Kelly LaChance-Guertin may laugh when she says she’s only able to manage running her professional and family lives by not sleeping, but hearing the young mother and business owner detail all she does makes it sound almost plausible.
“My day has 30 hours in it. I think that’s the magic,” LaChance-Guertin said.
LaChance-Guertin has owned Bellani Maternity, a shop in South Kingstown catering to expectant moms and new families with products, gear, services and classes since 2006.
Embracing a career dedicated to mothers, babies, toddlers and families, however, has been in her blood, she says, much longer.
The now-32-year-old Rhode Island native held onto her dream and earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Rhode Island College in 2002.
The achievement came at the same time as a couple others, as she married and gave birth to her first child, a son, in 2001.
Needing a steady job with benefits, LaChance-Guertin turned to elementary school education and taught fifth grade at the now-closed Sunrise Academy in Scituate, which she saw as a natural connection to her training and which allowed her to spend time with children as they learned new things.
She also became certified as a birth doula – an instructor who provides support to women in labor – and childbirth educator with Doulas of North America, working through Women & Infants Hospital in Providence.
When Sunrise Academy closed about 2 1/2 years into her time there, LaChance-Guertin continued her doula and childbirth coaching work and gave birth to two daughters.
When she started thinking there would be great reception to creating a space where pregnant women, new parents and young families could come to connect with each other and take pre- and post-childbirth classes, the idea for Bellani Maternity was born.
LaChance-Guertin started the business with her friend, Shannon Giorgio, after discussing the idea in a parking lot of their children’s preschool. LaChance-Guertin’s husband, Paul Guertin, named the store with a play on the Italian words for beautiful (bella) and years (anni).
Giorgio left Bellani Maternity in October 2011 to pursue a career as a nursing assistant.
Before she left, the two decided to add a retail component to their plan to offer customers a one-stop shop for all things related to new family life.
LaChance-Guertin said she and her staff have been able to both create a community for new and expectant parents while offering quality, easy-to-use products.
They offer things customers can’t get anywhere else.
Bellani Maternity has classes in childbirth, breastfeeding, baby yoga, prenatal yoga, baby-food making, first aid, art, music and more.
The greatest success is measured by repeat customers who, as their children outgrow the store that LaChance-Guertin said will remain dedicated to the early-child years, introduce other new families to Bellani Maternity.
She credits her ability to do all this to a supportive husband and a staff she says loves her business as much as she does.
“We live in the cliché that it takes a village,” she said. “Bellani signifies that these are the great years of life and we try to help people make that happen.” •