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Business, Fashion

Dare We Say It? Lustworthy Nursing Clothes

February 28, 2017
teat and cosset

How many times have you been out in public with a screaming babe in one arm, frantically trying to undress while maintaining some shred of decency with the other? Why hasn’t anyone designed clothes that are lust-worthy, yet made for the breastfeeding mama? That’s exactly what Peggy Economou wondered after the birth of her daughter and she decided to do something about it. Inspired by the luxe fabrics she found while living in Italy, Peggy has created a line that is both functional yet exudes such quality and style, you’ll want to wear the pieces long after your breastfeeding days are behind you. Read on…

 

Finally! Someone has designed super stylish, wearable and functional clothes for the breastfeeding mama. Bless you! How did the idea for your line, Teat & Cosset come to be?

My daughter Dafne was born in December 2014 in the dead of winter. None of my clothes had easy breastfeeding access, so I ordered a few tops online. When I got them, I was surprised by the poor quality, questionable functionality (buttons on the shoulder?!) and they looked tattered after a few washes. I ended up spending a lot of money on things that I didn’t even want to wear while I was nursing, let alone afterwards. Fast forward to trying to soothe my crying baby during night feedings and I felt like I couldn’t open my pyjamas fast enough and I thought, “why not use snaps instead of buttons?”. The first pieces in my line were PJ’s and a night shirt with snaps and then the line grew to a cohesive 15-piece collection. My goal was to create a collection that didn’t look or feel like nursing wear that was free of stretch jersey and looked like clothes I would want to wear when I wasn’t breastfeeding.

teat and cosset

What is the story behind the name, Teat & Cosset?

I originally wanted to name the brand after my daughter, Dafne, but it seemed so anonymous and I felt like it would be lost in a sea of other brand names. I decided to make a list of all the names that described the brand and its values; breast, nursing, luxury, quality, pamper and then looked at synonyms for all the words. One of the words that stood out was ‘teat’. It’s a strong word that definitely caused some backlash, but you can’t make everyone happy, and I decided to stick with it. I then paired it with “cosset” as I just loved the way it looked and sounded and it means, to pamper. Our goal is to pamper moms and help them feel like themselves again while they nurse so “Teat & Cosset” was the perfect marriage.

Your pieces are so beautifully designed – we want the Vivian Shirtdress and we aren’t even breastfeeding! You don’t have a background in fashion. Did you have someone who really influenced and helped to develop you in the early days? A mentor? What was that like?

Happy to hear you want the Vivian! That was the point of the collection; to create pieces that any woman, not just a nursing mom, would wear.  Although I don’t have a background in fashion, I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child and art and design have always been my passions. I used my own experience nursing to design pieces that were beautiful and most importantly, functional. We used vertical stripes in our AW2016 collection to hide possible leakage and to create slimming lines, and zippers on a few pieces, and snaps in others, for easy access. During the early days, I showed my ideas to a friend, Virgil Sparks, a freelance fashion designer, for feedback. He helped me tweak the designs to create a high end line and has been a great sounding board and source of inspiration. He’s now part of the team and consults on styles, trends, colors and fabrics to create a cohesive line each season.

teat and cosset

You manufacture your line in Italy. Tell us more about that decision.

Deciding to produce my line with small manufacturers in Italy has allowed me to have greater control over all of the pieces. I don’t need to send a tech pack and CAD drawings to a factory in China hoping they’ll get it right. By looking at a detailed sketch, my Italian manufacturers know exactly what I want and then make the first prototype with my input along the way. We work on the piece together through various fittings and adjustments until we have the final design. The creative process is so different than elsewhere when you have talented and experienced manufacturers involved in the process.

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What advice do you have for mamas wanting to start a business of their own?

  1. Just Do It. The most important thing in starting a business is just get started. Stop talking about it, and do it.
  2. Think Small. I can’t emphasize enough to start small and keep startup costs low. There will always be unexpected expenses along the way and you need to be able to roll with it. Although I think our first collection is great and each and every piece is a staple of a woman’s wardrobe, it would have been easier to start with a collection half the size in terms of warehousing and initial production costs.
  3. Be patient. Your business will rarely be a success overnight.  You probably won’t sell anything the first day or even the first couple of weeks after you launch.  Set a good size budget aside for marketing – whether for trade shows, a marketing consultant or events.  You can have the best product but people must know about it to buy it.
  4. Do not underestimate word of mouth. I didn’t realize it’s importance in the beginning, and it turns out most of our sales come this way.

teat and cosset

Every mother’s breastfeeding journey is unique. Do you have any advice for mothers who may be struggling to make it work?

Yes! Don’t be afraid to seek support and professional help. Breastfeeding should not be painful after the first couple of weeks and if it still is, there may be a problem with the baby’s latch. A lactation consultant can help you through the process. Sometimes, no matter how much help you get however, it still may not work. If that’s the case, I would tell mothers to be easy on themselves and to give themselves a break. Pumping exclusively may be an option or formula is always an option too!

Have you discovered any new or favorite products for mamas who are breastfeeding?

Ever since we launched my line, I’ve discovered a ton of new brands to help breastfeeding moms. I love Oat Mama, which are granola bars, jam-packed with ingredients that are milk producing. I also love the beautiful lace bras from The Dairy Fairy. I wish I had known about them while I was nursing! And of course, I love the Naya pump, which I will save up for if I have another baby. It uses a new technology that is supposed to make pumping a lot more comfortable.

teat and cosset

We love your story so much. You left your banking career behind to travel the world and fell in love along the way. You now live in Tuscany with your husband and baby girl and are kicking butt in your career. What has been your biggest surprise and learning so far?

My story sounds like a sappy movie sometimes!  I did leave my career, travel and fall in love but there were definitely bumps along the way too. I remember when I started my travels the movie Eat, Pray, Love had just come out and I got that reference a lot, which I wasn’t very keen on!

My biggest surprise was how easy it was to leave everything behind. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled working in banking and letting everything go, from my apartment, to my job, to my stuff and my lifestyle in general, it felt very liberating. I needed and wanted a change. Although I was often lonely while traveling, I found that the most illuminating and special moments I experienced happened during that time.

What I’ve learned is how much better a simpler life is. I’ve also learned that what you do for work doesn’t define you. When I was working in NYC, I remember the first thing people asked me was what I did for a living. In Siena, I’ve known people for years and I still don’t know what their job is! It’s nice to talk about things other than work.

How do you feel motherhood differs in Italy compared to your mama friends back home in the US?

All moms are different and I don’t want to generalize too much. But what I can see is that Italian moms, and maybe European moms in general, are a bit more lax about certain things and aren’t so busy. I don’t know any Italian mothers who take their babies to music or language class either. In fact, I don’t think they even offer anything for children under the age of 2 here! I think a lot of it has to do with the simplicity and slower pace of life in Italy. There isn’t this enormous sense of competition either. I can tell you that applying for pre-school was an absolute breeze here. NYC moms, please don’t kill me!

teat and cosset

The area where Italian mothers aren’t relaxed however is with layers and they tend to overdress their kids for the weather. The last time we went to the park it was a unseasonably warm day and most of the kids had jackets, scarves and a few even wore hats. You can spot the American kid a mile away wearing shorts, a tee and sandals. Every time I pick my daughter up from her grandparents house she has a handkerchief wrapped around her neck so she doesn’t get a sore throat. If it were up to them she’d be wearing a turtleneck all year round.

You must be surrounded by constant inspiration living in Italy. Who are your mama muses?

I still pinch myself when I walk around Siena’s historical center. Everything is art. Most of the city’s ‘palazzi’ were built in the 1200’s and the fact that these buildings still stand, perfectly preserved, is awe-inspiring. It is a wonder to think about the time and effort it took to make such works of art; works that we can still appreciate hundreds of years later. It makes me sad to think that the newer, cheaper things we build and make today won’t last very long. It is also what I think about when we make the clothes in our collection. Will this piece last for the next 10 years?

I don’t really have any one mama muse per se. I admire all moms because I now know how much effort it takes to raise a child. Since becoming a mother, I can say that I have a greater appreciation for stay at home moms because staying at home all day with a small child is probably the hardest job ever.  

teat and cosset

You are a big believer in self care (Amen!). What is your favorite way to recharge?

My go-to place to recharge is a beautiful spa called San Giovanni Terme, which is (luckily!) a 15 minute drive from my home. My husband and I try to go as often as we can and make a day of it. We soak in the thermal pools in the morning, and then have a healthy lunch at their beautiful restaurant overlooking the Tuscan hills in the afternoon. The natural minerals (sulphur and calcium bicarbonate) found in the water, help me feel reenergized and my skin feels amazing afterwards. Plus, the alone time with my husband is essential. For those wanting to do a cleansing, detox bath at home, I love Pursoma.

What are your 3 Pearls of Motherhood Wisdom?

  1. Keep setting and writing down your goals (weekly, monthly, yearly, etc) and when you reach them set new ones.
  2. Be grateful for what you have. I find myself feeling much happier when I remind myself of all the good things in my life. I try to do this at night and in the morning when I wake up.  
  3. Concentrate on one task at a time, in all aspects of your life – family, work, hobbies. I find I stay more present that way and do better work.
  4. I have a bonus one! Tidy up after your children only once a day, at the end of the day!

Photos by Michelle Grant

 

 

Business

What I Wish I Knew Before Going Freelance

February 23, 2017
going freelance

We’ve long admired Nicole Neves, and we’ve recently tapped her to join the heymama team as an official Ambassador in LA. She first caught our attention while managing a full-time career as the Director of PR and Events at Guess and being a mama to her two little boys, but now we have full-on heart eyes for how she is kicking butt with her own PR business, Sequin Productions. With new clients coming on board every day, Nicole has learned a thing or two about what to do and what not to do when starting out. Are you thinking of making a change? Read on for her tips.

going freelance

The Hustle 

I knew I’d have to hustle when I decided to start by own business. I knew it would be a grind. But, having done the same thing in the corporate world for more than 15 years, I felt like I was prepared and ready to hit the ground running. A few of my brands are relatively new and don’t have big budgets, so I really have to hustle to get them great press. This means utilizing my previous contacts and pushing for them to still support me, plus my clients.

Selling Yourself 

Sales was never a part of my day-to-day responsibilities, nor has it ever been a strong suit of mine as I’ve never considered my personality to be assertive enough. Unfortunately, clients don’t always come knocking on your door. You really have to work at it and sell yourself to potential clients, and be persistent. I’m definitely more on the humble side when it comes to talking about my work, but at the same time, I’ve made a conscious effort to push myself to get out there and show what I can do for my clients.

