By Patricia Caso/July 10, 2013
Joiful Fashion Photos Melissa O’Hearn
Wow! Have times changed for the pregnant woman! When I was working and pregnant, my fashion choice was a tent that just made me look twice as big. Now, as pregnant women in and out of the workplace look to be more stylish, lawyer and entrepreneur Tiffany Glenn Burress has launched Joiful Maternity, an innovative line of clothing for moms-to-be.
“I decided to jump in and create a line that can work for women before, during and even after their pregnancy!” Tiffany Glenn Burress
I was definitely curious to know more about this self-described multitasker and found Tiffany’s can-do mindset permeates every facet of her professional and personal life…
EYE: When did you know Joiful Maternity was something you had to do?
TIFFANY: I basically thought about it when I was pregnant with my first son, Elijah. I couldn’t find anything that was stylish and comfortable. Then, three years later, when I was pregnant with Giovanna, I noticed there was still a gap in the maternity lines. I work and I also like to go out for an evening looking really good!
I knew there were so many other women looking for the same thing. So I decided to jump in and create a line that can work for women before, during and even after their pregnancy!
EYE: How difficult is it to launch such an endeavor?
TIFFANY: It took a while. It’s not easy. Getting the corporation set up, pulling together contracts, vendors, etc. and making sure all those details are in place are time-consuming. Before you can even say what the name of the company is you have to have a patent for that name.
That, in itself, was a six month time frame. So, I used the time to think up my designs and pick fabrics. I went through my wardrobe and started with the stuff I wore when I was pregnant and then elaborated off of that. I actually started the whole process right after I gave birth to Giovanna, and three years later I now have all my designs and launched the internet site.
“People are like me. They want to be up-to-date and fashionable when they are pregnant. And being pregnant shouldn’t stop that!”
EYE: Is social media your starting point?
TIFFANY: I am aggressively using social media to get the word out about Joiful Maternity (@joifulmaternity). But I really started by word of mouth. Making my friends aware of my company as well as my peers at the law firm, people at my children’s school and the women at the gym has definitely brought in awareness and business.
EYE: What feedback have you gotten?
TIFFANY: People love Joiful! Comments like “Woo! Hoo!,” “Finally we have a line that is fashionable!” and “We need this!!” make my day! They love the fact that they can wear these dresses before during and after pregnancy! So far, everyone is excited.
That’s why I got into this. People are like me. They want to be up-to-date and fashionable when they are pregnant. And being pregnant shouldn’t stop that!
EYE: I’m curious as to what is the story behind the sweet, wonderful name Joiful Maternity?
TIFFANY: My middle name is Joi and I gave my daughter the same middle name. Because pregnancy is a joyful time, why not make it a twist on our names?
EYE: What is the focus of your line?
TIFFANY: Fashionable, comfortable, sexy, affordable clothing that can be worn before, during and after pregnancy.
“You don’t have to have second thoughts or settle just because you are pregnant. Don’t hide.”
EYE: What sets you apart from department stores?
TIFFANY: Usually, pregnancy clothes are specifically made for the time you are pregnant. Joiful Maternity goes beyond that. These are stylish clothes that can be worn even if you are not pregnant. Additionally, the unique modal and charmeuse material is so comfortable and soft without sacrificing classy.
EYE: What about active wear, which is very difficult to make appealing?
TIFFANY: First, exercise is so important in any woman’s life, pregnant or not! I came up with pants that don’t have a maternity band and have a low rise waist so they can be work below the belly. And, the jacket that goes with them is not at all bulky.
EYE: Do you have general style advice for pregnant women?
TIFFANY: Be you. Don’t change. That’s why I created the line. You can still love style and still be you. Continue to accessorize. Try wedge shoes, sandals, boots for comfort and height.
You don’t have to have second thoughts or settle just because you are pregnant. Don’t hide.
EYE: Has fashion always been a passion?
TIFFANY: I just always loved fashion. When I graduated from high school, my father said to me, “I could see you opening up your own clothing store!” I laughed and said, “Maybe down the line, later.” And, he also said, “You love fashion, you always have! I thought you would go into it.”
