How it Started. Where it’s Going.
We went into business together in 2013…but our story starts well before then! Our initial friendship began in 2004 – when Lauren (aka Wren) started dating Benjie, Lani’s (aka Ani) oldest bro, and we just hit it off. Perhaps it was Wren breaking the ice by face planting at the initial meet and greet, or our mutual love for a good dirty martini but we instantly clicked. Having been raised in households with only brothers, we became like the sisters we always wanted – whether it was for advice, a travel buddy or a little retail therapy (or a lot, as the case may be) – we were there for each other.
We always toyed with going into business together when the idea for ANI+WREN came naturally to us during Wren’s first pregnancy. Wren couldn’t find anything fashionable to wear, so Ani would curate cute contemporary pieces to style her bump. We found there was a huge void in the market for cool boutiques that catered to an expectant mom…everything felt very “maternity” (read - polyester fabrics and empire waisted dresses with sashes). More than just the clothing, we recognized that everyone needs that “big sister” figure to stand by you during all of life’s major stages, someone who’s got your back - like we had for each other. We wanted to merge those two concepts, and so, the idea for ANI+WREN was born. ANI, for Lani and WREN for Lauren.
Despite all the naysayers (and there were many), we knew we had something special to offer and we took the leap and signed a 10-year lease. We did this with only a concept – no name, no brand, no product. But the space was the impetus for getting things moving quickly and we did our research (built out a strategic business plan, spoke to anyone and everyone in the industry, analyzed the competition – the list goes on). Ani hustled her brand relationships (fake it ‘til you make it was our motto) and we somehow pulled it together and launched ANI+WREN on Sept 20th, 2013. The response was amazing! Over the years we grew the business adding an e-commerce site in 2014 and developing our own in-house maternity brand in 2015.
One element that surprised us the most was that everyone was shopping with us, not just the preggo mamas. Women of all ages were loving our curated contemporary pieces, customized styling and hands-on customer service. We quickly found ourselves having to cater to everyone from the gal in her mid 20s post college, to an expectant mom ... and even to the mom of the expectant mom. Our buys evolved over the years to cater to all these demographics.
Moving the brand to an exclusively digital one (and catering to all these different women vs just maternity) had been in the back of our minds for a few years. We saw the growth of online businesses as we grew ours and it was very appealing. And while these conversations developed between us and plans for what the next iteration of the brand would be, Covid hit. Our doors that had been open for all those years shut and we were forced to operate as a digital business.
Our online platform became the main communication and contact with our customers. Without the ability to shoot models like we had in the past, we began photographing one another in contemporary pieces and sharing styling tips and tricks with our community. In addition, we shared other authentic and relatable content - from the highs and lows of the 4th trimester, to quick easy recipes, to our fave current reads – we shared it all … no filter…well sometimes a filter ;) And though we were still successfully offering maternity staples, we saw the success of a shift to mainly contemporary clothing and the response was incredible.
And now as we are coming (hopefully soon!) out of what has been a rollercoaster of a year, we are thrilled to finally be able to share the evolution of our brand!! In the fall of 2021, ANI+WREN will be launching our newly re-branded, exclusively-online platform which will house a curated collection of fashion, beauty, house and home products. We have loved our retail space for 10 years, and while we are sad to close these doors at the end of the summer, we are so excited about this next adventure. Unlike large-scale online stores, this unique platform pairs clothing and accessories for women, baby and kids, hand-picked by us, along with access to dedicated online support and virtual styling. And expectant mamas, we still have you covered with our ANI+WREN maternity basics. Countless hours were put into the functionality of this new site mimicking our incredible in-store experience, which makes the process easy for time-starved women to be able to pull together a cart of items they love. What has always been at the heart of the business for us is the customers’ experience when visiting the store, and we are committed to maintaining that level of engagement virtually (along with a polished assortment of brands for every age!)
The online platform will live as a space where everyone feels welcome and where women can find pieces to help elevate their wardrobe (or their minis) and get helpful hints on anything from styling to beauty hacks, design tips and travel inspo. We will continue to expand on our partnerships with other brands, entrepreneurs and inspiring mamas sharing authentic stories about motherhood, pregnancy, life and family. From the good, the bad and the ugly - we keep our content authentic to who we are.
We are beyond ecstatic to be able to share the exciting news about the growth and transformation of ANI+WREN. While we venture into another unique and creative journey, we are focused on maintaining the core roots of our business; to make women feel good through curated fashion and styling (along with a healthy dose of mom hacks and humour). Stay along for the ride – we have lots more to share on this exciting journey – this is just the beginning of the next chapter.
L & L xx
A BIT MORE ABOUT US ...
For sisters-in-law Lauren and Lani Levy the concept that women should not have to compromise their style during pregnancy was a no brainer.
Like many good concepts, the idea for Ani + Wren came naturally and out of necessity. Throughout her pregnancy, Lauren had a hard time finding maternity clothes to suit her style - and an even harder time navigating the racks of contemporary clothes at her favourite boutiques to find the elusive pieces that could highlight her bump.
Lauren and Lani spent the next year developing their concept for a new lifestyle boutique with the core philosophy that pregnant women should feel confident and beautiful, rather than feeling like they’ve settled for clothes that don’t truly reflect their personal style.
To provide expectant moms with the most exceptional shopping experience, Lani and Lauren have carefully curated a collection of exclusive maternity and coveted contemporary brands to ensure that all pieces can be worn before, during and after pregnancy. Ani + Wren is also stocked with everything else a stylish mom-to-be could desire to complete her look including jewelry, shoes, bags, hats and other accessories.
With a focus on a high level of personal service, Ani + Wren is the go-to destination for fashion conscious moms seeking sought after pieces that are an extension of their already stylish wardrobes. These two sisters in law have mommas covered from bump and beyond!
1 I share my birthday with the Queen of England
2 I can't relate to people who don't eat popcorn at the movies
3 I have a great singing voice…but I am the only person who thinks so
4 I am OCD to the max about unplugging my hair appliances
5 I invented the epic Essie Nail polish combo - funny bunny - step right up - funny bunny - TRY IT
6 I have my NYC real estate license, but have never used it
7 I've lived in Switzerland, London, Sydney, New York, and now Toronto
8 I have successfully matched 2 couples, looking for a 3rd – call me maybe??
9 I love to dance and I love geriatrics. I once combined both these loves and taught a geriatrics aerobics
10 I went bungie jumping and skydiving in the same day!
1 I was almost named Sigourney (Ani + Gourney would have sounded terrible)
2 My first business was selling Devil Sticks at age 10
3 I crave Nutella and bacon (separately and together, pregnant and not)
4 One of my dogs is a savant
5 I thought I was good at basketball until they gave me the Most Improved Player award
6 I read magazines from back to front
7 I was once on a reality cooking show with my mom … I beat her … she’s still not over it
8 I do a great Marissa Tomei circa My Cousin Vinny
9 Ask me… When I was in college I rocked a pair of cool jeans with an elasticized waist … only recently did I uncover they were maternity denim
10 My favourite sports app is theScore