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#LADYBOSS, Blogger, Food, Interviews

We Swoon For Athena Calderone And You Will Too

August 31, 2016
Athena Calderone

We were excited to visit Athena Calderone’s Amagansett home the morning of our photoshoot. Before creating her tantalizing site, EyeSwoon, Athena made a name for herself as an interior designer, creating inviting warm and gorgeous spaces you want to melt into.  Her home did not disappoint. She warmly welcomed us into her home and told us to look around as she finished getting ready. We spotted some delicious concoction on the kitchen table and we think the hostess noticed our oogling, because she offered it to us. Not gonna lie, it was one of the most delicious things we’ve ever eaten and she just casually whipped it up! Her house was thoughtfully put together, yet had such a effortless feel. An easygoing and delightful pair, the mama and her son, Jivan, made our shoot into one of the easiest and most fun ones we’ve done. Can we come hang?? Hope you readers swoon as much as we did…

Athena Calderone

First of all, EyeSwoon is definitely an eye swoon! How did it all start and how did you develop it into what it is today?

EyeSwoon began in the summer of 2011. I was working as an interior designer and I found myself between projects. I felt a lull in creativity and I started EyeSwoon as the answer to that lull. I love making things beautiful – whether it’s my immediate physical environment or the food that I create – and I wanted to share those little sparks of inspiration and see what journeys they would inspire for others. When I’m designing a space, I can always trace the inspiration back to a singular moment or image that gave me the vision for the complete room. The same thing happens with an amazing bite of food. Suddenly I’ll find myself running out to re-create it and add my own twist. Eye-swoon became a way for me to group all those fragmented moments and give them one voice that speaks to all the sides of me, the design-addict, the fashion-lover, the food-obsessed, the mom, the wife. And hopefully it can do the same for people that share those interests and seek out inspiration.

When you launched your site, did you think of it as a business or something you wanted to do for yourself? At what point did it become profitable and how?

I really did not.  I knew I was seeking a platform to voice all of my various passions and that was the true impetus. For a good few years I was blissfully losing money as all of the shoots, and food, and photography, and tablescaping with props was quite costly.  It was not until I began collaborating with brands that I was able to turn my passion project into a business.

Athena Calderone

“You can only look to yourself and what truly makes you happy to find success.  It took me years to figure that out.”

What do you think it takes to launch a successful blog? Any tips for those of us who are trying?

I think you need to have an authentic point of view and be so well versed and excited on that given topic, that you cannot help but share it. I personally struggled to figure out what I was meant to offer this world. I was successful when I decided to do what I naturally loved to do.  I found myself when I embraced all the various creative facets of my life and shared them authentically. Cooking in the kitchen and creating meals is where I’m happiest and where I am most often found since my early 20’s!  I approach design and food in the same way….adding layers and texture, balancing flavors, unexpected elements. This, combined with hosting, is the creative outlet that feeds my soul….it’s a massive piece of who I am. You can only look to yourself and what truly makes you happy to find success.  It took me years to figure that out.

We’ve heard that you have a book in the works. What’s it about?

I am currently working on a seasonal cookbook to be released in Fall 2017 with Abrams.  I want to arm readers with the tools to create delicious and visually stunning meals, by offering swoon-worthy tips and tricks on elevating the presentation of food and insider prep tips I learned from cooking with culinary tastemakers.  I am also expanding on the idea of seasonality. I believe that the way we engage and gather for meals shifts from season to season, as does our tone and palettes. Summer is more light and bright and carefree, where in winter our meals are more intimate, richer with stews and roasts and the tonality is moodier and overall darker.  I want you to flip through the book and see, taste and feel a significant difference from season to season.

Athena Calderone
What’s been the biggest challenge with your book? What have you learned?

This is bigger than anything I’ve ever done.  There is a permanence to a book and that also adds pressure.  I have to remind myself to trust my gut and not second guess myself, which is hard when making such important decisions. It has been my instincts and intuition that have brought me this far so I do need to remind myself of this often throughout this process.  This has been extremely challenging, but it has also been pushing me creatively – and ultimately, that is how we grow.

You seem to be surrounded by creative people. How has this community been important in getting you to where you are now?

My community is everything.  The creative like-minded cast of characters in the food community is unbelievably inspiring and supportive – this is a connectivity I had been craving for quite some time.  We inspire and raise one another up – we learn and we expand together.  Collaboration and meeting new people who hold similar passions have truly been the greatest and most uplifting part of this journey.

Biggest pinch me moment?

Cooking with Jean George was MAJOR!

Athena Calderone-42

 

What has been your favorite collaboration to date?

I really hold the dinners I did with Cointreau at the highest regard.  I was able to unite my love of food, décor, and entertaining through those dinners.  I love to create beauty more than any one thing and those dinners were absolutely swoony!  Some of my favorite images were captured by Nicole Franzen for Club Monaco.  It is rather epic when a brand gives you the creative freedom to do what you love and capture it, along with being surrounded by a creative group of women.

Fave NYC restaurant?

Lilia, Café Altro Paridiso, Wildair

You and your son seem so close. How do you maintain that as he’s getting older and wants to spend more time with his friends? Any favorite things to do together?

13 is a big year both for him and for myself.  It is certainly challenging and emotional at times as he pulls away, but it is also completely natural for him to crave more independence. His social world is high up on his list these days, but we are always consciously making sure we carve out some family time.  We turn off computers and do not answers emails after 6pm in our home.  We go on a bike rides to Louse Point to watch the sunset on most evenings together as a family. Jivan and I also bake together, which we both love as our intimate time together.

Athena Calderone

You’ve traveled all around the globe. How has this influenced your aesthetic? What’s your favorite trip you’ve been on?

Traveling opened my eyes to new flavors, cultures, food, architecture and design.  My eyes absorbed it all – they were indeed swooning.  I soak it all in when I travel and then come home to experiment in my kitchen with new flavors, foreign ingredients, herbs and spices. Morocco influenced both my flavor profile and design aesthetic, with an appreciation for textiles, texture and patina. I love to bring home trinkets from my journeys and add them to our home.  A home should tell your story, conjure memories – where you have been and where you have adventured – and I certainly continue to build and expand my story through travel.

What’s the best career advice you have ever received?

Don’t compare yourself to others. No one is YOU and that is your greatest power.

How would you describe your philosophy as a mother?

I encourage adventure always, but set boundaries at the same time.  Jivan is fearless and craves the extreme.  He can also be mischievous at times, yet he is innately shy – complex like the rest of us. I encourage him to take risks and embrace who he is by allowing him to be who he is, but all within limit. Those frisky and curious bits of his personality will ultimately make him unique if he knows to celebrate them.
All that said, I used to think I was a fun mom, but now I am told I can be a nag – ugh!  I asked Jivan the other day, “so what can I do to encourage you to share more with me…”  He said, “well you can stop repeating yourself – I usually hear you the first time” hahahaha!!!!  Noted my boy, noted!

Athena Calderone

Photos by Stevi Sesin

@stevilou

#LADYBOSS, Brand Spotlight, Business

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

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

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

 

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

1-Dry clean too often

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

3-Use chlorine bleach
The Laundress Stain Solution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

laundress

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

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

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

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

Best career advice you’ve ever received?

If you are passionate, you will be successful.

How has your life changed since having kids?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Laundress, kids painting

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

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

What’s your favorite mommy and me activity?

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

Three Pearls of Wisdom

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

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

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

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

Where did you grow up and what was that like?

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

How did you first get into making jewelry?

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

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

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

Helen Ficalora, Breakers Motel, audi Q7

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What advice would you give to aspiring jewelry designers?  

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

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

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

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

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

 

Helen Ficalora Palm Beach, Florida Store

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Helen Ficalora Audi Q7 Breakers Motel

 

Lifestyle photos by Stevi Sesin

@stevilou

#LADYBOSS, Brand Spotlight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite mommy and me activity?

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

What advice would you entrepreneurs just starting out?

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

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

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

Best business advice you’ve ever received?

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

Missy Tannen, cofounder of boll & branch

 

 

 

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

www.bollandbranch.com

#LADYBOSS, Business, Interview

Jill Foley Has Cycled Her Way To Success

August 8, 2016
Jill Foley, Peloton

Have your cake and eat it too, Peloton is the perk of a boutique fitness class but in the comfort of your own home. This hitched duo was all about fitness from the get-go. The struggles of keeping that routine up while having kids was how this idea came to be. Her husband, John Foley, is the CEO, while Jill runs the merchandise side of it. We all gotta work out in style, duh. 

Tell us about Peloton? Where did the idea come from?

My husband John and I have always been addicted to fitness.  Our first dates were centered around fitness—running, indoor cycling, surfing, yoga, boot camps, etc.  We particularly loved attending any boutique fitness classes we could find.  We loved the way we felt after a high-energy, instructor-led interval training class.  But then, as our jobs got more demanding and we started to have children, we found it hard to get to these classes and we actually would get in arguments about whose turn it was to workout!  

