Rosie Pope has an interesting job, to say the least. Pope, the star of Bravo Television’s new reality series “Pregnant in Heels,” is a baby concierge, which means she is at the beck and call of hormonal pregnant women all day long.
Watching this on TV is as entertaining as it sounds. The first few episodes follow Pope as she leads a high-strung couple through a baby name “focus group,” and brings a hair and makeup team into the delivery room for an expecting mom.
Yet the appeal of seeing Pope do her job on television goes beyond entertainment — and occasional shock — value. “Pregnant in Heels” also provides an inside look at a successful entrepreneur in a growing industry. Besides the “concierge” part of her business, Pope’s pregnancy empire features a popular maternity clothing line, nutritional and fitness counseling for expecting and post-partum moms and group classes for parents who want to learn about anything from baby CPR to how to decorate a nursery.
Perhaps the most surprising part about Rosie Pope Maternity is that the company is only three years old — a testament to the growing market for maternity product and services, but also to Pope’s intelligence (she studied neuroscience at Columbia University) and business sense. Here, she explains how she stumbled upon her interesting career choice, why she loves what she does and the skill set necessary for success in her line of work.
TWB: You deal with some pretty unusual requests on the show — are these a typical representation of the requests you get on a day-to-day basis?
RP: “The requests seen on the show are the most Bravo-esque, but on a day-to-day basis, the requests I get more are from people who want to be good parents — and they’re terrified about it. So we get a lot of requests [for what] I call it the ABCs of parenting. They want to know how to look after their child, they want to know about child psychology and baby CPR, or lot of them have nutritional and fitness concerns, so we’ll come up with a fitness plan or a nutrition plan for before and after the baby. The majority of people want a help and education concierge package as opposed to a ‘fashion’ or ‘outlandish’ package, but that happens also, as in the 16 clients that we end up highlighting [on the show].”
What prompted you to start your business? Was it a personal experience, a void you saw in the marketplace, etc?
“Well, when I was pregnant I was sort of horrified by the pregnancy clothes, so I decided to design a maternity line. Then, towards the end of my pregnancy and as I became a mother, I was also equally horrified by the parenting classes available to take. They were all taught in, like, the back of a hospital by some person who clearly hasn’t had a baby in many, many years … and it’s so not anybody that I know, so that’s where the classes started, and then I sort of built out the curriculum from there. In our studio, the classes range from $15 to around $200 so it’s much more affordable. But then people started coming in that wanted the private services, so that’s how the concierge part of our business evolved.”
Why do you think the business has grown so quickly?
“We live in a generation of parents that want to be educated and want to do the best for their children. And I think before, weddings were the sort of thing that we celebrated and spent all our money on and now that’s moved into babies and pregnancy and being a parent. So I think we’re in a different generation, where that has become really an important part of our society, and so along with that obviously goes businesses and products.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“At the end of the day, I really feel that I’m genuinely making people better parents.”
What’s the most difficult?
“The fact that I get taken away from my own children to help other people with their kids. That’s hard. My clients tend to be pretty demanding, so it’s not like a 9-to-5.”
For people who see your show and think “I want to do that,” what kinds of skills do they need in order to become successful?
“I think you have to have a constant desire to learn, because there are so many things to learn about. Honestly, every day the philosophy on parenting changes, so you need to really need to love researching and love learning.
You also have to have the patience of a saint to deal with pregnant women all the time, and I’m a mom so that’s my expertise, but I also surround myself with people that I consider to be experts in their unique area, so the best doctors and the best nutritionists and the best trainers, so you really have to be able to find and form relationships with people who are really brilliant in their individual fields. It’s not that I’m going in and training someone in the gym, I bring in someone I think is best for that, so a lot of what I do is research.”
What about school? Any majors or subjects that lend themselves to becoming a pregnancy concierge?
“Anything that involves research, like I studied science in school — you have to have an inquisitive mind.”
Thinking about a launching a baby business? Consider the following:
- According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 4 million babies are born annually in the U.S.
- Eighty percent of expecting mothers now work during the last month of their pregnancies, compared to only 35 percent who did so in the early 1960s.
- The baby products industry grew from $4 billion in 1996 to more than $7 billion in 2006, according to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. This doesn’t include sales of food, diapers or clothing.