Time Management

This is probably my biggest issue as a freelancer. I want to be able to network and socialize with press, influencers and potential clients, but I also need dedicated office days to get work done — then squeeze in gym time and balance the crazy schedule of my two toddler boys. It’s an endless exercise in multitasking, and, needless to say, it’s hard to do it all. There are days where I feel like 24 hours just isn’t enough. As a result, I find myself in the office at 2am, or working on the weekends. It’s been a gradual process, but I try to make strides every day when it comes to both time management and prioritization.

It’s Okay to Say “No”

Another challenge I face as a freelancer is the art of learning when to say “No” — whether to potential clients or invites to social outings. It’s always been a struggle for me, but in the end it’s not fair to my clients, my family, or myself if I’m taking on too much and stretching myself too thin. I can’t do it all, and that’s perfectly ok. I once heard a great quote that really aligns with this way of thinking, and that is: “Quality is the best business plan.”

going freelance

Never Burn Bridges

It’s a bit crazy how badly this can bite you if you are not careful with relationships. I always try to stay true to myself and make sure to be kind to all colleagues, bosses, friends and vendors. You never know when a person will circle back in your life that can support you in a current endeavor.

Discuss With Your Family

Discuss the big decision with your loved ones. My husband fully supported my decision and was my biggest cheerleader throughout the process.

Seek Advice/ Find a Mentor

Socialize and connect with people in your industry who have gone freelance, learn from them and ask questions.  I sat down with my best friend who is in the same industry (also as a freelancer) and had her walk me through all the steps involved in getting started on my own. 

Business Name

Get creative and figure out a business name that represents you and your work. I chose Sequin Productions because my Instagram handle is @MySequinLife and I knew I wanted to utilize my Instagram audience to get the word out about my business.  After I knew my business name, I ordered simple business cards on Minted with my company name, email and phone number. You never know who you will meet, and where, so it’s always best to be prepared with a business card.

Spread the Word

After I gave notice at my corporate job, I contacted past colleagues, vendors and friends to let them know about my new business. I posted on all my Social media platforms about my new career move, which really gave me a lot of leads for current clients. Then, I joined entrepreneurial groups like heymama to connect with other women who could help amplify the PR for my company.

Incorporated or LLC

Decide if you want your business structure to be Incorporated or LLC. I worked with my financial advisor to learn the differences before making this decision.

going freelance

Business Account & Credit Card

Start a business account. I suggest having your personal and business account at the same bank. I also opened up a business credit card to help keep my business expenses separate from my personal expenses.  

Business Mission 

Take time to develop the purpose of your company within a business plan.

Research Potential Clients

Always do your homework before going after a client. Research their web site, social platforms and check their LinkedIn to see if you know anyone that works for the company. All connections are key, no matter how slight or random they may appear to be.

Save Money

I saved money for about a year to make sure I was financially stable enough to start my own business. This meant having money in my new business account when I started my company. Since I was uncertain about my future salary income, I gave myself a cushion of three months basic living expenses.

401K

Working in the corporate world for more than 15 years, I was collecting a healthy 401K that was also being matched by my employer. Once I got on my feet with my own business, I created my own 401K that I could contribute to on a monthly basis. We all want to retire someday, so make this a priority and create your own version of a 401K that works for you financially.

Community & Colleague Support 

I was pleasantly surprised by all the encouragement I received from my personal family and friends, as well as my social media followers, when I announced that I was starting my own business. People really went out their way to help me when I needed guidance, and love when I needed support.  

When I told my then-CEO, he not only supported my future endeavors, but also asked if I could take them on as a client. It felt nice to know the company where I worked for so long still wanted me to be a part of their extended family. My previous employer is still a client and I love working with them — it feels like home and served as a perfect transition to this next phase of my career. Another unexpected surprise that has helped secure additional clients is my relationships with previous colleagues. Three of my current clients came by way of previous co-workers, who knew I was freelancing, and reached out to hire me at their new companies.

going freelance

Nicole Neves is a lifestyle blogger, mama to two boys and owns her own PR business, Sequin Productions. In her spare time she is an LA Ambassador for heymama and discovering new adventures, here.

Business, Fashion

Margherita Missoni Maccapani Amos Is Building Her Own Empire And It’s All About The Kids

February 21, 2017
EmptyName 332

When we grow up, we want to be Margherita Missoni Maccapani Amos. Nobody is as effortlessly chic and conscious of her family and the way in which she wants to live her day to day. After spending almost an hour on the phone with her, we couldn’t believe how charming, down to earth and honest she was in what she needs to create a calm and happy lifestyle and we want to be a part of it. Lucky for us, she’s launched her own adorable line of children’s wear, Margherita Kids which sells at major retailers like Nordstrom and Macy’s,  and now has a new collaboration with Pottery Barn Kids. The furniture and bedding line is available in stores nationwide. Now, if only we were hopping in the car with her to explore the Italian countryside. A girl can dream…

You spent five years learning your family business before starting your own line, Margherita Kids  in 2015. What has that experience been like and what are your plans for your brand?

The reason why I left Missoni was because I wanted to have a different rhythm and schedule. I wanted to have less people depending on me and I wanted to be able to take care of my kids more. When you are in a corporate environment it’s always difficult, even if it’s your family’s company. My life fits my needs much better right now.

Margherita Kids is a license with an American company and I have two employees working for me in Italy. We work in a very modern way with FedEx packages and conference calls, so I work a lot less than I used to and I have a lot more satisfaction as a result.

My friend who works with me also has kids and my nanny will look after all of them together and we can move our work schedule around the kids. I think that’s something really great about today and this new way of working. It’s much closer to women’s needs.

You travel a lot for work, how do you manage that with your family?

The good thing about traveling nowadays is that it’s so much easier than it used to be. I’m extremely well located where I live, 20 minutes from Malpensa Airport which gets me anywhere in the world on a direct flight and I’m 40 minutes outside of Milan. I can go to London for the day and be home by dinner, or I could go to London for dinner and be home the next day. I go to New York, Paris, usually for just a few days at a time but I do quite a few trips throughout the year.

Do you have a company mantra or set of ideals that mean something to you? What do you value in your company culture?

It’s really important to me, and those that work with me, to believe in the project. If you feel it, whether you are managing design or communication, whatever your role, it makes the company more successful. I think it creates an effortless culture that carries over to those you work with outside of the company as well.

Also, taking responsibility for your work and understanding that it’s a choice that you made, and not something that was forced upon you. I’m good at delegating, and I want people to really feel a part of a project, rather than just working for it.

And of course, not taking your work too seriously. I like to see the lightness in it all. At the end of the day we’re not changing the world and we always have to keep that in mind.

“And of course, not taking your work too seriously. I like to see the lightness in it all. At the end of the day we’re not changing the world and we always have to keep that in mind.”

How has becoming a mother to your two sons changed your outlook on your career? What advice would you give to mamas trying to balance work and family life?

Giving yourself a general schedule so you know what hours you have to work, and which are those you devote to kids is necessary. You don’t want them to overlap too much. Having a good nanny is also very important! I’d be lost without her. And most importantly, always have a Plan B. When something doesn’t go as planned, like a kid get’s sick, one should be able to detach from the original plan and embrace what comes your way.

Your family is fashion royalty, with your grandparents starting the legendary Missoni label in the 50s. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from them?

The good and bad thing about working for your family’s company is that your job never ends at the end of the day and it’s not confined to specific area. You overlook the company as if it’s your own business which was beneficial and I was able to get a real sense of the “whole” even if it wasn’t my side of the business. Take sales for example, I’ve done the meetings, I’ve dealt with the retailers… I know how it all works. It’s helpful when you are setting up your own business as you can evaluate whether people are the right fit for the job you are hiring for.

I always think, whatever you do might be completely pointless if it’s not done at the right time. Missoni came out when pret-a-porter was being born and they were doing something that nobody else was doing. My grandparents used knitwear in a new way and it made sense at that time. At the same time, you need to have a vision. If not, you just go with whatever is already happening in the marketplace and that never works. Having a vision for what is the next thing will help drive your success.

I saw what my grandparents did and when thinking about my own career, I got into children’s clothing because I had two babies and I realized there was space in the market for this line and the offerings were still a lot less than in normal adult fashion. There was space, it made sense for my life, so here I am!

You just launched a collection with Pottery Barn Kids this Spring which we are SO excited for. What was the creative process like and what item is your favorite from the line?

It was great experience working with them. They are truly professional and they know what they can, and can’t, do. I’m a creative person who happens to listen to the production and distribution side – I’m not just interested in the design, so it was a great collaboration. My favorite piece from the line is definitely the Daisy chair.

Margherita Missoni

“Always have a Plan B. When something doesn’t go as planned, like a kid get’s sick, one should be able to detach from the original plan and embrace what comes your way.”

Do you have plans to open a shop for your children’s line?

I don’t have any plans now, but I would certainly like that. Ideally I would like to have a whole children’s world – the clothing, the furniture, the pictures, the garland – and then it makes sense to open a store. But I need to have more products than I have now.

You spent time living in New York in your 20s. How do you think raising a family in the US differs from raising one in Italy?

I lived in New York for five years. I’m not sure about the difference from New York to Italy but I can talk about big city vs small village. The difference is that I really want my kids to experience the provincial life, outside of the city. Especially considering the fashion world I live in – I would have never brought up my kids in New York. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for them, it’s just far from what I know. Personally, I need to escape the country and get infused by the energy of a place like New York, but I love that my 6 year old can go out on the street by himself and go to the local shop to buy a loaf of bread.

You have over 100K followers on Instagram. How do you think social media influences your style/your brand and do you have any favorite feeds to find inspiration?

Social media is a great source for research. I have a knowledge in childrenswear, of which I knew nothing until four years ago, which is all due to social media. I now think I know just as much about childrenswear as I do about womenswear, which is pretty remarkable. I come across amazing children’s brands and children’s magazines that are constantly teaching and inspiring me. I also use Pinterest for research all the time. It’s become very useful as for every project we have, we create mood boards.

Some of my favorite feeds are:

@smudgetikka@danceypantsdisco@thegracetales@notsomumsy@jetsetmama@ameliafullarton@mimithor@bonjour_diary , @alexanderandalice @piperandpoppies

Margherita Missoni

“I always think, whatever you do might be completely pointless if it’s not done at the right time.”