So one day, John came home and said, “I have a great idea!”  What if you could get a high-energy, instructor-led interval training class in your own home!?  Working out at home was traditionally so boring and not very effective.  John had an extensive technology and engineering background and understood the power of streaming capabilities and knew he could stream these high-energy effective workouts to people’s homes.  And—there you have it—the Peloton bike was born.

What’s your role at the company?

I run the apparel side of the business.  We sell Peloton branded apparel online and in all 15 of our showrooms.  We have 60,000 Peloton riders and that number keeps growing, thus demand for the apparel keeps growing!  It’s been a wild ride trying to keep up with demand, but we love it.  

How is it different than a regular indoor cycling bike?

We are the only exercise bike that streams live and on demand indoor cycling class to your home.  Our bike has a 22” touch screen tablet on it where you can see the instructor and follow the leaderboard.  The leaderboard shows all of the riders who are taking the class from their homes along with you (or have taken the class in the past) and what their scores (we call them “outputs”) are/were.  These scores, or outputs, are a calculation of two metrics:  your cadence and your resistance.  Thus, the higher the resistance and faster you go, the higher your output.  If you are not the competitive type, then you can hide the leaderboard and metrics and just enjoy the instructor and the music.

Peloton Bike

The classes are live? How does this work? Can the instructor see you and help motivate you personally?

We offer both live and on-demand classes.  Our studio in NYC offers 11 classes per day like any normal indoor cycling studio, except at Peloton every class is filmed and streamed live to our rider’s bikes at home.  Our bike owners can join the class from home and their names will show up on the leaderboard.  The instructors can see the leaderboard and can see how each rider is doing.  Our instructors will call out the names of the home riders during the class to help motivate them and keep them pushing themselves.  And, this is what allows our riders to get that world class high energy workout but in the convenience of their own home.

What if you want to ride when there isn’t a class starting?

If you can’t get to your bike for a live class, no worries!  Our bikes have a library of over 4,000 on-demand classes, so our home riders can take a class anytime of the day or night.  And, we offer a range of different ride lengths—you can choose to do a 20 minute class, then a 10 minute arms interval class or a 15 minute climb ride, etc.  The ability to change up your workout is key.  The body loves cross training and variance and our bike offers all of that.

What drew you to heymama?

The diverse content!  I love that I can read interviews with other working mamas and also get advice on anything from etiquette to work tips.  I particularly like reading the interviews because obviously there are a lot of stresses that come along with being a working mother.  So when I hear the stories of other working mamas it inspires me and allows me to feel like “I can do this!”

Jill Foley, Peloton

How do you integrate fitness into your lifestyle?

Honestly, the Peloton bike is one of the main ways I am able to integrate fitness into my lifestyle.  The fact that I can hop on the bike, whether it’s at 6:00am before the kids wake up or at 8:00pm once the kids are asleep, and get an amazing workout makes it easy to fit fitness in.

I am also very lucky to work at a fitness company where working out is part of the culture.  For instance, we have team rides at least once a month and there is always some fitness challenge going on within the company where we compete against each other to see who can do the most rides or who can get the highest output (score) on the bike.  In addition, my friends at work and I like to go to fitness classes together.  We are often at Barry’s Bootcamp or Fhitting Room wearing our Peloton branded apparel and working-out together.  It’s just part of the culture.  

What do you think is the biggest draw for Peloton customers? What is their lifestyle like? Do they choose this as a compliment to other types of workouts or is this their main work out?

I believe the two main draws are:  convenience and quality of the workout.  It is AMAZING that you can get a world-class indoor cycling class in the privacy and convenience of your own home.  This is not a boring workout where you stare at a wall.  It is a fun, high-energy, instructor-led class where you can achieve real fitness.   

I have found that our customers are very busy people who like to work hard.  Thus, they love that the bike pushes them and they love that they can fit it into their busy schedules.

And, a lot of our customers are very social people who enjoy sharing their results and achievements.  Thus, our Facebook page has a dedicated page where our riders can write in to support and encourage each other.

Jill Foley, Peloton

How can busy mamas squeeze fitness into their schedule. Do you have any tips and tricks you can offer?

For me, fitting it in first thing in the morning is key.  I like to wake up and workout before the kids even wake up.  Or else my day gets away from me and I am too tired in the evenings to motivate myself.  

Have you seen people get more motivated by tracking their performance and sharing fitness accomplishments on social media?

Absolutely!  And, this is why the Peloton bike has a metrics feature (cadence, resistance and output) and the leaderboard feature.  If you know exactly how you did during one ride, then there is a little part of you that always tries to either get that same output number or beat it in future rides.  This inherently pushes you.  On top of that, the Peloton bike has a feature where you can post these results on Facebook or Strava and your friends can see your accomplishments and cheer you on.  There is no doubt that this is highly motivating and inspires people to work hard and get stronger.

Outside of spinning what’s your favorite workout?

I love running and I love Barry’s Boot Camp.  

What’s been the biggest challenge you face as a busy working mama?

I struggle with never feeling like I am the BEST mom or the BEST employee.  I can’t give 100% to working at Peloton because I have children who need me (and who I want to spend time with!) and I can’t give 100% to being a mom because I have a team that needs me.  So you get stuck feeling like you aren’t doing anything really really well.  

Jill Foley, Peloton

How do you see community fitting into fitness today?

I see community as necessary when it comes to fitness.  Necessary because it pushes you to try harder and that makes you stronger.  This is why the Peloton bike has the feature of the leaderboard.  Because most of our bikes are in private homes, a lot of people think the exercise is experienced in isolation.  But, because of the unique feature of the leaderboard, when you are riding, you don’t feel alone.  You know there are at least another 200 people riding along with you and this motivates you.  You also see the 60 riders in the studio taking the class with you and that motivates you as well.

Further, as I mentioned, we have a Peloton Facebook page where our riders can write in and cheer each other on, or motivate each other to take a class with them.  Because of the leaderboard and our Facebook page, our community has grown very strong.  This is has been one of the most surprising aspects of the Peloton business—the community.  We have thrown events at our studio in NYC where our home riders come in from all over the country to meet each other in person.  They have been seeing each other on the leaderboard and cheering each other on via Facebook, so when they meet each other in person they can’t help but give each other a hug and say “thank you for motivating me, thank you for helping me make myself better”.  This is the power of community.  

Photos by Stevi Sesin

@stevilou

#LADYBOSS, #STARTUPSTORIES, Beauty, Interview, Shopping

Katia Beauchamp On How a Box Full Of Sample Sized Beauty Products Became A Billion Dollar Business

July 28, 2016

Subscriptions have definitely taken over the market, and with how convenient it has made our life, we are very happy about it. Together with her co-founder Hayley Barna, Katia Beauchamp has created Birchbox, a beauty editor approved box of samples delivered to your door every month. I mean, it’s basically like having a birthday every month. Who wouldn’t want a box full of beauty surprises to try 12 times a year? Read below to find our more about how this #LADYBOSS developed her addictive business.

What was the inspiration for Birchbox? How did you get started?

We started Birchbox while we were in business school. We had noticed there wasn’t a lot of activity happening in the beauty industry when it came to the internet, because beauty is so touch, try, and feel. So, we thought, how can we change that trajectory? The other inspiration was real life; my co-founder, Hayley, wasn’t the type of person to seek out beauty on her own, but she always had the best products because her best friend was a beauty editor. That crystallized the opportunity – we wanted to build a beauty company that could sell products online and serve as everyone’s beauty-editor best friend. We then developed the business model, which included personalized sampling for $10 a month, content to teach you about the products you received, and an e-commerce shop so you could purchase anything you really loved.

Who is the Birchbox customer and how are you able to identify the niche in market?

Our target customer is a woman we define as a “discerning multitasker”. She uses beauty in some way, shape or form, but has an average relationship with it – she’s not passionate about beauty. And she’s been underserved by the industry. Hayley and I represent this customer ourselves. We thought, why is beauty so hard? The majority of women don’t want to do the work of figuring it all out – we just want it to be as easy as possible to get the best things. So, we created a company for the majority of women, celebrating being your best self in an elevated, natural kind of way.

How has your business model changed since the beginning, how much of it focuses on the sample sizes in your boxes and how much of it is the full-sized products?

The biggest change is the growth of our e-commerce business, specifically sales of full-sized products. Our revenue split is 65% subscription and 35% full-sized product sales, which is the fastest-growing part of our company. Our goal is to become a new way to shop for beauty and to make it really fun and engaging; it’s not just about the discovery but being with the customers from the first touch all the way through the transaction. There have been other big changes such as international expansion, launching Birchbox Man, allowing customers to choose specific samples, and adapting our algorithm to personalize our boxes even further.

