Browsing Category

Brand Spotlight

Brand Spotlight, Lifestyle

Eva of Happily Eva After Makes Room For Bebe

October 6, 2016
eva martino

Instagram has continuously been a source of inspiration for us. All of the beautiful images that are put up every minute, gives us an endless amount of beauty on our feed. The reality of it all, though, is that the most beautiful interiors put together by bloggers, the stunning still lives of makeup and clothing that seems so effortless, probably takes at least an hour to get that perfect shot #forthegram. We partnered with Fisher-Price and their collaboration with Jonathan Adler, to see what goes on in our favorite mamas-to-be’s homes as they’re getting ready to make room for bebe. 

Eva Amurri Martino is the sassy funny mama from Happily Eva After. Already having a toddler, she knows that the house gets messy, piles of laundry to be folded, toys sprawled around the floor, and lets not forget what a mess Cheerios are when that box gets put into the wrong hands. From lived-in home, to getting ready for company, we know how some baby items are a total eye sore. That’s why new mamas are so happy about the new Jonathan Adler Crafted By Fisher-Price Collection, as the sleek lines and bold prints suit any camera-ready home. Scroll down to see some of Eva’s before and after shots, and read our interview on how this mama is prepping for her new baby boy while having to go through a complete remodel of her new home.

We’d love to see how you get ready #forthegram. Join the #MakeRoomForBebe conversation by using the hashtag on your BEFOREs and AFTERs.

eva martino

before

eva martino

after

You just finished a big renovation. Congrats! On the blog you call yourself a renovation “virgin”. Hilarious! If your best friend was about to do a similar renovation what nuggets of knowledge would you share with her to be sure she had a good experience?

Yes! There were so many things I learned during the process– which was especially interesting since I was pregnant during the entire renovation.  I wrote a blog post about my best renovation advice, but a few nuggets might be to do tons of style research (I love Pinterest and decor magazines for this), plan ahead and budget (I created budget spreadsheets for both renovation costs and design costs), and go with your gut! At the end of the day, it’s so important to really LOVE the elements of your home.  Make sure you’re choosing things because you are obsessed with them, not because they’re trendy!

eva martino

I believe that true elegance is measured as much by people’s ability to feel at home and at ease in your space as much as it is by actual decor elements.

Anything you wished you’d known before you started?

I wish I had been able to renovate without the ticking clock of expecting a baby and all the stresses of nesting and moving my family cross-country.  That said, I think it inspired me to make decisions quickly and that’s definitely a plus when it comes to moving the design process along!

As a mama to one and soon to be two, what are some things that are really important to you when designing your space that you might not have thought of before having kids?

One of the major things I learned after baby number one was introducing baby “stuff” in to your home in a way that makes sense for YOU.  For Marlowe, we had an adorable playroom set up, but it was upstairs in a tucked away area of the house and we NEVER used it.  It was such a waste.  Instead, we were constantly shuttling toys and bouncers etc down to our living room and kitchen where we actually like to hang out.  Now I’m more savvy about creating fun AND chic family spaces that speak to everyone’s needs.

eva martino

Since you were renovating while pregnant, you’re lucky enough to design the nursery to just your liking. What was your inspiration for the room? Where did you find the best ideas?

My kids’ rooms were the design challenges that I was most excited about in our new home! Once I knew I was having a boy, it was so easy for me to decide on the nursery. I wanted something graphic and cool, that wasn’t too “babyish”.  I want his room to work for him long after the baby phase! I found a wallpaper from Flat Vernacular that I flipped for, and styled the entire nursery around it.  I must say, it’s currently one of my favorite rooms in the house.

You love bold prints and color. Do you plan to carry this through to the nursery and baby gear?

There are definitely quite a few prints in Baby Boy Martino’s room! Our family room is filled with color and prints as well, I find them to be so energizing and joyful.  I definitely favor more graphic and bold baby gear because it fits in seamlessly with my decor!

We’ve all swooped laundry out of the way or quickly stuffed things in the closet to get a good picture. What’s the funniest thing you’ve done to “get the shot” #forthegram?

Well, these days, I have the baby bump to contend with as well, not just a messy house! The funniest thing recently was actually reaching behind my body with one hand to hold a fistful of fabric so my waist looked more defined…I need all the help I can get right now.  Ha! But the crop feature is also always your friend.  It’s amazing how perfect a picture can look when the mess is nicely cropped out!

eva martino

 

How would you describe your home style? How does the Jonathan Adler Crafted By Fisher-Price piece complement your style and the decor of your home?

I would describe my home style as comfy contemporary. The bones of my home are pretty traditional, but I like invigorating it with more youthful, fun style using color, pattern, and texture.  I think our homes should be cozy but also not take themselves too seriously– and I believe that true elegance is measured as much by people’s ability to feel at home and at ease in your space as much as it is by actual decor elements. I love that the Jonathan Adler Crafted By Fisher-Price pieces are as functional as they are stylish.  The wood accents are so chic and lend the pieces that mid-century modern vibe that Jonathan Adler is known for– and make them look ultra luxe.  The animal accessories are so cute, too!! And the overall feeling of the pieces are adorable and vibrant without being cutesy– it’s a really nice design balance.  They keep babies’ well being in mind while also accounting for the fact that parents don’t stop loving beautiful things just because they become parents! I’ve been a fan of Jonathan’s for years, and I’m so relieved he has partnered to join the baby gear movement.

What have you found to be really helpful to organize all your baby gear and toys to make your home feel like you?

I’m all about storage!  It’s so important to have a place to put everything that looks chic in your space.  In our new home, we created a family room off of the kitchen that is as much a restful respite for us as it is a place for children to explore and learn.  I had built-in toy bins custom made for the space so that all of our kids toys can be put away easily at a moment’s notice.  They still inject a great vibrant color story in to the space but I don’t want my guests tripping over a doll stroller.  At least not after a couple cocktails!

eva martino

Your very stylish friend is pregnant and designing her dream nursery. What are the things you would tell her that she wouldn’t otherwise think about before becoming a mama?

The nursery needs to be all about comfort– FOR YOU.  I tell every mama I know to really invest in a great rocker or glider…because she will be spending the majority of her life sitting in it for those first six months or so!  Babies need very little, and they don’t care how “cute” their space is– but you do!  Choose things you love.  When investing in furniture or decor pieces, make sure they’re things that can grow with your child without the need to buy more or different as soon as they are out of that infant stage.

When you have a new baby, there are lots of people stopping by to see the new little one. You have 5 minutes until people come over. What are some style tricks that you would recommend to quickly get a piece of your house in shape?

By the way, I’m a huge fan of a “Sip And See”– a party where you organize for everyone who wants to visit with the baby to come over for cocktails and snacks on the same afternoon.  This way you organize one party instead of constantly hosting.  It’s a lifesaver!  However, if I need to whip my house in to shape quickly, cleaning off the surfaces is key.  Put everything unsightly (I’m talking to you, breast pump, burp cloths, wipes, diaper cream) in a basket, bin, or closet, and then put out a beautiful tray with a pitcher of iced tea or lemonade, some pretty glasses, and a lit candle.  Fluff the couch pillows, turn the TV off, and put some ambient music on.  I also am a huge fan of long, flowy kaftan dresses for postpartum visits.  They are so flattering to still-swollen mama bodies, and feel as cozy as a nightgown.  They also make you look like a domestic goddess, and often have deep-V fronts for easy breastfeeding.  Yes, please! I favor ones from Rachel Pally and Tory Burch.

eva martino

If you want to see more of Eva, you can check out her her blog, Happily Eva After and her Instagram.

ADVERTISEMENT

Photos by Stephanie Elliott

Brand Spotlight, Business

Why Your Kid Will Run To The Mailbox Everyday

September 14, 2016
pipsticks

Maureen Vasquez, mama of 4 under 4, used to be a graphic designer, but now she is using those powers for the greater good… STICKERS. Created on the base of keeping her kids busy and artistic, Pipsticks is an international subscription sticker club where everyone in the world can now enjoy the gift of stickers!

pipsticks

  1. How did you get the idea to launch a subscription sticker company? 

I was a graphic designer with a background in brand management and had always been interested in having my own business. A few years ago, we were invited to join one of those sticker club chain letters. As a child of the 80’s, I couldn’t say no. But unfortunately, like all chain letters, it was a bust. It took loads of time and energy to find friends, write letters, enclose stickers, address envelopes, find stamps (oh, f’ing stamps!!).

