Nicole Trunfio Wants to Make Pregnant Women Feel Good

Fashion

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nicole trunfio

Trevor King

In ELLE.com’s monthly series Office Hours, we ask people in powerful positions to take us through their first jobs, worst jobs, and everything in between. Ahead of Mother’s Day, we spoke with Nicole Trunfio, who’s not only a model, but the founder of maternity brand Bumpsuit, as well as the brains behind ethical jewelry line Erth Jewellery and swimwear label Erth Swim. Here, she discusses her journey from working a newspaper route in the Australian bush to walking runways for Gucci, Valentino, and Chanel and eventually settling down with her husband, blues musician Gary Clark Jr., in Texas. It was there, a week before the onset of the pandemic, that Trunfio launched Bumpsuit, while pregnant with her third child. More on how she got there, below.

My first job

In Australia, you have to be 13 years and 9 months old to legally start work, and I really wanted to join the workforce. So I delivered newspapers in an acreage where we lived—like, out in the bush. The properties were roughly five acres apart, with crazy hills in between. I rode a bike and got paid $2 an hour. I think I delivered 34 papers after school, once a week. It was really something else.

My worst job

Some photographers that I’ve worked with just did not respect women. They make it a living hell for you, because they can. Not adhering to boundaries, being sleazy, and doing it in front of a bunch of people who are just watching.

nicole trunfio office hours

How I got discovered

I went to visit my sister in Perth, where she was at university, and a woman scouted me while I was shopping. I was skeptical [about modeling] at first, because I dealt with a ton of bitchiness and bullying at school and I didn’t want to go into a world of more bitchiness. I was a straight-A student and wanted to be a lawyer. But I begrudingly agreed to enter this modeling competition at the urging of the scout, and wound up winning a contract. Fortunately, the girls that I met were the nicest and sweetest—they had also been picked on for being lanky, skinny bookworms. One was Gemma Ward! I thought, maybe these are my people. Then Tom Ford booked me for Gucci and my whole life changed overnight.

Why I decided to start a fashion brand

Models typically only have five good years in the industry, so I remember the whole time I was modeling, even though I was working so hard, I was like, “What am I going to do next?” I have a passion for creating things that don’t exist, whether that’s ethically made jewelry or wearable maternity clothing. I created Bumpsuit on my third pregnancy by total accident, because I needed products to wear that made my life easier. At the time, I was waking up at 5 A.M., breastfeeding three times a night, dropping my other kids off at school, coming home, faceplanting, and doing it all over again. I asked a manufacturer to make me custom jumpsuits in a four-stretch fabric, and I would wear them every day, accessorizing them with a different boot, a different coat, a different bag. Then someone said to me, “You should actually make these.” I went home, trademarked the name, and the rest is history. I launched Bumpsuit two weeks before I gave birth, and it sold out on preorder.

Bumpsuit The Armadillo Baby Carrier

The Armadillo Baby Carrier

On expanding Bumpsuit’s product offerings

The Armadillo Baby Carrier is now our number one bestseller. It solves the problems of all the current baby carriers: it’s beautiful, but offers back support, a weather cover, pockets…it has everything you need. I want to continue to innovate in the maternity space, because there’s so much more to be done.

How I got into the podcasting game

Years ago, someone emailed us asking to return an item because of a pregnancy loss, and that broke my heart. It made me realize that, as a brand, we’re responsible for creating resources and supporting people through their maternity journey. In addition to The Village Podcast, we host a pregnancy and infant loss awareness retreat, because the postpartum experience really hasn’t received the attention that it needs. My goal is to support women through the most important transition of their life, with beautiful products that they are proud to wear.

The best advice for starting a business

My dad once told me to “sweep the floor of the company and then work your way up.” So basically do every job beneath you first. And you have to absolutely love it.

What’s next

Intimates! Women shouldn’t feel like they have to start wearing diapers just because they are pregnant.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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