It’s just always been part of me. In fact, one of my mom’s friends actually made clothes, and I would tell her that it would be prettier in a different color or make a suggestion about the sleeves’ length. I was thirteen at that point! As far as executing Joiful, I have the talented designer, Michael Knight, help me make my creations a reality.
I saw him compete on the show Project Runway, a program I watched before even thinking of creating my own line.
EYE: You are a full-time partner and practicing attorney in your law firm. Did you find that career helpful in creating Joiful?
TIFFANY: Law is something you can use in so many facets of your life. It’s been so helpful for my project. All the legal aspects, contracts, patents, corporation type and insurance are areas I am completely comfortable with and understand. Knowing all that is a huge key for implementing a successful business.
EYE: What learning curves have you encountered?
TIFFANY: When I thought about it all initially, I thought it would be easy. It is way more complicated. It takes more time. I want pregnant women to feel beautiful and be happy. Fashion is a passion. But, I also had to learn a lot. The clothing business sounds like it’s all about beauty, but there’s a whole lot more that goes into it.
For example, “OK, here are my designs, let’s go get them made. Oh, wait a minute, I have to get sizes first!” Little things you cannot take for granted. I’ve always multitasked and had challenges so I just get to it! Bring it on!
EYE: You are married to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ star wide receiver, Plaxico Burress. Has he had any input?
TIFFANY: He’s excited. Plaxico is basically supportive of anything I do. When I first told him what I wanted to do he was kind of ho-hum, probably like most men would react. But then, when he saw the product and the business side come together, he was like “WOW!”
He was so impressed! In fact, now Plaxico has his own line of dress socks at plaxicoburresscollection.com! He’s really into it!!
EYE: You commute between New Jersey and Pittsburgh. You are a mom, a wife, attorney and entrepreneur. How do you prioritize?
TIFFANY: My priority is my family. Always! No compromise. They have to be happy and then I move on with my other jobs as an attorney and Joiful Maternity.
My parents told me, ‘If that’s your passion and that’s your dream, love it, then do it!’
EYE: Do you ever have time to relax or recharge?
TIFFANY: I love any time with my family. I do love going to Florida where Plaxico works out. The NY-NJ area is go, go, go. Florida is more laid back. At that time, I have my husband, the kids and the two dogs….just being together. Of course, doing the pool and the gym are really good too!
EYE: Who or what inspired you to be as motivated as you are?
TIFFANY: My parents. They are both successful, intelligent amazing people. They raised me to be who I am! They’ve always been so supportive and encouraged me to be myself.
My parents told me, “If that’s your passion and that’s your dream, love it, then do it!” With that kind of support and enthusiasm, I had all the confidence to go out and do something!
EYE: On top of this amazing schedule you must keep, you are also on the Board for Health & Humanitarian Aid Foundation. What intrigued you about that organization?
TIFFANY: It provides medical, humanitarian and educational aid as well as shelter to people in Ghana. We, here, have no idea what different countries don’t have that we have, like education, clean water, food. These people have been devastated by famine, poverty and disasters.
Basic needs will give them an opportunity in life. HHAF just opened their first school there. When I saw the program, I felt like I had to be a part of making its mission a reality. I am thrilled to be their legal counsel! I’ve always believed that no matter what you do in life, you should always help others and give back. And, this is my way.
“Lead by example, using yourself as a role model. If women remember that, they can make a difference.”
EYE: Do you consider yourself a role model?
TIFFANY: I think any woman or mom who is in any position, or limelight for any reason, should consider herself a role model. You never know what young woman is paying attention to you. With that in mind, I am role model. It starts in your own household, like me with my daughter.
I hope anybody’s daughter would look up to her mom. Always remember somebody is looking up to you. That should always be in the back of their head. That’s also why I got involved with the charity in Ghana because it is very different and difficult for women in that country.
Lead by example, using yourself as a role model. If women remember that, they can make a difference. I really believe that.
EYE: Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your insights! Continued success to you as you make a difference in the legal world, with your charity and now giving pregnant women another season to feel joyful!