Nothing happened for three months and finally, my kids received one measly response – it came in a plain white envelope and had one little sheet of stickers inside. Though frustrating for me, they went absolutely bananas crazy over that one sheet of stickers waiting in our mailbox. Inspired, I created Pipsticks after looking for a sticker subscription and coming up empty. At Pipsticks, we take the headache out of sticker clubbing and promise a monthly return that is easy and awesome.

The most amazing thing is that we now have two clubs – one for kids and one for sticker loving adults! Apparently sticker love is blind when it comes to age!

pipsticks

  1. How do connect with your customers and get the word out?

    We go to this shopping event called ShopUp – we’ve been in London and in LA. As an online biz, it’s great to actually connect with customers face to face. The buzz at the events is always fantastic, and it’s so fun to people watch. Each location has been totally different – all cool moms but each region with its own edge. At this point it’s kind of like camp – lots of the vendors have been to previous events and live all over the world. It’s awesome to get together to catch up over tables of beautiful hair bows and drool worthy toys. It’s also the only place where I’ve found myself checking out kids for fashion inspiration, haha!

pipsticks

  1. What do you hope Pipsticks accomplishes?

Pipsticks is about so much more than stickers. I’ve set up the company to bring simple joys into people’s lives. Whether that joy comes from re-living your own childhood obsession with stickers vicariously through your kids, seeing them freak out over stickers in the mailbox, or having five minutes to really taste that coffee in the morning or cold beer at the end of a long day while your kids are happily occupied with stickers is what it’s all about. I hope Pipsticks reminds lots and lots of people how easy it can be to get excited over something as simple as stickers and mail.

  1. What’s your happy place?

Saturday night, anticipating the next morning (Sundays are my days to sleep in!).

  1. You have 4 kids under 4, how do you get any work done? 🙂

I’m married to an awesome guy who is super involved and we split things 50/50. We work together and move in and out of the parenting as one unit. At the moment, our offices are run out of a cottage behind our house, so we don’t have to waste time commuting and can feel totally present (dipping in and out of the kids’ days), despite having a full work day. I’ve also got a great pair of headphones to drown out the sound of kids coming from outside, haha.

It’s difficult to stay on top of customer service and social media while parenting. Though I hate to be attached to my phone when I’m with the kids, I do have to check on things every hour or so. Not ideal but necessary. I work 3-4 nights a week after the kids go to bed (I can’t let myself sit down on the couch after at night unless I’ve determined it will be a night off or it’s game over and I’m watching The Americans – I’m addicted!).

And, I don’t beat myself up. Something really does have to give if you have kids and run a business (or have kids OR a business). I don’t sleep as much as I’d like, I haven’t exercised in a really long time, and I’m in desperate need of a facial ,etc, but this is what I need to do to build our family business and it’s not forever (I hope). If I didn’t absolutely love what I’m doing, there’s no way I’d be so happy about doing it (but hello, millions of stickers!).

P.S. Pipsticks will be a part of the ShopUp by Babyccino Kids event September 18th & 19th. Come shop the 40 different booths, while your kids enjoy a plethora of activities and lets not forget all of the delicious food vendors! Find out more about the ShopUp event  here.  

Calling all crafters, download this printable sticker card template here.

Advice, Brand Spotlight, Business, Contributors

How To Throw A Bash For Your Brand On A Budget

August 25, 2016
IMG_9662

Amanda Blakley is a travel writer and now entrepreneur with her new baby garment line, Petits Genoux, where she married the old-fashion styles of our ancestors with a modern-day twist and we are so in love. Read below as she shares her advice on how to throw a bash for you brand on a budget and some adorable photos of her own event. 

Petits Genoux

Looking to amp up your brand exposure in a fun and interactive way? Why not create an authentic experience that brings your company to life in a live setting? We spend so much time and energy these days building our online communities, but what about our off-line community? Not just our “followers”, “friends” or “fans” passively observing our businesses from afar. Instagram is great for brand building and reaching new consumers, but sometimes old school human engagement, not the digital kind, is where it’s at! Let’s forget about reach, readership and interactions for a minute. Let’s try and reconnect with the people, places and things whom we ultimately create our products and services for.

We recently threw a simple (but chic) park playdate for our local friends and customers in Toronto. It gave us the opportunity to showcase our brand in an informal setting, get real-time feedback and put faces to the names of some of our best clients, accounts and future customers.

Petits Genoux

Here is a little tip-sheet on how you can do the same:

  1. Define your objective. do you want to sell product, introduce a new collection, spread the word about an exciting new service offering? No matter what it is, you need to determine the best way to showcase or communicate it, in a setting where your guests/customers will be most receptive to the message.Petits Genoux
  2. What’s your hook? I think it’s fair to say that many of us get invited to a lot of events. We’re busy, time-starved and quite frankly, slightly jaded, so in order to get a guest to RSVP and actually turn up at an event, it needs to have a hook or purpose more meaningful than just a rack of clothes for sale and some canapés on offer. Brainstorm an idea, theme or concept that adds substance and creativity to your event, in the spirit of your brand. Feature a local performer, a children’s choir, face painting, beat boxing, type-rope-walking – anything to elevate your event beyond just another shopping night or trunk show.
  3. Distill your brand to a couple sentences then work backwards to define what type of setting and activity would resonate most with your audience and potential customers. In the case of Petits Genoux, our main target audience is new and expecting mom’s. Where do they hang out on a gorgeous summer morning? The park. So we set out to jazz up their predictable daily outing and attempted to make it accessible, fun, entertaining and whimsical, all before getting their littles home for nap time. Siblings were invited to play in our teepee village, sip lemonade and eat popsicles, while babes-in-arms could easily be toted around while their moms perused our wares.
  4. Timing, as you know, is everything, and the same is true of when (and where) to host your gathering. Some lifestyle brands or products might have more success throwing an evening event. Or perhaps you might consider a chic breakfast or coffee break for those customers working a more traditional 9-5. The key is to find a time slot and activity that makes sense while also creating an element of anticipation for your guests.
  5. Get inspired. Pinterest is full of entertaining ideas, pick one and make it your own with little custom details that speak to your brand. Can you screen a must-see experimental film on the side of a building and sample your brand of popcorn while guests chill out on lawn chairs? Host an intimate dinner with a local chef pairing each course with your core brand values? The key is to create a concept that will help to harness the unique aspects of your brand or business that make it special while propelling your company or brand into the spotlight.

Amanda Blakley

Tourist | Entrepreneur | Adventurer

Petits Genoux

#LADYBOSS, Brand Spotlight, Business

Lindsey Boyd Of The Laundress Shares The Secret To A Perfectly Fresh Wardrobe

August 24, 2016
Lindsey Boyd, cofounder of the laundress with her kids

Lindsey Boyd met her cofounder, Gwen Whiting, while studying Fiber Science at Cornell University. Post graduation, they’ve come to realize they spent WAY too much on dry-cleaning that didn’t even work. They searched to develop a solution and The Laundress was born. Save your dollars and your dresses by reading this interview.

 

You’re such an expert in fiber care! What are the worst three things people do to their clothes?

1-Dry clean too often

2-Put items in the dryer when they should be air dried

3-Use chlorine bleach
The Laundress Stain Solution

What is the top product you make that you think everyone should buy and why?

The Laundress Sport Detergent is the best product for removing odor, perspiration, and stains that stick to your workout clothing and other high performance fabrics.

There is nothing worse than thinking your sports bra is clean, and (much to your surprise) starts to smell bad before you have worked up a sweat!

What makes The Laundress so unique? What sets you apart from other cleaning products?

In addition to providing the product solutions, we also educate our customers on the proper care for their clothing and cleaning methods for their home. We provide the answers, as well as the product solutions for the best results.

There are so many institutionalized players working in fabric care. What was your biggest challenge breaking into the industry? Any smart marketing techniques you used? 