What was your experience like raising money? At what point did you decide to raise capital? And were there any specific markers that pointed out to you that there was a need to raise money?

We decided we were going to raise capital pretty early after we tested the concept. When we were in business school we launched a beta test to understand whether the model was viable or not. We invited 200 people to pay upfront for two months of Birchbox and had really great results. So, at that point we knew we wanted to raise some money but didn’t know if we were going to go the angel route or venture capitalist. We met with so many people and we decided to go venture capitalist, which was based on how big we thought the opportunity was. The more we realized this could be a massive company, we needed investors that could grow with us.

What do you think made Birchbox a good gamble for those investors?

A lot of it was timing – investors were looking at industries that had stagnated in terms of delivering a new customer experience. There wasn’t anyone else out there disrupting beauty retail online, and the market size and our unit economics were really strong. It wasn’t easy though until we had actual revenue and proof points to show that people would actually change their behavior and buy samples.

What are your day to day responsibilities as a founder of Birchbox?

That’s changed overtime. Hayley and I, plus our first and second and third employees did a lot of everything in the early days. I used to be the one, for several years, that was responsible for creating the relationships with beauty brands and negotiating deals. Today, my day-to-day is running and financing the business. I focus on what’s changing in the market and how to plan for that long term; continuing to make sure that our board is getting the right information that they need and to grow the board and add the right people to it. I’m more focused on longer term than I used to be.

“You have to take small steps and let the customer shape what product becomes. The sooner you can get a product to market and test it, the sooner you’ll know whether you have a product with purpose.”

What do you enjoy the most?

The people. From an internal perspective it’s so motivating to have such talented people of this caliber that really want to be here and want to work hard to build something together. It’s so inspiring. I also love rallying around our customer – the woman I spoke about earlier who has a more average relationship with beauty and has been an outsider in the category. We’re showing her that we respect her and are delivering the best experience in the most efficient way.

What are the marketing channels Birchbox is focusing on?

Mostly digital. Social is a really core place for us because it allows the customer to tell our story. We’ve also done some television and digital radio to get a wider reach.

You see everything as far as what’s out there in the beauty market, what’s your number one beauty product that you can’t live without?

Being able to get ready quickly is really important when you have so many other things to do, so dry shampoo, in my opinion, is a critical development for feminism. I don’t know what women did before it.

What tips would you give to young female entrepreneurs just starting out?

It’s important to test your idea and move from the business plan stage to actually getting real feedback from customers. To do this you need to understand and accept that, at first, it will not come close to your full vision. You have to take small steps and let the customer shape what product becomes. The sooner you can get a product to market and test it, the sooner you’ll know whether you have a product with purpose.

What were your early challenges with starting the company compared to the challenges you’re facing today?

Everything from getting brands to give us product and trust us as a marketing and retail partner to hiring and developing the team. Today, the biggest challenge is making sure we’re thinking long-term and that whatever we’re working on today is a step towards that long-term vision. Also, executing and investing in things at the right time and making sure we’re communicating effectively throughout the company so everyone is clear on the priorities.

You are extremely busy woman and a mom with twins, how do you make time for your family?

Becoming a mom made me more efficient, better at time-management and a better delegator. Before having kids it was hard to turn my brain off from work – it was always on my mind – but now I’m able to do that and it’s beneficial to the company and my life. I just try to think about what is really important and then make space for it.

What’s the company culture like? What’s it like to be a mom and work at Birchbox?

The company culture is really ambitious but also very supportive. There is a true appreciation here that new moms can be ambitious. The transition back to work is tough – it’s hard to come back those first few months and get readjusted as a working mom. Our employees understand and respect that needing more flexibility doesn’t mean they don’t have ambition.

How would you describe your leadership philosophy?

It has really changed as the company has needed it to change. The most important thing is that there is a willingness to put the company first and focus on making sure that the people working at Birchbox are getting the information and access they need to take the company to the next level. We’re the sum of our parts, so it’s important to make sure that everyone feels appreciated and empowered.

What are you looking for when you’re hiring people? Any tricks or questions?

How they problem-solve and their approach to challenges. People who have an optimistic perspective in their ability to solve problems. At the higher positions, we look for people who empower their team and give their team the support and access they need.

What are you excited about? What’s coming up on the horizon? Anything in the works you can share?

We are about to be six years old in September and anniversaries are always exciting. Plus the holidays are coming up before you know it so we’ve been working on that, and we also have several new brands and products launching in the months ahead. We’re really focused on continuing to evolve how we do things so we can surprise our customers and stay as relevant to them as possible.

Photos by Julia Elizabeth

#LADYBOSS, #STARTUPSTORIES, Baby, Interview

Designed, Subscribed, Delivered! Lisa Hom of Parasol Reinvents the Diaper and Drops It At Your Door

July 26, 2016

As time progresses and we see the effects of global warming and what some products REALLY do to us, we have come to realize that we need to reevaluate what products we are buying and putting on our bodies. Lisa Hom of Parasol has redesigned diapers to be Disposable Baby Underwear that reflect the essence of the Modern Parent. One that is not only free of harmful materials, but is also soft, sleek, and stylish in design. Let’s not forget that this subscription-based product gets delivered to your door and makes sure you never suffer from running out of diapers!

There a lot of “eco-friendly” diapers out there and and even some diapers with cute prints these days (we won’t name names) How would you say Parasol is different?

I wanted to reimagine what a diaper could be.  We spent years developing a diaper that uses less wood pulp, creates less shipping waste, is completely safe for your baby, and lets you express your personal style with bright, vivid, hand-painted designs.  Even more importantly, I wanted to create a diaper that is luxuriously soft and comforting.  Modern parents are demanding responsible materials, but they are still forced to settle for the rough and bulky quality of eco brands.  Parasol is a game changer in that regard.  I LOVE watching parents’ reactions when they touch and feel our diapers for the first time – that’s when they truly understand just how different Parasols are.

What was it like to start a business based on a subscription service model and how to do see your business evolving in the long term?

It made sense for us to start with a subscription service because we wanted to provide parents with the convenience of receiving everything they need when they need it.  As we continue to grow our Parasol family, we will continue to add more features and flexibility to fit the changing needs of our subscribers.  We have already launched a Shop and Gift Subscriptions, but we will continue to evolve.  Looking ahead, I definitely see the possibility of launching our products in physical retail stores to expand our exposure to parents and give them another channel to purchase through.    

Tell us about the way you work with artists to create your packaging and the designs on your diapers. How are you supporting the community?

I have always been incredibly inspired by artists and where they draw their inspiration from – nature, architecture, color, emotions.  With Parasol, we wanted to work with artists from around the world and showcase their modern and chic styles on our packaging and product.  Much like a fashion brand, I want to constantly introduce newness with each season and bring our consumers design options that speak to their personal style.  We also want to support and promote the artists that we work with by telling their story and letting their designs tell the story of our Parasol brand.

Parasol diaper designs

 

“Parasol is a family brand and it’s important that we set a great example through our company policies and actions.  Our flexible policies allow mothers the freedom to spend time with and take care of their children without impacting their ability to grow within the company.”

What makes you choose an artist to work with?

It’s key to find the right fit for each product we launch, so we look for artists who understand the story we are trying to tell and can help us translate it in a visual way.  I’m constantly looking for new artists for us to work with.  It doesn’t matter if someone isn’t a pattern or textile designer, we are excited to meet a diverse group of talent.

Can you tell us how your business supports women, outside the aspect of providing an amazing, safe, chic service for mama & baby?

I know first-hand what it’s like to have a baby (x3) and continue wanting to build my career.  Parasol is a family brand and it’s important that we set a great example through our company policies and actions.  Our flexible policies allow mothers the freedom to spend time with and take care of their children without impacting their ability to grow within the company.  We also have a dedicated private nursery in the office for mothers to use (stocked with our diapers and wipes, of course!)  

Since we launched in April, we have also donated our products to MOMS OC, an organization in Orange County, California that supports low-income women from pregnancy through the child’s first year.  This is just the beginning, and we will continue to support women in all stages of her life and her career.

 What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given?

As a new founder, I was not sleeping.  I wasn’t able to define the lines between work and home, so I just kept working with every minute of every day.  But it wasn’t something that I was able to maintain in a healthy way.  One of my mentors, who is also a female CEO, told me that starting a business is not a sprint… it’s a marathon.  Much like being a parent, I needed to stay healthy and happy to be the best CEO for my company and employees.  

Lisa Hom of Parasol and son

What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs starting a business?

Find a business that you are truly truly passionate about.  That gives you the best chance for success.  Starting a business is a huge commitment and it requires a lot of your time and energy (much like a child).  So make sure that this is something that you will be excited to wake up for every morning, and committed to nurture even when there are challenges to work through.  If you love what you do, it will show.

Did you raise money? Can you tell us about your experience?

