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Maternity Gear With a Difference - Link
Stacy Perman - 2005-03-11
Denée Forbes' special navel piercings for pregnant women are often the end of a long search for mothers-to-be attached to their body jewelry
When Denée Forbes became pregnant three years ago, she had the usual concerns: Morning sickness, finding the right name, and the baby's health. More urgently, however, she wanted to know whether she could keep her belly-button piercing during her entire pregnancy.
The dilemma: If she left it in, she ran the painful risk of having the inflexible metal barbell cut through her skin as her belly grew. If she took it out, she might end up with scar tissue that would make repiercing difficult following her baby's birth. But, Forbes says, she was unwilling to bid farewell to her piercing.
GESTATING AN IDEA. In search of a solution, Forbes, an administrative assistant in Rochester , N.Y, visited every maternity shop, piercing store, and Web site she could find. "There was nothing out there," she says. "I searched different places and tried to make it work for me. There were some funny ideas like buying string, and there were plastic navel rings, but they're short and hard and don't last through pregnancy."So Forbes took matters into her own hands. Through her online research, she eventually learned of a flexible, medical-grade tubing generally used in open heart surgery for blood drainage. It is nontoxic, biocompatible, and nonmetal. The tubing already had other cosmetic applications -- in under-the-skin piercings, for people who want raised circles and other shapes just beneath the surface.
Using the pliable cylinder with two end-balls to cap the openings, Forbes custom-made a piercing for herself and found it the perfect solution. "It had worked out great, and I told everybody I knew about it," Forbes says. She figured she was probably not the only mother-to-be with a pierced navel. So her pregnancy, it turns out, was also the gestation of a business idea.
INTERNATIONAL CLIENTELE. About a year after delivering her daughter, Lydia , Forbes started selling a few pieces of the 14-gauge, 2-inch barbells for $12.95 apiece on eBay. "I wanted to see what would happen," she says. The minute they hit eBay, they were snatched up. "Every month I was doubling my sales," she says. "At first it was one a week, then four, and then 10. I figured that if I was selling like this, I should probably start my own Web site," she says.
In 2003, she formally launched Pregnancy Piercings. The piercings, which can be cut to size, now cost $15.99 and come in nine different colors, including blue and pink to signify whether the wearer is having a boy or a girl. Forbes says she sells hundreds a month now.
Customers come from all over, including Japan , Taiwan , Sweden , Britain , and the Netherlands . "My clients are ecstatic," she says. "Like me, they had searched everywhere and couldn't find anything."