In The Spotlight: Amri and Katya From Heymama


New York-based Amri Kibbler is full of great advice: “Don’t stress about getting to a certain place in your career, or be concerned with anyone else’s idea of success. Take your time and find what you love to do. No amount of money in the world will make it worth it if you’re not passionate about what you do. Don’t listen to anyone that discourages you, your dreams are your own and only you can make them happen in your own way. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else along the way, everyone does things in their own time.” No wonder then that since she co-founded heymama, a curated community of creative and talented mothers, with her business partner Katya Libin earlier this year, that they've already garnered a huge following of cool mamas around the globe. Their mission? To connect women globally so they can collaborate, inspire and support each other in their work. The pair first met on a play-date in Brooklyn, both cradling three-month-old baby girls, and became great friends. We are thrilled to have the talented women on the site today and to learn more about their new venture…

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Amri wears Hatch jumpsuit. Mari wears Boy + Girl romper and Modern Queen Kids necklace. 

What has motherhood taught you so far?
Amri: Motherhood has taught me patience. To enjoy the moments that go so fast, even when things seem frustrating, to look at it like 'my time with my little girl only comes once'. Kids don’t like to be rushed so it’s forced me to take a deep breath and let Mari do things on her own time, which has been really difficult for me. My whole life I’ve been in a rush, living on a deadline, always someplace to be at a certain time. I’ve really tried to let that go when I’m with my daughter, be present and enjoy what’s happening the moment.
Katya: Motherhood has taught me that living in the moment is the most incredible gift I can give to people.  When you stop thinking about other things, your work, your phone, your life and focus completely on the little (or big) person in front of you, magical things happen.

What advice would you give to your own children on finding their career path?
Katya: Surround yourself with people that inspire and push you in the right way.  That adore you. If you keep people in your life that think that anything is possible, you will too. Anyone that doesn’t support your dreams, or thinks they are too big is someone that doesn’t believe in themselves enough to believe in you. Secondly, make sure they think you’re funny and make you laugh. Life is too short not to laugh every single day.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about motherhood? 
Amri: All these things that seem so scary and giant when your baby is little are just tiny parts of their life. They rush by so fast, so don’t stress on what kind of homemade baby food you’re going make for three months. Focus on enjoying the time with them. That’s what you’ll remember, not that you did everything ‘perfectly’. Cut yourself some slack and take cuddle time over organising, baby food making, or cleaning anytime.
Katya: The best advice I’ve been given is to slow down. Sometimes I want to rush things, walking somewhere, getting to a place, an activity, and with little kids they don’t move so quickly. Listen to them, they will tell you what they need.

Can you tell us about your background and how you came to launch heymama?
Amri: I worked at magazines for over a decade as a fashion editor attending fashion shows and curating cool products, and I really loved that part of my life for long time. When Mari was two, I decided I want to make a change, find a way to spend more time with my daughter and still work. My priorities changed, what I wanted from life, and what I wanted to show Mari were a big factor in my decision. Katya and I had been friends for years, our daughters are best friends and we’ve spent hours hanging out while the girls play. We both felt we wanted to do something to help connect women, other mothers like us. It really started from our desire to help women find meaningful relationships and through many meetings and coffee dates, we realised that what all these women around us were connecting over was their careers and creative projects. The kind of women that we are, and that we bring together, are women who are great mothers but are passionate about something else they do as well, whether they are a designer, blogger, entrepreneur, artist, photographer, stylist. So we created our website where we share these women’s stories and hopefully inspire other women to follow their dreams.

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Katya with her daughter Liliana.

Why is heymama unique in the market?
Amri: We are where motherhood, creativity and entrepreneurship meet. We’re not so much about the kids. Although we love our kids more than anything, we are about the women and their passions.
Katya: Heymama is currently invite only so we work very hard to ensure that every member of the community is someone we think will really benefit from being involved and can inspire the other women a part of it.

What are your go-to stores for children’s décor?
Amri: Oeuf - I just got Mari a bunk bed. Natti Natti for kids bedding. I also love Progeny Shop. I’m  a member of at{mine}, which is a member’s only platform where you can peek into people’s homes and see where they purchased their things. It’s an amazing resource for inspiration as well as shopping.
Katya: Design Life Kids started by an awesome mama who sells so much great home décor for kids and adults. Serena & Lily is a great classic for high quality rugs and I love Schoolhouse Electric for unique fun pieces.

Did your career change at all after the birth of your children?
Amri: Not at first, it was more a year or so in. I found my priorities changing, that I wanted to be doing something that was my own even if it meant more hours, those hours would be on my own time.
Katya: Totally. Prior to Liliana I was the first one in, last one out. Work fuelled me and I loved it at the time, it was new and exciting so staying at the office and then going out from there five nights a week was the usual workflow! After Liliana, I could not wait to get out of the office fast enough. I found it harder and harder to do something every day I didn’t really, really love. When given the choice of whether to go to work feeling ‘meh’ about your day to day when you miss your little one so much, it gets easier to decide you want to find something that is worth pursuing.

How do you juggle your work commitments with being a mother?
Amri: Every day is different. I assess on a need to do basis. If Mari has a school play no matter what’s on the table for work I’m there, but there are for sure times I have to put work first.
Katya: Every Monday I pick Liliana up from my moms and we have a family dinner. I try to make it a point to start the week off that way, and prioritise that. With her starting Pre-K this Fall and going to school full-time, it will be interesting to see how this new schedule changes the work routine. One thing is for sure, I get the most done when she goes to sleep!

