Growing Our Maternal Activewear Brand With Google Ads And Trade Shows [Update]

Published: August 24th, 2023
Natalie Pitts
Founder, Go Mama
Go Mama
from Auckland, New Zealand
started February 2021
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

My name is Natalie and I am a mama of two and the founder of the maternity activewear brand Go Mama.

We offer activewear, leisure wear, accessories, and fitness equipment all designed to support women throughout their maternity journey and beyond.

All our clothing is designed with features that are fit for purpose for being active during pregnancy and breastfeeding and subtle enough to be worn long beyond too. Our objective is to ensure women feel supported, comfortable, and inspired to build a positive connection between physical activity and mental well-being.

We are based in New Zealand but ship our products all across the globe.

When I first started Go Mama, I was employed in the Royal New Zealand Air Force but I have since grown the business to a full-time venture and now run this as my main income stream.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

We have been growing consistently since our inception and although we continue to work, rework, and rework again our strategies and tactics, the two key areas our growth can be attributed to this year are Google Ads and trade shows.

When we last wrote a Starter Story we had just invested in outsourcing Google Ads and saw instant results from those. Our relationship with the advertising company was very transactional and when I requested a six-month review, it was costly and very basic.

I decided to shop around and was recommended to a freelance digital analyst who was able to assist Go Mama. I wanted to build a relationship based on trust, credibility, and confidence and someone to work in our best interests, and we have been able to achieve that with our new Google analyst by setting out monthly performance objectives and adjusting keywords and negative keywords where necessary.

We are fully briefed each month on how the ads are performing and where the adjustments are being made so there is full transparency and we see this reflected in the orders we receive.

In addition to increasing the number of orders, we have noticed a big shift in the average cart total per order. Excluding March and May when we ran promotions, from January 2023 we have seen a 79% increase in the number of monthly orders and an increase of 27% in average cart values to the end of July 2023.

We have a couple of ‘hero’ products that sell every day, but it left a lot of other stock sitting on the shelf untouched. Even though I thought they were great products, it took some research to figure out that others found the products desirable too but they just weren’t reaching the right audience which is where Google Ads has helped immeasurably and all products are moving out to customers now.



In addition to Google Ads, we have been focusing a lot on trade shows to help build connections with new parents and put a personal face to Go Mama. Being an e-commerce clothing brand brings some restrictions for shoppers - particularly around the hands-on experience of getting to try products on for size, fit, and feel of the fabric before committing to a purchase.

We have been working hard to give our customers opportunities to ‘try before you buy’ and have achieved this by attending every major baby trade show in New Zealand since August 2022 (nine shows). This has allowed us to offer customers the chance to see and feel the products with a changing room on site.

This has been a major income stream for us over the last year and although there is a large investment required to cover the associated costs (stand hire, accommodation, transport, staff, etc), the return for us has been rewarding not only financially but as a business getting to interact with both existing and new customers.


Behind the scenes of the brand, our biggest change has been switching ecommerce platforms from Shopify to WooCommerce in December 2022. The decision to change was based on the limitations we were facing with Shopify; we wanted a more intuitive website for our shoppers but this would require purchasing multiple Shopify applications that came at a significant cost.

Like others on Shopify, we started incurring transaction fees on payments from third-party payment platforms and as the cost of living increased, so too did our number of sales using third party payment options such as Afterpay and Laybuy.

For these reasons, we decided to see what other eCommerce options were out there.

I had a contact for a website developer and he suggested switching to WooCommerce on WordPress I trusted his judgment, experience, and knowledge so took the plunge.

It was a costly investment that I hope will pay off in the long term as finance was a large reason why I changed in the first place! It also was not without many, many issues.

Trust in your product or service, trust in your brand and trust in yourself. You have worked hard to get where you are so try to block out the noise and the pressure from your competitors.

The biggest change I noticed was that I felt I had lost full autonomy when it came to controlling the back end of my website. I found the Shopify platform very user-friendly for a website novice like myself. Switching to a website developer took some adjustment as did familiarizing myself with a new layout.

I like that I can now just send an email to them to address an issue when something is not going right, but I also dislike that I do not understand the ins and outs of the platform and cannot fix things myself as and when they occur and have to generally wait until business hours for issues to be rectified.

That being said, products are now displayed on the website exactly how I want them to be and it offers a far more intuitive experience for the customer.

Once the website development invoice is paid off in December, the monthly cost of running the website will only be NZD$25 which includes all additional plugins/applications.

This year we also decided to do one full collection launch in May rather than a few new products throughout the year as we had previously done. It meant we only had one major release of new products this year and although it could be deemed a success, we learned a lot from it and I'm not sure we will do it again.

Firstly, the upfront costs of launching a full collection were a LOT. It was a significant outlay to suppliers with the additional cost of shipping large quantities of cartons at once.

Shipping rates have decreased significantly over the last 12 months so it would be my preference next time to continue shipping the smaller quantities.

Secondly, there was a lot of coordination required: a larger photoshoot, more products to create on the website, and a condensed and comprehensive marketing package.

Juggling this with solo parenting wasn’t great timing so there were many late nights spent designing graphics, mapping out launch strategies, and responding to customer inquiries as we built the hype for the release date.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

The biggest challenge has been learning about the new website platform and how this has impacted sales. There have been a few issues with the platform performance that has resulted in shoppers not being able to check out (a pop-up via Klaviyo was the cause) or products not visible on the website but visible from the back end so causing a lot of confusion for us and the customers.