The Laundress is an experiential product. It needs to be used first for customers to see the benefits and compare results to other products. Therefore, the challenge lies with convincing people to believe that our products work without trying them. From a marketing perspective, social media has been instrumental in building a viral word-of-mouth community around the brand. Tapping into key players in that realm has really helped us effectively market the brand and get new customers. We know that once someone tries The Laundress, they will be completely hooked!

laundress

Your product was created as an alternative to dry cleaning. What are the advantages of using Laundress? Is dry cleaning bad for your clothing?

We know from our Fiber Science studies that most fabrics do not have to be dry cleaned. The issues lie more with the construction of the garment, so a silk blouse that says “dry clean” can be washed. We look at the fabric content of the item to determine if it can be washed or not. Most manufacturers say dry clean, because this takes the ownership and liability away from them regarding care. However, fabrics such as silk, cashmere, wool, and denim are all highly washable.

What’s your favorite part about owning your own business?

My favorite part is the ability to make things happen without any corporate hurdles or red tape. Gwen and I are hustlers! When we see something we want, we like to move quickly and that flexibility doesn’t happen within a large corporate structure.

Best career advice you’ve ever received?

If you are passionate, you will be successful.

How has your life changed since having kids?

My children enrich my life and make it so much more fun. I love being a mom and watching them grow up!

How do you manage your time with family vs. work as busy working mama? Do you have any ways that you maximize your family time or routines?

I am very big on making lists. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to get everything done. With children, there is so much to do at once,and that is the biggest struggle. The way I balance it all is that when I am with them, I am with them 100 percent. They have my full attention, and I know that those moments are quality times for us.

Part of being a mom is cleaning up all of the messes! Please tell us how to remove some tough ones like coffee or red juice? (we drink a lot of coffee at my house, and someone keeps giving my kids that red juice;))

The Laundress Clean Talk blog is full of “recipes” for removing kid stains (see link below from our Make Messes Campaign). I always have The Laundress Stain Solution, Wash & Stain Bars, and All-Purpose Bleach Alternative at the ready in case anything goes down. The Laundress Surface Cleaner is also a must-have for spills and painting-gone-wrong moments!

http://blog.thelaundress.com/wordpress/2016/06/27/summer-food-stains-dont-have-to-be-a-bummer-to-remove/

The Laundress, kids painting

Do you feel like your daughter is influenced by your work and being a working mama? Is she your little helper?

She loves hearing about what I do, and she loves using the products and (especially) smelling them. She has quite a nose on her. Her favorite scent is Classic. She is also a big fan of coming to my office to visit everyone and “working” at my desk.

What’s your favorite mommy and me activity?

I love painting with my kids, because that is an age appropriate activity right now where both kids can get involved. We also have a lot of fun with dance parties, which sometimes involve dressing up!

Three Pearls of Wisdom

  • More life; less digital: Spend less time on email, social media, and behind the lens capturing the perfect picture, and enjoy what is in front of you. This is something I am working on as I love all that is at my fingertips with my iPhone and taking pictures of the kids, but I need to just enjoy them and all of our special moments.
  • Invest in yourself: You have to make scheduling time for yourself a priority – especially when you have children. It is important to take up new hobbies, make time to work out, and go out to dinner with friends and date night with your spouse or partner. If you start slowly at one of the above you won’t lose yourself, and this leads to more personal happiness and your best self for your family.
  • Work hard, play hard: For me this means when I work, I am fully there and stay 100 percent focused, and when I am out of work mode, whether it’s with my children or on vacation with girlfriends, I am there completely.  This is how you stay balanced and centered. You just do one thing at a time and avoid overscheduling yourself, and all generally works out.
Baby, Brand Spotlight, Business, Design, Events, Shopping

Jonathan Adler Shares 5 Tips To Decorating Your Nursery

August 24, 2016
Jonathan Adler x Fisher Price

Jonathan Adler x Fisher Price

Earlier this week we celebrated the new Jonathan Adler Crafted by Fisher-Price collection of chic and modern baby gear, nursery furniture and decor, and the man behind them. The entire collection is so glam you’ll want to bring it out of the nursery and put it on display in any room. Jonathan’s black and white palette with pops of color is sophisticated yet playful and will go perfectly in a nursery or even your living room.

He gave us these 5 tips to decorating your nursery:

1. The main lighting fixtures should be something you want to live with forever- and make sure its dimmable. The table lamps are where you can be fun and irreverent.

2. Try to stick to a high contrast color palette. The people at Fisher-Price told me that kids respond to high contrast colors (like black and white) as much as I do.

3. Start with a good quality rug. I love Peruvian flat weaves. They are handmade by craftspeople in Peru and are soft durable and – and groovy.

4. You are going to spend a lot of time in the nursery so fill it with soft and squishy pillows and throws.

5. I’m a fan of warm and honey colored woods in the nursery. They look good now, and they’ll look good as baby grows

Jonathan Adler x Fisher Price

Jonathan answered all of our burning questions on how to make our nursery feel like a glamour oasis of style; think giraffes, sleek wood, and squishy pillows galore. What’s his go-to gift from the collection??? It’s also a mama fave – the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper.

 

Jonathan Adler

All of our lucky mamas got to select a piece from the Jonathan Adler Crafted By Fisher-Price collection to take home with them. You can check out the whole collaboration here, which is available for pre-order on Buy Buy Baby now!

Jonathan Adler x Fisher Price

We raffled off a slew of goodies from the collection including the gorgeous babygear plus a Jonathan Adler gift card to one lucky mama. Drum roll please… It’s Patricia Chang! Congrats mama!

Jonathan Adler x Fisher Price

While everyone got even more beautiful with Glamsquad,  Laura Cattano  gave personal organization consultations, and Whealth & Co provided  healthy nibbles.

Jonathan Adler x Fisher Price
#STARTUPSTORIES, Brand Spotlight, Give Back

Allison Klein, On A Mission To Provide Every Child With The Opportunity To Play

August 15, 2016
Allison Klein, founder of Rose + Rex

Rose + Rex was created on the basis that creative play is key to child development. Allison Klein, teacher and founder of the toy company, not only wants to work towards the goal of creating awareness about the importance of imaginative play on development, she also wants to work to ensure that every child, regardless of circumstance, has the opportunity to play. 

Where did the name Rose & Rex come from?

Rose and Rex were two of my first students during student teaching who showed me firsthand how imaginary play leads to profound personal development.

Tell us about Rose & Rex. What is it all about?

Rose and Rex is a teacher-curated toy boutique that promotes play-based learning. We’re here to introduce people to the importance of open-ended play and challenge the assumption that learning is only achieved at a desk filling out worksheets. For young children, imaginative play is an innate tool they use to develop their cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills. Our inspiring collection of open-ended toys,which ranges from handmade blocks to eco-friendly puppets, and play tips help to promote skill building through play. We’re excited to help more parents use imaginative play to encourage learning.

How did you go from having an idea to actually having a brand? What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

The brand evolved around the fundamental idea that learning and play are deeply connected. The right toys matter. What a child plays with matters. We turned these values into a brand by curating a collection of high-quality, carefully constructed toys that promote skill building through play and by offering content that we hope inspires parents to live a play-based life with their children. Rose & Rex isn’t a toy store that was created to sell plastic things to parents, we aim to be a brand that offers materials and resources that enhance development through play.

In the beginning, the biggest obstacle was challenging perceptions about play and hearing those initial “no’s” and negatives. People constantly said things to me like “but do you sell toys that do things, like move or talk?” I had to explain that our battery-free toys actually promote deeper skill building because they give children control over the play and encourage engagement instead of passive entertainment.

Allison Klein, founder of Rose + Rex

Where are the toys made? What materials are they made out of? Are they eco-friendly?

We sell toys that are made from child-safe, eco-friendly materials, such as sustainably harvested woods, plant-based rubbers and natural dyes and paints. Our toys are made by artists (many mamas!), designers and small businesses. As a brand, we not only want to illuminate the importance of play, we also want to raise the standard of toys children play with, from how it engages them to what it’s made of.