Parasol was funded by a couple of initial investors, but we will be raising a round of funding later this year.  I would be happy to give an update on the upcoming experience.

You highlight families with really active lifestyles on your site. How does this relate to the Parasol philosophy?

Parasol parents have made a shift from the generation before them.  Rather than defining  their identities by a traditional view of what parenthood should be, we see parents now opening up their entire worlds to include their children.  Whether parents are living active lifestyles by dedicating themselves to their craft, their sport, or their art, they all believe in raising their children within that context.  Every Parasol parent is on a journey, and it’s that journey (both intuitive and adventurous) that we honor.    

Lisa Hom of Parasol and daughter tea party

“I quickly found that asserting my opinion and voice earlier in the conversation was all I needed to do.  I had creative ideas and smart solutions to share, and men and women had no choice but to stop and listen.” 

 

With such a strong focus on safe and comfortable diapers for babies, we could imagine that living healthy is important to you. How do you keep up your wellness routine? What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness to me means staying active, eating well, taking time out for yourself and finding ways to be inspired.  All of these things are hard to do when you are busy being mom, so I actually schedule everything ahead of time in my Google calendar!  Whether it’s a pilates class, hip hop dance class, a hike with the kids, or an indoor soccer game, being active always re-energizes me.  I can’t say that I get much downtime, but even small “breaks” are helpful.  

What are your opinions on adopting and maintaining and well-rounded lifestyle? How do you achieve this with such a busy career and family?

As a mom of three, CEO of a startup, and wife, life right now is certainly a beautiful hustle.  It’s not perfectly balanced and I always wish I had more hours in the day, but the busy schedule also makes me more grateful for the downtime I do get.  With the convenience of technology, you will catch me checking emails on the treadmill and sneaking in a quick call when I’m in line at Target.  But I’m also very aware of being present and in the moment when Ella wants to craft together or Kellan wants to play in the backyard.  I also think it’s super important to plan new adventures together – whether it’s a global vacation, a day trip to explore the city, or cherry picking at the local farm.  

Lisa Hom of Parasol with son and daughter

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced career wise and how did you overcome it?

When I was in my late twenties and early thirties, my biggest challenge was demanding respect in a room full of men.  Working as a buyer, I managed men and I met with vendors who were all male.   Once I stepped into a meeting and was asked if I was the secretary of my two direct reports, who were both men.  I’m 5’2” and I have a baby face.  So I first tried to command respect by dressing older and wearing heels.  But I quickly found that asserting my opinion and voice earlier in the conversation was all I needed to do.  I had creative ideas and smart solutions to share, and men and women had no choice but to stop and listen.  

Tell us something unexpected about yourself.

I have always been a risk taker and I love trying new things.  I loved sky diving and hated scuba diving.  In my late twenties, I joined a back-up dancing hip hop group.  I tried co-ed indoor soccer last year and I fell in love with the sport.  I want more tattoos.  

What’s in your 5 year plan.

My vision is for Parasol to be a global brand.  Babies, parents, and families around the world deserve to have baby-safe, high quality family essentials that fit their modern aesthetic, while also being comforting and empowering.  Baby products was a natural way for us to launch the brand, but I want to continue extending our core values to to other categories, including feminine hygiene and incontinence products.  Parasol is in a unique position to bring a sense of empowerment and confidence to the family at all the stages of life.

Lisa Hom of Parasol with her three kids

#LADYBOSS, Business, Travel

The Surf Lodge: Meet The Moms Who Made Montauk Magnetic

July 19, 2016
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If you haven’t been out to Montauk, then you don’t know about the intricacies of the space out there. It’s quiet, calm, salty, filled of turquoise and green. There are countless trails, beach breaks, harbors, farms, vineyards, and so much more. It’s unlike any other place; it’s breathtaking, really. And though it started as a town for fisherman and surfers, it’s grown to become a place that is shared with tourists (yes, some that party too much), world travelers, corporate business folks and of course creatives. If you’re interested in other Hamptons hotspots, check out Mama + Tata’s Guide here.

To get you excited about our event in Montauk with SELF, we interviewed the owner and creative director of The Surf Lodge.

Scroll down to meet Jayma Cardoso (Owner) and Sasha Benz (Creative Director) and learn more about what it takes to create a space that pushes creative and community based boundaries.

 

Jayma, It’s fair to say that you predicted a trend. You found Montauk about two decades ago, bought The Surf Lodge, and created a culture centered around great space, food, music, art, and of course, people. Can you speak to us a little bit about your endeavors leading up to your 2008 purchase?

JAYMA: I found a home away from my home in Brazil. When I moved to the U.S., Montauk was raw, beautiful, and centered around this amazing beach culture. Similar to Brazilians, the people here are earnest and proud.

Originally, I came to the U.S. to study science, but I ended up following a passion for hospitality.  I partnered on Cain and Goldbar in New York City. Then Cain in the Cove in the Bahamas. Ultimately, I wanted to get into the hotel industry, as for me it is the highest reflection of hospitality —  a good hotel is like inviting someone into your home. I didn’t strive to create a sub-community; I worked to be a member of a noble community. For me,The Surf Lodge is a space to share art: be it design, food, fine art, live music or wellness.

 

How did you guys meet?

SASHA: I had been coming to The Surf Lodge for five years. My husband, Oli, was DJing there. We were about to move to LA, and then Jayma called me and asked to meet for a glass of wine. After that glass, she said she needed me on board. She knew what I was capable of, and I was hungry for a new challenge. It was perfect. We’re both motivated, we work well together, and we agreed on changes that needed to happen…It all happened very quickly and I was in Montauk only a few weeks later.

Surf Lodge

What were you doing before?

SASHA: I was a stylist for about twelve years. Just before Surf Lodge, I started my own online magazine — All My Friends Are Models. At first, I was knee-deep trying to balance the two, but I found a good team and made it work.

 

The Surf Lodge brings in different types of people, divergent from the Montauk local, do you feel like you were welcomed initially as a community member with the locals?

SASHA: It’s funny how the locals work… I think we blended with them only when we stayed here during the week, which is what Oli and I did; we got to know people that way, but the water was where it all happened. Oli would paddle out and really bond with the boys out there.

JAYMA: Everyone quickly fell in love with the great beauty that is Montauk, and there was a rush to share it by both tourists and businesses. I don’t think Montauk, East Hampton or residents alike could have expected there to be such a strong interest in Montauk. However, I do think that, as long as tourists, new residents, new and existing businesses put an earnest effort into preserving Montauk and giving back to the community, Montauk will thrive.

 

What kind of events do you host to blend communities?

JAYMA: I’m involved with a few charities, such as the coastline. But Sasha has been the one pushing for the pop-ups, crafting a great space, and involving strong and emerging brands out here.

SASHA: When I approached the idea of The Surf Lodge community, my first instinct was to involve other brands & influencers. So, basically we built a space where brands can be active to show their product. Last year we did a really big month-long activation with Revolve, this year we have something different each week for the entire season. We onboarded Fendi, Topshop, Nicole Miller, Erin Wasson and many others.The Surf Lodge

“When people ask me what the Surf Lodge is like, I tell them that I can’t explain it. It’s something you have to experience. It’s the people, the vibe.. It’s something you can’t get anywhere.” – Sasha Benz, Creative Director

 

So what do you both DO at The Surf Lodge? Be honest, how many hats do you #LadyBosses wear?

SASHA: I handle anything that is creative. I do a lot of the work with brands, celebrities, partners, and anything having to do with the vibe and décor on the property. The biggest creative project I did last year was transforming the back of house into an actual area. We gutted the whole thing, built out decks and made a manmade beach with a private garden for the hotel guests. Now, we throw events out there near a tree cascading with the sunset and covered in fairy lights. It’s like a dream-world.

JAYMA: Hospitality Brands (or any brand for that matter) has so many intricate parts and details.  I think I only wear one hat, which is having a very clear vision of what The Surf Lodge is meant to be and ensuring it manifests itself in that vision.  I have a great team, I trust them and let them do amazing work, but in doing so, I’m active in every detail so I’m clear on what challenges we have and can help empower the team to meet these challenges. Guests are also a top priority; we really strive to create experiences for our visitors that reflect The Surf Lodge’s values. For me, spending time with guests is one of the clearest barometers in determining if the experiences we are creating is adding value to their live.

 

So you both are moms now. First of all, CONGRATS!! We know, firsthand, how amazing it is to become a mother. Has it been difficult adapting?

JAYMA: Motherhood has been the greatest gift given to me in my life. I’m so blessed and thankful; but, to be honest, my roles at The Surf Lodge haven’t changed, my role as a woman has. I’ve really enjoyed embracing my new state of being as a mother, and I’ve created new systems of how I live life as a woman, mother, and business owner. The key is balance, and fortunately, women have always been great at balancing multiple roles in their lives.

