Model, blogger, wife to Bruce Willis, and now CEO, Emma Heming-Willis always had big dreams that shifted after she became a mama. The inspiration for her company, the vegan skincare line, CocoBaba, happened after she liberally applied coconut oil on her stomach during her first pregnancy and never got a single stretch mark! During her second pregnancy, the idea came about after she grew fed up by having to purchase coconut oil from the grocery store. With her team, she create a line of coconut oil products that were specifically designed for moms and moms-to-be. With no formal business training, Emma has been passionately building the brand while being a stay-at-home mama. Read more about her start-up and how she juggles it all…
We have been loving your parenting and lifestyle blog, Emma Heming-Willis. What made you decide to chronicle your experiences as a mom through this platform?
I quickly realized that once I became pregnant, and then had my kids, that everyone had an opinion. I heard, “You should do this, you should do that, but definitely don’t do it that way.”
As a first time mom I was so nervous I was doing it all wrong. I had to push all of that aside and trust my own instincts. I really believe that no one knows your child better than you. This is a case where “one size fits all” does not apply. I started my blog to empower moms. It’s never been “a parenting” blog per se but more of a place where parents can find ideas or inspiration and then share their ideas with me and my readers.
What’s been the most surprising thing to you about blogging? What are some of your goals for your blog?
How much work it entails! It requires constantly coming up with relevant ideas that will engage my readers. Writing up just anything would be a disservice to my readers who are interested enough to read my content. I’m also not the best writer so it often takes me a long time to write an entry. I’ve chosen to slow down on my blog these days because I began to feel like I wasn’t getting as much joy out of it as I did when I first started. I’m taking a bit of a break but I do continue to add to it when I feel there’s something fun and interesting to share.
As a mom of girls, what are some values that you instill in them?
There are so many, but right now I’m focusing on how important their voice is. I want them to understand how important it is to be heard and how important it is to speak up. We have a great motto in our household that we stole from the American Institute for Stuttering: Speak freely. Live fearlessly.
You’re also a stepmother. How did you find your groove in that role?
I don’t know that I ever really found my groove! I got lucky that Bruce’s older daughters opened their hearts and arms to me. They are truly loving kids by nature. I think coming into a stepmom role you need good boundaries and to know that the kids are always the first priority. You’re off to a good start if you come in with that mind frame.
You make motherhood look easy even though it can be trying at times. Can you share a time when you felt less than perfect as a mother? How did you work through the situation?
Don’t let my Instagram feed or my blog fool you! I have had plenty of mom failures. I’m also pretty new to motherhood where I’m learning as I go. For example, there are times where I felt guilty when I had to leave them alone for an hour. Or I felt as though I had failed them when they wanted me to get up at the crack of dawn on a non-school day and I insisted I needed an extra 10 minutes to sleep. And the same with discipline. I’m constantly trying to find a balance of reasoning with my children and taking action in order for them to understand boundaries. This can be very tricky. No matter what I decided to do, there have been times when I second-guessed myself. It’s become less of an issue now, but I still question myself.
My children have been my biggest inspiration for everything.
What do you do when faced with really challenging parenting issues? How do you keep it together?
My kids are still young. You know the saying, “small kids, small problems.” When a challenge comes up, I always remind myself to stay in the moment. Kids go through phases and it’s important we address them to try and nip them in the bud. With my first child, I was so uptight about everything. Now, I’ve just learned to breathe and know that this too shall pass.
Can you share some special rituals that you enjoy with your kids?
I really love Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a great time of year when everything slows down where we can all spend some really great quality time together. There are no after school classes and no meetings. It’s all about being together as a family. One of our Christmas rituals that I love from my own childhood is to open up one present on Christmas Eve. Just good ole family time that we all soak up. One of our Thanksgiving rituals is to head to the Natural History Museum and watch the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade being blown up the night before. It’s a fun evening event and I don’t feel the need to rush my kids back home to get them to bed as Thanksgiving is the next day so they can sleep!
We just did a panel on mindful parenting. What does mindful parenting mean to you? How do you describe your own parenting philosophy?
