Entrepreneur Mom Mary Johnson Talks About Business, Bump — And Breaking Both Her Legs While She Was Expecting

During her first pregnancy, Mary Johnson was so excited about her bump that she designed a maternity T-shirt to let the world know she was expecting. Today, Mary is the CEO of Mommy Loves, and Say Bump, the premiere maternity t-shirt line sold on the Internet. Now the mom of two boys, Evan, 10, and Riley, 7, Mary spoke exclusively with Celebrity Parents Magazine about bumps, business and how she was once pregnant with two broken legs!

How did you start your company Mommy Loves?

About eleven years ago, I had suffered two miscarriages. I then became pregnant with my first son, Evan, and was so happy about the pregnancy that I designed a t-shirt called Report Card. On the shirt, it read: “Pregnancy Prevention 101 – Failed!” I called it that because my husband, Duane, and I felt that we had finally passed the most difficult class we had ever taken!

I had a local sports shop put this design on a plain white maternity shirt for me, and I received such an amazing response that I came up with other designs. I had a background in business management, but had no clue how to do apparel. Then, when I was pregnant with my second son, Riley, I fell and broke both legs!

What happened?

I was walking out a neighbor’s front door, and the step riser was unusually tall, so I fell. I broke my left ankle and my right foot. I had a cast on each leg up to the knee; one was pink and one was blue, since at the time, we didn’t know what we were having!

I knew that if I could care for two small children with casts on both legs, I could do anything. People loved the maternity shirts, so I started researching to see if there were any other companies out there producing them. At the time, there weren’t any online. I made my first designs on Microsoft Excel. I never knew I had this creativity in me until I tapped into it.

Which are your hottest selling shirts?

There’s quite a few of them! The best sellers are “Due In…” and “Do Not Open Until…”, both customized for the month that the client is due in. Also popular are “Love Bump”, “There Are Two Peas In This Pod” (for twins!), the Swarovski crystal “Mommy-To-Be”, and the State Bump, which features the state the client lives in.

What are you working on now for the company?

We’re still coming up with new designs all the time. We’re also testing out some maternity yoga pants with our “MOMFlames” design.  A new baby product is in the works, and should be in production for Fall 2009.

What was the experience like of launching a business and being a mommy?

It was difficult. The first couple of years were just a huge learning experience. I had to find a manufacturer who could manufacture the line to my specifications, and in smaller quantities. I created the website and did not have a technical background. After a few bumps, it ran itself because we were the first on the Internet. I just let it happen organically, because I had my kids and wanted to be with them.

How do you find the balance between Mommyhood and your work?

It’s a hot topic, finding that balance. When Evan and Riley were smaller, I would make shirts and fill orders while they were napping. As the company has grown, I hired contractors, and other moms to come work for me. I like the idea of women helping other women, especially moms. It is empowering for the women who work for me, because it shows them that they can run their own businesses as well.

As for the boys, now that they are in school, it is much easier. Of course, being my own boss, I have to be very diligent and not get sidetracked! I find that when I have less time, I can get things done much more quickly.

No matter what, though, family comes first. I love the flexibility of my work, so I can be there for my husband, Duane, and the boys.

What do you do when you’re not working on Mommy Loves and Say Bump?

Hiking is our number 1 thing to do as a family. Duane and I have been married 25 years, and we love spending as much time with the boys as we can!

My husband and I very much compliment each other ~ I am more relaxed and go with the flow, and he is more structured and focused. I also have an anal side, and he can be flighty at times, but we don’t let that get in the way when we dance!

You also mentioned that he’s a tax accountant. That’s a big plus for your business!

It is! When my legs were broken and I couldn’t get up, Duane used to help me all the time. He even changed my commode! Doing your taxes and changing a commode. You can’t ask for much more in a man than that!


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