mama profile

Getting to Know: Cheryl Tan by Kate Brightbill

Cheryl Tan is my friend in "real life," and I find her to be one of the most interesting, kind, and lovely people I've ever met. She works at Stella and Dot corporate offices to manage strategy, and they could not have made a better hire for the job, in my opinion. She's stylish when she gets dressed, she has a stylish home, and she is mother to a stylish little girl, Noelle. I need to know her secret!

Time to get to know Cheryl a little better...

Also, SHOP Stella & Dot


Photo:  Pictilio

Photo: Pictilio

Tell us a bit about your journey to the U.S. 

I grew up in the tropical island of Singapore and only came to the US when I started college. I really had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise but I was good at math and science (typical, I know) so I figured I would get an engineering degree and ended up at the University of Michigan working on glamorous projects like automotive torsion bars. I went back to Singapore post college and worked there for several years until I decided I wanted to go get an MBA which brought me to Boston.. And then post MBA I came out to the Bay Area and haven't left since! 

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What are some differences between life in Singapore and life in the states?

I'd say living in Singapore is similar to any major metropolitan city where 85% of the population lives in high-rise apartments. It's totally normal to live with your parents until you're married as housing is so expensive. Few people own a car, most just take public transportation. Other things that come to mind about life there.. I hardly cooked in my kitchen – I didn't have time, and anyway there were so many amazing restaurants everywhere. Also I feel like there's a lot more news coverage on global affairs (probably because the country is so small) but it's funny because I often learn more about what's going on around the world from my Singaporean friend's Facebook feeds than from CNN. No one in Singapore plays baseball or American football. Oh and it's always 90 degrees outside so when it comes to retail, no one really talks about seasons.

What has been your professional path? 

It's been such a random walk! It took me a while to figure out how much I enjoy the world of e-commerce and fashion. I went from working for the government, to industrial machinery, to business consulting, then retail, and finally ended up at Stella & Dot!

What is your role at Stella and Dot?

I'm the Director of Strategy and Customer Loyalty – which actually means I get to work on a little bit of everything! My current focus is working on different programs to engage and reward our customers and hostesses.

What are you most excited about seeing from Stella and Dot for the holidays?

One of the programs I worked on that we recently rolled out for the Holidays was the Hostess Exclusives boutique – where we've reserved some exclusive items that only Hostesses are able to buy. There's this amazing silver pegasus necklace and a cobalt leather tote that our design team did an amazing job on. Also I've gotten to see some sneak peaks of our Spring Line which is launching in January 2014 and it's stunning, I can't wait till we get to reveal it!

What are your favorite parts about working at Stella & Dot?

I'm always energized and inspired when I hear our Stylists describe how Stella & Dot has changed their lives and allowed them to have a flexible income while enjoying what they do! It really resonates with me, especially as a mom where I know how important it is to have flexibility in your schedule to be there for your kids. I also really enjoy the magic that happens at Trunk Shows - everyone always has a great time trying on necklaces and bags and it's such fun watching women bond over pretty things!

Maldives  necklace in Maldives!

Maldives necklace in Maldives!

What do you enjoy most about being a mother?

I feel like I've grown so much as a person because of motherhood. There's something about being responsible for the well-being of a helpless infant, agreeing to sacrifice all your own wants and needs for someone else, learning that sometimes no matter how many books you read you have absolutely no control over whether your child sleeps/eats/is healthy/behaves well in public.. It's humbling and empowering at the same time. Before I was a mom I would get hung up by the littlest things ("omg, is that a grass stain on my new dress?") and now nothing really fazes me. And it's given me a tremendous amount of confidence in myself – if I can figure out how to keep a toddler happy and healthy, I can do anything!

What is your favorite characteristic of Noelle at her current stage in life?

I say this about every stage, but this one is really my favorite stage so far!! She's turning two in a couple months and is beginning to speak in simple sentences and it's so fun watching her think about what she wants to say and then try to verbalize it. Or just seeing how her mind works -  the other day she was staring at a barcode, and then she said thoughtfully "Piano!", which cracked me up.

When do you feel most content?

Every night before we go to bed I give Noelle a big hug and we say a little prayer thanking God for all the fun things that happened that day – even if I've had a crazy hectic busy day I feel so at peace with her chubby little hands cuddling me and remembering how we have so much to be thankful for.

