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Real Talk With Real Moms: Preschool

March 17, 2017
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I was your worst nightmare.

When it came to preschool hunting, I was that insane mother touring campuses with a 5-month-old at home and an excel spreadsheet to track every communication, every remark, every philosophy and every important deadline for more than a dozen of Los Angeles’ finest early childhood programs. I joined four different “parent and me” classes, sent handwritten notes to directors and even did a consultation with a known Los Angeles “preschool guru.” (Yes, that’s apparently a thing.)

Fortunately for most, this sort of erratic behavior is only common in cities like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco where the admissions process for three-year-olds (or should I say “2.9-year-olds by September 1st of the corresponding school year”) is tantamount to most four-year colleges and universities.

As a first time mom, I felt wildly unprepared for the actual care-taking of a newborn. My background was in journalism, where hunting down stories, working under intense deadlines and relentlessly networking was how I got the job done. Needless to say, when I heard about the ultra-competitive L.A. preschool process, I figured that was where I could make up for my many shortcomings when it came to the more “maternal” aspects of motherhood.

Ultimately, I just wanted to do what was best for my daughter and since I had a hard time transitioning into motherhood, I decided to focus on the things within my control—like finding a preschool that could provide a strong, positive foundation as she grew into a little person.

So…I drank the preschool Kool-Aid and as many of my mama friends can attest, I got totally caught up in the rat race.

Leslie Bruce

@leslieannbruce

What’s worse? Most preschool administrators—save for a few wonderful, compassionate directors—had no problem fanning the flames of parental anxiety with terms like: “waitlist, sibling priority, date of application.” I feverishly filled out applications and handed over checks to just about every school I visited. On top of being an expensive ordeal, it also became incredibly time consuming.

Of course, there were a handful of moms who had walked this path before and had assured me that every child ends up where he or she belongs, and that there were more good schools than children to fill them.

While I really wanted to believe the sentiment, I couldn’t rely on hope. Instead, I chose to sell my soul left and right just for the possibility of paying between $15,000 and $20,000 for my child to go to preschool for four hours, three to five days a week. (Unless it was a co-op in which case, it was more like $11,000, but that also required me to have a “school-appointed job and weekly campus possibilities.”)

After 18 long months of emails, toddler groups, interviews and tours, we had submitted applications to our “top choice” preschools. There was a sense of relief when the deadlines came and went, because now the decision was out of my hands. I had done everything I could to “set her up for success,” and all I could do now was wait…and drink.

Leslie Bruce

And that’s when my world got flipped upside down. In January 2017, just weeks before preschool acceptance letters went out and just nine months before the start of school, we moved. It was sudden and rather unexpected, but our family had decided to relocate about 60 miles south of Los Angeles to Laguna Beach.

“Now what?” I asked my husband when it came to the topic of preschool. We would be starting from scratch in a new city where waitlists and application dates didn’t really seem to matter. How could I ever feel confident about sending my daughter to a school that didn’t have a waitlist? Who was the architect behind their on-campus play structure? What? They didn’t have one? It was a pre-fabricated playground?! Gasp! (For the record, L.A. likes the term “structure” because certain schools want the students to decide what it is for themselves and not have the teachers “define it” for them. Yep, you read that right.)

To add insult to injury, in early February, we received acceptance letters to two of our favorite programs. It was both exhilarating and soul crushing. I let the “Welcome” email to our first choice school sit in my inbox for three days before I mustered up the courage to write the lovely director a note telling her we had moved. It was the hardest break-up of my life, and I’m being completely genuine. I not only invested my time and money into finding the best program for my child, I also invested my heart. For me, it was a real accomplishment. I set out to find a wonderful school where my daughter could grow, learn and discover…and I had! I did it! It was an incredible school where I knew should would feel safe, comfortable and happy…but she’d never have the chance to actually go and experience it all.

Leslie Bruce

Begrudgingly, I began the process of looking at preschools all over again in our new town…only this time I didn’t have the luxury of time. In fact, I appeared to be the last-minute parent rushing around touring preschools mere days before applications were due (or sometimes already past deadline). I felt rushed, disorganized and once again, like I was somehow letting my daughter down.

And you know what I found? Some really remarkable programs that I knew would be a wonderful place for my daughter. There wasn’t the pressure of “who do you know” and “how early did you apply”; it was a process where I met with teachers and visited schools, and decided what would be the best fit for my two and half year old. Back in 2015, I had no clue about what my then 5-month-old would need from a school…but I did know exactly where my toddler would thrive.

Ultimately, my husband and I decided on a lovely school with a huge outdoor garden, and even a few farm animals. While the administrators can’t promise me that she will one day matriculate to Yale and become the CEO of a Fortune 500, they can guarantee that they will care for my daughter, nurture her and treat her with respect and love. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

And back in LA? Literally every single one of my mama friends—both the early birds and the late to the party applicants—were accepted into a preschool program where their children will be happy, healthy and safe. It appeared that all the fear, pressure and anxiety that had been created around the preschool bubble were for naught.

A few weeks after acceptances went out, we even received a handful of calls from some of the self-proclaimed “ultra competitive” preschools that I had been terrified into submitting an application to while on tour (in 2015!). Figuring we never had a shot, I never followed up and hadn’t even thought to alert them of our move—and now they were calling to offer my daughter a spot. I mean…it really was all smoke and mirrors.

With that said, would I do anything different knowing what I know now? I’m sure, but even with the crazy rat race of it all, I was just doing, like many of you, what I thought was best for my child.

Leslie Bruce

Sending our children off to preschool for the very first time is a big deal; we are releasing these beautiful little people into the world and charging someone else with the responsibility of their care. And I actually think it’s okay to be thorough and thoughtful about the process, but would have perhaps tried a little harder to keep everything in perspective. I mean, it’s preschool after all.  What I learned through it all is that the best place for my child may not look like the inside of a restoration hardware catalog, and maybe doesn’t guarantee that she’ll be a doctor, but rather offers them a safe, loving place to be children under the care of teachers who really feel passionate about what they do.

With all that behind me, I can finally relax about the whole preschool ordeal and take a minute to enjoy our new town. After all, I won’t be looking into colleges for the 2032-2033 school year for at least another few months.

