• Bump It Up

    How the women behind Well Rounded NY went from novice moms-to-be to popular guides for city-savvy pregnant women.

    By Anastasia Capatina
    Kaity Velez and Jessica Pallay; photo by Wonderland Photography

    Kaity Velez and Jessica Pallay; photo by Karilyn Sanders Photography

    When Kaity Velez first learned, at a restaurant over dinner, that her good friend and fellow menswear magazine editor Jessica Pallay was five months pregnant, she felt an enormous rush of relief. The news meant she could stop trying to conceal her own bulging belly (she was then just eight weeks along) and finally spill the beans herself. It meant that, for the first time, she could confide in someone who would understand all the nuances of her experience.

    “I was one of the first of my friends to be pregnant,” Velez remembers. “And it was amazing to realize I had a friend and colleague who could kind of help me along the way.”

    After Pallay shared her big news, the two moms-to-be stuck together, meeting up for dinner, shopping for parenting necessities, and exchanging tips and tricks for conquering pregnancy’s new challenges. As Velez predicted, pregnancy really was easier with a friend in tow. But as the women’s bellies grew, so did their dissatisfaction with the baby media market.

    Neither connected with any one of the many voices shouting into the vast abyss of pale pink and baby blue that frames today’s maternity culture—and not for lack of trying.

    “There are some really great pregnancy resources out there, ones that we love, from Baby Center to The Bump, really great stuff,” Pallay explains. “But there was nothing that addressed our lifestyle as urban, downtown, New York City women.”

    Instead of compromising their cosmopolitan style for the more mainstream visions of motherhood perpetuated by maternity and baby superstores, Velez, 32, and Pallay, 35, turned their ears to the wise words of the city moms who had blazed the trail before them. There, within their network of city-savvy friends and family, lay the holy grail of valuable pregnancy advice: Everything from the best strollers to take on city sidewalks, to the most bump-flattering clothing brands, to the least overwhelming but must thorough registries.

    “At the time [the conversation] was very much mouth-to-mouth, friend-to-friend,” Pallay says. “Other media we were reading was totally not pregnancy related: Lots of great websites, books, and magazines out there that were just talking about things like organic beauty products, and fashion and all sorts of things that had nothing to do with pregnancy.”

    While the two researched the latest brands and tested new products, it dawned on Velez and Pallay that, just as their girlfriends had led them through the ins and outs of pregnancy, they too could become a helpful, honest resource for urban-minded expecting mothers. Thus their pregnancy lifestyle site, Well Rounded NY, was born.

    Upon first visiting the Well Rounded NY (the title is Velez’s brainchild) site, readers find a clean, high-resolution page with graphic features that simultaneously create a sense of vintage comfort and smart modernity. The minimalist baby belly logo—a circle enclosing a dot—rests in the upper left hand corner. Velez and Pallay’s playful voices come through in the subtitle: “Helping you come to terms (and term) with your pregnancy in the city.”

    “What we set out to do was create a site that covered everything from fashion to wellness to organic beauty, and really all the facets of life of women that happen to be pregnant in the city,” Pallay says. “We’re really looking to appeal to this person who’s looking for a resource that’s more about staying who she was before she ever became pregnant, now that she’s becoming a mom.” Therein lies the heart of Well Rounded NY’s simple yet refreshing message to new moms: pregnancy is an exciting but temporary condition, not a pastel-clad monster out to steal a woman’s identity and leave her with a truckload of obsolete, baggy clothes at the end of nine months.

    “Pregnancy is such a huge transitional moment in a woman’s life, and we wanted to be that force that was there to say: ‘It’s okay—you’re still gonna be you, but here are the ways that you can incorporate your old lifestyle into your new lifestyle,’” Velez adds. Headlines in the Style, Beauty, Wellness, Indulgence, and The Baby sections range from the needs of city savvy mamas (“Best New Mom Apps,” “14 Prenatal and Postnatal Uses for Coconut Oil”) to interests outside of pregnancy (“Trip for (Just) Two,” “Summer Reads”). On the right-hand sidebar, a section called “Tips By Trimester” leads readers to a page of articles from the site organized by pregnancy stage.

    Above the trimester item is a reader (and Velez and Pallay’s) favorite weekly column called “Bump Envy,” which features a local expecting mother’s reflection on her pregnancy style, and the city experiences she’s excited to share with her baby. Each month, Velez and Pallay put out a call to action asking for perspective participants, and they always get an overwhelming response.

    “It’s all about showcasing the individual that every woman is, and the individual style they have, and the different perspective that they have on their pregnancy, so the idea for Bump Envy was there from the start of the site,” Velez says. “So it’s always been really important for us to showcase women that show that you don’t have to be scared—there are tons of women just like you who are going through pregnancy, and they’re doing it really beautifully.” And these women are as real as it gets: “We don’t see anyone before we shoot them. They show up on that day and that’s what they look like,” she adds.

    “One thing I’ve been really excited about in the evolution we’ve seen over the year is how much people want to participate in it,” Pallay says. “That’s part of Well Rounded NY—we want it to feel like a community, that it reflects really vast sensibilities of NYC women and just women in general… Motherhood is everything and it’s everybody—there are so many different kinds of moms and there are so many different kinds of babies.”

    A year after they launched Well Rounded NY, Velez and Pallay find their hands full with their toddlers. Pallay’s children are Libby, 3, and Elsie, 1.5. Velez’s son, Oliver, will turn 3 in November.

    “[The site is] our baby, and I work on it every spare second that I have during the day and night and even seconds I don’t have to spare,” Pallay says. “I’m lucky that I have a really amazing nanny, and I don’t think I could do it without my husband.” She says she and Velez frequently spend evenings writing and texting each other about the site. “We’re lucky that we’re both incredibly committed to it and excited about watching it grow,” she adds.

    The site now has readers from all around the world, from Los Angeles to London, who love Well Rounded NY’s relatability.

    “As magazine editors, what we’ve done is really curate. It’s taking this enormous market filled with products and figuring out what’s the best. And asking what do we believe in, and what would we vouch for, and what would we use for our own families, and our own babies, our own selves—and bringing that to our readers.” Velez says.

    “What we found is that the site isn’t about New York City, but a New York City state of mind,” Pallay adds.

    For Well Rounded NY’s fave baby shower gifts, click here.

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