There were also some issues setting up Google Ads with the new URLs when we switched from Shopify. The URLs we transferred were from the draft new website so once the website went live, the URLs were not connected to Google Ads and we ended up paying hefty advertising fees and getting no sales in return! We switched platforms at the end of December so many of these issues were occurring during the Christmas break when there was limited support available and my knowledge of the new system was almost non-existent still.

Nearly eight months into using the new platform and I feel I have mastered the basics but I still get caught out occasionally with customer queries about website performance that I need to defer to the developers.

Google Ads has also caused some frustration this year as it is another area I am not confident in and have to put all my trust (and money) with someone else. Now we are finally seeing good results ranking at the top of the shopping campaigns for maternity clothing searches and as a result, have been able to scale our budget and surge the excess into other forms of advertising such as Facebook Ads.


A personal challenge that has impacted our small business is my husband has deployed overseas this year so I have taken on the solo-parenting role with minimal additional support. This has limited my ability to grow Go Mama as much as I would have liked due to a reduced capacity to invest time in the business.

I often leaned on my husband to help with the kids when I was working on business projects but have found I am currently doing enough to keep the business ticking along but not extending and growing it in directions I would have hoped to have been by now.

The benefit of owning Go Mama is having the flexibility to scale it so I have accepted that I cannot achieve everything this year and that’s ok.

A good challenge I have experienced this year is learning to run the business solely on income generated from sales. It has now been 12 months since I resigned from my previous career in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and although I previously used some of my military salary to help supplement Go Mama in the earlier stages of the business, I was unsure how I would manage without this as a backup if needed.

It has been quite enjoyable learning the budgeting side of the business and learning to say no if anything was financially unviable such as advertising opportunities or desirable new products. It has also proven that the business can comfortably run on its own and for accounting purposes, we now strictly keep the business and personal finances completely separate.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

Owning your own business is a long game. Even when you think you have everything sorted internally, external factors such as increasing interest rates, increasing food costs, increasing petrol prices, wars, climate change, and pandemics all play a part in consumer behavior.

There will always be ups and downs within the business and outside of it and the key is riding it out if you can. We have continued to grow over the last couple of years and feel very grateful for that. We have seen a lot of small businesses having large sales and have felt pressure to do the same even though it was not part of our annual plan.

It has been difficult to resist the urge to undersell ourselves but rather remain consistent and create quality products and an amazing customer experience that doesn’t put us out of pocket.

Another lesson for us has been the reprieve created by outsourcing. Although it was always something I had considered, we are only now in a stable position to afford such benefits. In addition to Google Ads, I have recently started outsourcing my social media engagement. Although it was an aspect of the business I enjoyed, I found that as a solo parent, this was not an area I wanted to invest my time in, particularly when I was around my children.

Unable to share the parenting load, I needed to be more present with them and found that I enjoyed parenting more when I was not distracted or spending my free time scrolling and commenting on social media posts. The digital media marketer who now works on behalf of Go Mama does a fantastic job with authentic and genuine content so this has been worth the investment.

It has been a great learning point for me too as a small business owner. We often try to do everything ourselves but I am now actively seeking other areas of the business that can be outsourced to help alleviate the mental load and create more of a work/life balance.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

We plan to keep growing as I believe there are so many more opportunities to explore and so many more women that we can reach with our brand. We are content to continue what we are doing as we wait out the recession and until we are in a more supported family situation.

Now that the international borders are open, we would love to attend trade shows in Australia and visit some of our offshore suppliers. We have never met our suppliers in person although we have developed some amazing relationships with them online. It would be a dream to visit the fabric markets and learn more about the origins of our products and the more sustainable and ethical processes behind our manufacturing.

We are also interested in reaching into more marketplaces such as Amazon Australia to help our visibility and reach more customers. We are currently listed on several marketplaces in New Zealand and although this only contributes to a small percentage of our sales, we still see value in using these avenues to support women who may not have otherwise come across Go Mama in other advertising or more organic methods.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

I tend to use reading as a therapy to relax and enjoy reading inspiring non-fiction stories.
Most of my inspiration comes from following accounts on social media, in particular female athletes and those who dedicate their work to supporting women through pregnancy and the postpartum journey.

As I step further away from the ‘baby stage’ with my children and some of my earlier personal experiences of parenthood begin to blur, these accounts help keep me fresh with maternity literature and the messaging and themes that are currently circulating in alignment with our brand and business messaging.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

This isn't my advice, but I read it recently and it resonated with me: Keep showing up, keep being consistent, and keep marketing.

Continue to put your name out there and although this might not be the right time for your customers to commit to a purchase, by showing up you will be remembered for when the time comes that they are in a position to place an order.

Trust in your product or service, trust in your brand, and trust in yourself. You have worked hard to get where you are so try to block out the noise and the pressure from your competitors running big sales and keep doing you. It’s a long game and you’ve got this!

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We have just hired another staff member to help with trade shows, modeling, smaller administrative functions, and packing orders. We met our new employee through the Go Mama Instagram page and although we were not directly looking for any new staff, she was the perfect fit for our brand and we quickly accepted her offer of assistance.

Her first task was joining us at a trade show and she nailed it - she was already a loyal Go Mama customer so we knew she loved the products and she conveyed this so enthusiastically to the trade show visitors.

She was confident, knowledgeable, and personable so it was an easy decision to welcome her to the team and we hope to continue expanding her roles within the business over the next 6 months once she finishes her university studies.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!