The Natural Parent Magazine
Struggling to find stylish and affordable maternity and breastfeeding clothes in NZ when she was pregnant with her daughter, Alisha Harper set out to provide fellow mums and mums-to-be with a beautiful range of clothing that would make them feel and look great. At Flourish Maternity, she offers mums a wonderful range of stylish options to feel comfortable and look amazing through pregnancy and beyond, without the huge price tag. Here she shares with us her business journey so far, the challenges she has faced along the way, and her exciting future plans for Flourish.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Being pregnant is such a special time of your life, an incredible journey from pregnancy to raising your precious little baby, and as a mum, I believe you deserve to look and feel your best while on this journey. I discovered the shortage of affordable and stylish maternity and breastfeeding clothes when I was pregnant with my daughter. The options were minimal. That was when the seed was planted and from then on, I could not shake the thought; I had to give it a go, and I wanted to provide a beautiful range of clothing that would make mums feel great without the hefty price tag.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Slowly! It took quite some time researching different manufacturers, fabrics and styles. Then there was the website creation and business setup which I wanted to do myself, so lots of learning along the way.
Every nap time and evening I would plan. I trialed numerous different manufacturers until I found one that met my quality standards, ethical standards and were reliable.
Flourish became my project where all my spare time went. I then fell pregnant with my second child Nate; this was the perfect opportunity to trial the initial designs for maternity and nursing once he had arrived.
It has been a great journey and I finally launched Flourish in August 2019, after 2 years of research and design.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I think the moment I decided I had outgrown my home office was when I realised this is getting serious. I was surrounded by boxes and I couldn’t even get to my desk. My husband Bevan and I then worked on ‘the shed’. We transformed it into a beautiful place for Flourish and it really helped separate work/family life by removing my business from inside the house.
Once I invested in recreating the shed, I knew there was no turning back. I love my little working place and it’s awesome looking around knowing we created this space and we created this business.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
This one can sometimes be a bit tricky, but my family is my everything and will always be my priority. I am so fortunate that this business allows me to be present with my children, be there for school drop off and pick up, be part of all their activities and watch my children grow while also running my business, my other baby.
It has been a learning journey balancing the two but right now the balance is good. I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing support network that helps make this possible. Thanks grandies!
The drive: What challenges have you overcome?
I’ve overcome the nerves, the challenge of setting up a new business and taking that giant risk. I’m an introvert so having photos of me breastfeeding my baby on the website was a big deal, being a model was a big deal, taking my first ever video for social media was a big deal. Just putting myself out there and giving it my all, I really had to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve had plenty of ‘what I am doing?!’ moments, but it’s been a joyful and rewarding journey. We have made it through our first 18 months of business, including COVID, and I am so excited for what the future holds.
For better or worse: What are the pros and cons of running your own business?
The feeling of satisfaction and pride when you accomplish something you have worked soooooo hard on, when it finally comes to life, it’s a great feeling and that is the biggest pro for me. This is my baby, this is what I have created and I will continue to work hard because it’s my passion. I’m not doing it because I have to; I’m doing it because I want to.
The con of running your own business is you never switch off. Business can be on my mind when I fall asleep and when I wake in the morning.
Hopes and dreams: What next?
I’m currently working on making my website not just a place to shop but also to have valuable resources for mums on there. I want to keep extending my range offering a variety of styles and would love to offer sizes larger than size 18 in the future.