Six years ago, Erin Howard, our NJMOMpreneur of the week, was a public relations exec pregnant with her second child and frustrated when she couldn’t find maternity activewear that would support her growing belly during long runs. She had the same frustration during her first pregnancy, but this time, she was determined to do something about it. So without any fashion or manufacturing experience and nothing to go on except the belief that when there’s a need and where there’s a will, there’s a way, she created goodbody goodmommy. With hero pieces like the game-changing leggings with a built-in supportive belt and versatile wear-anywhere nursing cardigan, goodbody goodmommy has become a cult favorite of active pregnant mamas and featured in The Bump and Fit Pregnancy. We chatted with this Fair Haven mama of three about what she loves about small-town living, what she learned about turning her passion project into a bonafide business, and her favorite NJ kids’ shops where she finds those special holiday outfits.
Tell us about your background and how you created the goodbody goodmommy line.
My background could not be farther from my passion project, goodbody goodmommy. I worked in public relations for about 15 years, focusing on law firms, financial services, and green technology. During this time, I got pregnant with my first, then my second child. I was a marathon runner, and each time I was pregnant, I noticed a major hole in the maternity activewear market. I kept spending money on expensive regular-sized activewear that didn’t fit, and I didn’t like the synthetic, cheap fabrics in the maternity options. I knew there was a better way and that I had to create products I couldn’t find. While on maternity leave, I spent some time at an inspirational co-working space in Jersey City called Indiegrove. It was there that I met a man who put me in touch with a factory in NYC. At the same time, I teamed up with another woman who became the company’s co-founder. I had always planned to quit my PR career eventually, so I took a leap of faith and went for it.
Overall, I knew nothing about fashion or manufacturing. But from working in PR, I knew the power of making connections and how to solve problems. So, I kept doing those two things until we finally brought our first product to market, a cardigan that becomes a nursing cover. Our soon-after second product was our signature, patented maternity leggings that we call our game-changer because they have a built-in supportive belt designed for running. Looking back, I made some super expensive mistakes in the beginning. But if I hadn’t taken those steps – if I’d done more research first or spent more time on a business plan, I don’t think I would have ever made a move. I took a big risk and it worked.
You live in Fair Haven—tell us about your family and what you love about your town.
I have been married to my husband for almost nine years, and we have three children, Laurali (7), Brian (6), and Abigail (4). Fair Haven is a small town just a few miles from the shore. I’ve never lived in a small town before, only a massive suburb or a city. I love the homey feel here, the local shops, the restaurants, and the kids running wild through the neighborhood. And I love being close to the ocean. We spend long days there in the summer, playing in the sand and the water as a family.
What are some local businesses that you love?
Oh, there are so many—I’ve been shopping at Cabana 19 in Red Bank for some fun clothing items—their buyer has a great eye. My kids love Crazee’s Ice Cream in Rumson and Nicholas Ice Cream in Fair Haven. We eat obscene amounts of pizza from New Corner, a family restaurant in Red Bank. We frequent The Globe, a dive bar, every chance we can sneak away, and we recently had the most amazing date night meal at Semolina in Red Bank. And I find unique clothing for my kids and gifts at By George Baby in Fair Haven and Cutie’s Boutique in Shrewsbury. They are both women-owned and have a delicious selection of my favorite baby and kids’ brands for dressing up and every day.
Please share your favorite NJ spots you like to visit with your family.
We live at our favorite place—the shore! Besides spending time at the beach, we love to explore Sandy Hook National Park and enjoy the state’s agriculture at places like Eastmont Orchards.
What do you hope your children learn by seeing you hard at work?
I hope that my kids see that you don’t have to be boxed into one job or career—that you can change your mind and explore something new at any time. But I also hope they realize that it takes work, time, and practice to go after the new thing. I want them to know it’s normal not to succeed right away, but you will become more successful if you work hard enough. Many people talk about having a business idea but stop short of doing anything about it—taking that risk and putting in the work are the essential parts to make it happen.
What’s next for goodbody goodmommy?
I would love to expand goodbody goodmommy’s line of maternity activewear. I have plans to include more styles of leggings, some shirts, and post-partum leggings too. I’m looking at more sustainable fabrics for new products. I believe that people are looking to support more women-owned businesses and USA-produced products these days, and I want to be one of the well-known brands that fill this space. And eventually, I’d love to see my products in larger retailers as well. Even though I’ve been working on goodbody goodmommy for nearly six years, I’ve also been raising three babies. Now, as they’re almost all in school, I’m able to focus even more time, energy, and attention on my business—and I’m excited to see what that future holds.
What’s your best piece of advice for an NJMOMpreneur looking to start a new business?
The best advice I ever got, and that now I give is not to get so caught up in the plans that you never take action. Don’t get so caught up in writing business plans that you never get to actually selling a product. At some point, you need to do it and put something out there. There is always room for adjustments and changes down the line—but you need to take that first giant step to get the ball rolling.