Make us your home page
Instagram

Tampa Bay 'mompreneurs' turn love of sports into maternity wear

From left, Jane Grantham and Katy Planamenta, both of Palm Harbor, and Gayle Clark of Trinity model FSU, USF and UF shirts from Sporty U. Planamenta’s faux pregnancy shows the shirt’s versatility.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

From left, Jane Grantham and Katy Planamenta, both of Palm Harbor, and Gayle Clark of Trinity model FSU, USF and UF shirts from Sporty U. Planamenta’s faux pregnancy shows the shirt’s versatility.

CLEARWATER — Jane Grantham, the mother of three young children, is a rabid University of South Florida Bulls fan.

Gayle Clark, the mother of two, is a die-hard University of Florida Gators fan.

The friends were recalling their pregnancies recently — and how difficult it had been to look stylish while cheering on their favorite teams.

"I'm a huge sports fan," said Clark, of Trinity. "I looked everywhere for a collegiate maternity polo shirt and couldn't find one."

Clark mentioned an idea to Grantham, of Clearwater, formerly an assistant to beauty mogul Estee Lauder and a merchandising manager for several bridal magazines.

Grantham jumped at it: outfitting pregnant women for games.

"We had three criteria," Grantham said. "The shirts had to be comfy, casual and collegiate."

The result was Sporty U, a home-run business selling fashionable polo shirts to pregnant women. The two "mompreneurs," as they call themselves, are focusing on featuring the big three in Florida — the University of Florida, Florida State and the University of South Florida — but that's just for starters.

"We want to expand our line to other maternity wear," Grantham said, "as well as expanding out of the state of Florida."

Grantham, 49, said she learned valuable lessons from Lauder, her former boss. "She would never take 'no' for an answer," said the new entrepreneur.

Lauder also taught her young assistant to work hard and be persuasive. Those lessons, coupled with an understanding of women's taste in fashion, convinced Grantham the women had a winner.

Getting the business up and running was no small matter.

"The key is to get a license to use the school's logo," said Clark, 38.

"It had to be an original idea to get approved because the market is already flooded with sports paraphernalia," Grantham added.

Clark said the Collegiate Licensing Co. of Atlanta also wanted to see a business plan to be sure the applicants were serious. The women made the cut.

They began by calling local sporting goods stores to see if interest was there. It was.

Next came finding a company to make the perfect shirt. They found one, an Arizona firm, at a convention in Las Vegas. Production was soon under way.

Grantham, in her Clearwater home, displayed the resulting team apparel. The soft cotton-blended shirts feature collars, buttons, school colors and logos, along with loose, swing bottoms for comfort.

And there's more.

"UVA protection is built into the fabric," said Grantham. "You're actually protecting your baby in the womb while you're in the sun cheering on your team."

The women envision other possibilities.

"We'd like to team up with a charity where we can help moms with young children in need," said Grantham. Clark added that starting a charitable foundation was also a possibility.

"I wish people could incorporate the passion they have at games into their daily lives," said Grantham. "I think it would be a better world."

Fast facts

To learn more

For more information, visit SportyU.com or call toll-free at 1-877-473-2672.

Tampa Bay 'mompreneurs' turn love of sports into maternity wear 11/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  2. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  3. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  4. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]
  5. Cooking passion spurs owner to pull open AJ's Kitchen Drawer

    Business

    TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Tampa in May 2016, AJ Albrecht spent four months traveling around Southeast Asia and Australia.

    AJs Kitchen Drawer offers a wide variety of unique kitchenware items, such as handcrafted knives and wooden items, as well as local gourmet products. Photo by Danielle Hauser