When model Liza Elliott-Ramirez became pregnant with her first child, she hid her pregnancy for as long as possible, hiding her belly until her second trimester. But as soon as she began showing, the work dried up. She was told to wait until she was “back in shape” before giving her agency a call.
Frustrated and annoyed, Elliott-Ramirez figured there were tons of other women out there just like her, women whose modeling careers were in limbo as they attempted to go on with the regular business of having families. So she created a modeling agency specifically for expectant mothers. Her agency Expecting Models handles a roster of moms-to-be who star in shoots for clients like Target, Old Navy and Fit Pregnancy magazine.
Once they give birth, many of Elliott-Ramirez’s models move on to the company’s Real Families division, where they’ll pose with their children for infant formula ads or car seats.
The niche nature of her business means she’s cornered the market on pregnant models, beating out mainstream agencies like Ford or Wilhemina when it comes to selection. “Ford, Wilhelmina, Elite — they’re not going to get all the calls,” Elliott-Ramirez told the New York Times. “That’s not their specialty. That’s like shopping at Home Depot, expecting to find great pasta.”
Right now, Elliott-Ramirez has around 200 models in her stable, though her roster is, naturally, always changing. The need, though, for pregnant models, continues to grow — maternity clothing is projected to be a nearly $5 billion dollar industry by 2015. That’s a lot of maternity panel pants.