Pumpkin set out to create this new, barely-touched market. Although she knew nothing about business, she envisioned solving the "maternity-wear crisis" and being a great resource for moms-to-be around the world. Excited by the vision of her new "maternity empire," she went to SCORE for some advice on how to get started.
At the same time that she was planning her new business, Wentzel was planning her wedding. Feeling generous at this occasion, many friends and family offered gifts and loans to help start Pumpkin Maternity. With an original investment of $15,000, Pumpkin launched her business.
Two months after their first meeting with Abe, the first Pumpkin Maternity catalog was printed and Pumpkin was officially "in business." As newlyweds, she and Charlie were designing clothes, taking phone orders and warehousing their entire inventory in their fifth-floor New York City apartment.
Due to good press and word-of-mouth, sales quickly took off. In the first six months of business, Pumpkin was able to lease office space. "We were able to move shipping and receiving off the foot of our bed!" says Pumpkin. After the first year, she hired a company in Charlottesville, VA to handle all of the order placements, shipping and inventory.
Two years later, Pumpkin Maternity is a thriving mail order and e-commerce business that has been featured in Vogue, Glamour and Instylemagazines, to name a few. Pumpkin has also sold her designs to chic boutiques in Miami and Los Angeles. A total investment of $25,000 has led to $210,000 in sales. Pumpkin maintains a design studio and showroom in New York City.
Pumpkin's plan is to create a complete one-stop shopping mail order and Web store for pregnant women. A catalog will not only carry maternity clothing designed by Pumpkin Maternity, but other items that pregnant women have difficulty finding—such as undergarments.
"We have made a mockery of the 'no-profit in the first five years' rule," says Pumpkin. "Somehow we watched ourselves, a pair of rock-and-rollers, emerge from the underground to find a niche in the mainstream. We've also made some progress in solving the global crisis in maternity clothes—now pregnant ladies can no longer say, 'There's nothing to wear.'"