SASHA: To be honest, it has all been a massive eye opening experience. It’s all still fairly new to me, but the love I have for him is already unfathomable, so the challenges I have faced so far all seem so minor and achievable. I was back at work only two weeks after having him, which was obviously a big hurdle – I had to figure out how to balance work, family and my personal life all at once. I learnt very quickly what was important and what I needed to let go of. It’s also been tough being so far from the city, and especially my family back home, but in terms of the ease of life, you’ll never be closer to finding bliss living in Montauk. 

 

Is The Surf Lodge kid-friendly?

JAYMA: We have a wonderful community of children that are also guests. For them, we’ve set up engaging activities like surf lessons or the paddle boards. I believe that children and their eagerness to learn and explore are great values that adults should aspire to. I feel honored when families stay with us, come to dinner, or take part in cultural activities at the hotel.

Surf Lodge

Aside from motherhood and your involvement in Montauk with The Surf Lodge, what else are you both working on? Can you tell us about the creative projects you are both involved in? Does it stop there? We know you both are serious #LadyBosses.

SASHA: There’s so much. I literally never stop. As soon as an opportunity comes towards me, I never say no. Obviously, my online magazine, All My Friends Are Models, is a huge project for me. I started it three years ago and now we’re doing a ton of different events. We have another one here in July. To help me scale it, I’ve hired ten writers, a team in LA, Sydney, and New York.

 

As new mamas, how do you ladies #TreatYourself out in Montauk? Do you have time to!?

JAYMA: I go to Dave’s Grill. It’s still one of my favorite restaurants and a nice dinner out is always a wonderful treat.

SASHA:I don’t often get much time off, but when I’m not working, my favorite thing to do are always just the simple things like hanging out with Oli at home, talking with my family back home or taking the pup for a walk on the beach. 

Surf Lodge

Last question for you both, how do you think your job as a mother + professional is going to continue evolving? What are you looking forward to?

JAYMA: I hope so! Life is always about evolving. As a mother, it’s about the different stages of motherhood. You must accept all obstacles with grace, so that your child (or children) flourish. Professionally, it’s about executing whatever you’re passionate about with excellence. For me, one of my passions is to reach a bigger community with a message of experiences and exploration via the arts, be it; music, fine art, food, design and/or wellness.

SASHA: I look forward to finding a home and settling down with my husband. I also am excited to learn more about letting go of my crazy work habits and spend time with my little one. I think having a successful career and being a successful mom is totally correlated. It’s all about balance.

Photos by Paul Brooke Jr and Madison McGraw

Make sure you meet us at The Surf Lodge for our #StrongLikeAMama Event with SELF at The Surf Lodge, on July 31st (buy tickets here).

To enter our Montauk Escape dream giveaway, click here.

#LadyBoss, #LADYBOSS, bridal, Business, Interviews

Lanie List Is Too Lovely For Words, and This #LADYBOSS Made Us LOL

July 5, 2016
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Some of the most successful companies start out with it’s founder finding a flaw in the market through personal experience. In this case, it’s founder of the lovely Lovely, Lanie List. While dress shopping for her own gown, she found a big gap in the selections that were offered and for what audience they were offered to. Basically she made a curated boutique for the REAL modern bride. Also, her store in Tribeca is probably the most magical place we’re been to. Insert heart-eyed emoji here.

 

Why the name “Lovely”?

It was actually a working name, and as I talked about the concept over and over with people, it just stuck.  The word ‘Lovely’ is a little overused in the bridal world, so we’ve had some challenges with trademark and identification, but it’s also been really fun for my punny nature.Our name has made brilliant hashtags like #ourlovelies, and #lovelyloveslove.  We are pretty #inlovewithlovely today. See, great hashtagability.

Where did this “want” of starting a bridal shop come from? Why was this the business you wanted to start?

I count ‘business’ as a hobby whenever anyone asks me my hobbies, so I guess you can say I was always an entrepreneur at heart. My years in the corporate world trained me to love the thrill of discovery, problem-solving, and success. So the start of Lovely didn’t come from a ‘want’. It started from my discovery of a gaping ‘white space’ in the bridal market (no pun intended) when I went shopping for my own wedding dress and was massively disappointed by the experience. I think people had been dissatisfied for years with the bridal shopping options, but once they bought a dress, the chapter was closed for them. Why change it if you don’t have to experience it again? I guarantee you I wasn’t the first one to notice the void, I was just the first to fill it. So I decided to open Lovely in 2009 as a haven for the fashionable, modern, and cool bride. Although my experience was over, I decided to pay it forward to the next generation of brides. You’re welcome. Haha.

What did you do before starting Lovely? What was the process for your switch into starting something on your own?

I’ve spent 15 years in fashion, first at Target (my first love), then 12 years at Iconix, a brand management company that owns and licenses its brands. I actually started Lovely while at Iconix. I had a great boss who was open to this little adventurous side of me so he gave me the green light to open a small boutique operation while being the Chief Merchant of Iconix. We both thought it was just a pet project at the time. Little did I know that it would blossom into a successful licensing operation of its own, but I had a great team helping me at Lovely so it was manageable.

Deciding to make the switch was easy for me, since I’m so enamored with the brand. Once I realized the growth potential that Lovely had, I threw myself into the business and never looked back. I’m glad I gave myself plenty of time to test the water of being a business owner because it made the leap feel like a much safer one. As a business owner, I’ve never worked harder, and have never been happier.

Lovely

Why do you think that your business has been so successful?

I think it’s because I started it in a small, organic, authentic way with immense love for the brand, the designers, and the brides. I believe a successful brand has a heart and soul, and I’ve always operated Lovely like it’s my child and I need to nurture and give it whatever it needs. I don’t make decisions just based on a financial model. I see some businesses that scream ‘MBA program business plan’ and Lovely is not one of those. We experiment, we play, we evolve. We aren’t beholden to a board so we can feel free to be risk takers.

I think there is a lot of personal affinity for our brand, both from our brides and our staff. We have such fiercely loyal brand fans, which is why we started calling them #ourlovelies. It’s our little tribe and I think it only helps fuel our brand to recognize that the brides are our primary focus. I’m always so touched when someone raves about our brand to me. I’ve thrown everything I’ve got into the brand, and have worked hard to make it feel very personal and not corporate or cookie-cutter.

Also, I’m sure we filled the ‘white space’ at just the right time, so that is probably the biggest reason. We were the first to deliver rare and sought-after designers, in an aspirational environment, with a calm/cool/collected sales staff. We changed the rules of bridal. On the day we opened Lovely in April of 2010, a WWD editor called and told me, “No one has changed bridal in decades and you just did”. I’m surprised I remember that quote because at that point, I was crying at the credit card terminal because it wasn’t working and Daily Candy (R.I.P.) had just written about us, so we had hoards of people flooding into our ‘by appointment only’ shop and the phone was ringing so much we had to send them to voicemail.

What advice would you give women trying to create and launch a business on their own?

I have soooo much advice.  First off, go with your gut.  You will try to get advice from trusted business people, but their advice is often based on their own experiences.  So they may scare you away from your idea because they decided to stay in the corporate world, or force you into it because misery loves company.  Know your audience, listen to the advice, then do what you want to do.  Which means you have to be willing to lose it all.  If you take that stance, you’ll bring your ‘A’ game and work at your fullest potential.  And lastly (although I can seriously go on forever) is allow yourself trial-and-error time.  I don’t even like to call them ‘mistakes’. Accepting that I will make a lot of mistakes gives me the freedom to quickly move on to bigger and better ideas.  I always say entrepreneurs do things the first way, and then the right way.  No shame in a do-over.

Lovely

We loved having you at The Great Jane. Your comments were so thoughtful and helpful to the conversation. What are your views on mentoring and how important is that to you?

Thank you! It was amazing to be part of such stimulating dialogue.

I’ve always loved mentorship theoretically, but I don’t feel like I’ve done nearly enough of it and would love to do so much more, both the giving and receiving end. That is why I am so enamored by what you are doing at heymama. I always picture mentorship as a business luncheon with a scary big shot, and you get nervous and pepper the mentor with questions that make you sound smart for 30 minutes. You all are making it easy for us mamas to connect and give & get advice in a more chill, communal way.

Also, being at The Great Jane has redefined mentorship for me! The retreat was a perfect blend of learning, stimulation, educating others, and just experiencing wellness and happiness. TGJ gave me the mojo to put this new style of mentoring into practice! I’m hosting our first Lovely sales staff retreat next week in East Hampton and of course I’ll talk about strategy, but also have a yogi come for morning sessions and do some other wine-related bonding. I hope you all realize how powerful your retreat was! I know in five years we are all going to talk about ‘that first little retreat in Ojai’ because we’ll be changing the world!

Where do you find all of the amazing designers that you sell in your stores? I’m especially a big fan of the head accessories made with crystals by @heartofgolddesigns. What’s the secret to finding unique pieces?

