December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Duds for the diaper set

By Nicole Grasse, T.J. Becker

Editor in Chief

Part Martha Stewart, part Instyle, Babystyle.com features clean lines, chic apparel and a playful spirit.

The online boutique is the brainchild of Laurie McCartney, a former Disney executive who found traditional markets too fragmented for busy moms-to-be. What pregnant woman wants to run to one store for a bassinet and another for maternity blouses? McCartney launched Babystyle in July, bringing stylish baby gear and maternity apparel under one virtual roof.

The Web site sidesteps the expected from the beginning with its pale green-and-lavender color scheme (instead of predictable blues and pinks). Maternity apparel is presented in groupings-a strategy that not only helps the hopelessly uncoordinated but also boosts sales. The site partners with Fit Pregnancy for some of its editorial content, and supermodel Cindy Crawford signed on this fall to be Babystyle’s celebrity spokeswoman.

Liz Leonard, senior analyst at Gomez Advisors, says Babystyle is a niche player that provides a comprehensive product and service. The site scores extra points for its gift registry, “an essential tool” for its audience. “When it comes to newborns, there’s a real immediacy that people feel for sending gifts,” adds Leonard.

Stayed tuned for more innovation from eStyle, Babystyle’s parent company. McCartney’s business plan calls for four more sites that revolve around the parent and growing child.

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