Female Founder Interview

Meet the Team: Petra, Founder & CEO of Mamarella

Interview with Mamarella founder Petra Bedford

To celebrate Mamarella's 20th anniversary, we would like to give you a special insight into our team! For two decades, Mamarella has accompanied you on your journey through pregnancy and breastfeeding, with extensive collections that are not only functional, but also meet your demands for modernity and style. As part of our anniversary, our founder and CEO, Petra Bedford, tells you about her experiences as a female founder and our passion for maternity and nursing fashion.

How did the idea for Mamarella come about?

In 2001, I came back to Germany from London totally inspired and full of business ideas and wanted a more self-determined professional life. E-commerce was already in full swing in London, while online retail was still in its infancy in Germany. I was very fascinated by this type of selling, not only because it really involved very good marketing skills, but also because you can sell your products all over the world. I quit my job to devote myself fully to my ideas. It was at this time that I became pregnant and realised that there was hardly any beautiful maternity wear in our home. I also realised that at the time, mothers in management positions were an absolute rarity in most companies and that there was unfortunately not yet an understanding of working from home and flexible working hours. However, as I wanted to have enough time for my children in addition to a demanding job, becoming self-employed was the only way for me to live this lifestyle.

How did you come up with the name?

I wanted a global brand name that would be understood all over the world. At some point it *clicked* and everything I wanted to express was united in this one name: Mamarella. We have since expanded our brand with the PA/PA by Mamarella line. It is super important to us to support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding as well as your partners in their new role as parents. Our PA/PA by Mamarella line includes practical babywearing jackets, bonding shirts and partner look gift sets, specially developed for new fathers. This means that you as both parents benefit equally from our high-quality and functional products, something we are very proud of.

And why maternity wear and nursing wear?

That was my world when I founded the company. And although my children are now past baby age - and have grown with Mamarella - the topic is still my absolute passion. Even after more than 20 years, I'm still learning and our maternity and nursing fashion is 100% based on regular fashion, so it's constantly changing and thrives on new trends and ideas. Our strength also lies in the fact that we really listen to our community and incorporate your feedback into our collection development wherever possible. Our showroom customers, from whom we receive feedback on fit, selection and quality live on site, so to speak, also help with this.

Was the leap into self-employment difficult for you?

Quite the opposite: it was wonderful to finally be free and be able to make independent decisions. No more hour-long meetings with too much talk and too little action. I'm someone who likes to ‘do’ and try things out, then optimise them. No dry strategies, but ‘learning by doing’ instead of spending months discussing the pros and cons of an idea. In this respect, the dynamic world of eCommerce was perfect. You get immediate feedback from your customers and can experiment much more than in the analogue world. I also started small, without a team, from a tiny desk in our bedroom at the time. It was just a lot of fun!

Was there a special moment when you knew that Mamarella would be successful?

It came very quickly, just 20 minutes after the shop went online to be precise. That's when we received our first order, from a customer in the USA. She ordered a birth gift for someone in Germany. It was a great feeling and an instant confirmation that Mamarella really has the potential to establish itself as a global ecommerce provider. Not long after, it quickly became clear that we were meeting a need, especially with our maternity and nursing wear, that was in high demand both then and now.

How does it feel to look back on 20 years of Mamarella? What highs and lows have you experienced along the way?

Amazing, 20 years! Since our foundation, we have mastered all the ups and downs and had a lot of fun along the way. We've now become the go-to brand for maternity and nursing wear and it's hard to imagine the market without us. We listen to you and will continue to develop beautiful and sustainable maternity and nursing wear with great passion because we love it!

How exactly has Mamarella managed to be successful for 20 years?

We have always grown organically, so we have not taken on any investors or other outside capital since the company was founded. This has allowed us to grow more slowly, but also more sustainably. This bootstrapping approach has enabled us to remain independent to this day and to consistently maintain our values and quality standards. In this respect, our goal was never growth at any price in order to satisfy potential investors, but rather to develop into a healthy, sustainable company that is still run by mothers and women. In addition, we all have a lot of fun at work and a really great team, which is now so well-established and works very well together.

You can now look back on 20 years as Managing Director. What is the best thing about your work?

The variety and flexibility. No two days are the same. I've also always been able to organise my capacities and energy flexibly, be there for my children and at the same time grow a business that I believe in wholeheartedly. My absolute favourite area is product development. Developing new styles together with our team and selecting great fabrics and prints is simply great fun. We often laugh together when a colleague puts on a fake baby belly to test our latest designs. We take the fitting of our designs particularly seriously. As most of our styles can be worn both with and without a baby bump, we not only fit them on different pregnant body shapes, but also on a non-pregnant silhouette.

What are your personal favourites? Which Mamarella styles are you particularly proud of?

I'm actually very proud of our PA/PA by Mamarella collection with its new branding and packaging. It is super important to us that we also empower new fathers in their new role and enable them to actively participate in their baby's life. Both parents should be equally supported by our high-quality and functional products during pregnancy and in their new everyday life with baby.

Apart from that, our maternity wedding dress with lace top and pleats is still one of my absolute favourite styles and I am incredibly pleased that the dress is also so well received by you and has become a successful bestseller.

I also wear some of our Mamarella collection myself. After all, we also have fantastic nursing and maternity wear that can be worn after pregnancy without any problems. In addition to various Mamarella dresses, I also like to wear our sleep nursing bras, for example, which have a mega good fit and are also very comfy as an everyday bra. We took a lot of time in the development process, tried out the bras ourselves and tested them on a wide variety of bust sizes in order to guarantee an ideal fit and maximum comfort for all sizes. 

How do you see the future of Mamarella in the coming years? Are there any new projects or developments that our community can look forward to?

I see the future of Mamarella as very positive and exciting. We will continue to focus on improving our collections and developing new, innovative products that meet your needs and demands. We are constantly working on new designs in sustainable materials to offer you the best possible quality at an affordable price. We also want to work on new, more effective processes and special AI tools for the e-commerce business. We will therefore continue to make progress in terms of sustainability and digitalisation in order to make Mamarella even more modern and customer-friendly. Here's to the next 20 years! It remains exciting!