Talk to us about Rose and Rex’s commitment to giving back.

Our brand was built on a social mission to provide every child with the opportunity to play. For every Rose and Rex purchase, we “play it forward” to other organizations dedicated to young people and the planet. We take a three-pronged approach to giving: monetary and product donations, volunteering our time, and providing mentorship and learning opportunities.

How  do you partner with brands to make your “play it forward” initiative work?

We choose to partner with brands or organizations that are focused on improving young children’s early development in a variety of ways. This means providing resources like toys, learning opportunities, and a healthy planet in which to grow. We’re a member of One Percent for the Planet and also partner with Second Chance Toys, a NYC-based nonprofit that rescues non-biodegradable plastic toys from landfills, refurbishes them, and donates them to children in need, which helps protect the planet and promote children’s right to play.

Allison Klein, founder of Rose + Rex

How does this program help to enhance development for kids living below the poverty line?

Play is important for all children at all socioeconomic levels. Nearly 22% of all children live in families below the federal poverty line. Many of these children do not have access to toys and play materials which can seriously hinder all aspects of development, from the cognitive to the emotional to the physical. Playing with toys helps children to develop their language skills, their social awareness and their motor abilities. It has been found that children without access to toys and play materials often do not develop these skills at the same rate as their peers. In addition, for many children facing the challenges of poverty play is the most important tool they have to emotionally process. In play children explore their feelings, work through fears and develop coping skills. If children do not have the opportunity to do this, it can lead to anxiety, stress and behavioral challenges.

What role does technology play on our kids as they grow? Is there an age we should allow them to interact with technology? How can we guide them away from it?

One of the things we’re excited about is that open-ended play is more important now than ever before. As our world becomes more digitally focused, the kind of toys that children play with in their early years truly matters. The best way to avoid digital-dependence, and encourage well-rounded development, is to provide a child with open-ended toys early on and continue to encourage imaginative play through their elementary school years. Open-ended toys provide active engagement over passive entertainment—a set of building blocks vs. a tablet, for example. We’re definitely not anti-technology, as its important for children to share common knowledge with their peers, otherwise they may feel isolated.

What is the best business advice that you’ve ever received? Do you have any wise words to share that you’ve learned along the way?  

One thing I’ve learned is the importance of flexibility. When we talk about early childhood learning and essential life skills at Rose and Rex, the skill of “perseverance” comes up a lot—that is, the willingness to try multiple solutions. It’s just as important when you’re an adult! You have to be flexible when challenges or unforeseen turns occur for the business and be willing to pivot, adjust and move forward.  

What are your top picks right now for babies? Toddlers?

For babies, we simply adore each of our hand-crocheted rattles, which are perfect for introducing their first type of play—sensory play. Another favorite is our Oli and Carol land-to-water floating boat and bug car because they’re made from plant-based rubber (and make bath-time a cinch!). The toddler years are when play really starts to take off as their imagination blossoms, so all of our toys are a welcome pick! The perfect toddler toy chest would include a set of building blocks for cognitive development, a transportation toy for physical growth, a few pretend pals for emotional and social learning, eco-friendly art materials to nurture creative expression, and a set of “manipulatives” for learning math concepts and inspiring pretend play.  

toys designed by Allison Klein, founder of Rose + Rex

Go visit the Rose + Rex store to get 10% off any purchase and a FREE tote bag, using the code HeyMama

#LADYBOSS, Brand Spotlight, Business, Interview

Helen Ficalora Is The Multitasking Mama That Leaves You Wondering How You Can’t Manage To Do More

August 12, 2016
Helen Ficalora, Breakers Motel, audi Q7

Helen Ficalora must have some amazing time management skills, because we still don’t understand how she is fully committed to her family, her motel in Montauk AND her jewelry business, and by fully committed we mean creating personal relationships with all the customers and clients she can. No wonder the press and celebs love her. 

Where did you grow up and what was that like?

I grew up on Long Island.  I spent the summers and lots of weekends year round in Montauk at The Breakers Motel, a wonderful place my family owns.  I loved being at the motel both as a child and an adult. I am answering this from my favorite cabin, which is on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

How did you first get into making jewelry?

I love jewelry! When I was a child, I made things from elements in nature- now I make things inspired by nature and still natural.  I took jewelry making in high school and then studied more when I was living in Olympia and raising my family there in the “winter” months.

In the early days of your jewelry business and well into your success you were still running Breakers.. answering the phone and taking reservations. What was this like for you?

Hectic! I loved everything I was doing.  I had amazing guests who stayed at the motel, started a boutique that introduced my jewelry and was a full-time mom all at the same time.

Helen Ficalora, Breakers Motel, audi Q7

“Once a door peaks open for you, hustle to make things happen.”

 

What was the community of women like that you were a part of at the motel/Montauk? How was and is community important in your life?

The woman who stayed with their families at the motel were fantastic, smart, strong woman who were creative and all started their own business.  I am still friendly with everyone it was a great network of supportive moms.

What’s been the best experience in your career so far? Thing you are most proud of and thing that has surprised you the most?

So many great things have happened for me as a result of believing that I could do work I loved and provide for my family.  How do you decide best moment?   The first magazine cover with my jewelry on it, two page story in PEOPLE magazine, being on Martha Stewart, Extra, tv shows and movies with my jewelry in them, meeting celebrities, having someone recognize my name when I handed them my credit card… or just hearing how my jewelry has made someone else’s life special.

Helen Ficalora, Diamond studed letter charm necklace HHelen Ficalora, Diamond studed letter charm necklace M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What advice would you give to aspiring jewelry designers?  

Love what do and do it with a joyful heart. That was the key for me.

Your jewelry is so personal and timeless. Are there any stories your clients have shared with you about their personal connection and stories with the jewelry?

Stories galore, they could fill a book.  My jewelry is part of multigenerational family experiences.  I feel so honored to be in some way part of so many lives.  From the delivery room calls for a new initial, to the first girlfriend’s necklace, to the bridesmaid gift, to the grandmother’s necklace.

You’ve said that in the beginning, your business really grew by word of mouth; people spotting your jewelry on someone and placing an order! Today your brand is all over the country with 6 stores  and online. How has the way your
brand’s growth changed or not changed?

 I have always tried to grow at a rate I could handle- running the motel, raising my sons.  Opening stores once my children were older and during the offseason for the motel, my business growth was at a personal pace. I enjoy close relationships with my customers. I love going into the stores where I get to meet people and hear the stories about how they found my jewelry.  There are still many personal referrals and with the internet our communities can widen.

 

Helen Ficalora Palm Beach, Florida Store

You’ve had so much press and a great relationship with the media, being featured in practically every magazine and tons of blogs. How did you develop this part of you business? Did you work with a PR company, or was it an organic process?

I would say my success in the press and in business is due to the kindness of others. Once a door peaks open for you, hustle to make things happen.

You live in places most people like to vacation, where do you head when you want to go away?

When I’m not at the beach, the next best place is the mountains.  Being in nature helps me feel grounded and peaceful.  

What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of running your own business?

Challenging- You are never out of school – there are always looming deadlines and responsibilities.  Rewarding- it is the best thing that ever happened to me- I am so happy to have the life I do and to have helped others along the way.

 

Helen Ficalora Audi Q7 Breakers Motel

 

Lifestyle photos by Stevi Sesin

@stevilou

#LADYBOSS, Brand Spotlight

How One Mom Went From Buying Bed Sheets To Being The First Fair Trade Certified Bedding Brand

August 10, 2016
Missy Tannen and daughter sophie at boll and branch factory in india

An incredible example to follow, Boll & Branch is the first Fair Trade Certified bedding brand EVER. How could you not be proud of that? Missy Tannen and her husband, Scott, started the company after going through the miserable task of buying bedsheets for themselves and couldn’t find the perfect one, so they made some! Read Missy’s interview to find out why she made her company Fair Trade, what it’s like to work with her husband, and some great entrepreneurial advice.

We hear you just launched a new kid’s collection? Tell us all about it.

We’re really excited about our new kids collection! We’ve used 100% organic cotton to create incredibly soft sheets for the little ones. The colors are designed to work with any bedroom, whether it’s a solid or our Seedling pattern (which was created with an original watercolor design, inspired by our logo).

