Twenty-one years ago, Elizabeth Fielder’s maternity wardrobe consisted of one pair of baggy, olive-brown corduroy pants, a brightly colored sweat suit and, she says, “a hideous black-and-white vinyl diaper bag.”
Fortunately, she and her cousin, Emily Rosenberg, have saved future generations of pregnant women from a similarly tragic fashion fate.
In 2003, Rosenberg’s friends were experiencing a baby boom, and all commiserated over the lack of cool and stylish maternity options in the area. “I realized this would be my fate when my time came,” says Rosenberg, “so I decided to do something about it.”
Turning to her mother, Annie Cohen, former owner of the Royal Oak shop Truly Gifted, for advice, she traveled the country, attending gift shows, baby shows and maternity shows to find the newest, most unique, hip, can’t-live-without-it products and apparel.
Now an expert, Rosenberg opened Bella Belli Maternity nine years ago in downtown Birmingham to eagerly welcoming arms (and bellies). Thriving enough to move to a larger location down the street just two years later, Fielder joined Rosenberg as co-owner at the boutique, bringing her years of advertising experience with her.
Now raising her three young children, Rosenberg has taken a step back from daily operations, but still lends Fielder a hand in hunting down new customer favorites.
“The maternity styles today are much more in keeping with current fashion trends,” says Fielder, who works hard to find the best of the best and a selection of pieces that really work for the growing belly, including clothing brands Olian, Japanese Weekend, Lilac (shown here), Citizens of Humanity and more.
Customers are big fans of Ingrid and Isabel belly leggings and Michael Stars maternity tees, and, Fielder says, “Our customers swear by the Belly Bandit,” a compression band worn after delivery — and created by Michigan natives, sisters Jodi, Lori and Kari Caden.
Now the store is expanding into accessories, the store offers diaper bags, books, skin care, and gifts for moms and babies, as well as layette and baby clothing from names like Appaman (co-owned by former Michigander Lynn Husum), Charlie Rocket and Pixie Lily.
The work that the owners put into making their shop stand out speaks of the pride they take in customer service. “That’s the most important thing to us,” says Fielder, who has created a relaxed vibe in the shop with Rosenberg. “I love being able to change someone’s opinion about maternity clothes, and for them to see they can look and feel great throughout their pregnancy.”
But the best part? Says Fielder, “When customers come back and show us their babies!”
Bella Belli, Birmingham (800-MI-BELLI or