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Casey Armstrong Friese

the marais co-founder Retail New Canaan, CT
About Casey
i was pregnant with my fourth pregnancy (with three prior never making it to fruition), and i was part of an executive management team where we had just sold a business to private equity (yawn, yawn). i also found myself in a less creative space than I wanted to be in the workplace. it was a simple decision - it was time to go.

before leaving my role, i was a work maniac, addict, unbalanced, some may say…it defined so much of me. what i put in, i got out for the most part - so it was highly rewarding. i had moved to London, England at 21, threw everything into my work and got married. work was my baby and by my 26th birthday i was CEO of Lulu Guinness Ltd. it was a perfect role. it married my merchant experience with managing a multifaceted global business and it was a pivotal moment for the company.

at 30, i moved back to california (where I was born and raised) with my first husband, found my next role, got divorced, and then moved to NYC. that was a busy year. five years later, i left the workplace and entered a new chapter of my life.

fast forward to the marais...there is something special about the home. it’s that place we all go back to, where we spend time with our family, relax, work, and make a ton of memories. there is plenty of everything out there, but when it comes to home, it’s an area I always (and I believe most people) feel good about investing in it. in other words, so much easier to justify shopping for than another pair of shoes - don’t get me wrong, i love shoes. i’m also the person that is constantly changing things around the house, moving things around, adding, subtracting - it’s a creative expression that never gets old.

it’s also increasingly hard to find unique seating that is casual, cool, and accessible. retail today is a very challenging space, but with my merchant roots I always go back to it. the challenge is intriguing; i believe a brand has to be a brand that people want to engage with, and ultimately it has to have awesome products at the right price, and bring them to people in new ways.

between moving to NYC in 2010 and today, I got married up again and inherited 3 kiddos. #instantmom. i never really had a plan for children since work was filling that spot for me, but it was pretty awesome to walk in to my new ready-made family! after getting married my husband had the bright idea to expand the family and it was definitely one of his brightest ideas yet (actually he has a lot of bright ideas - but don't tell him I said that). so we casually headed down that road - not realizing the challenges I was in for - while juggling our work life / family life schedules.

after leaving my career, i spent the next 6 months navigating my challenging pregnancy. i enjoyed being pregnant, but it was a delicate affair with a whole lot of focus and determination to make it to the finish line. we did, and i had baby Gray (Grace being her full name). i spent the next year hyper-focused on being a mom. after i felt confident she was strong and she was a little bigger, i started to think about what was next. i went down a few paths, trying to figure out a business i could own and operate, and still be a mom that wasn’t headed into NYC or on a plan most days. it may have seemed ironic that i was feeling that, but having her changed me, yes, however cliche that sounds. i couldn’t imagine kissing my baby on the cheek in the morning and night, and not getting to be part of anything in between. it’s hard for a woman who once had a very intense career to figure out how to be a mother and plug back in without a lot of sacrifice. so when elissia called me to chat about starting up a home furnishings company, it was just the right time in my path, and our visions aligned. it was serendipitous.

like they say, two is always better than one. i agree with that for the most part — especially when it comes to the power of multiples…in just about every way. but finding the right partner is not easy. and even when you do, it’s like having another marriage in your life — you have to be very in tune to your partner. i know elissia would tell you that her and i are still figuring that out on the daily — and solidly committed to it. the best part about having elissia as my teammate is that she shares the same work ethic, determination and intensity, which means i know I can count on her. and that is a BIG deal. not to mention she has a great eye when it comes to design. along with that, we share the same vision, style, being mothers, being women…and we get to share this wild journey, have camaraderie, shoulder the stress, the laughs — that is all pretty awesome too!

honesty + passion + hardwork + humility

How many kids? Ages?

/ Female / 4 years old
/ Male / 12 years old
/ Female / 15 years old
/ Male / 17 years old

Interested In

Collaborating, Networking

Words you live by/quotes you love

honesty + passion + hardwork + humility

What special skill, talent or gift would you like to give back to the community?

to collaborate and co-marketing with brands in this community. support women looking for advise in areas of experience.

What is your biggest business challenge right now?

N/A

Why do you want to be a part of heymama?

I love that hey mama provides a community for women that have similar goals and are banding together to be stronger as a group than as an individual. We're all navigating the challenges of work/ life balance as mothers and building women led businesses.

xx Casey Armstrong Friese

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