Why was it so important to you to make Boll & Branch fair trade?

There are people behind every product we make. These hardworking men and women simply want to provide for their families and put food on the table. I couldn’t imagine creating a business that wasn’t Fair Trade Certified.
I believe in treating people the way you’d like to be treated yourself. It is very important to me to know that the people who are responsible for making the beautiful products we sell are paid fairly and treated well. I’m incredibly proud that Boll & Branch was the first bedding brand ever to be certified by Fair Trade USA.

How do you manage to have such a successful company, while being both fair trade and luxury at a fraction of the price?

The markups on bedding are incredibly high. So, streamlining the supply-chain and cutting out the markups and licensing fees enabled us to bring a product to market at a fraction of the price. We oversee our entire operation from the time the cotton is picked until a finished product is delivered to a customer’s front door. We have worked very hard to eliminate waste in that process and pass the savings on to our customers.

Missy Tannen and daughter sophie at boll & branch factory in india

How did your business model come to be? What made you want to be in this line of business?

A couple years back, my husband, Scott, and I were your average consumers renovating our master bedroom. We were changing from a Queen bed to a King size, so we needed new bedding. What should have been a fun and easy task, wound up being incredibly unpleasant and confusing. That’s when we decided to set out to make the best sheets that we could.

How did you transition from being teacher to being a business woman? How did that affect your kids?

I was an elementary school teacher prior to having children. Once I had our three daughters, I was a stay-at-home mom. The transition to working full-time was gradual, but since the beginning, our girls have been a part of creating Boll & Branch. They are there to sample new products that come in, measure packaging dimensions with me, look at different colors.  They’ve always been regulars in the office, and they feel so special being there to talk with and “help” everyone. Of course there are times when it doesn’t all work out perfectly, but overall, they feel the same pride in Boll & Branch that Scott and I do.

What’s your favorite part about running your own business?

My favorite part of running my own business is the flexibility that I have to be present with our daughters. I’m able to adjust my “in office” schedule based on what is going on with our family. There’s always time when the girls are sleeping to continue what I was working on during the day.

twins of Missy Tannen, cofounder of Boll & Branch
What do you value most in  life (besides you kids)?

I value my sleep! I’ve always needed a full night of sleep (and yes, as a child, I was one of the first to fall asleep at slumber parties!). When I wake up refreshed, then I feel good and can be the person that I strive to be.

What is the most important thing you want to teach your kids?

I want to teach our daughters that if you work hard for something, anything is possible.

What is it like working with your husband? What are each your roles at Boll & Branch?

A lot of people want to know what it is like working with my husband, Scott. I actually love working with my husband. We have poured our hearts and souls into starting our business, and it’s been neat to have someone to share it with. For us, there has been such a clear division of our strengths and roles. I am responsible for everything having to do with our products; from design, to production, to quality, to packaging and customer experience. Scott looks after the general business operations and marketing. It works for us, because we are each doing what we love. There’s no one that I would trust more than Scott to do what he is doing.

If you were to ask your kids what you do for a living what would they say?

You would get different responses depending on who you ask. Our older daughter, who has traveled to our factories in India with us, has seen first hand what we are doing, and the impact that it is having on the world. Our little twins would say that we make their sheets, and have a really cool office that has unlimited gummy snacks!

Missy Tannen and daughter sophie at boll & branch factory in india

“There are people behind every product we make. These hardworking men and women simply want to provide for their families and put food on the table. I couldn’t imagine creating a business that wasn’t Fair Trade Certified.”

What is your favorite mommy and me activity?

Every weekend, you can find my daughters and myself in pjs making a breakfast feast. We love being schedule-free, and taking our time to be together… and we make some pretty fun pancake shapes!

What advice would you entrepreneurs just starting out?

Be honest with yourself. In Boll & Branch, I have created a product, company and mission that I am genuinely passionate about. There are so many days when the pressures and stress of being an Entrepreneur make you want to crawl back into bed and hide under the covers. If you’re not truly passionate about what you’re doing, the pressures of the job may get the best of you. So, before you start make sure you truly have a passion for what you’ll be doing because that is what will drive you.

What have been the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest obstacle in starting Boll & Branch has been that I’ve condensed a career of textiles into the past three and a half years. I was completely new to the industry, so I’ve had a lot to learn. Being the “new kid”, I’ve had a million questions to ask. And once I get an answer, it leads me to the next question. I have been very fortunate to work with some incredible people along the way, and together, we’ve been motivated to make something new from scratch.

Best business advice you’ve ever received?

Always sweat the small stuff. Too often we hear people say, `Don’t sweat the small stuff.’ As an entrepreneur, you have to sweat the small stuff. It is the details that can often make the difference between those who succeed and don’t.

Missy Tannen, cofounder of boll & branch

 

 

 

With the code HEYMAMA, enjoy $50 dollars off of any order of $200 or more all month long

www.bollandbranch.com

Brand Spotlight, Business, Contributors

How Creative Play Makes Your Kids Smarter

August 5, 2016
rose&rex062316_0033

Young children radiate curiosity that’s waiting to be nurtured. Central to their early learning is the experience of imaginative play, the single most important tool for their overall development. Imaginative or creative play is open-ended, defined only by a child’s imagination; it’s not driven by results or pre-structured. Children instinctively use this type of creative play to foster the fundamental skills they need throughout their academic years and into adulthood, such as cognitive executive functions, literacy, physical coordination, emotional regulation, empathy and so much more. Yet playtime is being cut from children’s learning in an alarming way. Academic benchmarks have replaced open-ended exploration. A child’s performance is often judged on what he or she produces, rather than how he or she learns. More children are leading schedule-focused lives that resemble an adult’s.

rose&rex062316_0029

“Regular play is the antidote to a growing culture of stress, anxiety and academic or social pressures,” says teacher and play-based tutor, Allison Klein.  “Just ten minutes of play each day can help to support a child’s cognitive growth and promote relaxation.” Allison is the founder of teacher-curated toy boutique, Rose and Rex, which she created to start a conversation about why Play Matters. Check out her five tips to connect with your child while supporting their development through the joy of imaginative play.

rose&rex062316_0033

Choose open-ended toys and materials

We fill our Rose and Rex shop with inspiring open-ended toys so that each time a child plays, the experience supports their development. Open-ended toys actively engage, rather than entertain. They include toys and materials that can be transformed by a child’s imagination, personalized, explored and used in more than one way, such as building blocks, eco-friendly play dough, costumes, fabric scraps, and cardboard boxes or tubes. For example, a doll with a pre-designed expression or identity only tells one story, but an open-ended doll (Princess Anything Doll; $100) with no pre-determined expression allows a child to apply his/her own story and feelings. Because open-ended toys come to life in a child’s hands, they effortlessly encourage ingenuity and original thinking.

Creative play, Princess Anything Doll Rose + Rex

Join their play

If kiddo is putting on a puppet show, pick up a puppet (Nhocchi Hand Puppet; $25) and join the fun!. Young children learn how to play with others by first engaging in parallel play, which means playing next to someone separately. Sit next to your child and start creating your own block structure near them. Doing so will encourage conversation, collaboration and social learning. As they grow, continue to inspire open-ended play with this tried-and-true tactic: showing genuine enthusiasm. Studies reveal that when adults are excited about something (green beans! bedtime! homework!), children respond with more motivation. Let your child take you into their imaginary world and simply follow their lead.  
Creative play, Rose + Rex Nhocchi Hand Puppet

Be a ‘Block Star.’

A set of building blocks is one of the best open-ended materials for encouraging mathematical, scientific and artistic learning. Children are natural builders, and use blocks as both a construction tool and catalyst for dramatic play. Through block play, your young inquirer learns early math skills, including counting, sorting, classifying, equivalencies, part-to-whole relationships, and identifying shapes. Pick block sets (Tegu Block Pocket Building Set; $25)with different shapes and colors to help develop your child’s vocabulary. Talk with them about the block’s shape, size, and relationship to the other blocks, such as ‘The blue cylinder is on top of the red cube.”