How would your best friend describe you?

Bossy, caring and curious.

What does your perfect weekend look like? With Kids? Without?

I love to travel somewhere I haven’t been to. It’s always fun to just get in the car and drive to city here in Italy that we haven’t discovered yet. As for a weekend without the kids? Just last weekend my husband and I left the kids with my in-laws. At 3pm we booked a flight to Athens and we left at 5pm. We spent the whole weekend away and got back on Sunday afternoon.

What are you reading right now?

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Your travels have been well documented and featured in the pages of Vogue. We’re always looking for the next travel destination. What is on your list for 2017?

I want to go to Kyoto for the cherry blossoms. Bhutan is always on the top of my list. I also want to go to Georgia.

Where do you stay/eat/play/shop while visiting New York?

STAY: Home

EAT: I love Sugar Fish and Omen Azen. People always try to take me out for Italian food but I don’t eat Italian food when I’m in New York. I also love the chocolate chip smoothie from Juice Press and the chia seed parfait and raw chocolate balls at Organic Avenue. And of course, you can eat morning, noon and night at Pietro Nolita.

PLAY: The Top of the Standard (formerly known as the Boom Boom Room) at the Standard Hotel is a great spot for a drink.

SHOP: For children, I love Sweet William and for me, I love FD Gallery and Manolo Blahnik – we don’t have stand alone shops in Europe.

What are your Three Pearls of Motherhood Wisdom?

  1. The best advice I give to new mothers, and also something I’ve had to learn myself, is to go with the flow, you can’t control everything.
  2. Everyone needs to read, The Good Enough Parent by Bruno Bettelheim. I think it’s something important to understand and accept.
  3. Follow your gut.

Shop Margherita Kids below:

Margherita KidsMargherita Kids Margherita KidsMargherita Kids Margherita KidsMargherita Kids

Business, Fashion

Want To Look Good in Bed? Read This.

February 10, 2017
Lunya

We have a confession. We wear sweats to bed. You too? Let’s make a resolution to put an end to that habit right now, k? Thankfully, Ashley Merrill is here to save the day because everything she produces for her luxurious line of sleepwear, Lunya, is incredible. If you’re looking to up your bedroom game and slay the #hygge Insta trend, this is about to become your latest obsession. Ashley is also an incredible supporter of fellow mamas both through her relationships and involvement in her community. Basically, she’s giving us all the feels and we wish we could hang with her in LA for a week (or two).

Lunya

Quote you love: “Be the change that you want to see exist in the world.” Gandhi

Best advice you’ve ever been given?: Build the airplane while flying.

Thank you for launching your gorgeous sleepwear line, Lunya. We can finally leave our sweats for the gym! What’s your start-up story?

It started one day when I walked by my bedroom mirror and marveled at my outfit – I was wearing my husband’s old shirt and rolled up boxer briefs. Some might say I had let the wheels fall off a little. I realized I had picked this outfit based on comfort. It made me wonder, could there not be something comfortable that didn’t look like I’d hung it up at 28? This realization sent me on a mission to find comfortable, flattering sleepwear but my only choices were uncomfortable, sexy lingerie or frumpy, traditional PJ’s. The sleepwear options available didn’t match the modern woman I wanted to be.

You shifted careers when you launched Lunya. Did you have a mentor to help show you the way?

Many people inspire me but I’ve never had a formal mentor.  My husband is an entrepreneur and his passion has been endlessly motivating for me.  He is a an innately confident leader who has built something sensational despite not having the perfect background for it. Watching him forge an unfamiliar path has empowered me to do this on my own. As a behind the scenes supporter for him,l I watched him get comfortable with the new and unfamiliar and learned that no one really knows what they are doing. If it was a well travelled path it probably wouldn’t be a good business idea because everyone would be doing it!  

I’ve also been lucky enough to connect with many female entrepreneurs in the early stages who have lent kind and supporting words like Susan Feldman from One Kings Lane, Jane Wurwand from Dermalogica and Jennifer Hyman from Rent the Runway. I also have a number of people who inspire me as well rounded people; my mother and her girlfriends and of course, my dear friends.

Lunya

You were recently nominated for the Los Angeles Business Journal emerging fashion brand award. Congrats! What goals do you have for Lunya in the upcoming year?

Our goal this year is to continue to refine the brand and to grow! We want to hone the voice to be one that reflects the witty, intelligent, inspiring women who work here and wear Lunya’s products. We have an incredible team and a life changing product. We see this year as an exciting year for the company to actualize a lot of goals…and maybe a slipper? I’ve been dying for a game changing non-grandma slipper.

We love that your pieces are so versatile and can also be worn out of the house (hello school drop off!). Innerwear as outerwear is such a big trend but it can be tricky. Which pieces also look good on the street? How would you style them?

We say we are inactive wear because we create intentionally designed pieces to optimize for comfort in a way that doesn’t sacrifice cool. And yes, this totally works for the morning Starbucks run! I love layering the Hazel Pima Romper with a long sleeve underneath, like the Two Way Tunic, and often pair it with some cool high tops. We also have a Pima Long Cardi coming soon that looks rad layered over the Pima Sleep Dress.  

And now, we must tackle the bedroom. What is one thing we all need?

It depends how stressed and sleep deprived you are. After a long weekend with a sick kid, this is looking kind of appealing. I’m kidding (kind of). I love having tons of pillows so that when I sleep I’m in a nest of pillows.  It was a habit my husband and I picked up while I was pregnant (and while he was sympathy pregnant) that we never really parted with. For the odd day that you are “in the mood”, I recommend Lunya’s Washable Silk Dress… it flatters the body and rocks just the perfect amount of side boob. He can send thank you Instas to me at @ashleylunya.  

Lunya

You’ve confessed you have a passion for green juice. What’s your “go-to” recipe that we can try at home?

I bought this super cool juicer and went to the Farmer’s Market and bought tons of amazing greens because… who in their right mind spends $8 on a juice? Fast forward to three hours of chopping, washing, and cleaning later and I can confidently tell you that the best green juice is one you don’t make yourself. $8 is a deal. Lol. I like to buy the green juices with cayenne and ginger because I’m masochistic like that.

Women supporting women is something you are a believer in. Tell us more about how you get involved in your community.

Lunya has just started working with Girls Build LA which is an awesome organization that helps to inspire young women in lesser privileged areas learn to be entrepreneurial problem solvers. I was excited about this organization because when I think about my own experience founding a company, I am grateful to be surrounded by opportunity and helpful connections. It’s easy to take for granted the leg up circumstances can provide. Girls Build LA is helping to give these girls tools and connections to forge a bright future for themselves in a way that really excites me.  

What are your 3 pearls of mama wisdom?

1) They will do what you do, not what you say.  Be the woman you always dreamed of so your littles will reach for their dreams.

2) Don’t forget about yourself. It’s easy to fall off your own priorities list but at the end of the day, when you fulfill your personal needs you will be a happier and less resentful parent.  

3) Starting a business and having kids actually have a lot in common. Nobody knows what they are doing.  We’re all just doing the best we can with the information we have.

Lunya

Ashley Merrill lives in LA with her two littles and is the CEO of Lunya, a sleepwear company that makes a woman feel confidently comfortable.

Business, Fashion, Give Back

Mama of Five Marie Tillman Turned Grief Into a $15 Million Foundation and Simultaneously Started a Business

February 7, 2017
Marie Tillman

To say that Marie Tillman, founder of Mac & Mia, a curated children’s clothing service, and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation, a nonprofit that provides academic scholarships for veterans and their spouses, is a force, is an understatement. After the loss of her husband in Afghanistan, Marie started her foundation which has invested more than $15 million in educational support to individuals committed to a life of service both in and out of uniform. Then, inspired by her own experience as a working mother of five (yes, five!), Marie launched Mac & Mia, a clothing service that curates stylish looks for kids age newborn to six years old.

Marie Tillman

“I spent hours, weeks, months thinking about the concept and one day my husband said, “Just do it or someone else will and you’ll kick yourself.” And so I did!”

Marie, you are a true inspiration. How has your background led you to starting your children’s clothing service, Mac & Mia?

Mac & Mia is a result of my own experience as a working mom. We have five kids, so things can get a little crazy! When my now five year old was born, I started looking for ways to simplify my life and outsource little things so I could spend more quality time with the kids. Trips to the mall, or spending hours online shopping was something I knew I could live without, and I quickly realized other mothers feel the same way. At Mac & Mia, we take care of the shopping so parents can get a little more time back in their lives.

What was the first thing you did to get your business started?

I spent hours, weeks, months thinking about the concept and one day my husband said, “Just do it or someone else will and you’ll kick yourself.” And so I did! I pulled together a little money for inventory and a website. I moved the cars out into the driveway and set up the garage to pack and ship boxes from my house. It all sort of snowballed from there.

How did you take your business from a start up to today? Can you tell us 3 things that were integral to scaling your business?

Growing can be really exciting but also super challenging. Some of the key things that helped us scale are:

1. Hiring a great team- you can’t do it all by yourself!

2. Learning to let go and trust other people- as a business grows it’s impossible to manage every little detail. Find great people and trust them to execute on your vision.

3. Focus- It’s easy to get distracted but keeping an eye on the core of your business helps focus resources.

Marie Tillman

“Learn to let go and trust other people- as a business grows it’s impossible to manage every little detail. Find great people and trust them to execute on your vision.”

What does being a good boss mean to you?

I’ve been fortunate to know some great leaders and constantly look to them for inspiration and guidance. I think being a good boss means listening first, it’s important to understand where people are coming from so you can meet them where they are.

There are several subscription services for children’s clothing but few have items as high-quality as those brands you include. How do you differentiate yourself from the other companies out there?

Quality means a lot to us. I hate when I buy something for my kids and it falls apart or fades after one wash. Our team works hard to find pieces from both established and emerging brands to offer our customers unique items they’ll love. For us it’s all about delivering discovery and delight!

We love your Instagram! How have you seen social media impact your business? Any successful marketing strategies you can share?

We’re in a digital world and people love to share; social media has been big for us. It’s an outlet that works well with our business and provides a unique, genuine way of interacting, not only with our customers, but influencers, bloggers and vendors, too. Kids naturally bring so much joy and playfulness and that’s what we want to convey.

As for strategies, be authentic and build meaningful connections with your customer and community. It’s important to use these channels to engage and build a loyal customer – not just advertise to them.

You have turned the tragedy of losing your husband in Afghanistan into triumph for others when the Foundation you created has invested more than $15 million in educational support to date. What has been the most rewarding moment through this difficult experience?