What's an ideal date night for you?

Both my husband and I love eating yummy food and are the kind of people that take forever to decide what to order because we'd like to try everything on the menu – so an ideal date would be something involving a smorgasboard of interesting food and/or small plates, like wandering around a great famers market, or Off the Grid, or tapas, or an omakase/tasting menu type of experience.

Photo:  Pictilio

Photo: Pictilio

How do you balance your work life and home life? 

I try to be flexible with whatever works best on a daily basis – sometimes that means working at home in the evenings after Noelle goes to bed, or leaving work early to bring her for a playdate. I'm passionate about my work, as well as being a mother and taking care of my household so it really all balances out in the end.

What are your top products and tips for new mothers?

I can't say enough good things about the grey crib we bought from Walmart.com – so affordable, gender neutral, sturdy, with modern, clean lines. And while I love the natural and classic look of cotton swaddle blankets, caving in and switching to the velcro synthetic fiber swaddle wrap (like the Summer Infant swaddle me) helped our newborn sleep so much better.

I also think new moms get so bombarded with marketing around all the special gear you need for babies, honestly you can get by and make do without a lot of them depending on you and your baby – e.g. I didn't get a wipe warmer, bottle warmer or a fancy breastfeeding pillow, but I know other moms who did and said they were lifesavers, and for them a velcro swaddle wrap was totally useless!

One more tip – get a diaper bag that doesn't scream "I'm a diaper bag" because you will be carrying it around everywhere you go for a while and that cutesy print is going to get annoying in about 2 months!

Tell us about your style uniform.

My favorite silhouette right now is comfy leggings with little booties and a belted dress/fit-and-flare. And of course accessorized head-to-toe with Stella & Dot!

What are your favorite brands and shops (for you and Noelle)?

I've been really impressed with C. Wonder, ASOS, and of course Anthropologie. For Noelle I'd have to say Janie and Jack, and a lot of her favorite toys are from B. Toys (available at Target).

 

one || two || three || four || five


Thank you sooo much for sharing Cheryl! We lovvvve you! xo

 

Other fabulous moms:

Erin {AmeliaPresents} Jeanne . Erin . Danielle . Emily . Small Fry . Natalie . Christina . Casey . Melody . Caitlin . Courtney

 

Getting to Know: Erin Abbott of Amelia Presents by Kate Brightbill

Erin Austen Abbott is the pretty lady behind the impeccably curated shop called Amelia; beautiful online, and a must-visit storefront in Oxford, Mississippi. She is a wife and mother to an adorable little Tom. Her life story reads like a novel, and when the interview was through, I would have liked to have requested 10 additional answers to learn more about her! Hope you enjoy as much as I, and be sure to follow Erin and visit her shop for all your gifting and personal needs! Really, though. I'm not just saying it. xo

Shop Amelia & follow Erin on: Twitter || Instagram || Facebook


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You've lived in some major cities, but settled in a small town. What brought you to Oxford/Water Valley? 

I spent my 20's moving around. I just couldn't sit still, wanted to see it all! I never wanted to feel like I had missed out when I finally did stop moving. I lived in Oxford until I was nine years old, so I just came home. I never wanted to leave as a child. I love it here so much.  

What was your career path prior to starting your shop?

It all blurs together, so stay with me... I have had a lot of jobs, all leading me to where I am now. All through college, I worked in a vintage shop and nannied. The vintage shop taught me so much about retail. This was before ebay and the internet, so I learned so much hands-on about vintage, design and the like. I got my BS in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Florida, then went on to study photography at The Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston in 1999 and then the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle, 1999- 2002. 

While in Boston, I worked as a nanny and when in Seattle, I taught at a Montessori school. 

After moving out of Seattle, I lived in San Francisco (2002-2003), where I was asked to start touring with a band, handling and selling all of their merchandise. I went on to tour with several bands over the next 5+ years, and I would come home and take care of children in between tours. 

I left SF after a year because I was paying a lot to never be there. I moved to Memphis (2003-2005) to be near my grandmother, and then moved to where I live now, 20 miles outside of Oxford (2005-present). I also lived in Los Angeles in 2007-2008, while still keeping my home in Water Valley. 

Still with me?? 