Well, we plucked our first designers off of Etsy! Six years ago, anyone independent with a touch of creative genius put their wares on Etsy so it was a great place to identify talent. Today, it’s Instagram. It’s been amazing how many international designers we can find because of Instagram. And it allows to us to really understand the brand when they post both their dresses and their lifestyle inspirations. Instagram is like a dating site for retail buyers! Discovering new designers and buying beautiful new dresses for our brides is by far my favorite part of the job.

Do you incorporate anything you buy for the boutique into your closet? What’s your favorite piece you own that you sold at one of your stores?

All the time! I can never part with a sample from some of our favorite designers so I’ll sometimes refurbish a sample to use pieces of it for a top, skirt or make it into a dress for my daughter. But mostly it goes the other way around. I have a too large collection of vintage white dresses that often make their way into inspiration for our new exclusive brand Louvienne. It’s launching this September and it’s beyond.

Lovely

What makes Lovely different from other bridal boutiques?

For starters, our gown collection is by far the coolest. A lot of our designers are setting the bar for new trends and ideas that haven’t even hit the bridal market yet. Do yourself a favor and look up Rue De Seine, Sarah Seven, Anna Campbell, Katie May. These guys are bringing it. All of our designers are curated to bring something special and needed to the market and we are often told by brides that our assortment is very unique in comparison to others.

Then, we really make the shopping experience fun. Ladies feel relaxed when they come into our shops because our décor style has a bit of a wink to it. We aren’t stuffy or hoity in any way. The dresses are drop-dead gorgeous, but when the setting is more mellow and homey, it’s the first step to relieving the stress that can come along with bridal gown shopping.

I’ve also had brides tell us our shop is ‘just like our social’ and we work really hard on our marketing to be an immersive experience. We have taken cues from RTW brands who give the customer much more than just the product they sell. It’s a lifestyle marketing approach.

You’ve grown so much from your first store in the West Village to seven across the country. What made this expansion possible? How did you choose your locations to branch out?

Franchising! I seriously can’t say enough good things about how well this has worked for our business. I used to be afraid to say ‘franchising’, because it sounds like a dirty word. You think of McDonald’s or Crunch Fitness. But, franchising can be really cool when you distill it to it’s essence: corporate marketing and management support for a locally run business. I help women get into business, and give them the support of business guidance, product knowledge, fresh store designs, and 24/7 top notch marketing. Even just the sisterhood of having each other’s back is amazing. My franchisees call each other to talk shop all of the time. What’s not to like? Maybe just the word franchising. I’m calling it ‘The Collective’ now so it sounds sexier than franchising. But heck, bridal had a corny connotation for a long time and now that is cool, so maybe I can bring sexy back into franchising! I’ve always been drawn to a black sheep.

But seriously franchising is a great model for bridal, not only because you can grow quicker, but because brides need a lot of TLC and having a local store owner on-site gives the bride the kind of personal service that only a vested partner can give. You don’t punch the clock when you own the shop! Also, owners can bring in the local flavor that I would never know about since I live hundreds of miles away from the shops. It’s a retailers dream to have the kind of local intel we have in each and every purchase decision we make in our stores. The model totally works, as evidenced by the 12 shops we will have open at the end of this year!

Lovely

What else do you have in mind for Lovely and its growth?

Definitely more new shops on the horizon for 2017 and conversations have been started for Lovely beyond. Our brides have such a positive experience with us, why not give them that special treatment for their next big milestones, like home, baby, apparel. We are so lucky that we are a fountain-of-youth. Our customers will always be in their 20’s and 30’s (on average) so it just makes sense to follow them through on their life journey. If more everyday businesses gave the visceral experience that Lovely gives, I think we’d create loyal fans for life. Let’s just do everything in life with a mood board okay?

I love how you post brides in your gowns on your website and Instagram. How big of a role is social media in your business? Do you connect with clients and other businesses that way?

It’s everything. We actually just reached 100K followers last week on Instagram!

We started a blog for Lovely about 6 months before our doors actually opened and I knew then that this Lovely experience would need to be bigger than our four walls. We don’t just want our bride to find her dress at Lovely, we want her to become one of #ourlovelies. This ‘club’ we’ve created primarily plays out on our social media, our website, and in our online magazine, The Loveliest (which replaced our blog). We have many brides tell us they want to find their dress at Lovely before they even shop here, which tells me we have succeeded in expressing who we are as a brand on social.

We also use social to make new friends in the industry, and connect with lots of compatible business owners because we have retained the editorial aspect on social that we created six years ago on our blog. We’ll freely post photos of flower trends we love or cool items for bachelorette parties and this is all editorial – not paid. As a matter of fact, we just posted a rose quartz printed bean bag game that we found on denydesigns.com and loved it so much that we bought one for our office. Lovely

What’s your favorite part about running your own business? And the most challenging?

Favorite part hands-down is being able to put any of my hair-brained ideas into work. After spending years in the corporate world and being told some of my ideas won’t work, it’s refreshing to just be able to go for it. Not that they always work, but doesn’t it always feel better to learn for yourself? The most challenging is how personal it all feels. Your business is your baby, and as a mom, you can understand the depth of feeling that goes along with that. Some days I feel like I’m experiencing PPD all over again.

The juggle between work and family is something constantly on our minds. How do you do it?

 You just do it. I don’t allow myself a lot of headspace for guilt. I remind myself that we have it better than so many unfortunate families around the world, and I don’t allow myself to feel bad when I have an exceptionally busy week and feed the kids chicken nuggets for a third lunch in a row. I’m feeding them.

I also don’t try to do it all. Over the past three years, my friendships and my fitness routine have been sacrificed temporarily to throw myself into my business and start my family. And that is okay because although friends and my health are priorities to me, they will take the front seat at a later time when the other parts become less engulfing.

Lovely

What’s your favorite family time activity? You have any little family rituals you do to stay connected?

My kids are still so young (3.5 and 2) so even the daily basics are an activity. Story time has become really interesting with my 3.5 year old, especially when it’s his turn to tell a story and he tries to parrot back the story I just told him and claim full ownership. That is our biggest ritual, just listening to, and watching our kid’s creativity blossom and sitting back and enjoying the ride.

What’s been the best career advice you have received.

I think it goes beyond just career advice but my sister-in-law has told me ‘You can always change it’, on so many decisions I’ve been afraid to make.  The house you bought is too expensive?  You can sell it.  The business you thought was genius is not?  Close it down and move on.  It’s so refreshing when you think about it.  You don’t have to try to make everything work out…you can just evolve.  A quote that has stuck with me for a long time is, ‘It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be, start whenever you want, there is no time limit’.  I’ll probably start a new business when I’m sixty.  It’s just in my DNA now to be okay with change and not fear risk.

Lovely

 

#LADYBOSS, Business, Interview

Christine Thompson – How Color Brought Her To Life

July 1, 2016
Christine and Ginger 2

On a grey morning, we entered the Spoke and Weal salon in Soho to take some photos of the co-owner, Christine Thompson. The bright white setting contrasted nicely with her very New York all-black outfit and really led her red lips to pop. She was very open to answer all of our questions with a smile, and she really glowed when we asked her about this contraption that was over each chair in the salon. She told us that she hated when the cables would always get tangled around the chair while blowdrying someones hair, so her and her husband invented it. We were in awe and agreed it should be trademarked because it is quite brilliant! Read below for find more insight on the competitiveness of owning a salon, being a colorist, and how she balances work and family life.

How did you start Spoke & Weal?
Jon (Reyman – other Spoke & Weal co-owner) and I have worked NYFW together for years. We had a good synergy and built a pretty wonderful team and community—our time together in NYC felt good. Jon has always wanted to start a salon venture, but it was never the right time. His energy in 2013 reignited my passion for the industry and our craft. I had been running my salons in San Luis Obispo for a long time and being asked to partner with Jon gave me a fresh perspective and passion. It was really terrific timing. Once we started talking, the business starting manifesting. Jon Reyman is not a talker—he’s always making it happen.

What led you to do color?
I have always loved color. I was painting and drawing as a kid. I loved multi colored yarn and makeup. Color brought me to life.

Spoke & Weal

How many kids do you have and where do you live? Why did you choose that neighborhood?
I have 3 kids and live in San Luis Obispo, CA. My house is in the country. San Luis Obispo is where my family is from; I settled there because I liked having my dad and mom involved in my children’s lives. I moved from Los Angeles to SLO to be closer to them.

How competitive is it to become one of the best colorists out there?
It’s very competitive. There are tons of very, very talented artists in the hair color community; and as many as there are greats, there are total hacks. One thing I have committed myself to is training and refining. I stayed curious. I never let “being great” keep me from being in a learners mind. 

