In a transitory town like Denver, many new parents find themselves stationed hundreds of miles from kin -- and some moms, myself included, struggle to make it through the first year, feeling isolated while experiencing postpartum depression or struggling with breastfeeding. So, if it takes a village to raise a child, how can these displaced Denverites get by without their own? Lauren Williams and Deb Mills, founders of Belly Bliss, 300 South Josephine Street, Suite 10, think they have the answer.
Back in 2008, the two friends, both moms, decided to open a store that would function as a support network by delivering resources to expectant mothers and their families. That store has since blossomed into a community of parents forming a network of friends. "The most important part of our business isn't something we market or derive revenue from," Mills says. "It's the family away from family we've helped cultivate."
In the adorable, eco-friendly Cherry Creek shop, there's no shortage of hearty community vibes and resources for parents -- starting with prenatal and postpartum fitness, yoga and Barre classes crafted specifically for a mother's body. "To keep your body active is important during pregnancy and beyond," says Mills, who is talking about physical strength as well as mental endurance, both of which come in handy during labor and after. "This isn't important, it's almost a necessity," she adds. Because mothers really can't care for others unless they are taking care of themselves, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care are also available at the store.
Also necessary is a space where mothers can connect with each other. "That's something that happens organically and is one of the best things we offer," Mills explains, beaming. "Women become friends with other women in class, and that relationship carries on long after babies are born." Such relationships begin in exercise classes or at Mommy & Me playgroups where parents bond with their children and other parents.
Moms and moms-to-be benefit from a variety of childbirth education and parenting workshops, too. Offerings like Blissful Breastfeeding best exemplify the open-minded, accepting nature of the space and the teachers. And then there are the occasional special events, like the one-night-only shopping event happening from 4 to 6 p.m tonight, December 5.
Here's the deal: This afternoon only, spend $50 on retail items -- everything from amber teething necklaces and clothes to books by local authors -- and you'll receive a voucher for one free class or a gift valued at $15. Spend $100, and you'll get double: either two free classes or two gifts.
You'll have to be present at the studio to take advantage of these deals. But that shouldn't be too taxing, since shoppers will nibble on food from the Blue Bonnet while sipping the kind of drink every new mother needs: margaritas.
Mills and Williams are also offering two holiday specials that will continue through December: a 10 percent discount on five- and ten-class packages, as well as Belly Bliss's Seasonal Sampler packages, which let moms and moms-to-be chose any three sixty-minute services, including massage, acupuncture, rolfing and chiropractic care. These packages are meant as gifts for moms -- but today, moms may decide to purchase them for themselves.
True to their mission of providing resources to every local mother in need, Mills and Williams offer discount pricing -- and even full scholarships for those who can't afford their services. "A year ago we created a scholarship fund to help local, low-income mamas in need of classes and other support," says Mills. "We're so excited about this, because it is something we wanted to offer from the beginning." Approximately 25 moms have taken advantage of scholarships since the program's inception, and the founders hope it continues to grow.
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The duo helps fund the scholarship program through an ongoing maternity clothing sale. If you want to help, simply donate your gently used maternity gear to Belly Bliss, where it will be sold to customers at a discount price, and all proceeds will go toward scholarships. For more information on Belly Bliss, visit its website.