There have been so many positive things that have come from my experience with the Foundation but meeting the scholars we support and hearing about how we’ve changed their lives is one of the most rewarding things.

Marie Tillman

On April 22th, you have organized Pat’s Run. What is it and how can people get involved?

Pat’s Run is a 4.2 mile run/walk held each April to celebrate Pat’s legacy of leadership and service. On April 22, 2017, over 30,000 participants, volunteers and spectators will unite in Tempe, Arizona and at Tillman Honor Runs nationwide to honor Pat and raise scholarship funds for the Pat Tillman Foundation’s Tillman Scholars program. Proceeds from the race directly support scholarships for Tillman Scholars who embody Pat’s commitment to service, learning and action. People interested in participating, but unable to make it to Tempe may sign up for one of 30 Tillman Honor Runs nationwide or register as a Remote Runner in their local community at www.patsrun.com

Your memoir, The Letter was published a few years ago. What was that experience like and what advice would you give to people wanting to share their own stories?

I started journaling when Pat was deployed and continued to write after his death. It was a form of therapy for me and so helpful as I sorted through some really complicated times. I never thought those ramblings would end up in a book but as time went on and I met more people working through loss, I realized my experience could be helpful to others. There is something so comforting in knowing you are not alone in your experience. I always encourage people to share their stories; it helps us all realize we are more similar than we are different.

What kept you going during those early dark days? What words of support and encouragement can you offer to women facing this hard situation of losing a husband?

My first husband had an amazing spirit, and really lived life to the fullest. I knew the best way to honor him was to keep living, as difficult as that was in the early days, I kept coming back to that notion time and time again. Losing a spouse was one of the most difficult things I’ve faced and such a personal journey, but some of the best advice I got along the way was to do what works for you. There’s no right way to mourn or live.

Marie Tillman

“Losing a spouse was one of the most difficult things I’ve faced and such a personal journey, but some of the best advice I got along the way was to do what works for you. There’s no right way to mourn or live.”

You are the mama to four boys and one little girl. What are the secrets to your sanity? Do you have any non-negotiables that keep you centered?

I think the secret is to be flexible and have a good team. No day is ever the same and with kids ranging in ages from 15 years to 3 years, things rarely go as planned – so flexibility is key!

When I’m home with the kids, I try to focus just on them and not check email or take work calls. They are my number one priority always, and I want them to feel that.

Do you have any time-saving hacks that you’ve incorporated into your daily life?

Sunday afternoon is my time for planning and organizing. Spending an hour or so before the week starts saves me a ton of time in the long run. Also I love Amazon, Instacart and Bake 425 pizza!

Your home is stunning! Do we spy a disco-ball back splash? Where do you get your design ideas? Any go-to resources we should know about?

I love home design and spend probably way too many hours at night searching Pinterest for ideas. My friend Julia Buckingham is an amazingly talented designer and has helped turn all those Pinterest boards into a reality.

What are your 3 pearls of motherhood wisdom?

1. Savor the good and don’t worry too much about the bad. One thing is certain, everything changes.

2. People offer so much advice and input from the second you get pregnant, but do what works for you and your family.

3. A dance party puts everyone in a good mood.

Marie Tillman

“Savor the good and don’t worry too much about the bad. One thing is certain, everything changes.”

Business, Living

Bigger Isn’t Always Better: The Rise of the Micro-Influencer

January 26, 2017
Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 8.56.16 PM

By Nicole Best

Let’s be honest. When you see your following surge on Instagram it feels good. Am I right? But if your numbers are flat, don’t despair. Brands are starting to come around to the fact that it’s not always the numbers that make an impact, it’s the engagement. If you have built an audience that trusts and values what you have to say, and sometimes recommend, it can be worth more than the number of overall followers you have. Our friends at Matte Black, a culture marketing firm and creative studio, agree. Read on to hear what they have to say on The Rise of the Micro-Influencer…

A digital influencer: the term heard ‘round the world. As a surplus of individuals have oversaturated a market that was once undefined, lifestyle, coffee, beauty and travel influencers have become commonplace, so to speak. These people have created an industry that is is so attainable, it almost acts as a surplus of talent. So, with this overcrowding of an industry, how do we sift through each of these individuals and differentiate between Influencer A and Influencer B?  

As a brand, when you look at an influencer on Instagram, Snapchat, what have you… are you more concerned with their reach or their engagement?

Let’s do a little math to figure it out: if someone has 4 million followers and gets .5% engagement per media, is that better than an influencer with 30K followers who gets 10% engagement per media? The answer is no.

This is where the term, ‘active user’ comes into play. An active user is someone who is following another person with purpose. Active users are engaged and genuinely interested in the people they are following. These people are important because as a brand, wouldn’t we prefer to see 100 clicks back to a website to buy a product off of one post, than see 100,000 impressions but no ROI? 

As important as exposure is, hitting your key demographics with what we consider the micro-influencer is a more strategic route for a brand. The micro-influencer has a dedicated, niche following. They have a community of users that deem them the expert in their fields; the Beyonce of their craft, following their every step with a magnifying glass.

The micro-influencer is interactive, constantly engaging with their community and ensuring they are heard. This person is creating an enviable, yet tangible lifestyle, and their community not only wants to be a part of it, but already feels like they are. These influencers are tapping into the consumer’s modern desire to be a part of something unique in a world where content is fleeting, as our friends at Forbes noted.

He or she is also more cost effective. Because even though they can’t necessarily prove how they’ve helped other brands, they’ve curated a community that deems them the expert in their field.

For example, let’s say you are a skincare brand and you want to tap into the enviable life that Sincerely Jules has created. Yet, maybe 10% of her followers care about her beauty routine. I.E. you’re wasting dollars hitting 90% of a community that really doesn’t care about you. With the same amount of budget, you’d be able to activate 10 influencers with 50K followers in different niche, demographics to really expose your brand in key markets, ultimately seeing better engagement. To top it all off, these influencers aren’t yet represented by management who control deliverable and can ultimately compromise the authenticity of the partnership.

So let’s forget about follower size. Let’s forget about the cost associated with the following; the traditional CPM’s that actually don’t mean anything in digital marketing.   We need to measure ROI differently; there are a lot of intangibles that you can’t put into a spreadsheet. Let’s measure clicks back to a site, total impressions reached. How many new eyes are coming to your page and seeing your products for the first time? How much brand awareness are we increasing?

Because there is such a thing as being too popular. And social media influencers who start seeing declines in engagement with increases in follower sizes are the ones who realize this.  

Looking for insta-inspiration? Head on over the Shape Shift Report to discover 40 micro influencers in Travel, Food Fashion, Men’s Lifestyle, Fitness, Beauty, Lifestyle, Creatives, International and our favorite, Mommy.

This article first appeared in the Shape Shift Report, a trend and insight publication by the culture conduits at Matte Black. For more inspiring insights, follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Business, Fashion

A Sit Down With… Iva Pawling, Founder of Richer Poorer

January 25, 2017
Iva Pawling

We have a special place in our hearts for anyone who is a self-described Chief Fire-Put-ter Out-ter. Amen mama. Iva Pawling is the co-founder and CEO of Richer Poorer, a line of innerwear that includes socks, the perfect T’s and the newly launched, bralette, that has the attention of the editors at Racked. Only 5 years after her initial launch, Iva’s company was acquired. This California mama didn’t sail off into the sunset after her sale, instead she launched another company, Pointe Studio. Bravo!

Iva Pawling

We live in loungewear and love what you’ve done with your line, Richer Poorer. What do you think has been the secret to your success?

There’s no secret! Lot’s and lot’s of hard work. My co-founder Tim and I have been really methodical about how we’ve grown Richer Poorer. What started as an idea for a sock brand and really developed into this idea of “Innerwear” over the course of a few years of listening to our customers and understanding what it was they wanted next from us. Our decision to move into new products very much comes from them, along with what is it that we’re all wearing around the office that we want more of. Understanding what exists in the market and what we can make better has been essential to our growth.

What was your background in prior to starting your company and how did it influence you?

I’ve been in fashion since college. I started my career as an assistant at Kate Spade in New York. At the time, they had a great program for newbies where you would spend your first few months jumping from department to department for a few weeks to really understand how the machine operates as a whole. From there, you determine what spot suits you and the company best. It was such an in incredible first job experience. After that, I moved to Hawaii and I worked in PR, focused on (as best as you can on the islands!) fashion for a small firm. I then moved to California to work for my sister who has the jewelry brand, Gorjana. That’s really where I cut my teeth in the world of a new brand and what it took to grow it. I got bit by the entrepreneur bug there and left after about four years to start Richer Poorer.

When you launched your women’s t-shirts, they sold out in a day (wow!). How did you market these shirts and what surprised you the most about those incredible sales?

It was so exciting! Our product development team worked their tails off on our t-shirts and muscle tanks to make sure we were releasing a great product into the market. We mimicked our men’s “In My Tee” campaign that everyone loved, where we featured friends of the brand, young and old, and told little bitty stories about who they are and what they do. It made it really relatable while still feeling aspirational. It also helped that women were tired of spending $100 on a cotton tee-shirt and our $30 price point made it a simple purchase. Oh, press from Vogue and Who What Wear didn’t hurt!

Iva Pawling

You went from startup to getting acquired. What did you learn during that process and would you do anything differently?

Anyone that has gone through the acquisition process will tell you just how arduous it is. My best advice is to be loose with expectations. No matter what side of the deal you are on, buying or being bought, It takes a lot of effort and commitment to get through it, and it often times isn’t a simple and smooth process. I, like many women, want to keep people happy and it’s hard to do during an acquisition. We were lucky to have a really good group on the other end that tried to make it as painless as they could, but it’s just tough. And most importantly, have a great attorney.

Do you have a company mantra or set of ideals that mean something to you? If so what are they?

I have two! Honest Hustle and Elevate Everyday.

Honest Hustle speaks to our humble beginnings and how we operate as people and as a company. Tim and I started Richer Poorer with littler more than a few dollars and determination. There was no seed round to hire great talent. We had to be really scrappy with how we did things and had to get as much as we could out of very little. While we now have almost 30 employees and departments and budgets, we still expect everyone to operate with that mentality.

Elevate Everyday speaks to not only what we hope our products do for our customers, but how we want people to think of Richer Poorer. We have a – no asshole – policy. We don’t hire them and we won’t work with them. Elevating each other up on a daily basis is so important to a healthy office culture and what we hope to pass on to our audience. We are happy to come to work everyday and hope to make our customers happy daily.