In 2007 I was asked to travel nanny for a band on tour. That lead to years working as a travel nanny for Mates of State, The Flaming Lips (whom I still work for) and Jeff Gordon, the NASCAR driver. After years of doing all that moving and traveling, I was ready to stay put. Opening up a shop was something I had always wanted to do since I was a little girl, when I used to ask for office supplies for my birthday and bought cards, with my babysitting money, just to have, from a very early age. 

In 2009, the country was in a recession so it seemed like the perfect time to start not one, but two businesses, right? Now the recession is fading and both businesses are thriving. My second business, chARTer nannies, is a travel nanny business that I started with one of the moms that I nannied for, Kori Hammel  of Mates of State and two other friends. We pair nannies with families whose jobs take them on the road, but who don't always want to be aways from their families. 

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What motivated you to open Amelia

When I was ready to stop traveling so much, it was as if it was meant to be. The space became available around the exact same time I started looking for a spot. I didn't want a lot of space; I prefer small spaces. I found it... 187 sq. feet. It's perfect for me. Makes me think "inside" the box, as to how to merchandise and work within the space. I love it. All those years of traveling opened my eyes to so many amazing artists around the country. When we would pull into a new town, I would hop off the bus or out of the van and try to find that "cute part of town". The area that has indie shops or farmers markets. I like collections and memories. I would always look for a little something unique from each town, even if that just meant a business card from a local artist. Years later, that business card collection proved to be useful as I carry some of those artists today in the shop. 

Did you start with an online shop or an in-person shop? 

I opened the brick and mortar in July of 2009 and the online store in November of 2011. 

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How do you decide what you will sell in your shop? 

That's the tricky part. There is so much I would love to order for the shop, but not everything would work or I don't have the space for it. 

I start with selling what I like. There isn't anything that I have in the store that I don't love. I also try to buy smaller quanties so that I can move through it and keep the shop always feeling new. I think that's one of the benefits of working directly with the designers. 

Do you ever have to pass on items that you adore, but may not sell as well? 

I get so many daily submissions that I could never fit it all in (70-100 a week). It kills me to not be able to sell everyone's work, only because you can tell they are so passionate about what they are doing. I just have to stick with the aesthic of the store. I try to make the entire shop have flow and work from one piece to the next. There are a few pieces that I have loved that haven't sold as well as I thought they would so I haven't ordered them again. That makes me sad, but I'm a business woman at the end of the day and have to also be practical. 

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What are some highlights for the shop since you started in in 2009?

I feel like I have had some really amazing opportunities since I opened. I have worked a lot with Daily Candy, after winning their 2010 Start Small, Go Big contest, which led me to friendships with Jonathan Adler and Christine Lemieux of Dwell Studio. After my home was featured on Design Sponge, I got to know Grace Bonney and Amy Azzarito pretty well. They have been incredibly supportive of Amelia. I have been Anthology twice, once for chARTer nannies and once with a home feature. The women at Anthology have also been incredible supportive. 

My home has also been featured in Design Sponge, Anthology, The New York Times and Flea Market Style Magazine, which in turn has been nice press for the shop. I've also been featured on Tomboy Style, Design Love Fest, Pennyweight and a few more... 

I feel like each year gets better and better, so I'm excited to see what's next. 

What is your style uniform?

Oh, funny you should ask... I wear denim on denim like it really is my uniform. I love jeans and I wear them year round. I love button up shirts. I'm very much still a tomboy. Although, I love a cute pairs of flats and heart shaped earrings. Go figure. I am not into wearing dresses that much and I never wear heels. I just look awkard in both. 

Your favorite other small businesses or Etsy shops?

Oh, that's a really hard question to answer. I carry over 90 artists at Amelia, so I don't know how to narrow it down to just a few favorites.  

Lately I've been sending a lof cards from Paper Cub and Parrot Designs. I have been wearing Cold Picnic Erosion earrings non stop. I have been dressing Tom in Winter Water Factory a lot.

There are so many amazing folks making really cool work. I love the new wave of craft culture that we have seen over take off over the last 8 or 9 years. 

How do you balance your work and home life? 

