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Nicole Fox launched her Mama and Me baby products retail concept in the middle of the pandemic. It is thriving.

“The whole thing started on maternity leave as I kind of woke up from the new mom fog, looked at my life and house and thought, what has happened?” Fox laughed. She started finding her way as a new mom, gaining community in new mom support groups but coming up empty on where she could go for children’s products beyond the big box stores.

“I told my husband I thought there might be an opportunity here, to figure out a way to get quality children’s product to other moms and build community,” she said. “In two weeks, I had built a website, set up an LLC and got a business license.”

Started online and operating out of her home, Fox moved the business into its first space – 500 square feet on the historic downtown square in Liberty in June 2020. A year later, she found someone to take over that lease as she signed a five-year lease for 3,800 square feet in the old Liberty Bank Building [NF1] also on the square.

“Every step was scary,” Fox said. “Working from home we were doing events, pop-ups, holiday marts, school fundraisers every weekend and just had an amazing response with people flocking to our first few products but it was absolutely exhausting. That first small space on Main in downtown Liberty came available when everything shut down for COVID. Do we do this or not?”

They did. Relieved to get everything out of storage and into a dedicated space, Mama and Me welcomed customers Friday through Sunday. With COVID restrictions they could only have one family in at a time but still the business grew to the point Fox was having to fully restock the store three times a week. It was time to evolve the concept.

It was more than needing additional room for the children’s lines. Fox was thinking about how to strengthen the overall business model. “We had built an incredibly loyal community with 20 to 30 new customers week over week but when your product only goes up to 7 Toddlers, customers are constantly aging out,” she said.

Providing space designed to accommodate events turned out to be the obvious next step. Fox explained that even the tiny, 500-sq.-ft. space, had provided a safe place where moms could get out of the COVID isolation and bring their kids, not be judged, maybe find a new item for the children, definitely learn about services for new moms and make new friends.

Since its early days Mama and Me has hosted hospital- or doctor office-affiliated lactation support classes, fostering more connections as other interest groups surfaced about infertility, fostering and adopting, even hair braiding lessons for dads. The store is one of the few diaper donation locations for Happy Bottoms, a non-profit filling metro families’ “diaper gap” since 2009. Fox is on that organization’s young professionals board.

“Needing help as a new mom is not a socio-economic issue, it’s a new mom issue,” Fox added. “I am really passionate about Mama and Me helping to make connections and foster community.”

Fox said signing the one-year lease at the onset of the pandemic for the store’s first 500-sq.-ft., space was “scary.” So, how about that five-year lease signed in an ongoing pandemic? “I can honestly say I don’t think we would have made this terrifying leap with anyone else than Curry,” she said. “They are just good people and have been so incredibly supportive. It is more like a business partnership than landlord relationship. We are in it together.”

She feels a connection. Having grown up in Liberty her first job was in a store on the same historic downtown Liberty square, next door to the bookshop then owned by her Curry property manager, Chris Todd. “That was during the “Harry Potter” craze. I have fond memories of spending a lot of time in the book shop. And here I am now with my own shop. Curry has really invested in us,” she added. “They share a passion about the business and what we are trying to accomplish.”

Mama and Me is open Wednesday through Sunday and Fox is amazed at the reception for the new location’s two event spaces. “They were rented before they were finished, without photos and have been booked every single weekend,” she said. “That shows there is a need for practical, affordable space offering a different aesthetic.”

Fox’s idea for a children’s boutique and gathering space for new moms has come a long way in two years and she has done it all while working full-time at the job she had while she was on maternity leave thinking about this opportunity. She has 15 years in the animal health industry.

“I am so proud to have five employees and this beautiful space,” Fox said. “Right now I am honored to put all we make back into the store and our customers. While we are not yet able to pay me a salary, I do look forward to that day. Keeps me motivated.”


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