Annette B.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to talk with Doreen Jensen, owner of Annette B., an adorable women’s fashion and maternity store. Located in the North End of Tacoma, WA, this charming boutique is gaining a following and a reputation as a must-see shop when visiting Seattle’s sister city.

Originally a designer for Nordstrom, Doreen opened Annette B. when she left to have a baby and focus on designing. She sold her own designs for a time, but after the birth of her second child, she phased out her own line and began stocking other designers.

The fashionable maternity store has been open since 2003, and it wasn’t long before Doreen knew that adding non-maternity gave her a special niche in the market. “Young women would come shopping for maternity with their pregnant friends and discover that there were items for them too,” Doreen said. “It’s also more convenient for gift-buying.”

The cute fashions on both sides of the store are handpicked by Doreen, who counts designers Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Alberta Ferretti, and Nanette Lepore among her favorites. And while the store is trendy, Doreen admits that Tacoma has its own pace. “We’re more laid back than the big cities, so we follow trends in a subtle way.” She laughs about stocking skinny jeans a year before they were popular in the South Sound region. “They were in every magazine, but it wasn’t until a year later, when I gave up and stopped ordering them, that women came in asking for them.” She learned her lesson and is now watching the streets for the boyfriend jean cut, which she is ready to stock when the trend finally arrives.

The store’s crowning jewel, however, is the maternity section. In a town with few fashion boutiques at all, Annette B. fills a need for the fashionable moms-to-be in Tacoma. And Doreen knows a lot about maternity wear. She’s quick to share the best maternity jeans brands (Olian and Maternal America), best selling item (nursing bras), and the one must-have item that works for everyone (the Bella Band, which will extend the life of your regular favorite jeans until you have to get maternity jeans).

If you don’t live in Tacoma, you can still snag some of Doreen’s cute finds – the recently launched Annette B. website has everything that is sold in the store.

Gift ideas for expectant mothers:

1. Hooter Hiders. "These are great if you know the mother plans on nursing," Doreen claims. Lots of cute prints available.

2. Trumpette socks. "Once baby has arrived!" (Sold in store).

3. Tummy Honey Cream. "Aids in the reduction of stretch marks." All skin care coming to the website soon. Meanwhile, available in store.

Thanks, Doreen! You're a great resource for Tacoma residents and online as well! For locals and visitors, the store is located at 2712 N. 21st St.