"Pregnant ladies are people, too" was written on a huge sign at Storq's booth at West Coast Craft in San Francisco. The sign was impossible to ignore, just like Courtney Klein, founder of the maternity line Storq. She is a fearless, creative, and strong woman that I am honored to introduce you to today. Not only has Courtney achieved the impossible by making maternity clothing cool (like I want to rock this clothing and I'm not pregnant!), but she is also committed to sustainable fashion. Prepare to fall in love with Courtney and her gorgeous babes, Nell, and Lew.
1. What does healthy living mean to you and how does it influence how you raise Nell and Lew?
Healthy living means getting outside as much as possible and being together as a family. We’re still striving to find that always elusive work-life balance, but living in Northern California definitely makes it easier.
2. What inspired you to start Storq and how did you actually make it happen?
I started working on the company before becoming pregnant the first time. My husband likes to joke that I was making a really long play for decent maternity clothes. In truth, I had lots of pregnant friends and family complaining about the lack of appealing clothing options. They were the original catalyst for the business.
The clothes were designed in collaboration with one of my dearest friends and now Storq Creative Director, Grace Kapin. Grace has worked her way around the fashion industry and immediately got the idea of Storq and how to bring the basics to life.
3. Aside from having the absolute best essentials for pregnancy you are also dedicated to producing the clothing as sustainably as possible. Can you tell us more about Storq's sustainability story?
The bar is a lot higher when it comes to maternity clothing, and it can be hard for women to justify the “temporary” expense. Our goal is to provide a genuine sense of value so our customers can feel good about making this purchase. For us, that means finding ways to close the loop every chance we get. All the pieces are designed to be super versatile, so they can be worn daily throughout pregnancy, while nursing and afterwards as well. Our core fabric for the Basics is made with a carbon-neutral fiber that comes from sustainably-harvested beechwood forests. And we don’t churn out collections every season. We make things one at a time, because we feel strongly that they should exist. But we understand that there will inevitably be some pieces you no longer need, and we also offer a recycling program so you can make the most of your maternity clothes even after you’re done with them. The proceeds from clothing donations go to women and children in crisis zones worldwide through Circle of Health International.
4. Nell is seriously the sweetest little human. What I love most about her is that she seems confident in the actions and decisions that she makes. Do you have any advice on how to encourage this type of confidence?
Nell is naturally very independent, so we generally try to step back as parents and just let her do her thing. Sometimes she can be a little too confident, and you get things like a chipped front tooth, but then you just get to make up really cool-sounding stories about how that happened even though you have literally no idea.
5. What are some of your favorite pieces from Noble Carriage right now and why?
The Frida doll is at the top of my list as I’m all about strong, female icons. And then all of Gray Label’s chic basics. Give me 100% organic cotton fabrics and subtract any extraneous details, and I’m sold.
6. I read somewhere that you are quite the gardener. What inspired you to grow a garden? What are some of your favorite things to grow and make with your garden bounty?
“We” are always experimenting with the garden, but our trusty stand-bys are varieties of lettuces and tomatoes. I say “we” loosely because my husband is the lead gardener in our house, but I’m happy to accept credit as a unit for the fruits of his labor.
7. How in the world are you juggling running Storq and raising two littles? What would you say to a woman who is super career focused, but doesn’t want to pass up motherhood?
The business and the babes are both still relatively new, so I am still figuring out how to navigate the unchartered terrain. Work and family are all-consuming and oftentimes I feel like I am always doing both. I think this quote from Dear Polly pretty much sums up my approach so far: "Choose both. Choose the career AND choose the baby. Don't put off one for the other. Choose both now and later and accept that you'll be juggling for years no matter what you do. Even if you never have a career, you're going to feel like you're juggling. Parents juggle. Why not juggle things you love? Sure, you'll have to work hard and make some sacrifices. Accept it and move forward."
8. I gather you are the ultimate minimalist. How do you maintain minimalism with 2 kids? How do you choose the clothing, toys, and stuff you invest in for the kids?
I am happy to hear I appear to be a minimalist because sometimes it still feels like we’re drowning in stuff. I do my best to find timeless things for the kids, but sometimes other things will creep into our home and I have made peace with their presence. On that front, I can’t recommend baskets enough. Put the things you don’t want to look at inside of baskets that you do want to look at.
9. What influence has San Francisco had on raising your kids and starting a business? What is your favorites thing to do as a family of 4?
We get to spend a lot of time outdoors, going on hikes, spending time at the beach. One of our favorite things to do is head to Marin to hike the Tomales Point Trail and treat ourselves post-hike at the Hog Island Oyster Company.
10. My parents run their own small business and I believe it inspired the person I am today. Is there someone who inspired you to be the entrepreneur you are today? What do you hope Nell and Lew learn from you as a badass #GirlBoss? Particularly, what do you hope Nell learns from you as a female business owner?
I was and continue to be inspired by my mother, who owned her own business. I hope Nell grows up feeling that hard work and kindness can put everyone on a level playing field.
11. You’re a few months out from having a baby and you’re literally glowing. What is your beauty routine? Tell us your secret.
I try not to take myself or my beauty routine too seriously. Lately I’ve been using a charcoal exfoliating cleanser, which I’m pretty into when I remember to use it. Other than that I’m a freak about sunscreen. Learn it. Know it. Live it.
12. What is something totally random we don’t know about you that we should?
For Halloween I was once wheat, which is a game piece from Settlers of Catan. I have a strong passion for Halloween in general. I wouldn’t say that you necessarily *should* know that but now you do!
13. What is up next for Storq?
We’re always looking at how your needs grow and evolve from motherhood onward in order to find ways to better support women and families at this stage in their lives.