If you're someone who thinks kids can be high maintenance, the new Bravo reality series, "Pregnant In Heels," will enlighten you to the notion that that sense of drama comes from none other than their parents. Enter Rosie Pope, a London-bred business woman whose line of maternity clothing gave birth (pardon the pun) to MomPrep, a service to help those expectant Moms and Dads deal with everything from the normal (decorating the baby's room) to the eccentric (a couple obsessed with finding just the right name to brand their unborn child for inevitable success).
With the help of her staff, Hannah Hurwitz and Lawrence "LT" Thomas, Pope has her work cut out for her in not only dealing with the harsh reality that comes with bringing a child into the world but also the often-unexpected emotional strain that can come with it. Our Jim Halterman chatted with Pope recently about how her innovative business got off the ground, if she truly is a part-time therapist at times with her clients and one of the craziest requests she's ever had.
Jim Halterman: When did you first think that you could be a maternity concierge for a living?
Rosie Pope: I found a massive void in maternity clothing and from there I had my own experience with pregnancy and found there was a whole generation of parents that weren't good at it. I realized it was very difficult to find information and to take classes so I started teaching classes about how to give birth, different options, the nursery and then I moved to New York City and I had women coming in and wanting to take it to another level. They wanted their own wardrobe designed for them and they wanted their own classes taught in-house. As time went on, they wanted the amazingly outlandish requests that you see on the show. Through word of mouth in New York City, I just became known as that person - the maternity concierge. Each person that comes to me now is outdoing the one before and their requests are getting more and more extreme. But what's heartwarming is that they also want to be very good parents.
JH: How much of your job is being a pseudo-therapist since you have to look at personalities to figure out how to help them?
RP: I think it's most of my job! I always joke that it's the Diane Sawyer moment. We have people come in for the consultation and say, "I want the biggest baby shower ever!" There are times where we finish a consultation and they're crying, they're so worried and 'my mother left me when I was a child. I need to learn how to be a parent!' It's always the same thing. I'm the maternity therapist!
JH: And you bring an actual therapist in to talk with one of your clients in the first episode. Is that a rare occurrence?
RP: It's definitely something we go to quite frequently. [Laughs.]
JH: Do you typically work with first time Moms more than parents who already have children?
RP: It's a mix but I would say we have more first-time Moms. What I'm seeing a lot of now is Moms that are on their second baby and, for whatever reason, they may wish they'd done things differently the first time. I think if you're married, you look back at your wedding dress and say 'If I were doing it again, what dress would I wear differently?' For a lot of women, they want to have the baby shower they never had before.
JH: Are you pretty much done once they have the baby or do you stick around and help with different stages of parenthood?
RP: Absolutely. Once you've had the baby that is where the work begins. Even if they've taken classes beforehand, they realize they want more so the first three months after having the baby we're very, very involved with the parents but after that it's just checking in. People come by and see me with their kids all the time and it's wonderful.
JH: You have such challenging clients, what would you consider a good client?
RP: I like a challenge so I like to have a new request that I have to learn myself. I want them to want to be good parents and I want them to have the best experience with their child. The best clients are the ones who can be wild and crazy but at the end of the day what they really want to do is learn how to be the best parents they can be.
JH: How do you tactfully guide some of these people who maybe don't see eye to eye with you?
RP: Well, people come to me for a reason and it's kind of the tough-love thing. I have a reputation and they know I'm not going to be easy on them so on some level they want it even if it's a part of the frustration. Most of the time, my clients are so happy at the end of the nine months that I gave them the tough love so you can push it pretty far.
JH: You have some really great and very different assistants on the show. What do they bring to your business and to the show?
RP: Hannah is really my right hand. She is the sweetest person in the Universe and whenever I'm getting crazy... she seriously is like Mother Nature! LT is the comic relief that I think everybody needs in their lives. There isn't a day when he doesn't come in and put a smile on my face and he actually makes all the pregnant women smile, too.
JH: We also get to see your life on the show with your own pregnancy challenges. Was that a big decision to include your life in the show?
RP: It was a very difficult decision and a really important one. For me, it's what I do and I felt that not being honest about my pregnancy journey and my fertility would basically be lying to people. To pretend that everything is perfect especially when I'm around my clients... there were some days where I just felt like it wouldn't be the right way to go.
JH: Is there anything else this season that tops the parents who want to brand their baby with the perfect name?
RP: That's not the craziest! I'd say designing a couture gown for a lady to give birth in. It was her second child and the first child she thought she looked terrible in all the pictures after she gave birth and she wanted this one to be different. So, we designed a birthing gown and brought in full hair and makeup in to the delivery room.
JH: How is it to see yourself on television?
RP: I've seen the first three episodes and there are silly little things that you obsess about like lavender eye makeup! It's going to be an interesting experience but a fun journey.
"Pregnant In Heels" premieres tonight at 10:00/9:00c on Bravo. For more on Rosie and her business, go to www.RosiePope.com.