Today we’d like to introduce you to Maureen Barillaro, founder of I Love My Nighty.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m a life-long New Englander and we have very long, cold winters. Women here spend a lot of time trying to stay warm and cozy in the comfort of home. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of options for clothing that provides that comfort, and is also attractive. I was tired of wearing frumpy pjs and wanted a cute winter nighty.
Nightgowns are a classic piece of clothing. Every woman has a personal story about a nightgown, whether it’s her own or her mother or grandmother’s. But today’s options tend to be either too slinky or too frumpy, and not up to date for the modern woman. That’s when I decided it was up to me to ‘Take Back The Nighty’!
I wanted to design the perfect nightgown that combined the fabric women go to for comfort – like her favorite sweats and tees – with designs that flatter her figure. I had the image in my mind and scoured the stores for a pattern I could use to get me started, bought a sewing machine, signed up for sewing lessons, found 100% organic cotton jersey in red, because nothing says ‘Hot’ like red, and made my dream nighty!
Once I made something for myself, the floodgates opened for the potential to design lovely loungewear for all seasons, for women of all shapes and sizes, ages and life stages. From the weekend getaway with your new boyfriend to breastfeeding your first child to your struggle with night sweats. There are so many women who are looking for loungewear that suits her personality and would appreciate a lift out of the frump slump we’ve found ourselves in.
Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been very challenging because I didn’t know anything about business or fashion when I decided to do this. My background is in television and video production, so I had to not only learn about business and fashion design- but add to that a long list of other topics I needed to tackle like marketing and branding and e-commerce, and now it’s been 18 months of R&D.
The first thing I did in early 2017 was to enroll in a 10-week business planning class at Center For Women and Enterprise and started forming my tribe of women entrepreneurs who are as ready as I am to take charge of our careers.
I then was accepted into a 6 month online accelerator program for fashion start-ups, Factory45. The program provides resources to help bring you from idea to launch, covering everything from sourcing fabric, branding, marketing, e-commerce, preparing for manufacturing and crowdfunding your first production run.
I’m now working with a consultant from ThreadTech who is guiding me through all the final details to prepare my designs for manufacturing later this summer.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the I Love My Nighty story. Tell us more about the business.
I am an environmental activist and the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. I want my clothing line to take the environmental impact into consideration for every detail of the business from fabric, to manufacturing, to packaging, to shipping.
Environmentally-friendly fabric is very complicated to source – everything has an impact whether it’s from how it’s grown, how it’s fabricated and treated or how many miles it must travel from source to your closet. There are so many factors to take into consideration and I can spend weeks going in circles trying to decide what I’m willing to overlook while still creating high-quality garments that customers will love. I had to come to terms with accepting certain things the way they are right now, in order to move ahead, knowing that change will happen as long as we demand it. There’s a movement to make the fashion industry much more sustainable and I’m so happy to be a part of that change.
The world population is growing by millions each year and clothing is something that every human needs throughout our entire lifetime, and so we need to not only make them more durable and safe but captivate the best part of being human – our creativity! Clothes should be fun and give us an opportunity to express the best parts of ourselves. My brand will help women feel more comfortable in her skin, even if she’s just lounging around her home. We deserve to look and feel beautiful even when no one is watching- and especially when that unexpected visitor knocks at the door!
I Love My Nighty is launching the loungewear rebellion – it’s a battle between ‘night-fashions’: the elegant and lovely Nighty vs. baggy sweats and torn tees. It’s a frump takedown and our Nighties are gonna slay! Production will begin later this year, so stay tuned!
Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
I am very fortunate to have started a relationship with the Center for Women and Enterprise. They offer so many classes and opportunities to learn about business. They have expertise and connections in all aspects of business planning and will guide you to the resources to help problem solve anything that comes up. Through them, I’ve connected with the SBA, SCORE mentors and resources at the Boston Public Library. It’s a very supportive network of cheerleaders to keep you motivated in pursuing your business goals.
I have also gained so much insight from my accelerator program Factory45 and membership groups Boston Fashion Meetup group (meetup.com) and Fashion Group International (FGI). I attend many events that relate to fashion in Boston and stay in touch with people I meet at the events.
I think it’s important to build a new community that includes both people like me, who are just starting their business, and also finding the veterans who have been through it all already and are willing to share their experiences and guide me to avoid making mistakes.
My advice for anyone starting out is to simply believe in your idea and your ability to be successful. I’ve listened to many podcasts and read so many blogs about starting a business and that’s a common theme for all entrepreneurs: I have this idea, it feels really important to me and I will figure out a way to make it a reality. Our purpose on this planet is to be creators. That little spark of an idea is just the start, the seed of your potential and when you stick with it, it grows into something beautiful and meaningful!
- Website: ilovemynighty.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/ilovemynighty/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/ilovemynighty/
Maureen Barillaro, Joe Barillaro, Melina Vanderpile