The tale of Nikky, Sefiagger & Juniper Cronk



“I had this perfect picture of how I was going to become a mom - have a great career, get married, get pregnant and voila I'd become a parent and have it all. But that's not how the journey panned out,” says Brooklyn-based Nikky Cronk...

Her road to motherhood certainly wasn’t easy. “After four years of struggles and losses we realized that our path to parenthood was the amazing and positive experience of adoption. We adopted Sefiagger from Ethiopia in 2010. Miraculously two years later we dumbfounded the doctors by falling pregnant with Juniper,” says the inspiring Cronk. Her story will make your eyes well up with tears but it’ll also make you smile: she’s now the proud mother of Sefiagger, 7, and Juniper, 4, who she refers to as her “miracle babies”. We spent the afternoon with the inspiring Australian mama in her Williamsburg home to talk motherhood, find out more about her strategy business Wonderhouse Consulting and life as an Australian in New York.

Photography: Grace Alyssa Kyo


My husband and I had been struggling with infertility for many years. Anybody who has gone through it knows just how difficult it is…

It was during a particular low point that my friend Julie reached out to me and said something that completely changed the course of my journey to motherhood. She said to me being a mother isn’t about looking at your child and being awestruck because they have the same eyes as you, the same hair, lips or nose. It’s about seeing them smile for the first time, helping them taking their first steps, wrapping them in a warm towel when they get out of the bath. It’s about nurturing them and unconditional love. Those simple but poignant words led us to becoming parents through adoption.


Immediately after my husband and I were married I fell pregnant…

I couldn’t believe how easy it was. People had warned us that it would take a long time but that wasn’t the case for us. Unfortunately at 12 weeks though the baby’s heart had stopped and I miscarried. After that we tried for another year and half before we decided to go and see a fertility specialist. We did one round of IVF that wasn’t successful. The second round we did we get a positive pregnancy test. We were over the moon but cautious. I had all the pregnancy symptoms and convinced myself that nothing bad would happen again.  Unfortunately at the 12 week check up they detected major swelling around our baby girl’s kidneys and heart. After many rounds of testing they told us that she had a chromosomal condition called Turners Syndrome. One of the ironies of Turners Syndrome is that if your baby is born she will be infertile.   At 16 weeks we went to see a specialist who told us that my baby was dying and that we were going to lose her. I was four months pregnant when we said goodbye to Sweetpea. I tried another two rounds of IVF, which were unsuccessful. I was exhausted emotionally and physically. And not only was I devastated about the loss of our pregnancy but also at the thought of never becoming a mother.


During all of this I was seeing a therapist…

I was so upset one day and my therapist asked me what would make me happy. The answer was simple: more than anything I just wanted to be a mum. She said to me that you can become a mum, it just might not be the way you had planned it happening. When the fog from the loss and stress of IVF cleared I remembered those words along with the words my friend Julie had shared about motherhood being about unconditional love. These two thoughts led to our ‘aha’ moment. We were going to become parents through adoption.


After everything we had been through adoption was relatively easy…

We knew we wanted to work with a non-profit agency and we knew we wanted to adopt from Ethiopia. After six months of paperwork, doing parenting courses and meeting with a social worker we were put on a waiting list. From that moment on I spent every waking moment anticipating THE CALL from the agency saying we were going to be parents. It took six months of waiting before the call came through. I don’t really remember much because I was screaming through tears but I did hear them say ‘baby girl’ and for us to check our email. We opened up our email and there she was, our gorgeous little smiling sunbeam. That call came in October and by January we were travelling to Addis Ababa to meet Sefiagger who was five months old. We spent the first night in a guesthouse and the following day we were taken to the orphanage with other families who were also adopting. In the waiting room they brought each of our babies out one at a time. Sefiagger was the third baby they brought into the room and she was even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.


It’s so hard to find the words that can capture that moment when I first held Sefiagger…

Extreme joy mixed with total contentment, a melting heart, completeness. I remember holding her in those first few moments and she looked up and smiled. I thought this is my baby and I am your mom.


