Finding affordable and stylish maternity clothes that make us feel great can be a challenge. After experiencing that challenge firsthand, Melissa Birge created Mia Tango, a curated collection of boutique maternity clothing. To sweeten the deal, moms can trade-in their Mia Tango garments for cash back when they’re done wearing them, and can also shop from the company’s pre-loved collection. Below, Melissa shares advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, maternity fashion tips, and a genius hack that you’ll want to tuck away for next Christmas.
Congratulations on the launch of Mia Tango! What inspired you to start your business?
The idea for Mia Tango came early in 2012. I was eight months pregnant with twins, and the CFO of Kayak, when I found myself left with no choice but to wear house slippers to an important meeting because my feet were so swollen. I’m accustomed to being the only woman in the boardroom – but to be the only woman, and to be in house slippers? That experience left me determined to transform maternity wear.
What really inspired me to go for it though, was being a mom. While there were great CFO opportunities for me in New York, I simply was not willing to spend three hours a day on the train commuting when I could be hanging out with my boys instead.
Before starting Mia Tango, you worked in finance. Do you have any advice for moms considering a career shift?
If there’s something you’re passionate about, don’t let the fact that you know little about it be a barrier. I’ve found other entrepreneurs to be unbelievably generous with their time and advice – so start networking and don’t be afraid to ask the stupid questions. Entrepreneurs are a highly empathetic and encouraging audience, and they are risk takers too; they’re not afraid to share what has worked and what has failed.
What are some must-have clothing items for pregnant women?
I’d start with a few good bras that are made to stretch with you, a great pair of jeans, some tank tops in neutral colors and a simple black dress in a classic shape. Then I’d throw in 1-2 items with color that just make you feel incredible. I’m currently obsessed with bright pops of color, like red and fuchsia, and pretty floral prints.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
For some reason, I hate filling up ice trays. Our icemaker has been broken for two months and rather than fill up the ice trays, I just drink my water at room temperature. So, I guess I’d have someone make ice for me!
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
Nothing beats curling up on the sofa with my husband, a glass of wine and a good book.
What is your best parenting hack?
To get some fruits and veggies in my finicky boys, I have them help make spinach and banana “monster muffins” and let them put sprinkles on top so that they’ll eat them.
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
I’ve told my kids that Santa Claus not only brings presents, but he takes their donations of old toys that are broken or that they don’t play with any more back to his workshop to fix up and give to other kids. The more they give back to him, the more he leaves for them in return.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
One of my twins got his feelings hurt at soccer recently, and the other one ran over to him, put his arm around him and in a show of solidarity, walked off the field with him. It made my heart swell to watch them care for each other’s souls.
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
Be able to laugh at yourself. Life is so much easier when you find the humor in things and don’t take yourself so seriously.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
Your motherhood journey is unique. Don’t compare it to the moms of Instagram, or anyone else for that matter.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
“Melissa, how do you do it all?” is a question I’ve never been asked, because I don’t. For starters, we have a lot of childcare and household help to make our life work, and it’s still a struggle! Becoming a parent forced me to assess my priorities, and the things I valued less got dropped. I would rather build Legos, ride bikes and relax with my hubby than obsess over having a perfectly clean and orderly house. You’ll always be able to find Cheerios on our floor, and that’s okay.
What was the last book you read?
One of my favorite authors, Sue Grafton, passed away this year. I’m re-reading all of her mystery books from the beginning and I just finished B is for Burglar.
Favorite Beauty Product: I am a beauty product junkie so it’s hard to narrow it down to just one, but I’m currently obsessed with tréStiQue’s brow pencil, which makes it easy to create full brows and keep them in place. My lifetime favorite that I’ll never abandon for something fancier? Vaseline.
Favorite Form of Exercise: Tennis
What is on your DVR? We’re presently binge-watching Outlander and The Crown
Favorite App: Google Maps (I have no sense of direction)
Favorite Kids Store: Rockets of Awesome