Christine Poirier designed her own nursing top to help her feel less insecure about breastfeeding in public after the birth of her first child. Her invention turned into a business and now she faces the challenge of expanding her Toronto-based apparel company, Momzelle, into the U.S.

The target audience for Momzelle is straight forward: new breastfeeding, active, urban mothers (see original story here).

“They want to be able to go to restaurants, cafes, meet their friends outside in parks and just have a baby and have a life as well,” said Poirier, adding they’ve sold close to 10,000 shirts this year, which retail from C$45 to C$70.

THE PITCH

In the U.S., 74 percent of women who gave birth in 2004 breast-fed their babies for at least some period of time, according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Poirier estimated the North American breastfeeding apparel market is between C$25 million to C$40 million and said her biggest challenge is to increase Momzelle’s exposure and sales in the more lucrative U.S. market.

“It’s about 15 to 20 percent of our overall sales that are from the United States,” said Poirier, who added of the 80 maternity and baby stores that sell her tops across North America, just 10 are in the U.S. “The market is 10 times bigger than the Canadian market.”