I'm still working on this but, I have an incredibly supportive husband. We are certainly a team in this. He is a musician and stay at home dad. Fortunately, when I opened, I knew that I still wanted to work on my own creative ideas, so I only had the shop open Wednesday-Saturday. Four years later, I've stuck with that. I wanted to have days that I could still work on my fine art photography, which transitioned from days I worked on photography to now also packing up online orders. It works out great because I'm home with our son three days a week and work four. Some days, I have design meetings on Monday or Tuesdays, but I plan those during Tom's naps if need be. I treat shop hours like my business hours and try to do all work on the four days I'm open. 

Sean works on his music three days a week. I have been a very organized person since I was a little girl, so I feel like this is just one more area to organize and keep flowing smoothly. I plan meals ahead of time. I use Sunday afternoons to make Tom's baby food for the week and grocery shop on Monday mornings so I can have the week figured out as far as cooking goes. So far, so good. 

What is your favorite time of the day?

I really love my mornings. That's the time it's just Tom and me. We have great mornings together. I started a tumblr documenting our mornings. 

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How does an ideal date look for you?

An ideal date to me would be getting off the highway and driving back country roads, listening to a good mix and just talking. Exploring. Maybe find a little town we have never been to. Him not minding that I want to take photos everywhere I go. Finding the local dive and grabbing a bite to eat. I never need fancy. 

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What is your favorite aspect of motherhood? 

Seeing Tom learn something new everyday is amazing. I starting taking care of other peoples' children when I was 10 years old, so for 27 years, I've cared for children that were not mine. Hearing a child say "mama" and me being the mama they are reaching for is something I didn't know would ever happen and it's a magical feeling. I don't talk about if often (and never in an interview), but I had to go through a lot to be able to have Tom. I have lived with endometriosis and fibroid tumors for a long time and had to have major surgery to even be able to have a baby. It was a long road and I don't take a second with him for granted. 

And your favorite characteristic of Tom? 

I love that he wakes up smiling. He is ready to start each day with such wonder. He's incredibly observate as well. I love seeing him discover something new with such joy in his eyes. Another thing I love is the way my husband can get him laughing. He just makes a funny face and Tom is giggling. I joke that Sean gets to be the fun uncle all the time but honestly, it's very endearing. For my own personal reasons, I also love that he eats all the homemade baby food that I make and hasn't rejected anything yet. I feed the boy fish all the time and he loves it. He eats leeks and kale, all with no complaints. His health is very important to me. I'm one of those moms that doesn't want my child to eat refined sugar yet. I know he will at some point, but I'm hoping we can last until he's at least three. I wasn't raised eating sugar so I know it can be done. We've made it a year so far.

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Erin, you are such a delight! Thank you SO much for sharing your beautiful words, shop, home, and life with us! xoxo, Kate

 

Other fabulous moms:

Jeanne . Erin . DanielleEmily . Small Fry . Natalie . Christina . Casey . Melody . Caitlin . Courtney

Getting to Know: Kelli & Lauren of basq Skincare by Kate Brightbill

Kelli Kenny and Lauren Parisier are co-founders of an amazing mom luxury skincare company basq {the line has received countless recognition and awards, and have collaborated with Disney!}, and they are also down-to-earth moms with lovely families! These moms do it all, and they are here to share a glimpse into their lives with us behind the scenes. 

Find basq on: twitter || facebook 

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How did the concept of basq skincare come about? 

LP: During pregnancy, I was working in skin care and began to learn all the things women should avoid.  As an expert, I found it surprising how little I knew and how little information is provided during pregnancy.  We all worry about stretch marks and deal with skin changes but there wasn’t much out there for pregnancy that was built well both in terms of ingredients and beauty.

What motivated you ladies to start your own business? 

LP: I have always wanted to start a business – there is a unique challenge to staring with an idea and bringing it all the way to see if it really works.  I wanted to create something I could truly call my own and give it my best without any edits that naturally come when you work in a large company with a lot of layers of management.

KK: We both had a strong entrepreneurial spirits and individually always wanted to start a business. I think knowing each other so well, and having worked together already in a business environment, gave us each the push to take that leap.  

How have you managed to be friends and working together? What are some of the benefits and challenges to starting a business as a team?  

LP: We have been lucky!  When you start a business you have no idea what it will bring.  Kelli and I bring different strengths but we have a shared vision. We work a lot because we like to achieve, we are never satisfied and we laugh all the time to keep sane.