 

Be sure to check out other childcare stories from other real moms: Alex || Jen || Caitlin || Catherine || Leah || Rebecca || Natalie

Motherhood

Thinking Of Adopting? 6 Helpful Steps to Get Started

March 2, 2017
adoption

Thank goodness for people like heymama member Jackie Cohen. Her honesty is refreshing, and her candid account of her journey to starting a family is helpful to say the least. We first chatted with Jackie late last year about her process From Infertility to Family, but with a major fundraiser for HelpUsAdopt.org, an organization that she is hugely involved with on the horizon, we wanted to find out precisely how she got the whole process started. If you are curious about adoption but don’t know the first thing about it, Jackie has gathered some helpful advice that will get you started. Read on…

For most, the process of adoption starts well before they actually decide to adopt, they just don’t know it yet. I didn’t. From my experience, the journey to motherhood and subsequent process of adoption, actually started with my struggle to have a baby. I think most people envision getting pregnant and carrying their own baby, and even if you struggle to conceive, with today’s technology there are so many options available to assist with fertility, that everyone assumes, “I can totally make a baby!” The reality is however, regardless of budget, or desire to conceive, sometimes, as badly as you might want it, there aren’t enough drugs or money to help you have a baby.

adoption

Jake, Whitney & Elliot, via helpusadopt.org

Without my fertility struggles however, I don’t think I would have adopted and I wouldn’t be where I am today. I love that I have become a voice for adoption, and am filled with a passion to share my story to help others build their families in the same way. Unfortunately, there are still some fears and stigmas attached to the process, and I hope that my experience can help. My little girl turned out to be an angel and there are others out there too. Here are the steps I took to get the process started:

  1. Find an Adoption Attorney. I did a private adoption, which is managed through a lawyer. He/she will outline everything you need to know about domestic adoption. There is a lot of paperwork to prepare and each family applying to adopt has to be cleared by the state, finger printed, and interviewed by a social worker.  They will guide you through the forms to fill out, books to read, papers to write and home visits to conduct. 
  2. The Birth Mother. What I learned during this process, is that Birth Mother (BM) generally picks a family based on what they believe is the perfect family that she (or they, if the birth dad is involved) can’t provide for the child. So, being single, and Jewish, could potentially work against me. I was lucky, it didn’t.
  3. Communication. I also learned that the means of communication is old school. You
    place ads in local papers in the classifieds, that says you are seeking a baby and direct people to contact you through a phone number that goes to a voicemail where they can reach you. Imagine that? I spent $13,000 on $40 ads. You do the math. I placed a lot of ads simultaneously in newspapers across the country, also referred to as an advertising blitz. Others opt to space out the charges and spend $1k-$2k a month, but I had already been trying to have a family for 2.5 years and was desperate to start.
  4. Use a Consultant. My lawyer advised that I work with an adoption consultant to place the Want Ads. They advised me of where to place the ads, based on demographics specifically lending themselves to adoption friendly states and statistics (generally lower income and religious
    who don’t believe in abortion).
  5. Market Yourself. During this process, you are also creating yourbook”. In it, you’ll include your story, how you like to spend your time and things that make you and your family unique. You should include plenty of pictures that illustrate how fabulous you are – because, you are!
  6. Woo the Birth Mother. Once you get “the call” and a potential birth mom feels a connection, let her get to know you and put her at ease. You don’t need to orchestrate grand gestures, I sent the BM sunflowers, to brighten her day. After the BM chooses you, you “date” for a little while. You are nice to each other, text and call each other, share pictures, stories and often go on doctors visits together.  For me, my story is a bit unusual and crazy because my adoption happened in just eight days (!), so my dating period was very short.

At the end of the day, it’s good to remember that these young women are often in crises, and they are confused, so anything you can do to show you are committed is welcome. It’s also important to realize that every story is different. I had the amazing blessing of being there for the birth of my daughter. I love that detail, and I feel fortunate to have it, but I know I would be just as attached to Julia if I didn’t get to experience her birth. My daughter is my daughter.  She is the love of my life. It sounds cliché, but she is my inspiration and muse, and I think that’s the greatest myth of all about adoption. People often wonder whether they can love a child that they didn’t give birth to. When I saw Julia come into this world, she took my breath away. Bottom line, you can, and will, love a child you didn’t give birth to.

adoption

Paige, Sean & Aria via helpusadopt.org

Currently, I sit on the board of HelpUsAdopt.org, a wonderful organization that promotes, and supports adoption, by awarding life-changing grants to families so they can bring their children home. The cost of adoption is around $40k-$60k ,which is usually on top of the amount that a family has already spent on fertility. Since it’s launch in 2007, Helpusadopt.org has awarded over $1.7 million dollars in grants and helped to build 189 families. Helpusadopt.org remains the nation’s only adoption grant organization that doesn’t charge an application fee, awards life-changing grants (up to $15,000) and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, marital status or sexual orientation. All you need to do is visit helpusadopt.org/apply, where you can download the application (this section of the site also has detailed information regarding the application process, deadlines, and FAQs).

Take it from me, if you want to have a family, adoption is a wonderful way to make your dreams come true. Mine did.

 

To learn more about Helpusadopt.org and the work that they do and get information about their annual fundraising event, click here.

Lifestyle

LA magazine’s Devon Kisgen Shares Beauty Secrets, Hot Spots & Work Life Balance

February 27, 2017
Devon Kisgen

Scrolling through this California mama’s Instagram feed makes us feel all warm and sunshine-y. Devon Kisgen is loving her life in LA, after being born and raised on the East Coast, and doesn’t take a minute of her world for granted. Spending time with her two daughters takes top priority but she isn’t afraid to get out of her comfort zone and explore the city and beaches around her. Read on…

Devon Kisgen

Quote you love: “Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.” – Unknown

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

It sounds lame but, “Just Do It!”. I learned in my positions working in New York that there is no time like the present. If it is something huge you have been wanting to tackle, or something as small as making a phone call, just get it done. There is no reason to procrastinate or wait for tomorrow. Always think of that first step that it takes to get something done and take initiative…and the rest will just seem to follow.

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Congrats on your new baby! What is the biggest surprise since adding your second child to your family?

The biggest surprise for us is how easy an infant is! That definitely was not the case for me the first time around. I don’t know if it is because we have been through it all before or because a toddler is so much work…or maybe because we don’t have time to worry about the little things like we did the first time around, but she has been a breeze. The toughest thing is to juggle both of them when they both need your attention and hardly having any time to yourself. There is no time to adjust slowly…you just make it work!

As Director of Integrated Marketing at Los Angeles Magazine, mama to two, and contributing marketing to your hubby’s eye wear line Matsuda, do you have any non-negotiables that help you to balance your time between work and family?

I love my family and really enjoy what I do. To balance these two it is really important for me to be 100% present at work when I am working, and devote all of my attention to my family when I am home. It is definitely a struggle because I’m easily distracted but it really makes all the difference in terms of getting things done and connecting with my kids and husband. I also am very adamant about leaving work at 5:30pm on the dot. I’m not sure how happy everyone is about that, but it is a must. There is always a never ending “to do” list and if I don’t set limits, I could be there all night. I’d hate to not be there with my family for dinner, bath, and bedtime. I also used to respond to emails around the clock but now I really leave work at work unless there is an important event coming up or an urgent proposal due. But honestly, we are not saving lives so it can always wait until the next day.