My husband and I discussed adopting another child but we decided that we were just so content and happy as a unit of three…

It was probably a year after that I started to feel sick, tired, and emotional. A friend made a remark about me being possibly pregnant. I found the comment irritating considering everything she knew I had been through. But as time went on and I still hadn’t had my period, I decided to take a pregnancy test.   When I saw the positive result I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with fear, with shock, with joy. It was a mixed bag of emotions. I couldn’t believe that after everything we had been through and after all this time I was now pregnant and I was 41. I was really scared throughout the pregnancy – it had never worked out before so why would it work out now. But it did work out and now we have two miracle babies.


My parents were teachers who I would describe as straight-laced hippies…

When I was 10 years old, we left Sydney and moved to a town called Denniliquin on the NSW/Victorian boarder. It’s the biggest rice growing district in the Southern Hemisphere and also the flattest town in Australia. We lived in a house that used to belong to the mayor. It had a ballroom and birds of paradise and Japanese maples in the garden. I roamed free on my bicycle, through the paddocks, along long straight stretches of road. The scene in my mind of that time conjures up classic coming of age movies.


When I was 13 we moved to Armidale in New England…

Mum and dad built a house on a mountain where we lived off the land. We had a fuel stove that heated the house, water tanks that supplied our water, chickens and sheep. Periodically the sheep would disappear and I would open the freezer to find it full of lamb. Needless to say I don’t eat lamb anymore. While at the time I begrudged the fact that I didn’t have the same ‘luxuries’ as my friends who lived in town I now look back and think it was pretty amazing that my parents had chosen a sustainable life before it was ‘cool’.


Before the girls I had a successful career in advertising that I really loved. But once I had the girls my life became a juggling act and I felt like I was dropping balls left, right, and center…

These girls undoubtedly were my priority but I needed that personal stimulation and inspiration I got from the job I loved and was passionate about. I knew I wasn’t going to get that balance from working for somebody else, so I decided to start my own business.


Before I started Wonderhouse I had been working at an agency that specializes in fashion and luxury brands…

At that point fashion advertising was typically limited to a visual direction but as consumer’s wants were changing and the world of communications was becoming more complex I saw a growing need for fashion and beauty brands to incorporate more strategic thinking into their communications. It seemed like an obvious opportunity for me – to take my experience as a strategic planner in advertising and my interest and love for fashion and beauty – and establish a business that’s goal is to develop strategic stories, positioning and communication platforms designed to help fashion businesses grow. That’s what I do and I love it. While it’s early days I have gotten to work with some amazing clients and agencies like New York designer THAKOON and his investor Silas Chou, Tommy Hilfiger, BareMinerals, Buxom Beauty, Suburbia London, Laird and Partners, Lloyd and Co New York.


I met my husband in San Francisco in 2000…

We lived there for several years before moving to Sydney. After I had my first miscarriage we decided we needed to get a way from everything, take time for ourselves and figure out where we wanted to take our lives. We moved to an island off Seattle for six months and did a whole lot of soul searching. It was a nice break but after six months we were both ready to start living again. My husband’s brother is a denim designer and was living in New York working for Jay Z’s label Rocawear. We went to visit him for a long weekend and saw how much was going on. It was really energizing and exciting. And with that we pretty much made up our mind that we wanted to make New York our home.


When it comes to time management tips, there are two things I try to stick to…

1. Don’t be afraid of saying no to someone if what they are asking is going to leave you feeling overwhelmed. The truth is they will probably respect you more for saying no. 2. Be the one to set boundaries and do your best to stick to them. If you don’t set boundaries someone else will do it for you and they will do it on their terms.


Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a morning person…

I love getting up when the sun is rising and the house is still quiet. I try to get out and go for a run before 6.30, when the streets are relatively bare and the air is fresh. It’s my moment of solitude.


With the girls I feel like I get to relive the fun and imaginative years of my own childhood…

When I look at them trying on my make up I remember how I felt when I would put my own mother’s lipstick on. Or when they dress up their Barbies I remember the fun my sister and I had creating stories around our own dolls.


When it comes to social media…

I probably use Instagram the most. I follow friends and family but also follow fashion brands, artists and fashion bloggers. The visual focus makes it great for both keeping connected and being inspired.


My approach to health and wellbeing is really simple…

Enjoy everything but do it in moderation.


There are so many pressures on girls to conform to an ideal that can easily impact their self-esteem…

I have realized how important it is for me to love myself and be confident in who I am so they will in turn mirror that and embrace their own unique beauty. More than anything I want them to be confident in who they are.