As I mentioned previously, the whole process is a balancing act. There is not just one way to parent. One child might be easy to reason with, while another might be rebellious and require a different approach. This is what I consider “mindful” parenting. Being acutely aware of the individual needs of that particular child and applying the tools appropriately to get the desired results. Sounds SO technical but my kids are a bit of a conundrum.
Part of what makes us amazing is our differences. We love the quote we are all broken and that’s how the light gets in. How does your light get in?
My children have been my biggest inspiration for everything. They’ve made me look at the world in a very different way. I cannot fairly say that I knew what I was getting into when I decided to become a mother. It never occurred to me that all the sacrifices and hard work of having kids could result in such joy. Those moments when my kids do something that makes me laugh or makes me proud as they navigate the world is the way the “light” finds its way to me.
When a challenge comes up, I always remind myself to stay in the moment.
Tell us about CocoBaba. How did the idea come about?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was looking for a natural anti-stretch cream for my growing belly. I became hyperaware of what I was eating and applying to my body. I wasn’t crazy about what was available on the market so I went back to coconut oil, an old family favorite. Mabel weighed more than nine pounds and I didn’t develop a single stretch mark. Why? Because I took pre-emptive measures and applied coconut oil liberally all over my stomach—plus my skin is prone to stretch marks, so not to get one during my pregnancy was a miracle to me.
After Mabel was born I started using it on her because I knew how natural it was. I basically just got fed up with going to the oil and vinegar section of the grocery store to buy my beauty product and dipping my hand into a big glass jar of coconut oil over and over again. It’s pretty gross actually. That’s when I knew I needed to come up for something for moms and moms-to-be that didn’t feel or smell like a cooking oil. Pregnancy itself requires a lot of special attention, and self-care is so important during this time (and after) that the products you use should feel and be special.
You made a big pivot by switching from modeling to starting your own company. What have you learned about yourself during this process?
I didn’t go to business school so it was a big risk! I did surround myself with knowledgeable people who have really taught me the ropes. Come to find out, I’m pretty good in business. Like in motherhood, I’ve learned to really trust my instincts and that’s been a great help.
What are your goals for CocoBaba?
I have big dreams and aspirations for CocoBaba but we are growing it slowly and thoughtfully. We are really listening to our consumers and we aren’t trying to expand too quickly, which is why we haven’t brought it stateside yet. But the ultimate dream is to be a global brand for moms and moms-to-be.
What are some of your favorite products from the line?
I love all three but my favorite is the Coconut Body Oil. It’s so nourishing, non-greasy and soaks into the skin so nicely. Our top seller is the Coconut Body Butter Mousse, which is heavenly because it’s so hydrating and thick. It also has a cooling effect, which pregnant women have told me they love as it relieves their itchy bellies. The Coconut Oil Scrub is unique as we use the husk from the coconut shell for the exfoliation—mixed with the coconut oil, when you wash it off, your skin is silky smooth!
Work and life as a mama can be overwhelming. What do you like to do to chill out?
It’s so important to look after ourselves. To free my mind and feed my soul, I make sure I get to the gym and try to eat right—it’s not always easy, of course. I love to veg out after the kids are in bed and watch a movie or TV show with my husband. I truly appreciate the moments when I can be mindless.
What’s your happy place?
We have a place in the Caribbean that is my happy place. Time just slows down when we are there. It’s so quiet and peaceful. We feel so removed when we are out there, so we get to just really relax.
What has been the most surprising thing about motherhood to you?
How deeply you can love. You hear it all the time but it never really soaked in until I had my kids. That idea of unconditional love is so pure and true. It’s been the biggest gift of my life.
What are some things that you do to keep your kids grounded when they are so close to the world of Hollywood?
For the most part, we are pretty far removed from it. Bruce and I made a decision to move out of LA and head East to raise our girls for that reason. We live in a smaller community now that we really love. The girls are thriving here.
What does your day and night time routine look like?
I get the kids up by 6:45am and they are off to school by 7:45am (give or take). Once I drop them to school, I head to the gym and take a class of some sort. Then, I go back home and work until it’s time to pick up the girls. We then have after-school activities, then do bath, dinner and bed. I try to get the kids in bed by 7:30pm with lights out by 8:00pm. Then, it’s time for some much-needed adult-time!
3 pearls of wisdom
This too shall pass.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Enjoy the ride, even the bumps because it goes by in a heartbeat.