Devon KisgenWhat are your favorite beauty trends and what do you think will be “big” in 2017?

I absolutely cannot live without dry shampoo! I have fine dark hair which tends to get oily two minutes after I wash it. I am amazed and jealous of those women who get a blow out and it lasts all week. I have tried a lot of different brands but always seem to return to Oscar Blandi‘s. For 2017, I think (hope!) that women will embrace their natural selves and stop over contouring. I think I saw a video of someone contouring the back of their neck! Eek…stop the insanity lol.

As a “New Yorker”  who moved to LA “just to try it” and has been loving it for years, what do you see as the real difference between New York and LA life as a creative working mom?

I wasn’t a mom until I lived in LA so I don’t know what mom life is like in NYC…but I know so many amazing moms that kill it in the city! I do know that I cherish every month of the year here enjoying the sun and being outdoors. We would definitely struggle if we were cooped up inside all winter. If my girl is home all she wants to do is watch TV! So many moms are doing their own thing in LA, either freelancing or starting their own companies. The mamas I’ve met in LA seem to be very creative, free spirited, and fearless and it is so inspiring!

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What does the perfect day in LA look like to you?

I love LA because there is so much to see and do and the weather is always accommodating; so exploring something or someplace new we haven’t been before is exciting. But the perfect day would start with sleeping in (yeah right) and having a lazy non-rushed morning with a family snuggle sesh on our bed. We’d then have coffee and croissants or breakfast at the most family friendly restaurant on the west side, M Street Kitchen, followed by a drive up the coast, soaking in the beauty of Santa Monica and Malibu. We always make it a point to stop at El Matador beach for some fresh salty air and to feel the sand between our toes. I love the laid back vibe of Malibu and have a lot of great spots we like to go to. Before we had kids, it was Malibu Family Wines and date nights with a view at Nobu and Geoffrey’s. Now we frequent kid (and pet!) friendly Malibu Cafe and Guest Ranch at Calamigos and the Malibu Country Mart/Lumber Yard. The day would finish with dinner with friends – a bunch of our couple friends had kids around the same time so it is so fun watching them play and grow up together.

What are your 3 pearls of mama wisdom?

  1. To quote a famous Disney princess, “Let It Go”. Your house is a disaster? There is no food in the fridge? You didn’t get around to answering emails or getting anything done on your list? You received some unsolicited parenting advice that made you upset? All of this used to cause me so much anxiety. Now, I just let it go.
  2. Find time for date night regularly. Connecting with your husband is just as important as connecting with the kiddos.
  3. Enjoy the good, the bad, and everything in between. Time is so precious and there are no do overs. Just do the best that you can!

Devon Kisgen

Devon Kisgen is the Director, Integrated Marketing at Los Angeles Magazine. You can follow her adventures with her two littles here.

Lifestyle

Ceres Mercurio of The Pink Dream Makes Room For Bebe

October 8, 2016
ceres

Part of what gets us out of bed in the am (besides coffee) is discovering amazing and talented mamas and great products we think you might like! Although this series is sponsored by Fisher-Price, the Jonathan Adler Crafted By Fisher-Price Collection totally knocked us out with it’s incredible design and quality so we were thrilled to collaborate with them and the authentic women in these posts.

Our second mama in our #MakeRoomForBebe series is Ceres Mercurio. She is the pink-obsessed Brazilian mama from The Pink Dream, who’s also a financial analyst at Bloomberg. Talk about being left AND right brained! AND she’s doing it all, including her new baby.  Sophia is her first, so getting accustomed to a new baby in a home full of beautiful coffee table books, flower arrangements and lots of glass, there is sure some adjustments! From toy invasion to clearing out the space for her next flawless Instagram shot, baby items and messes must be stashed somewhere! This mama’s secret spot? The guest bathroom! Some pieces are beautiful enough to be left out though, like the new Jonathan Adler Crafted By Fisher-Price Collection. The sleek lines and bold prints suit any camera-ready home, making all of the bloggers and style enthusiasts obsessed! Scroll down to see some of Ceres’s before and after shots #forthegram, and read our interview on how this mama made her dream nursery.

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

ceres mercurio

before

Ceres

After

Sophia’s nursery is so organized. I drool over the photos of her drawers with those perfectly folded sweet outfits. Do you have any funny nesting stories when you were prepping the nursery?

I love pink, but I never knew how many shades of pink there are! Our wall looked liked a pink rainbow by the time we found the one we loved.

Your home style is so feminine that your little girl’s nursery fits seamlessly into the vibe of the house. You must have had so much fun decorating her room. Can you tell us about the process? Where did you get your inspiration from? What are some of your favorite resources?

I started planning and decorating as soon as I found out it was a girl! I really wanted a princess pink room. The inspiration was this gorgeous crown that I saw at Restoration Hardware. My favorite resources are eBay and Etsy for one of a kind pieces and Pottery Barn Kids for other decor items.

Ceres

As a first time mama, what were you the most nervous about when waiting for your baby girl to arrive? Where those fears founded? How do you feel about them now?

I wasn’t really nervous, I was mostly super excited for this baby to arrive! Clearly, I had no idea what I was getting into lol! The first month and a half with my baby were the most intense time of my life. The sleep depravation combined with hormones and caring for a new life really overwhelms you. I remember my doctor saying “I expect you to cry, I expect you to loose it, it’s normal!” and he was so right. The newborn phase is not easy, especially if your baby has tummy issues, but it passes! And when you see that first smile, nothing else matters!

Flowers always makes us feel instantly zen. You always have the most gorgeous blooms on your feed. Do you have any tricks for creating simple gorgeous arrangements?

If you are working with a small arrangement, use a smaller vase and cut the stems just above the vase. Cut the stems a little everyday and add ice cubes to the water if the weather is too hot. Whole foods and Trader Joe’s have the best affordable flowers!

ceres mercurio

Your home always looks so amazingly perfect and clutter-free on social media! Can you tell us some of the funny things you’ve done to get your space ready #forthegram?

OMG! When I did the home tour for theeverygirl.com, I had to really style every corner of my house, so all the stuff that didn’t make it was stored in my guest bathroom and I could barely close the door!

By the time baby reaches 6 months old they have accumulated more stuff than we can imagine! What have you found to be really helpful to organize all your baby gear and toys to make your home feel like you?

Baskets are your best friend! I use them to store all her toys and put them away as soon as I can. When living in a small place, you really need think twice before making a purchase. No matter how many toys I buy her, she’s mostly interested in cables, empty water bottles and the molding on the wall.

Ceres Mercurio

Of everything on your registry and all the things you bought what have been some of the most loved and used things?

