After helping design Mustangs and Tauruses for Ford Motor Co., Bob Monahan has achieved more recent success with a different sort of four-wheeled icon: the UPPAbaby stroller.

After helping design Mustangs and Tauruses for Ford Motor Co., Bob Monahan has achieved more recent success with a different sort of four-wheeled icon: the UPPAbaby stroller.

As Monahan's year-old Rockland start-up UPPAbaby seeks to become the next ``it'' stroller for striver parents, celebrities from Brooke Shields to Jennifer Garner have been spotted wheeling the $600 status symbols around trendy neighborhoods from the Hamptons to L.A.

``We really wanted to do a higher-end American brand that brought in some of the functionality of the European brands,'' Monahan said. ``But we made it simple, almost so you don't need instructions.''

Since its start-up in September 2006, UPPAbaby has convinced 119 stores across the country to carry its lightweight, folding strollers. It also sells its two models, the $600 Vista and $99 G-Lite, on its Web site.

UPPAbaby is on pace for nearly $1.3 million in sales in 2007, and Monahan said revenues could double next year based upon the company's rising profile.

Monahan, 43, and his wife Lauren, 35, run UPPAbaby from a loft-style workspace in the former E.T. Wright shoe factory building in Rockland. The couple, who live in Norwell, met while working at Reebok International in Canton, where Lauren worked as a licensing manager and Bob worked in product development.

Bob Monahan later took jobs at The First Years, the baby supply manufacturer that had been based in Avon and is now based in Stoughton, and Canton-based child car seat manufacturer Safety 1st. At Safety 1st, where he worked as an engineering and marketing director, he was placed in charge of stroller division.

As pricey strollers such as the $300 Maclaren hit the market and ``Sex and the City'' put the $700 Bugaboo stroller on the map, the potential of the upscale baby-gear market became clear.

The Monahans saw an opportunity to position UPPAbaby as an American alternative to the Dutch Bugaboo and British Maclaren products.

``We saw a lot of bells and whistles that people didn't really need,'' Lauren Monahan said. ``The American consumer who has money to spend tends to be pretty smart about spending that money.''

Bob Monahan reviewed several stroller designs before buying the U.S. distribution rights to a design that was being manufactured for the European market. UPPababy strollers are manufactured in Asia and shipped to a warehouse in Brockton before being delivered to retailers.

Adjustable handles make pushing the UPPAbaby easier for people of different heights. An early customer, actress Brooke Shields, wrote to the Monahans thanking them for making a stroller comfortable for a six-foot woman to use. Other features were designed for convenience and portability: a lightweight aluminum design that enables the entry-level G-Lite umbrella stroller model to weigh a svelte 8.3 pounds, while the Vista clocks in at just under 25 pounds.

UPPAbaby has sent complementary models to celebrities, which has paid off in some free publicity for UPPAbaby. The company counts actresses Jennifer Garner and Mariska Hargitay among its satisfied customers. A friend sent a stroller to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after actress Bridget Moynihan gave birth to the couple's child in August.

Michael Silverstein, vice president of Boston Consulting Group, estimates the high-end baby gear market has grown 10 percent annually over the last decade and now totals $45 billion.

Two-income couples who postpone having their first child until their late 30s are driving demand for name-brand baby gear, Silverstein said.

``They love that baby and want him and her to have the very best life possible,'' Silverstein said. ``We call it the 'prince and princess' syndrome.''

For now, the Monahans say the business has room to grow in its current location. UPPAbaby has seven full-time employees, including a design consultant who will probably begin working full-time as business grows, Bob Monahan said.

``This business is word of mouth,'' he said. ``If (stroller customers) are going to spend more than $300 or $400, they're going to be aware of us. A year ago, that wasn't the case.''

Steve Adams may be reached at sadams@ledger.com.