Iva Pawling

“We have a – no asshole – policy. We don’t hire them and we won’t work with them.”

We often hear that the best advice is to follow your gut. When have you gone against the grain and done something just because you felt it was the right thing to do? Did it work out?

My goodness, yes! Starting Richer Poorer was a massive leap of faith. Six years ago when we started the company, socks were not something you started a brand with. Everyone thought my business partner and I were insane. My gut told me that we were going to be early to a trend that was going to be something of value, so I listened to it. I think what’s most important though, is knowing that sometimes your instinct will be wrong, and even when it is, there is a learning lesson within the experience that sometimes may be more valuable to you than had you gotten it right.

We love to collaborate with people here at heymama and it seems that you guys do too. Can you tell us more about these partnerships?

Collaborations are great. We try and work on partnerships as much as we can, whether that be on actual product, content or trips. From a marketing perspective, obviously getting the other brand / companies audience to know our brand is really valuable. From a personal perspective, some of my closest friendships I’ve made from this industry were born from collaborations.

We want to snuggle up in the pages of your Instagram feed! Do you manage this internally or do you work with an agency? What has been the most important aspect in growing your following?

We handle it internally. We hired an agency to do it and they fired US after two weeks! We’re really picky with what we want on our social channels, what is on brand for us, and what our audience wants to see from us. Knowing who we are as a brand and being consistent with that has been the most important part of growing our following.

Iva Pawling

“I think what’s most important though, is knowing that sometimes your instinct will be wrong, and even when it is, there is a learning lesson within the experience that sometimes may be more valuable to you than had you gotten it right.”

Who do you look to for inspiration on Instagram?

I’ve tried to back away from the perfectly manicured feeds lately, and really pay attention to the ones that have something valuable to say, like @words_of_women and @be.the.love.today, or make me laugh, @womenirl and @prattprattpratt. Chris Pratt is seriously the best.

What do you see as the next big trend in innerwear and how do you stay on top of industry trends?

Bralettes! We just launched ours last month and they’ve mostly sold out over the holiday season. Racked featured them, and we’ve gotten so much great feedback on them. I think the generation under my old, 30-something self, has all but burned underwire bras. I think we’ve hit a nerve with customers because ours are not lace. They are made of an incredibly soft modal cotton and are really cozy. Comfort is the name of innerwear trends and we try and suss out what the next item is that we can design better, make more affordable, and fits seamlessly in the world of Richer Poorer.  

We love your philosophy that you need to take care of yourself to be a better mother and wife for your family. If you had a full day with nothing pre-scheduled, how would you spend it?

With no child, I would workout, get a massage and take a nap by a pool. No devices, and a book in hand.

With a child, I’d spend the day at home and go on a stroll to the park. Our life is pretty busy, so I love nothing more than our days at home being lazy and playing.

Iva Pawling

Running a business and being a wife and mother is busy. Do you have any time-saving hacks that you’ve incorporated into your daily life?

Less sleep! I wake up really early to get my workouts squeezed in before the house is awake which is the only way for me to fit it in my schedule without taking time away from everyone else. And this past year, Amazon Fresh. Not having to go to the grocery store anymore has saved us a few hours during the weekend which is time back for me with Ford.

We know you love beauty products almost as much as we do. Do you have any beauty rituals that you can’t live without?

I have become an absolute cult follower of Glossier. I do not have time to spend 20 minutes doing my makeup in the morning, so taking care of my skin is most important, and having a fast makeup routine is second. Their products are my fav – cleanser, moisturizer, concealer, brow gel, highlighter – all of it!

What 3 things would you tell a mama with a dream who wants to build her own business?

1. Things aren’t what they seem. It’s really easy to look at all these moms on Instagram that are juggling it all and feel like you should be doing the same, on your own. What you don’t see on Instagram are the nannies, family members and close friends who are picking our kids up from school and helping us keep our heads on straight.

2. Shoot for the stars, but judge yourself fairly. It takes a long time to build a business. Our society has gotten really good at holding up the instant success story. That is the absolute exception, not the norm. It takes a lot of years, tears and hustling hard to get a business started and to grow it.

3. It’s okay to pick work sometimes. I had a really hard time with this one as I would be absolutely guilt ridden when I had to prioritize time at work or travel sometimes, over Ford. I firmly believe Ford will be totally fine if I have to be gone at times that he wants me home. Ford knows he is the most important thing in my life, but that doesn’t mean that he is the most important thing in every minute of every day. If he really needs me, I without a question drop everything, however missing a school performance for the most important meeting of the year is simply necessary sometimes.  

Iva Pawling

“Things aren’t what they seem. It’s really easy to look at all these moms on Instagram that are juggling it all and feel like you should be doing the same, on your own. What you don’t see on Instagram are the nannies, family members and close friends who are picking our kids up from school and helping us keep our heads on straight.”

Heymama Iva Pawling is giving all of our readers a special treat: use code HEYMAMA to get 20% off your purchase 

Business

5 PR Mistakes NOT To Make When Starting Your Business

January 18, 2017
Jenelle + Lily_Kisha Batista Photography

One of the most important things when starting your business is getting it seen by as many eyes and ears as possible. Word of mouth and spreading the word organically is helpful, but incorporating a PR strategy into your launch is a must. With countless products and services hitting the market daily, having a solid game plan during the early days will have your brand thriving for years to come. heymama member and PR professional, Jenelle Hamilton shares her secrets to finding success in the magical world of media. Read on…

Jenelle Hamilton

As a PR professional working in the industry for over 15 years, I have worked with dozens of brands across all categories. From large corporate companies to boutique start-ups. But no matter the size, I have seen some PR blunders that are commonly made and can hinder the success of your brand. Below I share 5 of the mistakes to NOT make, when starting or launching your business:

1. NOT Allocating A Budget For PR

Now I know what you are thinking, of course a publicist is going to say this! But I am honestly not suggesting this because I am looking for new clients. I am recommending this because it is the most efficient way to raise brand visibility and get the results you want. Look at it this way, if you were facing legal action, you’d hire a legal professional to help and advise you, right? Most people wouldn’t try to represent themselves in court, they’d want a professional to guide them through the process. The same principle can be applied to PR. Publicists are professionals in their field, who have built close relationships with the media over a long period of time, sometimes decades. They know exactly what editors are looking for and how to present it to them, which makes the process a whole lot easier for them, and you.

Can a business owner secure placements by themselves? Absolutely! I know many brands who have come to me with much success, having obtained fantastic press themselves. However, those are the lucky few and they seldom know how to maintain that momentum over an extended period of time. When you work with an experienced publicist who has great relationships in place, they can help get your products in front of the media quickly and can secure steady coverage over time. I have had clients tell me that they had personally sent out hundreds of emails to the media and got zero responses. When you work with a professional, they know how, and when, to speak to the press, as well as the best ways to get you to your goal – and quickly.

I would strongly suggest you crunch the numbers and allocate a budget for at least 3 months of PR services to get you started. This will give you a good foundation to build your company on, so if you choose to continue alone after this period, you will at least have had a solid start.

2. NOT Doing Enough Research

If you are lucky enough to have the funds to hire a PR professional or firm, then be sure to do some research, before signing on as a client. Over the years, I have heard so many horror stories of clients that have come to me after a “publicist”, had promised them the moon, and did not deliver. Tip: If a publicist says they can guarantee you placements in A and B magazine, or on X & Y TV show, be weary. Nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to PR, it is all subjective based on an editor’s interests and what excites them. A good publicist knows who and what to pitch, but only paid advertising is guaranteed.

Make sure you do some research. Speak with the potential publicist and ask questions about clients they have worked with in the past. If they have worked with clients similar to your brand, find out the results of the project and ask what they feel would be realistic for you. You have the right to ask for case studies or references from past clients and once you feel comfortable, then sign on the dotted line. Doing this upfront research will be worth it in the long run and will save you time, money, and wasted energy.

Jenelle + Lily 2_Kisha Batista Photography

3. NOT Considering Timing When Planning Your Launch

For business owners and start-ups without a budget for PR, the good news is that you can still get coverage through your own outreach. It may be more challenging and harder to get to the editors, but it is possible.

The most important thing for you to do is think about timing and using your common sense when planning your launch. For example, if you are launching an SPF cream, obviously the June, July or August issues would be when editors are writing about summer skincare. Therefore, you should plan to reach out to editors before those issues hit the shelves. The same goes for say, a skiwear collection. If you want to get into the winter issues (Dec, Jan or Feb), then plan to launch way before those dates. Remember, editors work 2-3 months in advance of those issues, so plan to reach out to them at least 3 months before the issue you are targeting. So, if you want to get in the June issue, you should plan on contacting the editors in March or April. So many people launch late and miss amazing opportunities to be included in a story. Make sure you plan accordingly.

4. NOT Researching The Editor Before You Hit Send

The number one rule in PR is to make sure you know what an editor writes about, before reaching out to them. Pick up a copy of each of the magazines you plan to target. Bookmark stories from the websites you hope to be featured in and jot down the editors’ names. This is a simple way to research what an editor has written about in the past.

I have had clients come to me, saying they reached out to literally hundreds of editors and didn’t get even one response. When I ask them to show me their list of people they emailed, I often see they were pitching the entirely wrong person. If you have a great product and they like it, they will feature it. Just make sure you are reaching out to the correct contact.

5. NOT Making It As Easy As Possible For The Media

Editors are very busy and receive hundreds of emails each day. You have more of a chance of being featured if you make it super easy for the editor you want to work with. Be sure to include all relevant information they might need in your email such as website address, price of the product or service and where it can be purchased. Editors will feature a product they weren’t so keen on in their story, for the simple fact that the info was there and ready to go. Don’t make that mistake. Be as thorough as possible and it will increase your chances of getting a placement in your dream publication.

Happy pitching!

jenelle hamilton

Jenelle Hamilton has worked at high profile PR Agencies in Europe and New York, but after having her daughter, started her own PR consultancy, Jenelle Hamilton PR and has the flexibility to spend time with her family. You can follow her Instagram adventures here.