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Amri wears Hatch jumpsuit. Mari wears Boy + Girl romper and Modern Queen Kids necklace.

What are your time management tips?
Amri: Lists, lists, lists
Katya: Do the hardest task on your list first thing in the morning. Plan things in advance, the major cause of stress is when you feel unprepared so anything you can do to ease that will pay off tenfold the moment you need it. Easier said than done!

What kind of work do you need to do in a day?
Amri: Meetings with incredible women, working on our editorial content for the site, Instagram twice a day, the back end of planning events, helping our clients to connect to the right content creators in the mama space through Instagram and their blogs.
Katya: I work a lot on our longer term strategy, partnerships, website development and analytics.

How do you procrastinate?
Amri: I tend to do the things I like first.
Katya: Haha, yes this is the same here. I do the fun things in the beginning and leave the difficult tasks for last. Lately I’ve been really making an effort to tackle those bigger longer projects like a challenge. I also have a very terrible tardy habit (like many New Yorkers) of underestimating how long it takes to get anywhere in this city.

And how do you focus?
Amri: I need quiet. I can’t think at all when people are talking to me, or interrupting what I’m doing. An ideal work situation is an empty noise free room.
Katya: Music. I get the most done when I have my headphones in. I like people around to brainstorm off, as it helps me hone in on the right idea, but tuning everyone out at certain times is so key.

What’s the most challenging part of running your own business?
Amri: There is always more to be done, so it’s hard to draw the boundary and make time for yourself, but it’s important to draw those lines in the sand. When it’s your business there will always be more to do, but the time with your family is fleeting.
Katya: Prioritising what is most important and what can wait. Waking up in the middle of the night remembering the email you didn’t send! Not knowing what will happen in 3 to 6 months, it’s the most exciting and scary part.

What do you love about raising children in New York?
Amri: There are so many things to do! We have the best parks, children’s museums, festivals and so many kids everywhere. I think it’s actually easier than living in the burbs. You can just pop your kids in the stroller and run a few errands, rather than struggling with multiple car seats. You can meet up here for an hour-long play date and then somewhere else in the afternoon. We have the opportunity to expose our kids to so much culture and diversity, while having great escapes like the Hamptons and the Upstate that are a short car ride away.
Katya: Family and convenience are high on the list. I’m always blown away by how much you can accomplish in an hour or two in NYC. How many free cultural activities the city has, and the cool families you meet.

Your home is gorgeous - how long have you lived here?
Amri: We’ve had our lake house for three years and just moved into a new place a few weeks ago in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My husband and I have always been into modern décor leaning more to the Danish modern warm vibe with lots of wood and organic materials. Jason loves to make things and the 8-person table at our lake house was created out of a single piece of timber we bought at mill and had finished. We both like a more minimal space that’s a comfortable back drop to our lives and can’t be too precious over things with kids. Many of our pieces are vintage – we love finding things, Ebay is a favourite resource.

How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Amri: My weekend style tends to be a tad more bohemian with easy dresses on the weekend, it makes it simple when running around with my daughter while being pregnant. I’m expecting #2 in November. I’ve always had a very minimal sleek style. I love mixing textures and layering is a big part of my style. I mostly stick to neutrals, but love a pop colour and pattern. I do have a real knack for printing prints when I get into a wild mood, all those years working in fashion peek out every now and then. Daily dressing as a working mom for me means wearing the same favourite looks the same way instead of changing them up and mixing and matching every morning. I think I still have the same style but not as much variety.
Katya: My style used to be so undefined, I’d wear a different look and vibe everyday! Since I’ve had Liliana and heymama, I find wanting things that are more high quality, long-term pieces.  I bought a Rachel Comey romper in Los Angeles that I swear might be my favourite possession. Black and white are favourite go-to’s, ripped jeans and T-shirts on the weekend and in the colder weather I wear skirts and sweaters every day.

So far what’s the hardest part of being a mum? And what’s the best part of being a mum? 
Amri: It’s hard leaving my daughter in the morning especially in the summer when she clings to my leg, it makes me question what I’m doing. I’m human. The best part of being a mom is watching her turn into a little girl. Mari picks up everything I say and it’s hilarious to hear a four year old using your works to express themselves. I love it. Although her favourite line these days is '…but mama I just want to spend more time with you.'
Katya: The hardest part is not being able to spend as much time with her as I want (and she wants). Feeling like what you do is not enough, because they miss you terribly and want more attention than you can provide if you have any sort of job!  The best part is how connected I feel to her, like she’s my best friend now but most surely will be one day when she gets older. We talk about it all the time, how she can’t wait to be my grown up friend. It makes me melt. Plus she’s a total comedian and makes me roll on the floor laughing!

What’s your favourite part of the day?
Amri: In the mornings Mari gets in my bed every morning for snuggle time. I hear her creep up the stairs and come around the corner to peek up to the edge of my bed. I love it, she burrows into me, rubs her nose on mine and say 'I loooooooove you mummy.' It’s my version of heaven and the reason I do everything.
Katya: Morning snuggles! Yes those are priceless, but I also love bedtime story time. Every night, Liliana crawls into bed, I read her three stories exactly, and then give her a massage as she listens to lullabies. Sometimes it soothes me so much that I fall asleep too.

Photography: Mary Grace

To check out heymama, go to www.heymama.co


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