, 111 Cedarhurst Ave, Cedarhurst, 516-374-2065
Fashionistas: Owners Lisa Brick-Hirsch and Amy Feldman
What’s In Store: Bellyssima is the first and only exclusively maternity store in the Five Towns, offering the latest trends in clothing for expecting moms at any stage of her pregnancy, whether she is a first or fifth timer, according to the owners.
The store carries a wide variety of tops, bottoms, dresses, tees and undergarments suitable for everyday, work and special occasions. It also carries a lot of basics, such as black pencil skirts, jean skirts, layering and form fitting tops.
Both Hirsch and Feldman recognize that people want a lot for their money, so they try to carry items that are “worth an investment, which they will wear several times throughout their pregnancy, this and the next.”
The store offers styles that are classy with a modern twist, which according to Hirsch and Feldman is “stylish, yet value priced.” Offering timeless pieces, the owners said, will help make customers’ “wardrobe more modular when they have good staples. They can add a few fun pieces to round off the wardrobe.”
Some designers currently in stock are Olien, Japanese Weekend, Maternal America, Cotton Glam, and the store’s own Bellyssima Maternity clothing line, along with a host of other smaller boutique lines.
“We really search locally and across the country and outside the country to find best products season after season,” Hirsch said. “We have vendors who are boutiquey based in New York, Sweden, Amsterdam and Australia.”
When the pair can’t find something that customers are looking for, they fill that need by designing it under the store’s line. Currently, there are anywhere between 10 and 15 Bellyssima exclusive items in store, which includes dresses, tops, belts and its wildly popular pencil skirt.
Summer Style Guide: Since not every woman gets pregnant at the most seasonally convenient times, the duo tries to stock the shelves with a few new pieces every two weeks, with styles that are comfortable for different occasions.
For pregnant women, cute doesn’t always equate to comfortable, so the selection of clothing available at Bellyssima focuses on breathable, stretchable material. Its most popular item is the classic pencil skirt, which Hirsch and Feldman designed under the Bellyssima label. The skirt is available in black, navy, white, denim and khaki.
Feldman said that they try to stock the store with clothing they would wear or they could envision their friends wearing. “We don’t think women should dress contrary to how she dresses when she is not pregnant. If she dresses in a tailored, classy way then that is how she should have the opportunity to dress when she is pregnant,” the mother of four said.
Fitting in the local scene: Bellyssima opened nearly ten years ago by the two friends whose mutual need for a maternity store in the neighborhood brought them together. Most of the customers are local residents, however, the recent launch of www.bellyssimamaternity.com has opened up the doors to customers worldwide.
What makes the store unique is its unparalleled customer service and shop by phone service, which has now extended to their website, the owners said. The service allows customers to call in and describe something they are looking for. The staff then picks out items that fit those needs and ships the items free of charge. The customer then chooses which of the items she wants and sends back whatever she does not — at which point their credit card is charged accordingly. According to Hirsch and Feldman, their shoppers are happy with nearly 80 percent of the items they recommend.
Interesting Facts: Feldman was a fabric buyer in Manhattan for several years before teaming up with Hirsch, a former advertising and marketing director who also owned her own market research company, to open the clothing store in 2002.
Although they were strangers at first, their husbands were acquaintances and learned that each of their wives had the idea to open a maternity store in Cedarhurst. The women met for lunch to size up their competition but ended up leaving as friends and business partners, they said. Since then, both have had four children each, making them experts in the maternity clothing department.