 

Photos by Kisha Batista

Business

Office Boss: How Two Creatives Found Their Dream Jobs at Target

January 16, 2017
heymamatarget-58

If you have vowed to follow your passions in a creative field, don’t write off working for a large corporation. Target is one of the biggest we know with over 340,000 employees, yet we found two women who are creating content and products that millions of people can enjoy and using plenty of creativity. Sure, there may be a few more spreadsheets involved, but Noria Morales, Senior Director of Design Partnerships and Gigi Guerra, Director of Curation have jobs that sound pretty darn dreamy. We’re all for mamas building their companies from the ground up, but there are opportunities like these, for creatives to shine. Read on…

target

You both came from career backgrounds that are pretty different from the roles you now have at Target. Can you tell us briefly about your careers and how they led you to the positions you hold now?

Noria: Most of my career, I was a Fashion Editor. I started in the fashion closet at Lucky and took different roles as I identified where I needed to grow. I took a bigger role at a smaller, regional publication in my hometown of Boston, and I took a digital role at a little site called PopSugar. When Target called, I thought I wasn’t their type. Zero experience in mass retail, never worked for a big corporation, and I wasn’t a marketer. I credit that Target recruiter for seeing what I didn’t realize at the time- that my background in fashion, my skill at storytelling, my work ethic, and my values made this ideal composite of what they wanted. They didn’t want status quo.

Gigi: My family moved a lot and I grew up all over the country. I learned to sew at a young age and liked to make my own clothes; it was my way of cultivating my individuality and identity when the world was always changing around me and I frequently didn’t feel like I fit in. I would make crazy stuff! I once took our family’s plastic shower curtain and sewed a dress from it and wore it to school. So, I knew I wanted to study fashion design, and was lucky to get my degree from Parsons. After that, I ended up working in magazines as a writer and editor for a good part of my career. I transitioned into marketing when I took a job at Madewell when it was launching. I was there for the first five years of the brand which was an incredible hands-on experience and I learned the ropes from the ground up. I give them a lot of credit for hiring someone with virtually no marketing experience to lead the marketing for a new brand. But like Noria said, they must’ve seen what I didn’t and took a chance on me. I’ll forever be grateful.

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“The true challenge is figuring out how to be effective in a big company, particularly if you are coming in at a leadership level. I learned quickly that you need two things: a clear message and super sharp communication skills.”

What did you find to be the most challenging thing or the biggest adjustment when you first came to work for such a large scale company? How did you meet those challenges?

N: There is definitely a holy sh*t moment when you realize just how big your “large scale company” really is. It’s startling, kind of funny, and often humbling. Visiting headquarters in Minneapolis really drives home how big it is.

The true challenge is figuring out how to be effective in a big company, particularly if you are coming in at a leadership level. I realized that my background in editorial (strong right-brain environments!) had not prepared me for the realities of working day-to-day in corporate America where there were way more left-brainers (with all their rules and processes!). At first, I felt like I was speaking a foreign language. I was overwhelmed by what seemed like a million people, meetings, and opinions. I learned quickly that you need two things: a clear message and super sharp communication skills.

G: For me, coming to Target wasn’t a huge adjustment since I’d been at a large company before (Madewell is part of J.Crew Corp). What drew me to Target was that it IS big – you have the resources, the support, and the ability to scale ideas and bring them to life. As a creative person, that’s hugely appealing. What I do in my current role really allows me to satisfyingly tap into my entire resume: I get to ideate partnership concepts and work with designers to help bring their ideas to life. But the best thing about Target is that there’s a whole store’s worth of product categories to dream up partnership opportunities for. It’s like a giant sandbox: women’s, men’s, kids, home décor, beauty, food, electronics, you name it.

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“I credit that Target recruiter for seeing what I didn’t realize at the time- that my background in fashion, my skill at storytelling, my work ethic, and my values made this ideal composite of what they wanted. They didn’t want status quo.”

What has the support system been like for you? Do you feel like you have all the resources you need?

N: This may sound dorky, but the company itself is an incredible support system. I have never worked for a company where the culture is overall very caring and supportive. I’m super lucky to have a boss who believes in empowering her staff, and believes it’s her responsibility to help us grow and evolve. I don’t know if that’s a Minnesota thing, but I’ll take it, because it’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket all the time (okay, most of the time).

When Target hired me, I got my first taste of corporate power during the “onboarding” period. Target does not interview you for six months, hire you, only to let you fail. I got about six fat binders full of materials relevant not just to my role, but to my role and responsibility as a leader. Then, they assigned me an executive coach. This person was really just that- a coach to help me navigate during the first year. If I needed to ask a dumb question, cry, vent, or just talk something out to an objective person, I could call my coach.

G: I agree! The support system at Target is amazing. We have the team, the resources, and most importantly, the enthusiasm from the highest levels to push new ideas and innovative thinking forward. Before I joined Target, I had the perception that this was a company that wasn’t afraid to blaze new trails.  And it’s true. Of course, you have to build trust, do your research, and make a solid case why an idea is worthy, but knowing that Target understands an opportunity and is willing to take a leap and support is really what makes me love my job. The other thing I find hugely rewarding is being able to use Target’s scale to bring exciting things to everyone. I remember growing up in the suburbs, and just not having access or means to get to all the things I’d see in magazines. But we had Target, and I knew I could always find something special and cool and new there – I felt like Target understood and heard me.

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“The other thing I find hugely rewarding is being able to use Target’s scale to bring exciting things to everyone. I remember growing up in the suburbs, and just not having access or means to get to all the things I’d see in magazines. But we had Target, and I knew I could always find something special and cool and new there – I felt like Target understood and heard me.”

Coming back to work as a new mom is hard for everyone, no matter what you do, and Gigi you have twins! What was your experience like as a new mom returning to work and learning to juggle career and family? How do you manage that? Do you have any life hacks (apps, programs, mantras) that help keep things flowing?

N: Looking back, I don’t know how I did anything. I know I wasn’t operating at full mental capacity. I’m still very forgetful and I feel like I’m constantly distracted, so that’s probably a side effect of being a mom to young kids and managing a big, meaty job like mine.

One thing I will freely admit to is that I have it easy, compared to many working mothers. I have a full-time nanny who takes care of my kids like they are her own. For that, I’m forever grateful because it allowed me to dive into my work and carve out time for me, which keeps me happy. I use that time to exercise.

I also try not to work on weekends. Sometimes I’ll need a few hours to work on something, but mostly, the company is very respectful of family time on weekends and I take full advantage of that. I am in full mom/wife mode on the weekends, and I think that is really important for the balance issue.

G: I had no idea how much the definition of “time” would shift once you have kids. There never seems to be enough of it and not a minute is wasted. That was the biggest revelation to me as a mom. I’m much more scheduled now and don’t have the luxury of noodling over things. It’s made me more decisive too. Going back to work was hard the first week – lots of worrying: are the kids going to be okay? Is there enough milk? Etc  – and then you settle into your new routine. Like Noria, I feel lucky. I enjoy my job and like what I do, and am lucky to have full-time childcare, which makes it easier for me to be 100% at work when I’m at work. Target is also a super supportive environment for moms. There are a lot of working mothers at the company which means there’s camaraderie and communal support – there’s an unspoken understanding when you need to be home with a sick child or there’s an unexpected childcare emergency.

As far as how I cope with being a working mom, I’ve learned to carve out “me” time whenever I can. Even it if it’s 30 minutes here and there. On the weekends, my husband and I will swap mornings getting up with the boys so the other can sleep in. Or just lay in bed and lollygag around and read. It’s easy to forget how important do-nothing time is. I’m pretty lazy by nature and not a gym person, so my alone time is usually allocated doing suitably lazybones things. I get my workout chasing twin toddlers. My husband and I also have a standing weekly babysitter so we can have a night out. I can’t overstate how important it is to have time together without kids. And we try to have one-on-one time with each boy individually. With twins, it’s easy to always do everything together, which is great, but since everything with twins from the womb onward is pretty much shared in their lives we want to make sure they have the singular focus of one of us on a regular basis.

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Noria, you were 7 months pregnant when they hired you! What was the interview process like? Did you feel like this was going to be an issue.. were you nervous about it? What was it like coming in for 2 months and then heading out on maternity leave? What’s the maternity leave like?

N: I found out I was pregnant during the months-long interview process. My husband advised me not to tell them because he thought they might lose interest in me. He had worked for a big corporation that was not supportive of working moms. In my gut, I felt Target was different so I decided to be transparent. It helped that most of the female leaders I had met at Target were all mothers and seemed proud of it. Simply put, they were awesome about it. It really is a company that values family above all else, which I feel is crazy rare.

It was super hard to leave after two months. One, I was drinking water from a firehose, just learning so much, getting to know my team, and how my projects actually worked. Motherhood is never convenient when you have a challenging job. I also had a 15 month old at home already. But here’s the amazing thing: my boss told me, in the calmest voice imaginable, just to take all the time I needed, that it would all be there when I got back, and that I should enjoy these moments. I didn’t totally listen to her though! I went back to work after 8 weeks because I was just so hungry to get back into the role.

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“Motherhood is never convenient when you have a challenging job. I also had a 15 month old at home already. But here’s the amazing thing: my boss told me, in the calmest voice imaginable, just to take all the time I needed, that it would all be there when I got back, and that I should enjoy these moments.”

Women make up 45% of the c-suite execs at Target! This is an incredible number. How do you think this affects the company policies and culture?

N: There is a level of empathy and thoughtfulness at our company, and I think that is cultivated by our strong female leadership. One, it’s easy to support family at Target when you have so many working mothers who are smart, visionary, cool, and can get sh*t done, but being a mom is their other job.

I think the big differentiator with the female leadership at Target is there is a strong desire to empower and support other women vs. something more negative (the kind of crappy behavior you might see in movies or shows). I’ve yet to meet a woman at Target who wants to cut me down. You know how younger siblings copy the older ones? Same thing happens at corporations. The young copy the elders, and that’s why we have such a strong, optimistic culture.

G: I agree. There is real support for working moms at the company, because many of women in leadership roles are mothers themselves. And in general, women really do help each other. I’ve encountered none of the stereotypical cattiness that you hear about when women work together. It’s the opposite. My female coworkers work to empower and inspire each other. I remember when I told my coworkers that I was pregnant – I had no idea what to expect – and I’ve never been met with more genuine enthusiasm or excitement. To this day, it’s common for a meeting with coworkers I haven’t seen in a while to start with an ask about how my kids are doing. Which brings up another point – you can tell a lot about a company by the way they treat expecting and new moms on leave.

Target is one of America’s largest retailers. How do you make sure your voice is heard in a company with 340,000+ employees?

N: You need smart ideas and fantastic communication skills. When you combine the two, you can usually get some pretty cool projects going, and when those succeed, people pay attention.

