By Theresa Lloyd
For The Reporter
Every woman knows the struggles of bra shopping. Does it fit right? Is it comfortable? What is stabbing my rib cage? Two local designers have made it their mission to take the mystery out of lingerie shopping and with it, shed a little light on motherhood.
“Of course we are a little partial, but I pretty much believe that women are superheroes,” Bella Materna co-owner Anne Dimond said. “We really need to have the proper tools to be able to fly, if you know what I mean.”
Bella Materna is a new retail shop that opened in Tukwila this fall. Veteran designers Dimond and her partner, Candace Urquhart, started their business in Seattle 16 years ago. The partners met while designing for Nordstrom and inspiration set them on a journey of entrepreneurship.
Dimond now lives a two-minute jaunt on foot from the Tukwila boutique, 12924 East Marginal Way S. She stumbled upon the space by accident while house hunting.
“I know it’s funny to say but I almost feel like Tukwila chose us,” Dimond said. “As I continue my residence and business here, I am looking forward to getting more involved in community events.”
Dimond and Urquhart studied under Hisako Nakaya, of the Seattle Uwajimaya family, and learned the intricacies of couture pattern making and fitting.
The unstoppable combination of creative vision and intensive training led Dimond and Urquhart to success through the “slow clothing” movement.
Slow clothing removes the focus from “fast fashion” which lacks quality and aesthetic to stand the test of time, according to Dimond. Inexpensive, mass produced and thoughtlessly designed clothing items can often begin stretching, shrinking, unraveling, distorting and falling out of fashion in as little as a year. They are trendy items produced quickly.
While there is nothing wrong with this, per se, Dimond said she believes Americans are beginning to consider the actual cost of their items ending up at the landfill and second-hand stores so quickly. While they don’t carry outlandish price tags by most standards, Bella Materna’s target market considers the initial price of their products to be an investment.
Customers receive personal fittings at Bella Materna to ensure the items they choose don’t just look great but fit properly. Intimate wear plays an integral role in the confidence and support of a woman’s body during each stage of her life, Dimond said.
“Bras in particular are very challenging because they are an engineering feat,” she said.
Bella Materna’s inventory includes pregnancy and nursing bras, but there are also many styles designed for the every day woman. This isn’t a “moms only” club.
“You can come to our shop and know that you will be greeted with someone who has over 16 years of experience serving women of all shapes, sizes and colors,” Dimond said. “We love serving you, exactly as you are.”
However, it isn’t just her customers that Dimond and her partner work tirelessly to support. Other local businesses receive the loyalty and encouragement of Bella Materna’s friendship.
Dimond’s goal is to create a mercantile vibe within Bella Materna — a place where local artisans can showcase and sell their wares.
“Business is a relationship after all,” Dimond said. “We support each other.”
Dimond plans to have a rotating gallery of work by local artists on display in her shop.
Another way Bella Materna supports local businesses is by hosting pop-up shops. A pop-up shop is an event hosted by a brick and mortar store, in which they invite another business to feature their products during a party.
Bella Materna will host a pop-up for Exclusively Kristen, a fashion line for busty women.
“The average bra size in the U.S.A. is a 34G but, unfortunately, most lingerie stores carry limited styles and sizes, and standard apparel is made for a B cup frame,” according to a press release about the event. “So ladies who do not fall into this narrowly and inadequately defined standard have to resign themselves to dowdy, ill-fitting clothes and bras.”
“It’s a time to meet people behind the company,” Dimond said. “(It’s) a time to chat, ask questions and have human interaction. It’s another reason to have a party.”
To schedule a personal fitting, visit Bella Materna’s website or call 206-286-8108. Bella Materna is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, but Dimond’s quick commute gives her the flexibility to open up shop during times that are most convenient for the customer.