The most-loved and used things I purchased are items that helped me keep my child relaxed and preoccupied in order for me to eat and do chores around the house. The sensory gym from the Jonathan Adler Crafted by Fisher-Price collection is black and white (and those are the colors babies can distinguish at an early age) she would spend hours staring at all the toys. The Deluxe Bouncer with the attached lion, elephant and giraffe mobile helps me keep her entertained so I can eat some breakfast. Nosefrida is awesome. It’s disgusting at first use but you will realize how helpful it is. Lastly a hair brush! Sophia was born with sooo much hair, we have been using it since day one!

In the past 6 months, what would you say has been the most challenging part of motherhood. Anything that has made this challenge easier?

Sleep deprivation, how hard breastfeeding actually is, and just trying to balance work, motherhood and being a wife. What I think helps is an understanding partner and just knowing that it’s ok if you don’t get to 25% of your “to do” list done for the day (sometimes you are lucky if you get to brush your teeth and that is ok too!!). Using a phone app has made my life much easier. I am able to track her sleep and feeding times. It really makes it easy to remember what I have to do next, specially on those days where I get zero sleep. At the end of the day, just looking at my daughter’s face, seeing her little smile and how her eyes light up when she discovers the world around her makes every challenge worth it!

ceres mercurio

You’ve been up all night with Sophia and things are a little messy. You get a phone call that an old and really stylish friend is in the neighborhood, stopping by to “see the baby”. What do you do to pull things together ASAP?

I start by collecting all the toys and putting them in the baskets. Bottle drying racks are then carefully hidden under the sink. I try to hide more stuff in the guest bathroom so there is an airy feel when they walk in instead of baby clutter.

As Sophie moves into the next stage of babyhood, are you thinking about baby-proofing and making more changes to your space? What are your plans as she becomes more mobile, will you keep that gorgeous glass coffee table and all the perfectly placed pieces on it?

Yes, definitely. Now that she is starting to crawl everywhere and is specially interested in cables, molding and outlets, we are starting to add baby-proofing items around the house. The coffee table is staying for now, lol! Since the apartment is quite small and we have eyes on her all the time, we have managed to just pull her away from it. She is specially interested in the coffee table books! If she is playing in the living room I do add some pillows around the coffee table as added protection.

Ceres

How are you integrating baby gear into the “adult” areas of your home, like the dining area and living room?

We don’t have much free space in the apartment, so I got a foam playpad that I lay in the living room every morning and take at apart at night. All her toys are in baskets that I also put it away when she is not playing. The only item that stays is her high chair, but since it’s a cute piece, I don’t mind it being displayed at all!

With all the soft colors in your home, how have you handled all the spills and messes that come with having a little one?

Thankfully my sofa cover is washable, so I can easily remove the cover and wash it. I might need to rethink the color pallets when she gets a little older, but for now things are kept clean and tidy.

Ceres

To find our more about Ceres, check out her blog and follow her on Instagram.

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Photos by Stevi Sesin

@stevilou

Brand Spotlight, Lifestyle

Eva of Happily Eva After Makes Room For Bebe

October 6, 2016
eva martino

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

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

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

eva martino

before

eva martino

after

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

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

eva martino

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

Anything you wished you’d known before you started?

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

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

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

eva martino

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

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

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

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

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

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

eva martino

 

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

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

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

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

eva martino

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

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

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

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

eva martino

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

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Photos by Stephanie Elliott

Lifestyle, Wellness

#kitchenconfessions: Splendid Spoon Founder Nicole Centeno Serves Up Some Serious Soup

September 29, 2016
#kitchenconfessions Nicole Centeno Splendid Spoon meal plan

Photo by Tara Donne

At heymama we love finding out how ambitious and talented mamas are building their brands and running their business. How are they crushing it with what they do? So we thought, why not peek into the fridges and eating habits of the some of the mamas ruling in the foodie space? 

 Nicole Centeno is the super-stylish lady boss of Splendid Spoon, a plant-based, vegan, gluten-free soup cleanse company/program AND has a cookbook out! This gorgeous and smart CEO/founder is a single mom of two kids under three and has a super positive take on life and healthy, balanced eating. Her soups are uber healthy, but everyone needs a treat! She even admits to cheating a tiny bit. Hello, chips and salsa!

 

What's in my fridge

What’s in Nicole’s fridge

Monday

6am: Banana+chia+almond butter “bananascape” with my kids, couple bites of their leftover French toast which is probably the equivalent of one piece
9:30am: Coffee with almond milk
10:00am: Apple
1pm: Splendid Spoon turnip tomato pistou
3pm: Splendid Spoon coconut cauliflower soup
6:30pm: I make pasta with zucchini, basil, mint, tomatoes and ricotta with the kids
8pm: Chips and salsa
10:30pm: Lov tea herbal blend

pasta with zucchini, basil, mint, tomatoes and ricotta

Pasta with zucchini, basil, mint, tomatoes and ricotta

Tuesday

6am: Splendid Spoon ikarian stew, green tea
9am: Iced americano from Five Leaves and a croissant
1:30pm: Splendid Spoon mushroom with steel cut oats
3pm: Splendid Spoon vegan bone broth
7pm: Clams and corn with soba noodles with my kids

Wednesday

6am: We make English muffin pizzas for breakfast
9:30am: Apple
10:30am: Almond milk latte
1pm: Spicy shrimp wrap from Pret
4pm: Peaches
6:30pm: Half of a Splendid Spoon lentil kale – my son, Grover, eats the other half
8pm: Splendid Spoon khichri

lilia lentil kale soup

Splended Spoon lentil kale soup

Thursday

6am: French toast with maple syrup and blueberry butter, green tea
9:30am: Coffee with almond milk
10am: Banana with peanut butter
1pm: Splendid Spoon butternut turmeric soup
5pm: Early dinner with my friend Tara Donne at Lilia – we share the bagna Cauda, I have bread with ricotta and a saffron and tomato pasta, ice cream with sprinkles and crumbled Italian cookies for dessert!
10pm: Lov herbal tea blend

Bagna Cauda from Lilia

Bagna Cauda from Lilia

Friday

7:30am: Half of a splendid spoon Buddha bowl
10am: Almond milk latte
11:30am: Splendid Spoon khichri
3pm: Apple, piece of fine and raw chocolate with almonds, and half a mug of coffee
5:30pm: Brown rice with scallions, peppers, bok choy, kimchi, beans with the kids. There’s some chicken sausage in there that they eat a lot of and I eat some of it too
9:30pm: Glass of rose and more rice with beans and veggies

Saturday

8am: Matcha latte with homemade pumpkin+cashew milk
11am: I make and eat ratatouille
3pm: Coffee, salad and fries at Ruby’s in Soho with friends
5pm: Plain health ade kombucha
8:45pm: I make dinner with a friend: scallops with roasted carrots, balsamic glaze, pistachios, raisins and wild rice. Plus rose!

