss with intellectual property issues as well as possible expansion.
“There are so many great people out there who are happy to help, with no strings attached,” says Moss, and she’s grateful that they have all pitched in to make her dream a reality. To give back, Moss donates gently used Mine for Nine clothing to women’s organizations like Dress for Success.
“I had a really great idea, and I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t want to look back and regret that I didn’t try. Whether it continues to succeed or it fails, at least I tried,” Moss says. “It’s been a huge financial investment on my part, and I’m hoping it’s wildly successful. I think it can be. Potential clients from all over the world including Europe and Australia have contacted me. We still have a long way to go before we hit the four million women who are pregnant every year in the U.S., but hopefully we’re implementing the right steps to get there and then expand abroad.”