Give yourself grace: Make healthy choices as frequently as possible, but be patient with yourself and remember you don’t have to be perfect 100% of the time. Every good decision counts.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Loren Heller & Hillary Cullum.
Berkley is a luxury activewear line designed to celebrate pregnancy through soft, luxurious clothing that empowers women to stay active, feel beautiful and most importantly, be themselves. The company was born after co-founder Loren Heller was pregnant and couldn’t find maternity activewear that was stylish, comfortable and functional. She shared the gap in the market with best friend and co-founder Hillary Cullum, and the two set out to design the perfect pair of maternity leggings for before, during and after pregnancy. The company, founded in 2019, is based in Dallas, Texas.
Loren is mom to a wild four-year-old and an Associate Principal at Daggerwing Group, a change and communications consultancy. Hillary Cullum is mom to a wild shih tzu and is President of HSC Advisors, a retail consultancy focused on driving profitability.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
We are both Colorado natives who grew up skiing, hiking, and playing sports. Staying active and wellness were engrained in us our entire lives. Our other shared passion is fashion which is what originally brought us together.
We met while working in Neiman Marcus’ Denver store — and our friendship and love of fashion began. After 15 years of friendship and career evolution, we founded Berkley Clothing together, with the goal of empowering women to feel beautiful and confident throughout their pregnancy and beyond.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
After a combined 30 years of experience in luxury retail, consulting and change management, neither of us ever dreamed we’d start a maternity activewear line. It’s by far the most interesting and unexpected career pivot. The biggest takeaway is the power that passion and meaning can have on the direction of your career and how it can fuel motivation and determination. The other main takeaway is that our collective experiences and careers provided the critical foundation that made Berkley possible.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We make mistakes every single day 🙂 Truthfully, it’s very normal to make mistakes when you’re starting out because you just don’t know any better. When we initially started Berkley we spent what for us what a large amount of money with a consultant that helped us begin development of our leggings. What we didn’t know at the time is that we’d have to repeat that step as soon as we chose a manufacturer and basically start all over from scratch. The biggest learning for us was the realization that that situation would most likely repeat itself and just to be as mindful as possible about every dollar spent and to do as much due diligence as possible when spending money on things we know little about.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Honestly, each other. From the moment we met over 15 years ago we’ve supported each other through career changes, challenges and transitions. Beyond our careers, we’ve been part of each others lives through marriages, babies, losses, celebrations, and everything in between. To say that it took all of those collective experiences to create Berkley, would be an understatement. We always say that our collective successes, challenges and experiences have gotten us each to where we are today and we’re both very mindful and grateful for that truth.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Everything we do at Berkley is designed to empower women to stay healthy and feel confident during their pregnancies and beyond. So much of that is about being active and taking care of yourself. That’s why we designed Berkley … the truth is there is very limited availability of high quality, functional, comfortable activewear for pregnancy and our mission is to not only fill that gap, but ensure that pregnant women never have to sacrifice their wellness during one of the most important times of their lives.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Give yourself grace: Make healthy choices as frequently as possible, but be patient with yourself and remember you don’t have to be perfect 100% of the time. Every good decision counts.
- Drink water (even if you don’t want to): Hydration is key to feeling your best. At Berkley we keep water bottles on hand all day long so that we stay hydrated, even if we don’t feel like it! 😉
- Move 30 mins a day, no matter what: “Wellness” doesn’t mean just eating right, or just working out all the time. Make a commitment to moving your body for 30 minutes a day and that itself will do wonders for your health and your mood
- Take some “me” time: Taking time for yourself is as important as feeding and hydrating your body. Carve some time out for yourself each day even if it’s only for a few minutes.
- Make time for friends: Friends are lifelines and making time for them takes deliberate effort. Reach out to a friend, set up a coffee date, or call a friend during one of your 30 minute walks. It does wonders for the soul.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
We would start a movement called “One Simple Thing” and it would be focused around doing one simple thing each day for someone you care about. Expressing care and kindness not only helps the person receiving it, but does wonders for the soul of the person giving it. So much of what we do at Berkley is about empowering women to feel their best and we feel our best when we’re helping our fellow mommas-to-be.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- It will take years: realistic expectations are one of the more important aspects of entrepreneurship and knowing it will be a journey is key to success.
- You’ll make at least one mistake each day: it’s important to acknowledge and remember, that you don’t know what you don’t know — especially when starting a business. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and the sooner you view them that way, the easier it will be more move past them.
- People will doubt you: doubt is a natural part of taking risks. Developing thick skin for doubt and uncertainty, particularly from others, is important.
- The idea is only the first step: from conception to fruition is a long and winding journey. One of the biggest things that’s helped us at Berkley is remembering the steps and understanding that ideas are just the beginning.
- It’s okay if you don’t know the answer: there’s a misconception that by starting a business you’re somehow smarter than everyone else. That’s the opposite of the truth! Remember and acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers is the first and most important step in finding out who does.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Sustainability is important to us and has impacted the way we have built Berkley. We are aware that sustainability has become a trending topic in fashion & retail and can mean so many different things. As we were building Berkley sustainability was top of mind. We view sustainability as creating a higher quality activewear product that is not disposable. In the maternity space, many products are created to be cheap & used only for a small period of time before they are tossed out. We took a different approach, create a product that is well made and will last through out pregnancy, transition into postpartum, and can be used for a longer lifespan. Additionally, we made the decision early on that we would manufacture locally in the Untied States. The importance of paying garment workers living wages and ensuring that product is produced in manufacturing facilities with humane conditions was top of mind. Not to mention we will not be adding the freight and transportation impacts from shipping our product across the globe.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Follow along on our journey on Instagram at @Berkleyclothing.
Thank you for these fantastic insights!