G: Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and share your ideas. Be collaborative – help others and others will help you. Find your people – those who will inspire you and advocate for you. Be proactive. Lastly, listen. You can’t be heard if you don’t know the conversation going on around you.

 

The New York office is gorgeous! I felt my creative juices pumping just from being in the art-packed open space. Where did all of the super cool art work come from?

N: We partnered with this AMAZING organization out of Oakland, CA called Creative Growth. It provides a working space for adult artists with disabilities. I can’t recommend them enough.. Their artists are incredibly talented and cool.

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As much as we love and support entrepreneurial women, we don’t want to overlook that there are some pretty cool creative jobs out there at big companies. What are some of the perks for working at a big company?

N: For me, there are 4 major perks:

1. Access and Exposure. Working at a big company, you have access to so many resources that inspire your thinking, enrich your skills, and strengthen your professional network. We work with top creative agencies, brilliant consultants, and really cool businesses. We have access to conferences, trend forecasters, and consumer data, etc. I’ve developed great relationships with CEOs, CMOs, entrepreneurs, chefs, designers, influencers… all because of my place at Target.

2. Right-Brain-Left Brain Development. I’m a creative. I always hated Excel spreadsheets. And while I still hate Excel spreadsheets, I’m fascinated by business and understanding operations and logistics. I’ve developed a much more strategic approach to my work, thanks to this “corporate environment” filled with a lot of left-brained people who are terrific at running a business. This has been invaluable for me to learn.

3. Security. This may not matter to anyone at age 25, but when you hit your 30s, have kids, and realize a 401K doesn’t grow on it’s own, the perks of a big company with a strong benefits plan suddenly becomes very clear.

4. Work-Life Balance. Do I have a hundred entrepreneurial ideas every week? Yes. Do I want to work a million hours to see them come to life, and never see my kids? Um, not really. I’m so lucky to be with a company that challenges me in my work and fully supports me leaving to take care of my family, exercise, and volunteer. I didn’t think about work/life balance until I had kids, but now I’m really strict about it and would never go to a company where that isn’t top of the priority list.

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We’d love to hear what goes on at Target’s annual fall meeting! 10,000 people wearing red packed into a stadium?

N: Haha! It’s one of those awe-inspiring, humbling, “I am totally in a movie” moments. It’s where we all come together to recognize the progress we made for the business and brand over the last year, and then get the teams pumped up about the holiday season. That’s important because in retail, the holiday season is IT. There are speeches, videos, and always live entertainment. One year, Coldplay performed (their album was out with us) and Chris Martin came out wearing red and khaki uniform with a “Chris” Target nametag. The goal is that everyone leaves on the same page- we understand our business priorities and what we need to get done.

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What do you do to unplug from the office?

N: Exercise and cocktail hour! SoulCycle and Y7 yoga are like my therapy and my husband and I really enjoy the art of making cocktails. My 3 year old wants in on the fun too, so we make him “kid cocktails” which consist of seltzer, bitters, and some sort of fruit mixed in.

G: I like to say I read a lot of books, am learning another language, and cook elaborate meals. But, the truth is, I usually catch up on whatever the binge-worthy show of the moment is and waste too much time scrolling through my Instagram feed. Joking aside, my husband, kids and I try to regularly get out and explore a different off-the-beaten path attraction each weekend in and around NYC’s five boroughs. We’ve explored both an abandoned fort and a former missile installation that defended NYC during WWI and WWII, taken in a couple Coney Island Cyclones minor-league baseball games, visited a historic fish hatchery, and hiked through a large sculpture park. Next on my list: There’s an architecturally award-winning sewage treatment plant in Brooklyn that you can tour. Seriously!

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“Make sure you take care of yourself. As they say on the airplane safety video – put your own oxygen mask on first. If you’re not operational, you can’t help anyone else.”

What are your 3 pearls of motherhood wisdom?

N: 1. You should be at the top of your own priority list. Show yourself some love, and that will manifest in you being a better, more present mother/partner/daughter/friend.

2. Sometimes the best thing you can give your kids is independence. Let them play by themselves, figure something out for themselves, and do leave them for a weekend with grandma.

3. Opt out of 90% of kid birthday parties, including your own kids, until they are 6. First of all, nobody will remember them. Second of all, they are a really chaotic two hours, and it’s expensive for parents! Third, it’s not a great way to make friends with other parents because it’s impossible to have a real conversation. Invite the parents over for cocktail hour instead, and give the kids a cupcake.

G: 1. Make sure you take care of yourself. As they say on the airplane safety video – put your own oxygen mask on first. If you’re not operational, you can’t help anyone else.

2. Make bedtime fun. My husband had the genius idea to have a bedtime “light show,” which means we turn out the lights in the boys’ bedroom and we get out glow sticks, a light-up disco ball, hats and glasses with LED lights – basically anything that blinks, flashes and lights up — and have a little lights-out dance party. It makes everyone excited to be in the bedroom, ends the day on a high note, and ready to flop into bed.

3. Enjoy every moment with your kids. It all goes by so quickly. It’s such a cliché, and I’ve learned as a mom that many of the clichés people tell you are true.

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“Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and share your ideas. Be collaborative – help others and others will help you. Find your people – those who will inspire you and advocate for you. Be proactive. Lastly, listen. You can’t be heard if you don’t know the conversation going on around you.”

Photos by Victoria Gloria

Business

Author Gillian Zoe Segal Swears You Can Meet Anyone You Want. She Shares the 15-Step Formula She Used

January 10, 2017

We at heymama are all about finding good mentors, and when we met Gillian Zoe Segal, we couldn’t wait to pick her brain. She just published a book called, “Getting There: A Book of Mentors” and she had the privilege of meeting, and interviewing, some of the most impressive people in business today, like Rachel Zoe to Sara Blakely and even Warren Buffet. The list of entrepreneurs that Gillian features in her book is remarkable to say the least and we couldn’t help but wonder, “How did you manage to meet all of these people?” Gillian shares her 15 tips for meeting anyone you want using creative networking techniques and the best part is, you can totally do it too. Read on…

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1. Understand the lay of the land.

Most luminaries are extremely busy. They receive multiple requests every day for interviews, speaking engagements, new business opportunities, charity functions, you name it, not to mention the obligations they have with their careers, families, and personal lives. Understandably, there are simply not enough hours in the day for them to say yes to everything. And they definitely don’t.

If you are not a big name or don’t have something major to offer, accept that you will not be at the top of anyone’s priority list — no matter how important your request might seem to you.

2. Toss your ego out the window.

You will be ignored and rejected a lot, and you can’t take it personally or allow it to depress or discourage you.

3. Know that you can lead a horse to water, but the biggest hurdle is making sure the horse knows that the water is in front of its face.

You must get your request noticed by the decision maker.

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4. If you have any connection at all, use it.

Your connection doesn’t need to be a big one.

Here’s how I contacted Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS: My best friend’s husband had a friend who used to work at CBS and was willing to put me in touch with Moonves’s assistant. The assistant, who works closely with him every day, made sure he saw my request.

If you don’t have a connection (and most often I didn’t), here are some ways to get your request noticed:

5. Make yourself as human as possible — the less human you appear, the easier it is for someone to reject you.

Asking in person is the best method; that way it’s obvious you’re human. (It’s a lot easier to say no to a faceless email or tweet.) If you can figure out a way to run into your target in a not stalkerish way, try to do so — for example at a party or event. But don’t be annoying or take up too much of your target’s time. I usually introduce myself, give a one or two sentence pitch, and then ask whom I should contact with more details. The luminary usually gives me the name of a point person; then I contact that person ASAP.

6. If you can’t ask in person — and most times you can’t — try to connect to the person you can reach (your target’s publicist, assistant, etc.).

Always use the name of the person you are corresponding with since it makes for a more personal connection. If you don’t have that person’s name, ask for it. An email to a specific person instead of one addressed “to whom it may concern” is a bit harder for the recipient to ignore.

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7. Never accept “no” from someone who can’t give you a “yes.”

My friend (Steve Cohen!) told me this early on, and it really stuck with me. The point is, don’t let a “no” from one employee deter you. If the front door is locked, try the back door; if the back door is locked, try the side door; if the side door is locked, try crawling in a window. If you can’t do that, wait a while then try the front door again. Someone might answer this time!

What does this front door/side door/window bit really mean? I am talking about ways in — avenues — like a publicist, an agent, an employee, someone who once did business with the person, a friend of a friend of a friend….

I rarely dealt with just one employee and one door. When someone ignored me repeatedly or rejected me, I switched to someone else and acted like nothing had ever happened — I never mentioned I was previously ignored or rejected. (A lot of times your target never even saw your request — an employee rejected it instead.)

8. Take responses literally.

If you don’t get a definitive “no” from someone, try again. For example, if you get an, “Unfortunately, he can’t participate in that now,” take “now” literally and follow up later.

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9. Never be anything but friendly and pleasant to deal with.

No one reacts well to “attitude” from strangers. That kind of behavior will only get you ignored even more — or axed for good. (It may also earn you a bad reputation.)

If you do get what you consider to be a final rejection, lose graciously and thank the person for considering your request.

10. Never rub anyone’s nose in the fact that they’re ignoring you.

For example, don’t complain that you called five times already. If you send a follow-up email to someone that has been ignoring you, don’t forward the old email. Send a new email (or send your prior email) like it has never been sent before.

This allows your contact to save face if they do choose to respond — and lets that person respond without having to make any excuses for why they previously ignored you.

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11. Keep your correspondence simple and clear.

Get to your point quickly. Remember how busy everyone is; no one has time to sift through paragraphs to figure out what your email is about.

12. Once you get a response from someone, grab hold of that person and don’t let go.

I learned this lesson the summer of 1993, when I worked as a real estate broker. When clients decided they wanted to rent an apartment I had just shown them, I was instructed to not to let them out of my sight until they put down a deposit. Why? Simple: if I let them walk away and “get back to me tomorrow,” they might reconsider their decision. So I literally accompanied my clients to the bank while they took out cash for their deposit.

The same is true with networking. If someone responds to your request, act fast and respond immediately. You need to get the ball rolling before they forget about you and move on to something else.

13. Take whatever you can get as soon as you can get it.

That means accepting the very first day the person is available — regardless of your schedule.

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14. Get your foot in the door any way you can.

One of the most challenging Getting There subjects for me to land was the architect Frank Gehry. I sent a couple of blind requests to the email address listed on his company’s website. The good news is that I was not totally ignored; the bad news is that I was rejected both times.