Creative play, Rose + Rex tegu pocket prism

Ask Open-Ended Questions.

An open-ended question invites more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from your little one. Let’s say your child puts on an owl mask (Owl Mask; $35) and starts flying around the room. Use these great open-ended questions to enrich their learning and creative play, “How do you think it feels to fly?” or “What might a bird’s home look like?”, instead of close-ended questions like, “Do owls fly?” or “Is it fun to be an owl?” Open-ended questions inspire new play possibilities, open up important lines of communication and help cultivate your kiddo’s original thinking and self-expression.

Creative play, Rose + Rex Owl Mask

Create a literacy rich environment.

Creative play leads to storytelling. As children build a block castle, narrate a scene for their stuffed animals, or zoom their wooden car around the room, they’re creating stories. Encourage your young storyteller by offering a variety of children’s literature and keeping open-ended materials on hand for their next new narrative. Place a bowl with scraps of paper and pencils or crayons next to their play area (Food Fight , Really Big Coloring Poster; $31) —this will encourage them to organically add writing, illustrations or dialogue to their latest creation. So when your little one feels the urge to create “Danger!” sign for their dragon lair, they can do so effortlessly.

Creative play, Rose + Rex Food Fight Coloring Poster

 

Lifestyle photos by Mary Grace

Brand Spotlight, Travel

I’M AUDI! Beacause Sometimes You Need A Weekend Without Your Kids

August 1, 2016
heymamaXaudi-41-4

We were beyond excited to get behind the wheel of the 2017 Audi Q7 for our weekend in the Hamptons, and Audi made sure we arrived for our #StrongLikeAMama event with SELF at The Surf Lodge, in style. The event focused on teaching successful mamas how to better incorporate fitness into their lives, but don’t worry – we made sure to take the time to relax and enjoy ourselves. The Audi Q7 is the perfect car for working mamas on the run and seamlessly combines work and play; there was plenty of room for our amazing STATE Bag swag bags filled with goodies, our luggage, and of course, the heymama team.

Audi Q7 interior roadtrip hamptons

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons lipstick

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons house

To be honest, we typically dread the long drive out east from the City, but the Q7 was so comfortable and high-tech that we didn’t want to give the car back! I’m not sure about you, but checking the navigation on my phone and trying to keep eyes on the road is always a difficult task when it comes to road trips, however, the Audi has an easy to use navigation system that pops up right in your line of view so not only does it direct you with audio, but you can clearly see where you should go next! It even includes all-around cameras and sensors to let you know when you may be a little too close to another car or object. Also, we can’t forget how amazing it was to have the Wi-Fi hotspot on board for our work trip – it let us take care of business and free up more time for the beach when we arrived.

 

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons Botanica Bazaar

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons gas station

Since we got so much done in the car, we stopped to check out heymama Leilani Bishop’s new shop, Botanica Bazaar, and grab a coffee in town before heading to our house in East Hampton. Katya was wearing the most gorgeous Suno dress from Rent The Runway. I headed into the house with my mint-colored Steamline Luggage and got settled in with the team, before heading over to the Crow’s Nest to enjoy a sunset dinner of crab pasta and oysters. 

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons
Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons farmers market

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons farmers market

Saturday I got up early to visit the farmer’s market and pick up some fresh fruit and pastries for our hardworking team who spent the day stuffing swag bags and getting details set for the event.  Katya and I had been dying to hit the beach, so we grabbed a couple of beach chairs and headed over to catch some much needed R&R. Since this was a fitness weekend for us we felt that we needed to fit in some outdoor exercise and threw on our sneakers and work out gear to hits the trails for a quick hike on the stunning trails near the beach.  Raising our heart rates made us ravenous and thirsty so we decided we needed lobster rolls (and rosé!!). I was feeling pretty silly even before the rosé so you should check out our escapades on Snapchat (@heymamaco). A weekend away from the kids can do that to you, and we weren’t holding back, but it was early to bed for us to be on top of our game for Sunday morning.
Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons Beach

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons Beach

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons hike outdoor voices

Audi Q7 roadtrip hamptons lobster roll

The event was a huge hit and you can see all the great images and read about it soon on the site!  We cruised in our Audis to snap images of a few of our rockstar mamas Athena Calderone, Jill Foley, and Helen Ficalora (coming soon to heymama.co) before saying goodbye to the Hamptons, tucking our luggage in the Audi and heading home. The drive home flew by as we enjoyed tunes streaming from Katya’s phone (via Audi’s CarPlay mode) and relaxed.  The driver assistance features made for such a smooth ride, the car practically drove itself. The Audi Q7 is without a doubt, not only a luxury we could get used to, but a luxury worth having.

heymamaXaudi-33

heymamaXaudi-31

heymamaXaudi-37 

Thanks for a great weekend Audi!

 

xx,

Amri & Katya

 

Photos by Stevi Sesin

 heymamaXaudi-39

 

 Sponsored*

#LADYBOSS, Brand Spotlight, Business

#LADYBOSS: Raegan Moya-Jones Has Four Kids, A $65 Million Dollar Swaddle Business and You Can’t Stop Watching Netflix

January 12, 2016
ADEN3

Tell us about your background before you started aden + anais.

I was at the Economist for 10 years in various sales roles, and prior to that I was in pharmaceutical sales working for major corporations including Pfizer and Smithkline Beecham in Australia. I’ve always had a strong sales background.  That was really my career before I started aden + anais.

Aden & Anais CEO

You’ve grown the company in a huge way since it began, how large is the business currently and how many employees do you currently have?

We have 108 employees globally, 76 of them in the U.S.  This year we did 65 million in revenue.

 

Do you ever stand by and say wow?

No, I don’t. I’m just like any other working mother focused on getting her kids to school and getting to the office on time. Once at the office, I just focus on getting through what needs to be done that day, which always consists of more than I truly have time to do. There is zero time for reflection or patting myself on the back. From day one, I inherently believed that aden + anais could be a $100 million dollar business, so getting there was always my plan. In terms of making it happen, it really is just a day-to-day slog with a bunch of innovation thrown in.

aden1
How did you come up with the idea to start the company and when did you realize that it had serious business potential?

The “aha!” moment was right before I had Anais, my first daughter, I went looking for muslin blankets, which you can get anywhere in Australia, and was astonished when I found that no one here had even heard of muslin. In Australia, every parent uses about 10 a day. They are as common and necessary as diapers.  So when I realized they didn’t exist here, I had my sister send some over from Australia for me to use with Anais. It was at that point that I realized that every Australian can’t have this wrong, and that if I introduced them to American parents, they would love them too.

What was that first year like as you brought aden + anais to life?

The first year was HELL. I was juggling babies, two at the time. I had the idea in 2003, but it took me until 2006 to get the product to market. Between those years I also had my third baby. I had a lot on my plate from a mother perspective. I was still working full time and then building aden + anais in the evening.  I would go to my ‘real job’ as I used to call it, get home from work around 6:30pm, spend time with my girls, and then when they were in bed at 8:30pm, I would start working on the business until three in the morning, sleep till around 7am then get up and do it all over again.  It was very, very tough in the beginning! It was a conscious decision to choose sleep deprivation over financial hardships. I didn’t want to put that pressure on my family. My husband is an electronic engineer and a successful businessman, but he wasn’t a hedge fund husband and the money I made mattered. I also didn’t want to put unnecessary financial pressure on the business in the early stages. I was never anxious about getting a return or salary.  It was a very calculated decision.  The fact is by nature I am an insomniac.  My husband would look at me and say, “What are you doing?”  But to be honest I never craved more sleep. I didn’t ever think “This isn’t normal.” It was my normal. I did what I had to do; there was no other choice. That’s not to say I didn’t have my fair share of minor breakdowns, where I would cry myself to sleep, but I would always get up the next morning, shake it off and keep going.

“It was very, very tough in the beginning! It was a conscious decision to choose sleep deprivation over financial hardships. I didn’t want to put that pressure on my family.  I didn’t have a hedge fund husband and the money I made mattered.”

What was the day like when you left The Economist?