KK: Working together it is one of the easiest and best aspects of the business.  We have very similar views regarding the business and rarely disagree on an approach to an issue.  When we do disagree, we are never really far apart – so whoever has the strongest viewpoint is fine.  

The benefits are numerous.  Having someone else as vested in the business, who can temper the negatives and really understand the successes – small and large.  Having coverage around the clock is really important and having a partner makes that possible.  I tell people never try to do it alone – especially if you have a family – the amount of work, time and commitment is so great – a partner enables balance when you need it.   

The biggest challenge is division of work.  We are both very Type A, love basq and like to be involved in all aspects of the business.  Having overlap is a formula that has worked for us from the beginning but there is always so much to do – we really need to divide up more.

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What are your personal favorite products from your lines? What do you use daily in this stage of your life? 

LP: The Face Cleanser and the Resilient Oil.  I am an oil addict – it is so good for the skin and is the fastest way to get a great glow.  The Face Cleanser is my fix all – I try lots of ingredients to see what’s new but I have very sensitive skin and it often reacts.  The Face Cleanser puts everything back to right no matter what problems I cause.

KK: I use the face cleanser, eye gel and body oils.

Tell us a little bit about your children.

LP: My children {Jason, 13 and Kaitlin 10} are funny, athletic, and kind.

KK: All three of my kids {Ava 15; Gavin 10; Sienna 6} are great conversationalists and a have strong sense of self.

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What is your favorite part of the day or the week? 

LP: Saturdays – no matter how busy we are with sports or friends – it’s a time to enjoy the family with no stress about what happened last week or what’s coming next week

KK: Sleeping in on weekend mornings.

How do you manage your time between work and your home life?

LP: I find that it’s all a blend – I think of the day in terms of 24 hours – some times I’m up really late or really early to fit it all in.  The best part of owning my own business is flexibility.  I can attend something important during the day and work late into the night to get everything done.  It also helps that my husband is very supportive and pitches in whenever I need help.

KK: Make quality time for each and stay focused during that time.  For example, if I’m at a sporting event for one of my kids, I keep the blackberry off. 

How does an ideal date night look for you?

LP: Sitting on the couch with a glass of wine and watching a funny movie or catching up on HBO favorites.

KK: Dinner and listening to live music. 

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Where would you like to be in your business in five years?

LP: I’m all about new products and ideas – the more I can find fun new ideas the better.

KK: Bigger!!

What has been the best opportunity or collaboration you've had from starting basq?

LP: Disney It’s a Small World – we loved their recognizing us as the best in maternity and allowing us to participate in a brand that is about helping kids around the world.

KK: Disney was a remarkable experience – what an amazing company.

What is your style "uniform?"

LP: I love black – I tend to go with black pants or black dresses all the time – it always looks good and fits any occasion.

KK: For business I am pretty conservative, usually suit pants and shirt. For evening style I totally mix up but usually dressy pant suits.  My go to color is black – of course – but I wear a lot of bolds too.

What are your favorite shops for yourselves and your kids?

LP: We are all about cooking - funny enough – it would be foodie markets or cooking stores. For clothing we are all over the map from department stores to boutiques in NYC.

KK: I tend to really mix it up and pick up things more on a whim when I see something that strikes me.  It could be in a major department store or a really tiny boutique. I like the diversity of shopping neighborhoods in NYC. 

Do you read any blogs regularly? If so, what are your favorites? 

LP: I jump around from cooking blogs to mom blogs all the time – we are big fans of all the blogs that offer great advice and product ideas for those expecting and that are new moms. A few of my favorites include Apartment Therapy’s ‘The Kitchn’, The Wednesday Chef, Cool Mom Picks, PopSugar Moms and of course Style Smaller.

KK:  A-List Mom, Babble.com, BabyZone, Celebrity Baby Blog, Daily Candy, Design Mom… the list goes on.


Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous products and lovely families with us, Kelli and Lauren!! xoxo. 

To shop basq, click here!  

 

Getting to Know: Danielle Hampton by Kate Brightbill

There are plenty of blogs out there, but not too many I want to read all.the.time. Danielle is a writer and a storyteller and I adore her blog. She is down-to-earth, genuinely sweet, and takes the time to appreciate life moments. She and her husband have one little boy named Henry and little baby is Charlie on his way!