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Your husband is a competitive racer and motorcycle builder, that is a pretty badass. How do you manage both working busy careers and your kids?
Brian is retired from racing. I scaled back my career when the kids were little and he was racing. He scaled back (naturally with age) and allowed for me to push myself more. How do we manage? I have been super busy the last couple years… Brian has been such a support of the venture—he’s hot-wired our salons, driven casework cross-country, bent mental, and saved the day for us a number of times. To me, in a good relationship you want to support what makes the each-other happy. Brian has been a saint. I make sure he knows he’s appreciated.

Why do you think your business has been successful?
Hard work. Jon and I are relentless. Neither of us give up easy. We face challenges and struggle with determination and perseverance.  Some people would call it grit… We couldn’t have come this far if we didn’t work our butts off. More importantly, we have a team of the most talented and committed stylists around us. We would be no where without our team working along side us shoulder to shoulder.

What do you wish you knew 1 year in and 5 years in to your business?
I wish I knew more business and tax information. I didn’t work to understand everything in my first few years. It costs a lot to employ people and administrate. I didn’t engage in the numbers admin. Although I moved with the right intention, there was technical parts of the business I really didn’t understand and it cost me. Owning a small business and growing it takes you on a major learning curve. 

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What’s your favorite thing about being a boss? Least favorite thing?
My favorite ….watching an artist grow from a novice to an accomplished stylist and earn a living is very satisfying. I also get to employ a lot of moms that are not full time, but have the opportunity to earn and express themselves creatively. Our industry is somewhat flexible. Its satisfying to be a provider!

LEAST: Paperwork. 

What advice do you give to people who are looking to get into the beauty business?
Train with pros. Align yourself with the right organization and the right mentors. Find a place to work early on that values and provides continued education.

How has that industry changed over the past 15/20 years?
It’s a totally different game now. 20 years ago, a phonebook ad was important. Now, a selfie is…Yelp! is. One thing that has stayed as true as the day we started is our clients are our champions. Our number one referral is word of mouth. 

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Any life hacks/time saving hacks that work really well for your family?
I work in some spectacular cities and I get to take my kids with me on work trips which is a work/life integration hack! They are stoked, and I carve out the time to explore the new places with them. 

What words do you live by or quotes do you love that speak to your soul?
Actions speak louder than words. I have a strong focus on the actions I take and the actions those around me take. They tell the story. 

Your daughter has taken such an interest in hair, how have you nurtured this curiosity? 
I expose her to the beauty industry, but I am careful to let her explore on her own. I do not direct her. I encourage her to explore and have fun.

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PS: if you’re looking into getting a new LOOK, Color Queen Christine Thompson has offered heymama readers 20% off any service. Just mention HEYMAMA when your book your appointment 😉 We can’t wait to see how you take advantage of this deal!

#LADYBOSS, Business, Fashion, Tech

#LADYBOSS: Rebecca Minkoff Is An Ambassador For Women In Tech, Values Honesty Over Politeness & Knows The Power Of The Squad

May 13, 2016
Rebecca Minkoff with her son Luca at home

When it comes to female entrepreneurship and women in tech, Rebecca Minkoff is must-follow mama. Minkoff has built her fashion line on technology and is a MAJOR supporter of women in tech. While known for her cool fashion and accessories line, one of her latest projects includes a partnership with Intel for a female-only tech conference, which encourages women studying tech, science, engineering, and mathematics to pursue careers in those respective fields. Can you say #GIRLPOWER? Read on to learn more about Rebecca’s use of technology in fashion and all the kick-ass things she’s doing to help other female entrepreneurs.

Can you tell me more about this Intel conference? How did you become involved?

I’ve partnered with Intel for a series of conferences discussing women in tech. The conference consists of about 400 women in the Bay Area from UC Berkely and Los Angeles who are interested in technology, and myself, along with other professionals such as Julie Wainwright from The RealReal, Hillary Kerr from WHO WHAT WEAR , Jess Lee from Polyvore, Leura Fine from Laurel and Wolf, Diana Skaar of Google, and Brit Morin of Brit+Co discussing the importance of sticking with technology, and all the opportunities that may be available to them. The technology playing field needs to have more women in it. For example, there should be women who are able to design my wearables and a personal goal is to show women in tech, even those that are engineers and scientists that there are a lot of opportunities out there for them that don’t involve working in a lab, that there are so many fun and cool applications for their work.

Intel announced a very large commitment promoting females staying with their tech studies last year. After that happened, I reached out saying I wanted to help, so I’ve become an ambassador of some sort and involved in organizing the conferences.

Rebecca Minkoff and her family

…..there should be women who are able to design my wearables and a personal goal is to show women in tech, even those that are engineers and scientists that there are a lot of opportunities out there for them that don’t involve working in a lab, that there are so many fun and cool applications for their work.

 

Why do you think women are dropping out of technology and science related fields? Why is it important for women to be in these fields? 

As a female in tech, you know you’re going into a field that has more men in it, and is dominated by men. Maybe women think they can’t get a career in anything other than being in a lab, and I am trying to say no, there are more industries for you to get into. There is a whole need and desire for females in the tech space in pretty much every industry including fashion. You can have a really exciting and diverse career if you stick with it.

Biggest challenge working at the intersection of fashion and technology?

Today it is a new pioneering space, so being willing to be the guinea pig and accepting that we may come out with a wearable that is a little too big and bulky since the tech isn’t there for it to be smaller, is the key. You have to be willing to take risks while the technology is still evolving. You don’t want to be the company that waits for the microchip to be small enough and then end up losing out on the experience of testing.

I’m also interested in getting more women to be a part of the conversation. There was conversation that I had with a producer on one of our wearables, that reminds me of this, he said that the wearable couldn’t be metal and that it had to be plastic. And I was there saying, no woman is going to want to wear a gold plastic bracelet. A woman probably would’ve known not to suggest a plastic one in the first place – we have this sort of intuition on what will work in fashion that men lack. Another example would be the first iteration of Apple’s health tracker; it didn’t have a menstrual cycle tracker, something that would seem an obvious essential to a woman talking about health.  Maybe it would’ve appealed more to women if it had that.

In the past few years as business has grown and changed and there is so much focus on social media, do you still make a point to connect with your customers in person?

Part of every trip I do; I still do trunk shows and we have a ton of events at our stores, most of which I am a part of. Consumer engagement is important. I’m at a conference right now and we did a pop-up shop at the event so we could still engage on that level. I also just think the conversation is important on and offline. Online it’s through YouTube and Instagram, where they can connect on a more friend-based level.

Rebecca Minkoff and her family

You’ve been out there on social since there beginning. Whacky and most successful thing you’ve done on social for Rebecca Minkoff?

Whacky– at the time when Hilary Rhoda, Leandra Medine from The ManRepeller and I were getting ready for CFDA and no one was using video back then, we were really raw with it. (watch here)

Successful– we’ve done scavenger hunts with people around NYC, using social media. Also, our April Fool’s joke back in 2012 led to the creation of the men’s line. We had men wear Rebecca Minkoff and took fake photos around the city, but then men actually wanted bags.

We like to experiment with it, and play around.

Do you feel that your interaction with customers has had a big impact on your brand?

Totally! I feel that that’s why the consumer has embraced the brand. There is an accessibility factor that not a lot of designers are willing to have. At Rebecca Minkoff we engage in authentic, honest dialogue with our customers. I think they appreciate that it is accessible and that I am listening to them.

..we engage in authentic, honest dialogue with our customers. I think they appreciate that it is accessible and that I am listening to them.

In business we often get feedback that’s not to our liking – how do you handle that?

It never gets better. You learn to grow thick skin. Now, when I’m in a meeting, I’ll say “be honest I can handle it,” because I rather have them tell me than me hear it from someone else. If we can’t get to that place of honesty, I can’t change what I’m doing or do a good job. It’s being direct and circumventing people’s politeness.

Rebecca Minkoff and her son

 I’ll say “be honest I can handle it,” because I rather have them tell me than me hear it from someone else. If we can’t get to that place of honesty, I can’t change what I’m doing or do a good job. It’s being direct and circumventing people’s politeness.

How does community play a role in your life?

Community is a huge part of being able to grow and succeed and females especially get a leg up. I wouldn’t be anywhere without my good friend, when I was starting out. At the time she dragged me to all these fashion parties, she had nothing to gain doing that and she did it and that’s how I started meeting people. The ability to surround yourself with your squad is really important.

Community is a huge part of being able to grow and succeed and females especially get a leg up…..The ability to surround yourself with your squad is really important.

What does being a good boss mean to you? What do you feel is one of your strongest qualities as a businesswoman?

Knowing boundaries. Empowering others to be their own entrepreneurs within their jobs, being a good listener. I also try to make it about working as partners and not so much employees and a boss. I try to make it collaborative 99% of the time.

On being a good boss…..”Empowering others to be their own entrepreneurs within their jobs, being a good listener.”