It was pretty fantastic actually because about a month prior, my boss at the time had told me that I didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body when we disagreed on something. Only 2% of every woman-owned business ever breaks $1 million in revenue. That was a true milestone, and I’d hit that point whilst working full-time at The Economist. That’s when I thought about leaving.  I’m not going to lie, I did have a lot of joy handing in my resignation. I also made sure that when I left that I was over budget and had a robust sales pipeline, as I never wanted to be accused of building my business at the expense of my full-time employer.

You have a beautiful and very well recognized brand, did you have experience in branding prior or did you go with your gut?

I had no branding experience, but what I have always had is a very strong opinion on a lot of things.  I’m still involved in most of the design decisions and everything that goes out to the world that has the brand on it.  I am the world’s worst artist. I initially employed outside consultants and design people to help me with all things design. Now we have an in-house design team.  We had a very clear vision of how we wanted the brand to look—very modern, very clean—and then had professional designers draw that up.

aden2

LEADERSHIP & CULTURE

How do you define being a leader?

I was raised to treat people the way you want to be treated yourself. That is my motto for running this company. I took everything that I hated from the corporate world and just tried to make my company the complete antitheses of what I came from. The people here are everything. Not to say it’s not tough now, because you have so many more personalities as opposed to having just a handful of people that helped me build the business from the ground up. It definitely gets much more difficult to maintain the same “we’re all in this together and we’ll do whatever it takes” culture that you have in the beginning.  It’s like someone takes a knife and stabs me through the heart if I hear that someone is unhappy at aden + anais. I probably care a little too much to be honest. I just refuse to give up on the culture and the people.  It definitely gets more complex the bigger we get.

Why do you think that you’ve specifically been successful as a leader?

I really think it is just about treating people with respect and kindness.  Most of the people here know I truly value them and all they do. Being a successful and profitable business is obviously important, but I would not be happy getting there at the expense of the people who work in it. I treat people as people, not as commodities.

Hindsight is 20/20. What would you advise yourself two years into your business?  Vs. What would you advise yourself last year?

Definitely the partner thing. I really don’t often hear about partnerships that have worked out. You have to be absolutely aligned from financial status to vision.  When you’re building a brand from the ground up, it’s very hard to have two chiefs; you really just have to have one clear visionary voice.  If you do go down the partner route, make sure it is absolutely perfectly documented and executed.  When it all went pear-shaped with my business partner, we had to make up the rules of dissolving the partnership as we went along and it was a disaster.  You have to really look at a partnership and iron everything out upfront.  You have to go through every possible scenario so there is no fighting if it doesn’t work out.

Would you have changed anything about the way you went about initiating and executing your business?

I have made a truckload of mistakes, but all of them have made the business stronger.  None of them were ultimately detrimental to the point of doing permanent damage.  There were hiccups, they were annoying, but they led me to where I am today.  From a very practical standpoint, I would have brought on finance people earlier than I did.  I didn’t have a true CFO until 2010; that was life-changing for us as a business when Ciara came on.

How do you keep that innovative, scrappy “I’m in a basement working with 5 people” connectivity and mentality with a business that is in the hundreds and booking 65 million a year?

It definitely gets harder, but if you stay true to the authenticity of the business and the brand and rally the people around it, it happens.  We’re looking at acquisitions now for innovation, smaller companies that have come up with great ideas. When I started it was all about muslin, but now we’ve been lucky to build a brand known for our overall aesthetic, quality and customer service. We are now able to put products underneath the brand that aren’t muslin, basically anything in the juvenile space that is useful to a parent, soothing to a baby and always of exceptional quality.

YOU AS A MOM:

You have 4 beautiful kids, how do you balance your work schedule with your parenting commitments, especially with so many of them? Can you give us a few tips?   

Well, I have a lot of help, help from my hands-on husband and from my nanny on a personal level.  On the flipside, I have surrounded myself with very capable people on the business front.  This notion of you can have it all and do it all is just ridiculous.  You can have it all with a whole lot of help and compromise.  If you try to do it all yourself, you will fail. Know that you have people around you that will support you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.  What I do though, is make sure I draw a line in the sand between the business and my family.  I only pick up my phone a handful of times during the holidays. And I know I can do that because I have an amazing team around me.  In the beginning there was no balance, and it was mayhem.  What I never compromised was those couple of hours in the evening that I spent with my girls. They never signed on to have an entrepreneur mother. It was my idea, not their idea. So it was my job to give them a couple of hours of undivided attention each night as well as a mum on the weekends—that’s where the insomnia helped a lot! 

“What I do though, is I make sure I draw a line in the sand between the business and my family.”

How did your husband deal with this?

He was really the sacrificial lamb. There is no way I could have had this business if I was married to a different type of man. He is a hands-on father and 100% supportive of me and the business.  He definitely suffered a lot. I was MIA for a few years.  It takes a certain type of man to deal with an entrepreneurial wife. He got a lot of shit from his “friends”, and still does. They fundamentally don’t understand the way our family operates.

You’ve been a big supporter of public schools for your girls, can you share your take on the public vs. private education and why you felt this was the best fit for your family?

I was raised in the public school system, but what I really like about it here is the diversity.  I want our girls to understand that life comes in many different shapes and sizes, and the New York public school system definitely affords them that experience. We are also extremely lucky that we happen to be zoned to a fantastic public school. I’m not going to lie and say if it wasn’t a good school that I would not have put them in private.

How much sleep do you get per night? If you could get more, would you want it? Why?

Now I get about six hours, and, yes, I love to sleep, so more would be great. But alas six is about it for me at this point in my life.

Are there any tips for how you structure your day that you feel have made you more efficient?

I definitely run my house like it’s a military boot camp, but you have to with four kids otherwise nothing gets done. We have a very set routine. Dinner is always at the same time. Bath is always at the same time. I am a petty militant when it comes to the way my family runs. Children thrive on routine. They like to know what’s coming, what’s happening next.  I’m the CEO of my household as well as of my business, and the household role is the tougher one.

I was also taught early in my career that you do the things you least want to do first. If you don’t do them first, you’re never going to get to them.  The things I dread the most are the things that I tackle first. My day is so varied; I never truly know exactly what my business day will hold until I am in it.

Is it possible to be friends with your employees?  How do you tow that line?

That is where I’m getting myself in trouble.  Not from my perspective, as I know that I don’t play favorites or treat people that I have a personal relationship with differently than those I don’t. The biggest issue I now face given our growth and the ever increasing headcount at aden + anais is that the new people who are coming into the company feel like I favour my “friends” which really equates to the people that have been here since the beginning. The irony is that those people became my friends through the business. Our friendships were formed during the early years because we were all in the trenches together, in an office the size of our now meeting rooms, stacked on top of each other, working until three in the morning to get what we needed to do done. You bond with people during those times.

Now that we have over 100 people, there are employees at aden + anais that I barely speak to, not because I don’t think they are lovely people, it’s just the nature of the size and complexity of the business now. So I obviously don’t form the same friendships with them as I did with the people back in the beginning when there were only 10 of us.

I see why there is a perception that I play favourites but I can say with my hand on my heart that I don’t. I make the tough decisions that are the right decisions for the business regardless of my personal relationships.  All of this puts a lot of added pressure on you as a leader, and I do try hard to dispel the notion of favouritism, but it is an ongoing battle and I still have a long way to go with it. By far and away the hardest part of my job is managing and motivating all the people who work at the company as the business continues to evolve.

How do you manage business travel with so many kids at home?

I don’t love the travel part of my job and avoid it whenever I can. That said, as the CEO, I still have to do a fair amount of travel, both domestic and international. I am probably away on average a few days a months. And for at least a week when I travel to China, Japan or Australia to visit our suppliers or international offices.  My husband and I make sure that we are never travelling at the same time, so one of us is always in New York with the girls.

Statistics show that although women make up half the population, we make up only 14% of the C-Suite.  How have you seen women’s place in the workforce change over time and why do you think still so few occupy the highest seat?

