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From Air Force Medic to Maternity Trailblazer

From Air Force Medic to Maternity Trailblazer

Caitlyn Schollmeier is building a birthing industry empire and changing the retail landscape of Hendersonville.

Among the many business endeavors on which Snoop Dogg has made his mark, maternity wear may not immediately come to mind. But, for Caitlyn Schollmeier, the rapper and entrepreneur gave her the unlikely nudge toward an industry she didn’t realize she wanted to enter. 

Awaiting the birth of her twins while on bedrest in the hospital, Schollmeier sent her family and friends a video of her participating in a Snoop TikTok trend. It just so happened she was wearing a birthing gown she had designed while awaiting her due date. “I did it on Tik Tok because I didn’t know how to do it anywhere else like an editing app or something. And, then, I ended up accidentally posting it publicly instead of privately,” Schollmeier said.

“I had no followers. I had no presence online whatsoever. I never intended to have a presence online. But I woke up after my viral videos went off with 165,000 followers overnight. And then I was like, Okay, well, I’ve got to decide, do I want to start a company? Do I want to be an influencer? Do I want to pursue this? Or do I want to just leave it? I’m not the kind of person to walk away from a potential opportunity.” 

Within a matter of days, Schollmeier and her husband, Matthew, formed a business and began a first run of gowns under the label Lila using the last of their savings. Fueled by her surprise TikTok stardom, the online store quickly became a full time job for the new mother as she gained over 900,000 followers on social media and sold more than 50,000 gowns. Now, Schollmeier is celebrating a new milestone with the opening of Lila’s first brick-and-mortar store, located at The Streets of Indian Lake in Hendersonville.

Much of the appeal of Lila’s gowns lies in their fusion of the practical and fashionable. While they offer complete coverage in the delivery room, they also open fully at the stomach and chest to make medical care and skin-to-skin contact between mother and child easier.  More importantly, they resemble a loose-fitting dress not out of place at a summer BBQ, a style that makes the isolation of the hospital stay a little less daunting. “Most of the stuff, it’s a hospital gown, but with flowers on it instead of the regular design,”  Schollmeier  said. “Women don’t want that. They want something that’s going to give them the coverage that they need. It’s going to be functional and accessible. But it’s also going to make them feel beautiful, comfortable, strong.”

While Schollmeier never set out to be at the forefront of maternity wear, her past lives in a host of adjacent fields prepared her for this moment. Originally from California and adrift after high school, Schollmeier enlisted in the Air Force as a medic. “I spent some time rotating through all the different spots and realizing that I hated the medical field because it was a lot of pessimism, and people have to kind of distance themselves from their patients in order to take care of sick kids and people who are dying,” Schollmeier said.

It wasn’t until she was stationed in Germany at an OB-GYN clinic that she found her calling. “I realized that there is one part of the medical field where people are healthy, and things are happy. One of the most amazing parts of life is bringing a baby into the world and growing your family. And so it was like a lightbulb went off and I was like, ‘I’m going to be a midwife.’ I decided when I was 18.”

Schollmeier spent the next ten years taking every opportunity to become the best clinician she could, including stints as a doula and volunteering with the Homeless Prenatal Program. As she cycled through the positions related to her intended field, she began developing the initial ideas that would lead to the creation of Lila’s signature gown and offering it to her doula clients. “You go into the hospital to have a baby and you put a hospital gown on and you've got the IVs hooked up and the monitors hooked up,” Schollmeier said. “You feel like a patient. You don't feel like just a regular person, a healthy person that’s doing something that healthy people do.”

After a rejection from The University of California, San Francisco’s midwifery program, Schollmeier decided to take the time to start her own family while revisiting her childhood goal of winning a state beauty pageant when the opportunity arose. Not only was she crowned Mrs. California, but she went on to claim the title of Mrs. USA in 2020. The event’s COVID delays also led her to become the first pregnant woman in history to win a pageant and provided a platform to further discuss the flaws in the maternal health system that would influence her business model. “The impetus for a lot of the successes I've had and the things that I've done has actually come from rejection,” Schollmeier said. “Trying to become a midwife, that path wasn't easy.”

As Lila gained an international following, Schollmeier contemplated a move to Middle Tennessee when Vanderbilt accepted her into its midwifery program as a Bass Miltary Scholar. Viewing the Nashville area as a balance between the cultures of California and her husband’s homestate of Illinois as well as Arkansas, where she was stationed for much of her military career, she felt ready to launch Lila’s brick-and-mortar era. “I think it would be great for Lila to become more than just a place that provides birth gowns or clothes for maternity. I think it’d be nice for it to be a whole sort of resource hub. We have a childbirth classroom. We’re going to teach childbirth classes here. I’ll be a midwife by this time next year, and I’m a labor and delivery nurse now and a childbirth educator. I want to pull those pieces together.”

As Lila’s grand opening over St. Patrick’s Day weekend proved, Schollmeier has already begun fostering a local maternity community through in-store events like a swaddling competition hosted by the brand Swaddelini and consultations with doulas specializing in postpartum issues. She also helped bring LittleOne.Care to the store for the unveiling of the Elora, a baby monitor that uses A.I. technology to aid in infant development. “Caitlyn expressed interest in our vision to enhance the well-being, safety, and happiness of babies and expectant mothers—offering peace of mind to parents,” Ami Meoed, LittleOne.Care co-founder and CMO, said. “Together, Lila and LittleOne.Care are working to empower parents throughout their journey to parenthood and beyond.”

For Schollmeier, Hendersonville served as the ideal location because of its melding of Nashville’s cosmopolitanism and easily accessible rural areas that has attracted younger families in droves. Once known as the offshoot of upper-crust sprawl from Madison that served as the incubator for Taylor Swift, the city has slowly transformed into a distinct part of the Greater Metro area. A few years ago, the spot that now houses Lila was the location of a Rack Room Shoes, just another national chain store gussied up in a premiere “Lifestyle Center” in a city lacking a historical downtown. But, postpandemic, a host of small businesses has reclaimed the property, including collectible store Replay Toys and GingerBean, a local children’s shop that dovetails with Lila’s customer base.  

Not one to take on a single challenge at a time, Schollmeier had her third child a few weeks ago as plans for Lila’s grand opening materialized, yet another reason why she’s so passionate about growing Hendersonville’s maternity community. “We want to be a place where people can come and feel supported. Where they can learn and feel just like a little less alone in their pregnancy. That’s how we started with these dresses,” Schollmeier said. “A cute piece of clothing is supposed to kind of make people feel like they had a little bit more control over their journey to parenthood.”

Visit Lila at 300 Indian Lake Blvd in Hendersonville or online at