I'm thrilled to bring an inside scoop on the writer behind Sometimes Sweet today. 

Follow Danielle on: Twitter || Instagram || Facebook || Pinterest


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What do you enjoy most about being a mother?

I enjoy the everyday, little things. Sitting and reading with my son, preparing a good meal for us for lunch, taking walks and talking about what we see. I also love waking up every morning and knowing that we can do with it whatever we choose- go where we want, have an adventure if we see fit! 

What is your favorite characteristic of Henry in his current stage of life?

Oh goodness, this is so hard to pick but I would have to say all of the funny phrases he says on the daily. Toddlers are so literal, and he has me laughing until I cry at least once a day. 

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When do you feel most content and at peace with your life?

I'd have to say in those quiet moments when Henry is winding down for the night, sitting on his Dad's lap reading a book. Sometimes I look over at them and think, is this really all mine? It's the best feeling in the world.

What is the best time of the week for you?

Weekends for sure. My husband Hank works during the week so we cherish those two days.

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What's an ideal date night for you?

Dinner and a stroll at dusk. We live in a small town with a gorgeous downtown area that's perfect for a walk as the sun is going down.

What motivated you to start your blog? What was your life stage at the time?

I've always been a writer, and first had a Livejournal in the late 90s. I made the switch to Blogger about 5 years ago right after getting married, simply because I wanted a new space for this new life. It's amazing how much it's evolved in that time.

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How has your blog changed over the years?

The biggest thing is that it's gone from having a couple readers to a whole lot more, and with that change comes a lot of other shifts too. Even though I blog a lot and share a lot, I never overshare, and I learned what my own boundaries were the longer I did it, and the more my audience grew. I think I used to put a lot more of myself out there, but it's just not realistic (at least for me) once you have a large readership, and more so, a little one!

What are favorite and least favorite aspects of being a blogger?

My favorite: the connections and friendships I've made. Least favorite: some of the negativity that comes along with it- people assuming that your blog is the whole story, when in actuality it's just a collection of little pieces.

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How do you balance your blogging schedule?

I only blog when Henry is napping, and then I answer emails at night. I also utilize the "scheduled post" feature in blogger a lot, and if I have a free evening while Hank is at band practice, I will sometimes write a few posts and get them scheduled far in advance. Life and family come first. My blog isn't my job, it's just something fun and extra so it isn't something that ever comes before my home life.

What are some favorite opportunities and collaborations that have come through blogging?

The most wonderful thing is what I mentioned above, the connections and friendships I've made, but as far as collaborations I think my most favorite so far has been working with Method. They're such a wonderful company. I spent all of 2012 on a campaign with them and it was a great time.

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What is the best thing about pregnancy?

Favorite would have to be just how AMAZING it is to be growing a human inside my body! Like, can we all just take a second and think about that?! So, so neat. 

What are your top products and tips for new mothers?

The best thing we bought was the Snuza, which is a little device that clips onto your baby's diaper and monitors their breathing while they're sleeping. SUCH peace of mind. I recommend it to every new Mom I meet. As far as tips...just follow your instinct and gut. You know what's best for your baby.

Tell us about your style uniform?

Well, I'm almost 8 months pregnant so right now it's maxi dresses and flip flops! ;) 

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What are your go-to brands and shops?

For me I love Anthro, J. Crew, Zara, Target, and ASOS. For the little guys I am a total Zara addict, as well as H&M Kids. 

Do you have a favorite Etsy shop?

Little Hip Squeaks for baby stuff, and then a million more for a million other random things. I honestly couldn't pick if I tried!


Dani, you are amazing!! Thank you for sharing with us!! xoxo

 

Other fabulous moms:

Jeanne . Erin . Emily . Small Fry . Natalie . Christina . Casey . MelodyCaitlinCourtney

 

 

Getting to Know: Emily Meyer of Tea Collection by Kate Brightbill

My children love Tea Collection. I love Tea Collection.

Today I'm thrilled to give you an inside glance at motherhood, balance, and inspiration of the beautiful chief creative officer and co-founder of Tea Collection: Emily Meyer. 

Follow Tea Collection on: Twitter || Facebook || Instagram 


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What inspired you to start your own company? 

