North East female entrepreneurs invest in growing maternity brand

A rapidly growing maternity clothing brand has been given a six-figure angel investment from several of the region’s most high profile businesswomen.

Bibee was founded by Nicola Norris in 2011, who set out to offer stylish yet functional fashion to women while pregnant and breast-feeding.

The fashion brand has been backed by no fewer than seven angel investors at Newcastle-based investment group Gabriel Investors, a group of successful businesswomen who came together to support growing businesses.

The group offers expertise and financial support in the shape of equity investments or loans and in this instance Watson Burton provided legal support to help secure the Bibee deal.

Multi award-winning entrepreneur Sara Davies from Crafter’s Companion is a lead investor, having taken the largest shareholding among the angels.

Business adviser and former senior partner at Watson Burton LLP, Gillian Hall, will become non-executive chairman and a shareholder at Bibee alongside Mrs Davies.

The six-figure outlay will help accelerate Bibee’s growth by enabling the business to expand its product range to a full range of maternity wear, along with enhancing its online presence at bibeematernity.com.

Mrs Norris set up London-based Bibee after she fell pregnant and struggled to find stylish maternity dresses, spotting a gap in the market for luxurious pre and post birth maternity clothing.

She said: “The high street offered very little and online designer collections were beautiful but impractical, given the challenges of breast feeding.

“As my experience of motherhood grew, so did my realisation that there was an immediate need for a stylish maternity brand for mums that flattered and functioned.”

Bibee Maternity now designs, manufacturers and supplies its own range online and via boutique outlets across the UK.

Investor Sara Davies runs Durham-based craft supplies business Crafter’s Companion, which employs over 60 people across its North East and US operations.

She said: “Having become a mother fairly recently, I fell in love with Bibee’s dresses the minute I saw them and recognised very quickly that there is definitely a need for this type of range among expecting and new mothers.

“Nicola has done an amazing job in getting the business this far and her passion for her business is inspiring, which is something I could relate to given the journey I have been on with my business.

“With the funding in place to allow Nicola to make some investments, we hope Gillian and I can add some value from an expertise, support and mentoring perspective that will help collectively to take Bibee to the next level,” added Sara.

By UKBAA 08 Dec 2014