Ulla Popken Deals It all began in 1880 when Johann Popken founded the Popken Textile Company in the town of Hameln on the banks of the Weser River in northern Germany. The family business operated until 1960 when Johann's son Karl Friedrich Popken was forced to lease out the company on a long-term basis due to ill health. Eight years later, Karl's son Friedrich and his wife Ursula (Ulla), young parents of a baby daughter, continued the family's tradition in textiles by opening a shop in Oldenburg called "Mami and Baby," specializing in maternity and baby wear.

By 1978, the business had blossomed into what would become a nationwide chain of retail maternity shops. The first three stores opened in Bremen, Hannover, and Hamburg in 1978 quickly followed by more. From there, the business expanded into the mail order market, initially operating from the attic of the Popken family home in Rastede. With the start of franchising operations in 1984, the company became the market leader in maternity wear. However, this tale of accomplishment and expansion was only the beginning of a greater success story, discovered only by chance.