About twelve years ago I went looking for baby clothes for my newborn niece in Brussels, Belgium, but all I found was pink-bunny-themed clothing. I wanted something more sophisticated and modern (no offense to pink bunnies) and designed a sweater for my niece. That sweater inspired me to envision a collection that celebrates the beauty of world cultures through fashion and lifestyle products.  

I called it Tea, because tea the drink is something shared by all cultures - it evokes warmth, wisdom, timelessness - values that I wanted for the collection.

What were your biggest fears and how did you overcome them? 

I didn't have a job when we started Tea, so I didn't have much to lose and had everything to gain! My dear family friend asked me, "what have you ever failed at before?"... I couldn't think of any monumental failures ... he said, "See, you can do anything you put your mind to." I had never heard that so convincingly before.

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How is Tea Collection set apart from other brands? What makes it extra special? 

Everything we design is inspired by a piece of beauty and creativity in this world, every product and collection has context, something greater than itself- so that we may all celebrate it, increasing love and awareness for all cultures.  

What have been some favorite experiences you've had through your work with Tea Collection? 

Creating a brand, being mindful of the precedent and responsible for the organization's longevity- there are so many analogies to raising a child. And, of course, traveling to some of the most amazing global destinations... and so much more to see! 

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What are the names and ages of your children? 

Clement, 4; Georgia, 2

What are your favorite characteristics of each? 

Clement- so curious and loves to play games; Georgia- very independent and loves to sing and dance. 

How does an ideal day look for you?   

Fuss free children in the morning, following routine including lots of hugs and kisses, with a healthy breakfast all together. A creative day at the office, working on the collection or marketing campaign, with a little brainstorming on growth strategy. Come home, play puzzles and legos with the kids, read books together and then catch up on an episode of Game of Thrones with my husband.  

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What is your "style uniform?" 

Slim cargo pants and a fabulous blouse, sometimes with a cardigan. I have always loved sweaters for being those relaxed, luxurious pieces you can live in. And always a scarf! For night, I add lipstick, a necklace, and a great coat. 

What is the perfect date?

My husband and I have the occasional date night at Village Pub in Woodside, CA. If, by a miracle, we get the kids down early, we eat dinner at the dining table together and pretend it's a date night. Just sitting together reminds us how much we love each other- crafting our children's (and our own) experience of family. 

What is your favorite moment of your day or week?  

Sunday mornings - we stay in our pajamas until 9 or 10am, ride our bikes to the park, have brunch at our favorite cafe in Palo Alto, and go home for a deep nap (the nap part is my favorite part of the day!).  

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The million dollar question: how do you do it all? Tell us a bit about balancing your family life with your successful career! 

Be the change you want to see. If you need to leave work at five o'clock to get home to your children, do it. Start a trend. If enough parents do this, then it will soon be seen as normal instead of odd. Also, don't underestimate the use of time in unconventional ways-- some of my best strategic brainstorms and most productive conversations happen when I'm driving home. Commute time can be work time! 

Do you have any tips for women starting their own small businesses to help bring them to the next level? 

Know what you want. Be sure you are your own North Star while navigating all the choices before you.  


Thank you so much for your beautiful words and inspiration, Emily! So grateful! XO, Kate

 

Mama Profile: Natalie Gordon of BabyList by Kate Brightbill

Natalie Gordon is the founder and CEO of the most brilliant concept for moms who are registering: ONE place to register from all the stores you want! I know before I had Sophie there were things I wished I could add to the registry that were not from one store or another, and even for my second I would have loved to register for practical things like meal deliveries, monthly clothing plans, etc. Natalie felt the same so she created BabyList especially for people like us (which is everyone, I think). Thrilled to have her talk about life, balance and motherhood today. 

Babylist Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook 


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What is your favorite thing about being a mother?

In the first couple of months, it was really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that “I was a mom”. It was a huge change in self-identity. I obviously love Max with all my heart, and I’ve loved watching my husband become such a great dad. In the day-to-day, I love how excited Max (2) is about the little things. It makes me notice more. Airplanes, stickers on apples, dogs, tall trees, motorcycles, cranes are all things that we stop and notice. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes makes absolutely everything more interesting. He keeps on getting more and more fun. He’s crazy physical, loves to wrestle, play ball and he recently discovered stuffed animals.

What is your favorite part of your days and week?