Everyday I use the Kiehls Pineapple Enzyme scrub, the daily reviving concentrate and the clearly corrective dark spot solution…

I don’t wear much make up but I am loving my hourglass eyebrow pencil at the moment. Plus I never leave home without mascara and my Nars nude lip pencil.


My perfect treat day would be…

Breakfast at the Wythe Hotel with the family, followed by a spa treatment at Great Jones Spa, lunch with friends, shopping at Rachel Comey on Crosby Street, afternoon drinks at Sant Ambroeus in Soho with my husband. And then finishing it off with sushi and cheesecake on the rooftop of our building with the girls.


I am a texter…

In fact I think the only time I do calls is for work or if someone calls me.


My definition of success is cliché but for me success is about achieving balance…

To equally enjoy work as much as I enjoy home; To be able to spend time with my girls as well as having alone time with my husband; To have adventures and experiences but balance that with downtown time and relaxation.


My mother is unconventionally creative…

She loved doing art but there was always something a little off about what she created. For her it was never about creating something that was deliberately considered. It was never about achieving perfection. For her creation was about feeling and personal expression. She was doing it for herself not for anyone else’s critique. I love that idea that life shouldn’t be about striving for perfection but rather life is best lived when you are feeling it and are personally passionate about what you do. I have tried to make that theme central to my own life.


We have two homes…

The apartment in Brooklyn is part of an old soda factory. It’s got the high ceilings and big windows that let in lots of light.  Our Woodstock place was designed in the 1960’s by one of Walt Disney’s original imagineers. Our approach to the interiors of both houses is very similar.  We start with a foundation that is mid century inspired and then add hints of warmth throughout with either bright colored cushions or hand printed wallpapers. It’s minimalism with personality I guess. We try to head up to our house in Woodstock three weekends out of the month. We deliberately chose not to get Internet or cable up there so we can all reconnect as a family after the intensity and distractions of a week in the city.


Am I tidy or messy?

Rather than answer that directly I will just say my husband calls me a free spirit…


There are so many things I love about raising kids in New York…

There is no sense of what is ‘normal’. Everyone has a unique story and background. It helps the girls embrace their own differences rather than chide away from there own identities. They also get to experience and be inspired by so many forms of culture. There is also something very satisfying for me personally as a mom living in New York. Especially in the winter months, when I have to push strollers through three feet of snow, or make it down two sets of subway stairs with a baby strapped to you and a three year old clinging to your arm.  There’s this feeling of being hardy and that you have survived.


I have a penchant for jumpsuits and all things Rachel Comey…

There is something that I find strong and confident in her designs but also they are fun and filled with personality.   The two pieces that I am particularly loving in my wardrobe at the moment is the joust pant in black denim and the solliin jumpsuit.


Nikky’s little list of loves:

Hotel du Petit Moulin, Paris. When I am in Paris for work this is definitely my favorite place to stay. It’s a really charming hotel in the Marais where Christian Lacroix has designed all the room interiors. It’s magical, inspiring, I feel like I am living in dream when I stay there.
My new couch: I am embarrassed to say but we have been carrying around the same couch with us for the last 10 years. We just got this beautiful cream sectional that has become our favorite place to hang out as a family.
Men’s fashion: I am working on project at the moment for a men’s fashion brand to help them define what their future direction should be. Men’s fashion is so interesting because it’s transforming from an industry that was generally traditional and safe to something that has become innovative and creative. I love the way men talk about fashion also.  It’s much more about the technical details. They get quite nerdy about it.
Dior and I: I think every time I fly I watch this film. So beautifully edited and such a wonderful insight into the world of couture.
Navy in Soho: My favorite New York lunch spot to meet up with friends during the week.
Acne Studios, Fayette Suede Shearling Belted Jacket: I have been eying it for the last few weeks. It looks so cozy and chic. Going to need to save my dollars for that one though.
Gods and Kings: The rise and fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano:   Amazing book about two incredible creative talents that is as much about the fashion industry as it is about them.
Summer: This is my first summer since I started my business and I have deliberately carved out time to spend with the girls, taking them to swim classes, the playground or trips into Manhattan. It’s been fun.


COMMENTS