I’m an excellent negotiator. I’ve learned a lot from our president who is an incredible negotiator who pushes people to boundaries– I can’t believe some of the questions she asks. If you keep asking all that can happen is people say no, so there is no harm in AT LEAST asking.

How has being a mom impacted you as a businesswoman? Has is changed the way you run your business at all?

I think the ability to multitask became a skill and time management, and again knowing your boundaries so you know where you no line is versus the yes line. I used to work all the time, and now if I want to see my kids I need to delegate and empower others and not micromanage. There are only so many bricks one person can lay.

You and you husband both travel a lot for you work, do you guys have any tricks for making two busy schedules work?

Gavin and I try to call each other during the day to plan out our schedules, that’s the only time we don’t really have anyone pulling on us. But really after the kids go to bed– that’s our time to connect. I’m not saying it works for everybody but we have made one of us being home with the kids a priority right now.

#LADYBOSS, Advice, Baby, Business

#LADYBOSS: How One Mama Took Over A Business And Grew It To 25,000 Stores In Less Than 2 Years

May 11, 2016
amri 3

We caught up with Fridababy CEO, Chelsea Hirschhorn, just after having her second baby, to get the scoop on Fridababy’s fuss stopping products and all the pains of parenthood they help make a lot easier and more humorous. Fridababy provides smart solutions for baby problems big and small by arming parents with the simple tools to get the job done so they can get back to the fun stuff.

Chelsea Hirschhorn

My FridaBaby story…

I practiced law in NY before moving to Miami with my husband (CMO of Burger King; based in Miami), after our wedding, in 2010. The move was a total gut-check – as all of our friends and family are in NY, and I was totally one of those “I’m never leaving the city” people.

I became the Director of Ancillary Revenue and Associate Counsel for the Miami Marlins, starting their non-baseball revenue department at the new ballpark. The founder of Fridababy is a neighbor of ours in Miami Beach and after my son was born she asked if I’d be interested in taking over the day-to-day operations of the company to help grow the portfolio of products beyond the NoseFrida, into a full toolkit of smart solutions for millennial parents.

It was quite the challenge, but the rest is history! A somewhat circuitous route to the baby world, but I never looked back and have never ever been happier. All of my professional experiences thus far have meaningfully contributed to my day-to-day running the Fridababy business; whether it’s negotiating licensing or manufacturing agreements with our trading partners, or designing new packaging that millennial parents will relate to.

When it comes to innovation, Miami is quite liberating and I became unhinged from a very tunnel-vision focus on what is considered the norm with designing new parenting products, and with respect to my career path.

brother and sister cuddling

What are 5 things every new mama should have in her baby kit?

I think the baby category is being steam rolled by forward thinking companies looking to make moms’ lives easier, but there’s a lot of noise and so, as a new mom, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choice. I think narrowing it down to the “game changers” in each category becomes of pivotal importance! Hello NoseFrida! But taking the Fridababy lineup out of the equation, since we created the essential kit for every new mama from nose to toes, and all of the less glamorous in between, here’s my top non-Frida kit essentials:

1. Let’s start with what’s most important – keeping the “kit” organized! I use either a Life in Play tote organizer that takes the essentials from bag to bag easily, or the Roberta Roller Rabbit waterproof zipper pouches to keep all of my gear in one place for an easy transfer when I change bags. Those pouches keep all of the must-haves in one, easily accessible place. Plus, the pouches are super chic.

2. I always have MD Moms Sunscreen Wipes. They are a total necessity in Miami where 80% of the day, 365 days a year, is outside and the wipe application concept takes the struggle out of the sunscreen battle with a toddler.

3. OK, so it won’t fit in a “kit”, but the Baby Zen Yoyo collapsible stroller has made navigating the travel with a toddler (and now newborn!) situation totally manageable! We travel a lot and the portability, plus the fact that it goes in the overhead compartment is unrivaled – no more waiting for gate checked strollers.

4. Lollaland Lollacups. The black is our favorite and they’re the no-spill chic solution to the “which sippy cup” conundrum.

5. I know I said I’d leave the Fridababy lineup out, but a one-stop nail care solution is a must from day 1. The NailFrida set takes you from newborn to tween and beyond, and the safety spy hole means never having to worry about the inevitable clip of the skin.

 

Fridababy has a great sense of humor. You take unglamorous stressful situations with our little ones and offer solutions with a tongue in cheek twist. Do you feel like laughing and not taking things too seriously can be really important as a new mother?

Definitely! But it’s a lot easier said than done in some of the sticky situations we face as parents (i.e. it’s hard to laugh your way through 103 fever or a totally congested baby who can’t nurse!)  That’s where Fridababy steps in.  We try to take the guesswork out of it for new parents by bringing a sense of levity and relief to those situations when you need it most! It’s easy to laugh your way through messy meal times, but the real challenge is to navigate the more basic (sometimes more serious) stuff with a healthy dose of “it’s not always perfect” reality, while armed with confidence – that’s our forte! 

Chelsea Hirschhorn kissing her little boy

You were back to work in just a few weeks after giving birth…. Superwoman. How has this played out for you and do you have any advice for other mamas heading back to work?

Parental leave is such a hot button topic these days (hello Marisa Mayer), but I think it’s important not to conflate the fight for paid leave with insisting that every mom handle her postpartum time the same way! It’s important as a mom, particularly in those first few months, to be honest with yourself about what makes you happy, and for me, going back to work right away and not disappearing from my team was one of those things. I love my job and I’m very comfortable with the fact that lounging around the house with my new baby all day wouldn’t “do it” for me. I navigate those waters carefully by hanging at home with the boys in the morning, then I head in to the office for a few hours, Hunter then comes for a post-school visit or I’ll bring the baby in for a few hours with me, and then I’ll go home in the afternoon. I’d so much prefer that schedule than disappearing for two months only to resurface and need until 9PM in the office every night catching up!

ADVICE? Working moms who aren’t afraid to ask for help truly can have it all, as long as they’re ready and willing to “lean in” professionally when necessary. End the search for a perfect daily balance, be honest with yourself about what makes you feel good outside of your (very important new title), and escape for some “me time,” even if it’s just for 30 minutes a week.

 

Chelsea and her baby

Any pinch me career moments?

Being featured alongside Chelsea Clinton, Jessica Alba and Alicia Keys among the “Most Inspiring Millennial Moms” as the “Baby Gadget Guru”; these women are really game changers in their own fields and to be included in that company was an incredible validation of the work we’re doing at Fridababy to help make parents’ lives easier.

Best career advice you have ever received?

Your work is going to fill a substantial part of your life. The only way to be truly satisfied is to do great work and to do that you have to really love what you do. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing and put the work in to support it, success will follow. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking – you’ll know when you find it!

Where are you looking to take Fridababy in 5 years?

I’d like to be the go-to brand for ALL of the everyday parenting pain points. We already check that box for stuffy noses, gassy tummies, nail care, etc. but if you’re up at 3AM, I’d like Fridababy to be up with you in every capacity. In the short term, that means being on the forefront of innovation, but not just for innovation’s sake. We’re going to move the needle and address real needs, even if it’s in the less glamorous categories no one else wants to touch (hello MomWasher!) 

Can you tell us more about the FeverFrida? My husband jokes that all I ever say is “does the baby have a fever? Where is the thermometer?” But with a newborn there is nothing scarier than your little one spiking a fever. So it seems like a dream to me. How does it work?

Yes! The new FeverFrida is a wearable Bluetooth smart thermometer for children. A small hydrogel patch keeps the FeverFrida in place under a child’s armpit throughout the day and/or night and will monitor fevers without parents needing to manually take temperatures every hour, allowing kids and parents to sleep peacefully. The integrated free smartphone app (available in both iTunes and Google Play) tracks temperature readings over time to create an annotated timeline with notes on when you last administered meds, and can email or text reminders for when the next dose is due based on weight and dosage calculators (no one keeps those box instructions handy!). The alert feature will notify sleeping parents of any temperature spikes and it’s the only cloud connected thermometer, which means you can check in on a sick baby from work or while you’re away from the house as long as someone near the baby (nanny or partner) has the app on and is within range of the child wearing the FeverFrida. We also partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital for in-app fever management information, including symptom trackers and medicine dosage calculators. It combines the best of a baby monitor with the unrivaled accuracy of a thermometer to ensure constant monitoring and peace of mind!

Tell us about the FridaBaby buy one give one program. Is this just like Toms? Who is receiving the products?

Exactly! Tom’s Shoes and their One for One program was the inspiration for our Buy One Give One mission. At Fridababy, we want to equip as many parents as we can with smart solutions for every sticky parenting situation. This program is designed to support those communities and organizations that service parents who may not be able to afford our tools. We select a partner at the beginning of each month (clinic, family practice, charitable organization, etc.), and for each product purchased on our website, we match with a donation to that group, supporting families in need, one stuffy nose or gassy tummy at a time!

 

 

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