A few months later I found out my friend’s father’s new girlfriend (read that relationship twice and realize any connection can be a good connection) knew Frank and was willing to pass along my request. She sent him my request twice and was totally ignored both times!

A few months later I figured I would try again (after all, emails are free, and ya never know!), so I sent yet another email to his company’s email address and a miracle happened — I got a response! I can only assume a new assistant was on duty that day.

I immediately emailed her back, got her name, and asked if I could send her some samples of my work to show Gehry. Again, strike while the iron is hot: I was away at the time so I had my cat sitter overnight the material to her.

I called the office to follow up and make sure that she got it; remember, speaking on the phone makes the connection more personal. She showed my material to Gehry, he said yes, and we set up an appointment!

But that’s not the end of the story. Gehry then proceeded to cancel on me for a full year (I was that low on his priority list). During that time I bounced between 4 of his assistants (it seemed like every time I called to follow up a new person needed to be filled in on who I was and what Gehry had agreed to), but I eventually got some time with him and he is now in Getting There!

By the way: when I finally met with Gehry he had absolutely no idea I had ever been hounding him or his office. (In fact, none of my subjects did.)

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15. Persistence pays off.

If I learned one lesson from the people who I interviewed for Getting There it is that determination and resilience eventually pay off. Of all my subjects, I think that Ian Schrager sums up this sentiment best in his Getting There essay. He says, “In the end, there’s so little that separates people. Those who want success the most and are relentless about pursuing it are the ones who get it.”

Pursuing any goal is much easier if you are truly passionate about what you want; that’s what gives you the fuel to persevere. In my case, I really believed in the concept of my book and felt that readers would truly benefit from what my subjects could share. I also felt sure my subjects would be happy with the finished product; if I hadn’t felt that way it would have been extremely difficult to overcome all the rejection and keep approaching people over and over again.

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Gillian Zoe Segal is an Author, Professional Speaker and Entrepreneur who lives in New York City. Her latest book, “Getting There: A Book of Mentors” is available now. This story has been edited and was originally published on LinkedIn.

Business, Fashion

13 Moms Who Crushed It In 2016

December 30, 2016
moms of 2016

For many, 2016 was a rough one. Perhaps Mercury was in Retrograde for a little too long, or real life was looking a little too much like a bad reality TV show. But, for these 13 ladies, 2016 was pretty darn rad. Before we say so-long to 2016, let’s take a moment to marinate in all the good that these mamas did in the world.

  1. Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO and Co-Founder, FEED

We’ve long admired FEED CEO and co-founder, Lauren Bush. Inspired by her own travels around the world and witnessing the effects of hunger worldwide led Lauren to starting her business that gives back to break the cycle of poverty. We had the pleasure of working with Lauren this past year to help support her mission to feed kids in need worldwide. 9 years, and 90 million meals later, this mama is the definition of beauty both inside and out.

Follow: @laurenblauren

moms of 2016

  1. Alli Webb, Founder of Drybar, Author

Not only did this mama take her side-business of doing her friends hair into nearly a $100 million dollar business, she wrote a tell-all book, Drybar: The Guide to Good Hair for All, to share her tips and tricks with anyone wanting to master their mane. Thank goodness for our blowouts!

Follow: @Alliwebb

moms of 2016

  1. Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President of Apple Retail

Recognized as one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, Angela Ahrendts, formerly of Burberry, has traded in fashion for tech and is revamping retail at Apple. Ahrendts believes that community is key and by the end of this year, she will have redesigned 95 Apple stores so they feel more like town squares. She has introduced “Teacher Tuesdays” to help teachers incorporate technology into their classrooms and will be introducing coding classes for children in 2017.

moms of 2016

  1. Daphne Oz, NYTimes Best-Selling Author and Co-Host of ABC’s The Chew

Our list of New Year’s Resolutions include picking up a copy of Daphne Oz’s new cookbook,The Happy Cook: 125 Recipes for Eating Every Day Like It’s the Weekend stat. Anyone who can make preparing meals both healthy and easy is a woman after our own hearts.

Follow: @daphneoz

moms of 2016

  1. & 6. Katia Beauchamp and Rebecca Minkoff, Fashion & Beauty Superstars and TV Hosts

We love when mamas collaborate and we can’t get enough of the new show that features some of our favorite mamas, Katia Beauchamp (Birchbox) and Rebecca Minkoff (Fashion Designer). Project Runway: Fashion Startup is like the original Project Runway, The Apprentice and Shark Tank had a baby and brings together aspiring beauty and fashion entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges to score start-up funding.

Follow:

@katiawb

moms of 2016

@rebeccaminkoff

moms of 2016

  1. Joy Cho, Founder and Creative Director of Oh Joy

This mama has had such a stellar 2016 that she ended it with a move to a bigger space! Joy Cho is an inspiration with her whimsical designs, delightful daily posts and colorful outlook on life. You may recognize her designs on your kids’ band-aids, gorgeous wallpapers or her latest uber exciting collaboration with Target. Her latest collection is inspired by rainbows and clouds (swoon!) and we have a lot more to share in our upcoming interview.

Follow: @ohjoy

moms of 2016

  1. Dana Walden, CEO of Fox Television Group and Chair for Alliance For Children’s Rights

Dana Walden has spent her career bringing shows like “Family Guy” and “Fuller House” to families around the globe, but she knows life isn’t as always perfectly scripted. Walden spends her free time giving back to the foster care system and in 2016, was honored with the National Champions for Children Award at the 24th annual Alliance for Children’s Rights dinner. The dinner alone raised $1.5M to improve the lives of young people in the foster care system. A dedicated mother to her own two children, we need more people like Walden to give back to those in need.

moms of 2016

  1. Randi Zuckerberg, NYTimes Bestselling Author, Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and Editor in Chief of Dot Complicated

There truly isn’t anything this mama of two can’t do and to say that she is an expert in managing the ever evolving landscape of our digital lives is an understatement. Post managing marketing for Facebook, Randi became a NYTimes Bestselling author, won an Emmy, started a media company and in 2016, created and executive produced her own tv show called Dot, which airs on Sprout. Having Randi leading our littles in the wild west of their new online realities is a mama’s dream come true.

Follow: @randizuckerberg

moms of 2016

  1. Queen Rania of Jordan

Queen Rania of Jordan has become one of the world’s most vocal advocates on behalf of Syrian refugees. Recognizing that every 7th person in her country is a Syrian refugee, she is taking a stand and imploring the world to take notice. Queen Rania shares she believes in conviction, courage, compassion and creativity and trusts that everyone can do their bit to change the world for the better. If you are looking for a cause to support in 2017 and want to join Queen Rania’s efforts in this global crisis, visit Global Citizen to learn more.

Follow: @queenrania

moms of 2016

  1. Jenni Fleiss, Co-Founder of Rent the Runway

We can’t count the times we’ve been complimented on our latest outfit, only to exclaim, “It’s Rent the Runway Unlimited!” (If you don’t know about this monthly service, you need to sign up stat.) and we have Jenni Fleiss to thank for that. And now, the Rent the Runway Foundation has partnered with UBS for the second year of Project Entrepreneur. Women entrepreneurs are invited to apply in the competition and educational program to compete to win $10,000 and a spot in a five-week accelerator program to scale and create high impact businesses. Women supporting women? We love it!

Follow: @jennycarterfleiss

moms of 2016

  1. & 13. Paige Appel and Kelly Harris, Co-Founders of Bash,Please

When Paige Appel and Kelly Harris brought their two companies together and formed Bash, Please, we couldn’t wait to join their party. The duo lends their creative expertise to clients to create the events of their dreams and has won the hearts of people like Martha Stewart. In 2016, the two turned their sights on opening their first brick & mortar shop, Midland, in Culver City, CA. Chances are, if these two style mavens love it, we will too.

Follow:

@paigeappel

moms of 2016

@kellyharris

moms of 2016

Business, Give Back

Don’t Have Time to Shop? No Problem. Just Say No Gifts, Please!

December 20, 2016
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We’ve given you our Gift Guides here, here, here and here, but what if you would rather give a gift to someone in need this holiday season? No worries! heymama member, Hitha Palepu has got you covered. Hitha is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Bridge2Act, a writer and advocate for girls seeking an education and becoming leaders. Inspired by the overwhelming response to her “no gifts please” request at her son’s first birthday, she launched No.Gifts, a website dedicated to helping people #gogiftless and create custom donation pages for causes they are passionate about. This, we have time for.

Hitha, can you tell us more about your No.Gifts website and #gogiftless campaign?

NO.GIFTS is an offshoot of Bridge2Act, a company that I co-founded in 2014 to enable people to take action the moment they feel compelled. We developed a best-in-class donation platform, where you can make a donation in as little as 5 seconds and 100% of the donation is transferred to the charity in real-time.

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People give when they’re directly asked. There is also a movement towards having less stuff and leaving more of an impact. Through NO.GIFTS, we can build you a custom donation page to share with your loved ones on your birthday, your child’s birthday, or a wedding. We also launched a “gift impact” feature this holiday season, which allows you to gift a donation to a loved one. You can send them a beautiful digital card or print one out and give to them in person, informing them of the impact made in their name.

What inspired you to create this site?

My son’s first birthday was actually the inspiration! Our loved ones kept asking what they could get him as a gift, and we kept replying “no gifts!” Eventually I created a Bridge2Act donation link and shared it with our family and friends. We raised over $2000 from that link for 3 amazing children’s charities – and the rest is history!

How do you identify the charities that you work with?

Right now, we use the Bridge2Act platform (the parent company) to host the donation pages and process donations. We thoroughly vet every charity that applies and approve organizations that meet one of the following criteria:

  • Has a 3+ rating on Charity Navigator

  • Meets all 20 Give.org standards

  • Has been accredited by GiveWell

  • Has been accredited by a 3rd party nonprofit vetting organization (Global Citizen, Show Of Force, Gucci’s Chime For Change, or Guidestar)


What is currently your favorite charity?

At this moment, it’s the Karam Foundation. They’ve been providing aid to Syrians (mainly children) through in-country and refugee camp programs since 2007. Given the heartbreaking tragedy in Aleppo, I’ve been donating to Karam this month – for myself and for gifting impact to my loved ones.

Congratulations on creating such a meaningful company! If you had one wish this holiday season, what would it be?

As cheesy as it sounds, I wish for peace – around the world, certainly, but also here at home. And peace inside my own brain would be nice.

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