Style is a family affair for the Burresses

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, June 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The words “maternity” and “style” can be synonymous.

That was the thinking behind a fashion line created by Tiffany Glenn Burress. The New Kensington native and wife of Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress had a hard time finding chic apparel during her first pregnancy.

And when those same what-to-wear frustrations came around during the nine months before their second child was born, she decided to give other pregnant women a viable clothing choice.

“Women who are expecting can look fashionable too,” says Burress, 35. “I have always paid attention to fashion and fashion trends, and I love fashion. I can't tell you how many times I was working and had events to go to and had nothing appropriate to wear. Pregnancy doesn't have to mean sacrificing your sense of style. I really wanted to start this line when I was pregnant with my first child, but I couldn't find the time. The second time around, I told myself it was going to happen. I was going to start this maternity line.”

Burress recently launched Joiful Maternity. The mom and full-time lawyer created a line of dresses, tops, leggings and pants that are versatile enough to be dressed up or dressed down.

Dresses start at $66 and tops at $36. The line provides pregnant women the opportunity to wear elegant clothing while staying within a budget, Burress says.

“When women are pregnant, we still want to feel attractive and look fashionable,” she says. “And with the lifestyles of women today, we are on the go a lot — even during pregnancy.”

Her pieces can be worn after the baby is born, as well, especially during the time women are working on losing the extra weight.

Burress, a graduate of Duquesne University law school, works for Dario, Yacker, Suarez & Albert in New Jersey, where she lives with the couple's children — Elijah Alexander, 6, and Giovanna Joi, 3.

The company name came from Burress' middle name, Joi, and is a combination of the “joy” experienced during pregnancy.

Having a law background has been helpful in starting the business, she says, especially when reviewing the contracts.

She sought out design help from Mychael Knight, Lifetime's “Project Runway” contestant-turned-popular-designer. She likes his style and his taste in clothes.

She plans to expand the line every year. Currently, it's available online, but she hopes to be selling in stores soon, including in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh is my hometown, so I would love to sell my line here,” Burress says.

Starting a business as the wife of an NFL athlete or coach is not really different than any other wife who owns a business, says women's fashion designer Kiya Tomlin, whose husband, Mike, is the Steelers coach. There are many professions where husbands work crazy hours.

“Maybe a difference is that for most people, sports is their recreation, their pastime, so they are very interested, knowledgeable and excited about our husbands' work,” Tomlin says. “Being married to that presents a bit of a challenge not to lose ourselves in all of the excitement by becoming an extension of our husbands' success.”

The sense of accomplishment that comes from running your own business is rewarding in that it is a way for the wives to retain their own identity, says Tomlin, who is in the process of opening a boutique in July in Indigo Square in East Liberty.

“The example we are setting for our children, not just demonstrating how we, too, are chasing our dreams, but also the family sacrifices and contributions that allow us to be able to do it, are invaluable lessons for them,” Tomlin says.


Plax puts his best foot forward

Next time you see Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress take a look at his feet. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound athlete most likely will be wearing socks other than the team's black-and-gold color scheme.

”I've been collecting socks for years now,” Burress says via email. “I just basically bought all the designs that were out. I got tired of buying other people's socks. I got a plan to make my own.”

The Plaxico Burress Luxury Sock collection is inspired by what the athlete sees. Prices start at $24 online and the socks are in some better department stores nationwide.

The collection caters to the fashion-conscious man. The colorful, modern art-inspired designs can be mixed and matched in seemingly unlimited combinations.

“Wherever I am at, I take pictures of stuff,” he says. “It might not be the exact thing I take a picture of, it might just be a concept of what I like. I give them to my designer and say what I am looking to put together. It might take us two or three times to get it, but I basically just want to do something different than stripes and polka dots.”

His wife, Tiffany Glenn Burress, says she often visits her husband's sock drawer.

“It is cool because he has always been a sock person,” she says. “I think it's a great idea. I always coordinate my socks with what I am wearing and now when I want some new socks, I go to his sock drawer to get a pair.”


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