I love my job. I love getting to work, turning on my computer and drinking my first cup of coffee. It’s usually after hours of morning chaos. The best part of the week is when we have our weekly weeknight dinner with friends who also have young children. We order in food and the kids sit at the kid’s table.

When do you feel most relaxed/content/peaceful?

When I'm hiking. We recently moved to San Francisco, and it’s so close to amazing day hikes. It’s the ultimate remedy to living in such an urban, work-filled environment. I also love a good date with my husband to enjoy drinks and dinner together.

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 What is BabyList? 

BabyList is an online baby registry that helps expectant moms discover and ask for everything they need for their new baby. You can take a quiz and get a personalized baby registry checklist and then one-click to quick-start your registry. 

What motivated you to start BabyList?

I was pregnant. I was creating my baby registry and I was completely overwhelmed. The thought of going into BabiesRUs with a scan gun gave me a panic attack. There were these things that I really wanted to ask for. For our family they were a diaper service, someone to watch our dog for a week or two, and home-cooked meals. I tried using about 3 different registries and they were all wrong.

I’m a software developer and I knew exactly what I thought the ideal baby registry experience would be. I met up with a designer online and we collaborated and created BabyList. We launched the site two weeks before my son was born.

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Where were you working before you started your own company? 

I worked at Amazon as a software developer out of college. My dream was always to quit and travel the world before having any children. So my husband and I did that in 2008. We spent a year and a half living in a couple of different cities in Latin America. During that time we started a Spanish-English language exchange start-up. Eventually, it became obvious that that business was never going to make money and we shut it down this past summer. It was a major learning experience.

When I had the inspiration for BabyList we were living in Vancouver BC. I was doing some contract work and working on our language-learning start-up. I have to say that I have very low aspirations for BabyList. I thought that it could maybe make some passive income for us. But once it launched, we had a handful of users and they were crazy about it. I was definitely nervous launching it, but that’s because putting anything out into the world is scary.

How do you balance your home/personal life and your work life?

I take it day by day and constantly prioritize and then re-prioritize. My husband and I aren’t afraid to try different arrangements and then see how things are working. Right now we have a staggered schedule, a great child-care arrangement, and we’ve gotten serious about having our parents come and stay with us and help out.

A year ago we spent two months living and working from Costa Rica, literally on the beach. Working on the internet has major pluses!

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Do you have any tips for people starting their own businesses?

Two things. I talk to women all the time who are building a business and they feel like they have to do a million things to actually show it to the world. This is because launching things and putting them out for the world to see is really scary. You have to get past these emotions and realize that the sooner you put your project out there, the sooner you’ll start learning from real users. Or you won’t have any users and that will teach you something else.

The other thing is the power of doing one thing every day to move your business forward. If you do just one thing every single day, in a year you’ll have done a lot. Start today.

What has been your favorite opportunity or collaboration through BabyList?

BabyList was in the past 500 Startups batch. That was an amazing opportunity for me. It was really, really hard but it pushed me and BabyList forward. It was great being with other entrepreneurs from all over the world, who were incredibly passionate about what they were working on.

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What makes you most proud of your business?

This is going to sound cliched, but I’m really proud of how happy we make our users. I love our users. They’re pregnant. They’re overwhelmed. I email or talk to them on the phone every day. BabyList is actually helping families and making people happy. I love that.

What is your style uniform?

Jeans, t-shirts, boots. My uniform needs to work on a bike, be easily washed and work in the SF climate.

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What are your favorite Etsy shops and small businesses?

I literally look at amazing, original baby products all day: Sweet Pea and Tots - Kathy makes gorgeous, luxe, hand-knit baby hats. Wooly Baby - They make beautiful, soft-soled baby shoes that are upcycled from wool sweaters and leather jackets. Culture Baby is one of my favorite online store for original baby finds. Natalia sources the most wonderful baby products from all over the world.

Sticky BelliesWittlebeeThe Push Pack, the Milk It Kit are all amazing shower gifts from small businesses. We have more favorite Etsy baby items in this list HERE.

What are your favorite brands and stores to shop?

I’m pretty thrifty, which is also necessary while working on a start-up. I love Thredup for my son’s clothes and I love Everlane for myself. 


Natalie thank you sooo much for letting us have a peek at your life, and for creating such a fabulous tool for expectant mothers! xoxo, Kate