Launching a children’s clothing business was never something Tannia Ospina, our NJMOMprenuer of the week, dreamed would happen when she was studying law. But when she had her second child, she couldn’t find that one special outfit for her daughter’s first birthday. So, she made it herself—a sparkly romper that won raves among her mom friends, who begged her to make more. Eventually, that one romper became Belle Threads, a unique girl’s clothing line with pieces that are designed to sparkle and stand out. We chatted with Tannia right before she gave birth to her third child (a girl!) about what makes Belle Threads so special (hint: everything is handmade here in NJ) and how she’s helping health workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
featured image via Creations With A Kiss Photography
I live in Hasbrouck Heights in Bergen County, New Jersey with my family. I have an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old and a new baby coming soon. My sister Brigitte, who runs Belle Threads with me, lives there too. Our store and our warehouse are also located in the same town and what’s really amazing is that all of our items are handmade in New Jersey. We have about seven full time and part-time employees. Brigitte manages operations and she helps with the design. She also does creative work with her collections.
One of Belle Threads’ adorable baby outfits, the Swan Queen feather tutu romper via @bellethreads on Instagram.
Tell us about your background.
I went to law school and that’s where I Iearned the importance of being strategic and the value of taking risks. I knew I always wanted to be a hands-on parent, and I was working when my son was young, and it was difficult. When I had my second child, I wanted to be a hands-on mother and didn’t go back to the law but wanted to do something creative that gave me time at home. When I couldn’t find the right outfit for my daughter, I decided to make it myself. When I first created the “Sparkle Romper”, I had no idea how popular it was going to be. So many people asked for it, and I came up with the idea to start Belle Threads. But I still have my hand in the law—I am an adjunct instructor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and continue to update my law license.
Belle Threads has so many adorable outfits. Can you give us details about the line?
Our business sells stylish, handmade custom and milestone clothing for girls ages 0-14. It’s really about a beautiful classic look that has a modern style. Besides milestone looks, we also create custom dance school costumes and flower girl dresses. We sell online and with a few select retailers, but I travel all around the U.S. selling at shows and pop up shops. I’m also working with many photographers, and sell backdrop setups for photographers to create dreamy and unique photoshoots.
How have you pivoted Belle Threads during the COVID-19 crisis?
We always have been online, so that hasn’t changed for us, except we’ve stopped making custom orders right now and our storefront is closed. But recently, the company launched Belle Threads CARES and they are currently donating one handmade mask for every mask sold. The donated masks are going to health care workers in New York and New Jersey hospitals. These sales will help fund our resources to keep producing these masks for the medical community as long as we can. Because we’re all in this together, we even created a YouTube tutorial with instructions on how to make a mask. We also know that so many people still want to capture the milestones and can’t do the photoshoots they planned right now. So we have a few blog posts on the site giving you tips and ideas on how to create a DIY kid’s photo session.
Do you have any advice for any future Momprenuers?
We didn’t start with a big investment—we started out selling one item and then we grew organically. Our business is proof that you don’t need large amounts of startup money to succeed. Our approach is to make connections to show our customers that we appreciate their support. We bond with our customers in capturing memories during those special occasions in life, and we want them to feel good about buying from us. We also think it’s important to support other women in business. Eventually, we would love to hold an online class for women business owners to teach them how to create a marketing and social media presence.
How has philanthropy been a part of Belle Threads?
We’ve been involved with charities and supporting others less fortunate for a long time. For example, we support parents of children with autism by hosting toy drives and we have given gift cards to families in need. It’s not just about selling—it’s about representing people in a positive light. We have models from diverse backgrounds showing that anyone can wear our clothing. We also want to minimize waste and to that end, we donate excess fabric to people who are getting started in a similar field. Giving back is part of Belle Threads DNA— whether it’s donating masks during this crisis, or efforts with families after, we know that we will always contribute in any way we can.
Learn more about Belle Threads and Belle Threads Cares by following them on Instagram.