Homemade ratatouille

Homemade ratatouille

Sunday

7am: Green tea
8:30am: Yogurt with chia, pumpkin seeds, almonds, some honey, berries, banana
1pm: Splendid Spoon red lentil dal
4pm: Kale salad from five leaves
6pm: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms and leeks with the kids
9pm: Half an IPA, popcorn with nutritional yeast and doc

 

Business, Lifestyle

How Being A Good Animal Got Laia Aguilar’s New Brand On The IG Map

September 28, 2016
The Animals Observatory

via Constance Gennari @ The Socialite Family

 

Every once in awhile we come across a brand so good we long to be kids again or that we might squeeze into one of the dresses as a top.Thankfully we come to our sense before that happens and do the next best thing, buy it for our kids and take a million pictures to post on Instagram. It seems we aren’t the only ones that heard the whispering a few seasons ago that Laia Aguilar, the founder of Bobo Choses had moved on and created not another Bobo but a purely new kid’s fashion line The Animals Observatory. A quick check in  #theanimalobservatory showed us over 14k others are posting their love for the line. Here are a few of our faves and Laia’s story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even when I was little, I never went anywhere without a pad and crayons… because drawing is my way of life.

What wisdom can you share about career, motherhood and life?

In my experience, and in a nutshell, anything is possible if you are willing to work hard, in both your professional and your personal life. Nothing worth having comes easy. Plus, you need a bit of luck and, in my case, a husband worth an empire (laughing).

We were such big fans of Bobo Chooses why did you leave and how did you come to found The Animals Observatory?

I had left Bobo Choses for various reasons. Bobo Choses is the brand I founded and where I worked as Art Director for seven years. It was both a happy and sad moment, a very intense one. Basically due to differences with my then partners. It was tough, because it’s a brand with my DNA since I founded it. But there was nothing else for it.

But then I  met Jan Andreu, my partner at The Animals Observatory. Jan is an unusual businessman; rational and intuitive. He manages the business side of the brand, I manage the creative side, so it’s a great match.

You created some of the most original and fun prints for both collections. How do you come up with such amazing prints?

Even when I was little, I never went anywhere without a pad and crayons. When it’s time to conceptualize a collection, I have plenty of material to choose from, because drawing is my way of life.

 

The hashtag #theanimalobservatory has almost 14,000 tags and full of the next trendsetters 😉 Why do you think it’s become so popular? How has social media impacted your brand?

Well, we are more than 14,000 tags now LOL! The truth is that I feel very grateful. I imagine that, somehow, the customer perceives truth and honesty in my designs. Maybe that makes them so popular.

Social networks have been my best ally in spreading my brands, both in Bobo Choses and now in The Animals Observatory.

What’s your biggest retail market? We noticed a lot of the hashtag users come from Korea and Japan. Why do you think your designs are so popular in those markets?

Indeed, Japan and Korea are two markets that have enthusiastically accepted my designs, with Bobo Choses before, and now with The Animals Observatory. I do not know what the reason is, but it’s sure a wonderful mystery!

You are able to live in the gorgeous rural countryside of Spain, where you live with your family and dog, work and design your collections.. Can you tell us about your life there and the work life balance you have created? Do you find it’s easier for you to be creative there?

Living in the country has made me happy. Here, life makes sense; it’s where I like to be. I don’t know whether it’s easier or not. In any case, the countryside lets me enjoy an environment as enriching and beautiful as the private world in which I create my collections in my study. It’s actually much easier than it looks. The showroom and headquarters, marketing, finance and operations are in Barcelona. The creative centre is in the Empordà countryside. Once a week, the creative team and the coordinator meet in Barcelona.

 

What is the brand philosophy of The Animal Observatory?

Our philosophy is simple: to present our vision of childhood through clothing that is materially and conceptually hard-wearing and long-lasting. Clothes that can be handed on without losing their quality or their ability to seduce. It might be called slow fashion. Plus, our challenge is for these clothes, when today’s kids are grown up, to bring their childhood flooding back, like Proust’s madeleine. We want to be Proust’s madeleine (laughing).

What do you love about what you do?

One of my greatest pleasures as a designer is choosing the colors.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

Be a good animal, true to your instincts.

Be a good animal, true to your instincts.

Lifestyle, Party

Oh Hey Denver!

August 2, 2016
heymama Denver

While New York will always be home base to heymama, we got the opportunity to extend our community to one of the fastest growing cities in America: Denver, Colorado. We kicked off the Denver launch at Dara Deshe Segal’s house from @simplyframed. Approximately 40 of the leading entrepreneurial mothers and influencers came together to celebrate, embrace and talk about motherhood + business. By pairing up like-minded mothers from all over the state, several friendships were formed leaving us all feeling inspired, empowered and hopeful.

Heymama Denver launch party guests mingle

Heymama Denver launch party

Heymama Denver Launch Party @simplyframedHeymama Denver Launch Party Prosper OatsJenna Berrios, new mom to a three-month-old and owner of Prosper Oats served the group from the delicious oat bar catered by her restaurant while the guests including Jenna from @artifactuprising, Terra LaRock from @loveandlarock, Anna Smith from @annabode and Kathryn Bacalisfrom @ourloveisloud mingled and browsed the gifts from our sponsors.
Heymama Launch Party Heymama Launch Party Heymama Launch Party Heymama Launch Party Ergobaby Heymama Launch Party Heymama Launch Party

Mamas were sent home with a darling pair of moccasins from Itzy Ritzy, baby wipes from Bloom Baby Wipes and #MamasGotThis pouches from Ergo Baby. We also raffled off a Linen Carrier, Nursing Pillow, Swaddler and the new Adapt Carrier by Ergo Baby.

The energy in the room was palpable. The business knowledge and thirst for more was evident and the connections made at the event will continue to grow and strengthen for many months to come. Stay tuned for more heymama Denver events.

Heymama Launch Party

A huge thank you to our event sponsors: Ergo Baby, Itzy Ritzy and Bloom Baby Wipes. Thank you LadyBird Poppy for designing the florals, Prosper Oats for the food and Amy Melissa for capturing the event so beautifully.

Advice, Blogger, Lifestyle

HEY MAMA, WANT TO TURN YOUR BLOG INTO A BUSINESS ?

July 6, 2016

There’s no denying that “mummy blogs” are a dime a dozen, but what makes the select few a success? Have you ever considered to turn your blog into a business? While most mamas start blogging as a visual diary or creative outlet between mashing banana and googling poo color, many hold onto that little pipe dream that it could turn into something more lucrative. We begin to fantasize about working from home- laptop in one hand, baby wipe in the other- running an empire without getting out of our PJs. The ultimate work-life balance, right?!