We have such a long way to go with that.  Instinctively, as women, most of us still have a desire to be a mother. It’s when you want to have both a family and a career that it gets complicated. They only reason I am able to do what I do is because I married a man that supported me wholeheartedly and took on an equal partner role in our home and in the care of our girls. To some degree I think we hold ourselves back, in no small part due to maternal instincts. My career is just not as important to me as my family, and I know without a doubt that if I couldn’t do both my family would be what I chose over my career. I think it’s for this reason that there are still so few women in the C-Suite. I had to start my own business to truly be taken seriously as a business woman. I know that I would never have gotten there in the corporate world, as there were too many men that just didn’t believe in my ability. I think women are exceptional leaders, but there are still not enough of us stepping up for the job. It’s also sometimes tough to be around other non-working mothers when you are a woman who chooses to work and also have a family. I definitely get judged. As far as they’re concerned, I’m neglecting my children for my career. Before we can change the perception of men, I think we need to work on changing the perception of other women. In my experience, women who choose to work, unlike the women who have to work to put food on the table, are still very much unfairly judged.

Were there moments in your #startup story that you felt closer to giving up? If so, when and what has pulled you through and allowed you to stand on your own feet to lead your team?

Yes there were many, some more dramatic than others. When I split with my partner back in 2007 that was really tough; I definitely thought of throwing in the towel then. In the beginning it was also really hard. I was sleep deprived, and my friends and family were asking me to give up on the business because they were worried for me and my health. I have a very vivid memory of myself at about 18 months into building the business, when I was sleeping four hours a night and hadn’t washed my hair for 15 days. This one morning I had my hair in a greasy, slicked back ponytail because I was about eight days past being able to wear it down, and I looked at myself in the mirror and realized how ridiculous it was that I couldn’t find the 30 minutes I needed to wash it. I promised myself that I would finish working on the business by 2:30am that night and wash it.  Fast forward to 3:30am, and I head into the bathroom before bed and look in the mirror only to see the greasy-haired girl staring back at me. I had a very dramatic breakdown. I think I actually fell on the bathroom floor crying and then went to bed again with unwashed hair. I do bounce back quickly though, as I got up the next morning shook it off and headed to work with my greasy hair again. Happy to report on day 16 I found the time to finally wash it.

It was really just in the very early stages of building the business that I had the moments where I felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew. I haven’t felt that way in years. I love what I do, and I think the people who work with me sense my commitment to them and the business so they are also motivated to push through when things get tough.

What inspires you to be your best self?

It’s so cliché but my daughters. Everything I do is done ultimately with the goal of being a good mum and role model for them.  My babies are what keep me going every day. I’m also very competitive with myself. I’ve never had a mentor or a role model, so I just aspire to be the best person I can be. The verdict’s still out on how I’m doing with that…

Thank you for sharing your story with us.  

To learn more about aden + anais, check out their website here.

 

#LookGood, Brand Spotlight, Co-Founder, Fashion

#HAUTEPETITS: Back To Black, Nununu Co-Founders On Building Their Brand

December 6, 2015
nununu founders, female founders, women founders, cool women, black glasses, friends

We’ve seen this brand on kids all around the world, and it’s a go-to name for well-made, wearable and edgy duds.  We’ll just say that being New Yorkers, the all black look for kids is something that doesn’t seem the slightly bit weird.  The designers Tali Milchberg and Iris Adler, have created quite the following, with celebrities and cool parents everywhere rocking their duds. We’re thrilled to spotlight their keen eye and talent on heymama and get a sneak peek into their black and white office space in Israel.

How did you two meet?
“We met through a mutual friend, Guy Sagy. We were both at a point in our lives where that we knew it was time for a change (Iris was a fashion stylist and Tali was an art director at an advertising agency). Guy insisted that we meet, we didn’t even know what for — but we did!

There is so much creativity coming out of Tel-Aviv right now. Can you tell us what it’s what its like to be an entrepreneur in that a community?
“Tel Aviv has always been a very busy, creative and happening city. And we have been lucky enough to have always been a part of this special creative “scene”, with so many people around us that are always in a process of exploring and creating.

 

cool office space

Being such a small country and an even smaller city, it feels like everyone knows each other, and we mostly get a lot of positive feedback and are hugged by this community”.

nununu2

What is the mom community like there?
“We really couldn’t tell you. We are of course mothers, and being business owners – we are consistently trying to juggle it all. But this doesn’t make us any different than the moms around us in Tel Aviv. Everyone is in the same race – trying to fulfill themselves both personally and professionally while being the best moms that they/we can.

We can tell you this – friendships are a huge part of the motherhood community. They begin to develop when our children start kindergarten and they provide an amazing support system to each other. We look out for each other whether helping with school pick up and after school activity or having them over while a mom gets some time off, we are all in it together and feel that is the spirit of our community in Tel Aviv”.

Tell us your story… How did Nununu come to be and what is the brand about?
“When we met 8 years ago, we did not know what we wanted to do, but knew we wanted to shift career focuses to something within the children’s fashion space. For about a year we talked, collaborated and went through a discovery process to understand that we ultimately wanted to create clothing that we could not find in the marketplace for our own children. Once that was established we started immersing ourselves in every aspect of building a company- with no experience we had to learn everything from production to choosing materials to presenting the collections at tradeshows. Absolutely Everything.”

 

nunuoffice3

What is Nununu best known for?
Probably for the brand that dressed kids in black. 😉  We are not a cute brand nor do we try to be. Our aim was to create extremely comfortable clothes (that was and still is a must for every piece of clothing we produce) that we would wear as well. We have a distinctive look: our color palette is very basic with blacks, greys, whites and always a touch of color in every collection. Our graphics are inspired be the geometric world, very clean and minimalist, not something you would ever see on baby and children’s fashion when we first launched Nununu. Most of our clothes have a deconstructed, worn look that is entirely handmade and we have become known for “the clothes that smell good”- we add an extra something to our material that has become a bit of a trademark- we are always getting calls from all around the globe asking how they can recreate that smell.

nununu4

Did either of you have much experience in business before launching the collection?

“NO! We started out just the two of us and in the six years that we’ve been a company, we have been lucky to surround ourselves with a team of people that are as much a part of this brand as we are and have taken it upon themselves to manage different aspects of the business alongside ourselves.”

What has been the best advice you have received about your business?

To be faithful to our way. Believe in it and be loyal to it”.

What is you favorite piece in the collection?
“Ha. That’s like asking to choose a favorite child. Not fair”

 

nununu3

What’s been your experience working as co-founders?

“Learning to work as a team. Sometimes we feel that this is more like a marriage. We are together most of the time and we are growing a business together. This means respecting one another, being patient and the most important part – learning to comprise. We have a “veto” rule – when it comes to design, business and anything really – if one of us uses her right to veto, the other one has to accept it straight away. That’s why you have to use it wisely.”

What do you wish someone had told you before you started Nununu?

“To be honest, if we would have listened to all the “advisors” that had advice for us when we started, we would have probably never gotten to where we are now. Do what is right for you.”

What’s been the biggest career challenge so far?
“The biggest challenge has been that we unfortunately see a lot of Nununu imitations out there but this only drives us to continually evolve the brand while staying true to our design aesthetic and DNA – an alternative to typical children’s fashion with a dose of attitude, style and sense of humor.”

Any pinch me moments?
“Every day is one! We just moved into our new office – a beautiful loft that we love! And seeing people in the streets around the world and realizing their children are wearing Nununu. It’s those moments that we feel that we’ve created a small tribe that speaks in the same language worldwide.”

Being an entrepreneur and mama can be really hectic, what’s your favorite way to make time for your kids?
“Any spare time with our kids is savored!”

Iris: Loves cooking with her children.

Tali: Enjoys taking them to the beach and just hanging out at home goofing around.

What do you love most about what you do?

“The satisfaction. But we really do love all aspects of what we do – starting from the design and up to the business factor.”

How has motherhood changed you as person, as you see life, and what you want to achieve?

“Cliché but motherhood has made us better people (in our opinion of course…).”

What do you want to teach your kids about life?
“Persistence is the key to everything. And that they will succeed at what they do, if they do something they love.”

 

You say your collections are inspired by travel. What are some of your favorite family friendly destinations?

“Barcelona, Berlin, Greece, New York City”

To learn more about Nununu or ask any questions to their founders, please visit our Instagram community here.