Well, that was me two and a half years ago. I set out to combine my background in writing and marketing with my love of fashion, style and photography. At the time I couldn’t find many resources that spoke to the type of mum I was- I loved and embraced motherhood, but also placed importance on my sense of self and style. I knew there were so many new-gen mamas out there who felt the same- and that was how NOT SO MUMSY was born.

Since then I have worked with some of the biggest brands in Australia, been invited to travel the world by resorts and airlines,  featured on television, in and on the cover of national magazines and in the last six months I have learnt more than I did working full time as Marketing Manager at a television network. I’m not sharing this because I’m an egotistical wank – it’s very un-Australian to celebrate your own success 😉 I’m sharing because even though these are of course “pinch myself” moments, I always had the belief that I was doing what I was meant to. I knew my blog would be a success. Not so much the monetary or “recognition” side of it- that definitely wasn’t the focus or driving factor, I mean building a community of like minded mamas. That’s how I define my success- because that’s what I set out to achieve. The other stuff is just a by-product.  As long as I’m connecting, evolving, starting conversations, inspiring and being inspired, I am doing what I set out to do. I posted the following quote on my personal Instagram just as I launched NOT SO MUMSY and it still holds so much truth for me.

turn your blog into a business

“When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.”

I am often asked for advice from those thinking about starting a blog or wanting to take their blog to the next level. So I thought I would share my path and what I have learnt in retrospect. There are thousands of mummy blogs out there, so what makes a select few gain traction?

1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN | Launching a blog  takes months of preparation. Yes there are logos, layouts and content, but most importantly you need a clear vision of what you are setting out to achieve. What do you want your blog to say? Who do you want to say it to? Find your passion and stick to it.  Don’t worry about what is “trending” – odds are by the time you are up and running the trend will have passed. Don’t start a blog because you want to work from home or think it’s an easy way to make money- it will take months, possibly years of hard work before that happens. And there is no guarantee that it will. Start a blog for the love of what you are doing, if you are happy to continue and never make money then you are on the right path. You’ll be working from 10pm after the kids are in bed and the washing is done, so it needs to be something you love. The reader will only connect with authenticity. So research, find your niche, your tone of voice and point of difference.

2. GET SOCIAL | Blogging is about connecting and there is no better way to start a conversation than social media. Instagram in particular is an essential tool for bloggers, and in many cases is a blog in itself. Get involved in conversations- like, comment, network with brands, mums and other bloggers. This goes the same for your blog. Grow your account organically by being interactive.  Tag in bigger accounts, engage in #followfriday or shout outs- but don’t over do it, and keep it authentic. The best tip for someone starting out on Instagram is COLLABORATE.  I grew my account organically simply by collaborating with brands with a bigger Instagram presence. Product for pictures is a win/win, but make sure you are strategic, not greedy! I see so many accounts doing loop giveaway after giveaway and it looks desperate. Yes the followers might grow, but they are rarely engaged and genuinely interested in what you are doing. That number at the top means nothing without the engagement, and with the new algorithm changes only 20% of your followers will actually see your post, so you need to make it engaging. Snapchat is another way to connect with your audience. I’m obsessed with snap and like it more than Instagram now.

Lastly, don’t compete with others- celebrate them for doing a good job. Build each other up.

turn your blog into a business

 Remember girls compete, women empower.

3. BE ORIGINAL | Find your own style and your voice. Just as I launched NOT SO MUMSY two other Australian mummy blogs launched around the same time. Both had similar elements to NOT SO MUMSY- just by sheer coincidence. I managed to shuffle  things around a bit at the last minute- I took less of an emphasis on my mama crush profiles and launched with a stronger emphasis on  mama and mini shoots – which, at the time, were very original for an Australian blog. After the boom of the mama and minis (which is fantastic) I expanded my content to be more lifestyle based.  I can’t stress how important it is to be authentic and stay true to yourself. It’s easy to get influenced by what others are doing. Sure get inspiration, but stay in your lane. People can see through copy-cats.  If you see people trying to be like you, take it as a compliment and try a new direction. Always stay one step ahead.

4. SELL YOURSELF | Once you have been established for a while and have gathered momentum and a following,  put together a media kit showcasing your best work. Outline who you are, who your audience is, feature any reviews, collaborations, anecdotes and examples of what makes you stand out from the crowd. This showreel is an invaluable tool to send to brands and agents for awareness and/or potential collaborations. Remember it’s not just about having a lot of followers, you need to be a marketable brand and/or have a unique style to have the quality brands want you to represent them. You need to understand branding, work to briefs and deadlines and the client needs to see results to build a longer term relationship.

5. FIND AN AGENT- Once you have built your brand and have a dedicated following, you will become lucrative for brand collaborations and will probably be approached by an agent. “Influencer agents” are the fastest growing profession- they are popping up everywhere, so do your research and be selective. A good agent will take you to the next level, a bad one will probably do more damage than good. My first agent was all about the quick sale sponsored posts. They didn’t ask if I wanted to work with the client and made no effort to get to know me or my blog. I was getting work, but felt my integrity was compromised. My current management is amazing and I’m so happy to be with them. The benefits of representation is that they know your worth, they know the industry rates, they already have relationships with PR agencies and bigger brands and negotiate on your behalf, freeing you up to get back to creating content.

Having said this, it’s important to use your common sense. If you are approached by a small home based brand, they are not going to have budget so don’t send them to your agent. If you are happy to accepted gifted product for social posts to help out, do that. Most kids brands you see on Instagram don’t have budget. It’s nice to help out when you can, although it can get a little overwhelming. I made that mistake early on because I couldn’t say no and ended up getting completely stressed out. Now I only accept gifted product if I absolutely love it and need it or have the time to help out a smaller brand.

Another or additional way to monetise is to through an affiliate web tool like Commission Factory or Reward Style. This is great for income supplementation, but unless you have a massive following, like over 100k Instagram and 50k monthly blog views, you won’t make as much money as campaigns and sponsored posts booked through your agent.

6. DON’T SELL OUT | Authenticity is the key to your success.  Only work with brands you like and use- no matter how much money or free product they offer you. I have turned down many big paying gigs because I would simply not use or wear the product.  When I feel like it’s getting a little to “business” I always come back to my intentions for starting NOT SO MUMSY and take breaks from the sponsored posts.

Sponsored posts should compliment your blog, not become your blog.

Never forget who helped you on the way up. There are a few small businesses that helped with my growth in the beginning and I would never charge them now.

7. HAVE A LAUGH |  Don’t take yourself too seriously and STAY HUMBLE. “Having lots of followers on Instagram is like being rich in Monopoly.” Even though this is not so true anymore as many are making a pretty little packet, remember you aren’t saving the world. Although when you get big enough it’s nice to use your platform to make a difference.;)

turn your blog into a business

Balance, Events, Lifestyle, The Great Jane

Here’s What You Missed At The Great Jane, Ojai Edition

June 15, 2016
TheGreatJane_charleystarphoto_-0006

We’re still tingling from the magical weekend spent surrounded by an incredible tribe of women; mothers, doers, thinkers and women with heart at The Great Jane. Heymama, Bash Please and Modern Nomad came together to bring together two key areas of a mother’s life that enabled her to pursue her dreams – wellness & entrepreneurship. Aptly called The Great Jane, it was truly an unheralded retreat for aspiring mamas looking to hit pause on their life for a moment, allowing them to connect with themselves and other like-minded women, ultimately inspiring their next chapter both professionally and creatively. 

We all left feeling lighter, stronger freer. It’s hard to put your finger on just one piece of the weekend that sparked a fire in our hearts and allowed us to be real and open, and to connect to one another. We learned so quickly how some really successful women are doing it each their own way. Everyone at The Great Jane, from the speakers to the attendees, to the mentors, and panelist gave something special to the collective spirit and came away with something just as precious. It was the women that made the weekend, every Jane. A little peak into the magic, below….

DAY ONE

Mama makers Fat & Moon, Rachel Craven and Juniper + Fir led creative workshops with the gorgeous backdrop of Ojai behind us.
TGJ Day 1 Fat MoonFAT & MOON: DIY Plant Based Beauty Product
TGJ Day 1- blockprintRACHEL CRAVEN: Block Printing Workshop
TGJ Day-Juniper + FirJUNIPER + FIR : Indigo Dying Shibori Workshop
The Great Jane

Natalie Kuhn lead the mamas in mini chill session inspired by The Class, to get everyone to let go and really be present. Mamas mingled while enjoying a lovely dinner and cocktails as the sun set behind the hills.The Great Jane

 

DAY TWO

TheGreatJane_charleystarphoto_-0283
The Great JaneTo fuel up for a body opening and mind-stimulating rolling session with Carbon38 and Lauren Roxburgh, fitness expert and Goop contributor, mamas enjoyed a healthy and delicious spread from  Renew JuicesSmari YogurtFountain of Youth Water Tori AwakeCoco BakesMoon Juice, and Mylk.

The Great Jane

The Great Jane

The Great JaneMamas nourish their mind, body, and spirit with workshops from our much-loved group of healers, artists, and mind-body practitioners; Shiva Rose, Tamara Iglesias, Jules Blaine Davis, Michelle Kambolis, and Andrea Scher.

 

The Great JaneCo-founder of Spring, Ara Katz spoke about the stories we tell ourselves that may not be true and how we can reframe these stories to create a new more positive reality. The Second Shift Founders, Jenny Galluzzo and Gina Hadley created their platform to help women stay in the game and work on their own terms.  Sharing their personal stories of entrepreneurship and motherhood they asked guests to identify a realistic bandwidth for work, creative projects, self-care and motherhood.
The Great JaneGuests were shuttled in style from from their hotels to the Thacher House, by Audi, through out the weekend. Mamas sipped delicious wine from David Family Wines all weekend and during an intimate candlelit dinner with our new friends. (Gorgeous florals by Moon Canyon)

TheGreatJane_charleystarphoto_-0714

DAY THREE

The Great Jane Gift Bag We kicked day three off with a refreshing and invigorating yoga class from Jodi Guber Brufsky, the founder of Beyond Yoga.

The Great Jane Gift BagAlli Webb in her super comfy Monrow sweats. Healthy lunch wraps from Kye’s Montana, provided a burt of energy  before Above The Glass spoke on the how and whys of a business plan. Refreshments provided from Fountain of Truth WaterTorii AwakeDavid Family Wines and Solstice Canyon.The Great Jane Gift Bag

The Great Jane Gift BagOur afternoon wrapped up with  The Great Jane Panel, Drybar founder Alli Webb, artist and designer Beatrice Valenzuela, Co-Founder of State Bags, Jacq Tatleman, and Beyond Yoga Co-Founder Jodi Guber Brufsky candidly shared their challenges and successes as mothers and entrepreneurs.

The Great Jane Gift Bag
The Great Jane Gift BagsGift bags from State Bags were stocked with goodies from: ParachuteThrive MarketMunchkinNavitas NaturalsSimone Le BlancIliaGuess, Mini MavenCarbon38Beyond Yoga, Snowe HomeMonica + AndyElemental Bars, LunchBOX SeedlingJosie MaranDrybar , Native ShoesMonrow, TenovertenBeyond YogaSimply Framed, and Snowe Home. Lessons were learned and recorded in sweet notebooks made just for us by Minted.
The Great Jane

TheGreatJane_charleystarphoto_-1167

To close out the beautiful weekend Ashley Neese leads us in a few breathes at the closing circle.

Thanks for joining us!

You can see more of the The Great Jane on Instagram here and stay tuned to hear where our fall retreat will be located!

 

 

 

Editor's Picks, L.A., Lifestyle, Shopping

L.A.’s Arts District: Don’t Miss These Cool Kid’s Spots While At The Echo Park Craft Fair

May 6, 2016
Amanda and Isla Roux

If you are heading out to the Echo Park Craft Fair this weekend, we have some great places to check out with your kids courtesy of the sisters behind too cool for school kid’s line Roux.

 

My sister Amanda and I have been working in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles for the past 3 years with our clothing labels Kain Label (women’s) and our new line children’s line, Roux, where we are really at the center of it all; neighboring our office you’ll find amazing lofts, markets, coffee spots, bars, shops and restaurants. The outside of our building is used as Paddy’s Bar on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” a neighborhood landmark, where no blogger, skateboarder, musician, model, or tourist can resist a photo. Amid the constant renovation and construction in the area, there has been a shift towards family-based fun, which you can find at the 6th Street Bridge and Park project. Inspired by the upcoming summer season, here’s a list of our favorite local spots, with a kiddie edge, that keeps it as fun for mama (Amanda) and auntie (Melanie) as our namesake Isla Roux.

Isla at Hedley & BennettIsla at Hedley & Bennett 3 Isla at Hedley & Bennett 2

1. HEDLEY & BENNETT
Hedley & Bennett’s headquarters, just south of the Arts District, houses their offices, production, warehousing and shipping departments, and a really fun multi-purpose retail space. You can buy and custom order their signature aprons and also grab a quick La Colombe coffee from the on-site barista (just be sure to check ahead to see if a barista is there, they will be starting full-time shortly). Already caffeinated? Get comfy in their “living room” or picnic table area, all while your little one is happily playing on the jungle gym. Note, Hedley & Bennett also rents out the space for private events like cooking classes, baby showers and birthday parties.

Clifton's Cafeteria 2

Clifton's Cafeteria 4

2. CLIFTON’S CAFETERIA
We don’t want to give too much away about the weird and wonderful world of Clifton’s for those who haven’t been, so here’s a quick breakdown. First off, to answer your question, yes, it is actually a cafeteria, which originally opened in 1932, and re-opened a few months ago after a massive renovation. It may be the last of its kind in Los Angeles, and almost certainly the only of its kind. Clifton’s is really a mythical land called Brookdale, full of discoveries big and small. Eat first, then make your way up to all of the levels to experience the magic.

3. POKETO
The Poketo flagship is technically a lifestyle store, but bursting with an extra high dose of happiness and whimsy for all ages. It’s located in the main hub of the Arts District around 3rd & Traction, on the perfect stretch for an amble, some shopping, a re-fuel at Blacktop Coffee, and a visit to the new Hauser Wirth & Schimmel gallery that has everyone in the neighborhood talking.

4. ARTHUR J. WILL MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN at GRAND PARK
Grand Park is a multi-level park stretching from The Music Center to City Hall, so we suggest making a loop, starting with a museum visit to The Broad, followed by lunch at Grand Central Market food hall, and ending at the Park. The Park plays host to a ton of different activities and events (like the Renegade Craft Fair in July & December), but the draw for the littles is the interactive fountain jets; let your little ones splash to their hearts’ content, while you bask in a feeling of being the perfect parent who knows how to effortlessly balance culture and fun, all while enjoying pastrami from Wexler’s Deli.

Isla and Auntie Melanie at Ace Photo Booth

5. PHOTO BOOTH at ACE HOTEL
The Ace Hotel is the center of a little shopping and dining nexus around 9th & Broadway. The photo booth in their lobby/retail shop is the perfect excuse to pick their lobby restaurant, L.A. Chapter, for brunch while knowing you can come away with a souvenir. Have fun playing grown-up “I Spy” with the pencil drawings of L.A. landmarks and celebrities covering the walls, and don’t miss the front booth by the coffee counter for lots of cartoon character drawings.

6. THE LAST BOOKSTORE
Located in an old bank, The Last Bookstore, as its name implies, feels very nostalgic, and as if it could disappear any minute. Until it’s another part of a bygone era, it’s the largest new and used bookstore in California. Browsing the main floor, the Rare Book Annex and the used book Labyrinth is top-notch, and the kids will love the quirky displays and exploring the different nooks and crannies throughout the bookstore. When inside, keep your eyes peeled for actual bank vaults and pay attention to the “Tunnel of Books” that’s lit up.

7. AQUARIUM at UNION STATION
Union Station, the main train station which opened in 1939, is a gorgeous reminder of Old Los Angeles from the second you see the palm trees framing the building. Here at Union Station it will be easy to get your kids excited about a bit of history and architecture, since walking through the vaulted main terminal, and around the gardens and fountains outside is beautiful. If you walk all the way east through the tunnel leading up to the train tracks, you’ll find the huge aquarium, which has just undergone a major renovation. Combine the aquarium with a walk through Olvera Street, a lively outdoor Mexican market with street vendors, cafes, music and dancers just across Alameda Street, for a full day of adventure!

8. ECHO PARK CRAFT FAIR (May 7 & 8)
We’ll be participating in our first Echo Park Craft Fair, located just west of Downtown, featuring L.A.-based designers and artists. For the first time, the fair is creating an outdoor Kids Area, where we’ll be setting up shop along with our friends from Ultra Violet Kids and Boy + Girl, among others. Please come by, say hi, and let us know where you and your kiddos love to go. We’re always looking for cool new places to hang.

BONUS: SMORGASBURG
Smorgasburg is coming to L.A.’s Arts District in June! The original Brooklyn-based food, shopping, and event market is confirming what we’ve known for a while: L.A. is the new New York. We can’t wait!

Check out Roux’s super adorable kid’s line here! (the rompers are the bomb!)

Give Back, Lifestyle, Mother's Day

Heymama Hosts A Mother’s Day Breakfast With Fridababy, Hatch & FEED

May 6, 2016
heymama. Hatch, Fridababy, Lauren Bush Lauren

We gathered our mamas at the serene Hatch showroom to celebrate Mother’s Day and the launch of Fridababy‘s new Bitty Bundle of Joy Kit with our beautiful community of strong, smart, and creative women who are shaping this world with their passion and energy. We felt so lucky to have three of our members Chelsea Hirschhorn of Fridababy, Ariane Gold of Hatch , and Lauren B Lauren of FEED co-host with us at the gorgeous Hatch showroom.

Lauren B Lauren at hey mama Mother's Day Breakfast

On top of the smiles we got from seeing our friends we laughed at the jokes of Dena Blizzard of One Funny Mother .

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Struck a pose in the photo booth by Sharing Box.

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Refreshments from Whealth & Co and Montauk Juice Factory juices were a plenty and our mamas took advantage of all the fun activities set up throughout the day…

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Got smart on all things mama and baby with celebrity pediatrician, Dr. Tiffany, who was there to answer all our burning questions.

FEED

Gave back, every mama received a FEED bag giving 25 meals to kids in need.

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Took some time to pamper ourselves with makeup and nail stations by GLAMSQUAD.

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Mamas had the chance to win our kick-ass #YouGotThisInTheBag Raffle raffle including:

Hatch diaper bag and dress, Kiehl’s pampering mama and baby centric beauty items, Tenoverten mommy & mini gift card, Mignonne Gavigan feather earrings, Bauble Bar gift card, Tickets to Dena Blizzard’s One Funny Mother, a Maman brunch gift card and Fridababy’s FeverFrida.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to enter, you still have time. But not lots. We’ll be announcing the winner on Mother’s Day!  Just use the hashtag #YouGotThisInTheBag and tag @fridababy_hq @heymamco @hatchgal.

 

Gift Bag

#YouGotThisInTheBag goody bag: every mama took home one stuffed with their dream diaper bag essentials.

Fridababy‘s Bitty Bundle of Joy Kit; Rose + Rex hand puppets; Munchkin snack catchers, Latch bottles and Sterilizer Bags (for on-the-go); Supergoop!  sunblock, FEED pouches that give 25 meals to kids in need; Erzo Pre-Natal Vitamin Cookies;  Earth’s Best diaper wipes pack; Ella’s Kitchen organic squeeze pack for baby; Barley & Oats lactation cookies; Hello Sitter gift card; Monica and Andy swaddle; Sawyer passport pack.

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Earth's Best

ErzoFoods

Photo credits:@stevilou.