Winnetka-based, Brazilian-born mama Renata Bueno Gelfi is an incredibly talented photographer, event stylist and planner but, if you asked her to name the very best days of her life, the answer is simple. It’s the days her daughters were born...
“I didn’t want to miss a thing,” the beautiful mama of three says. “It really is a miracle.” Naturally, her daughters Carolina, Manuela and Gabriela feature heavily on Renata’s blissful Instagram feed (@thegelfis). Boasting an impressive 33.5K followers, her secret is simple. Be consistent, be genuine and post what you love. This mantra, unsurprisingly, has seen her recently collaborate with dreamy childrenswear label printebebe (one of our favourites) to create a series of beautiful images that capture the romance and timelessness of their new collection. We caught up with Renata to talk travel, social media, raising girls and also get a peek at the new printebebe collection. Go to www.printebebe.com
Where do you live and what do you love about where you live?
I am originally from Brazil but I have been living in the USA for the past 10 years. I live in a small town 25 minutes from downtown Chicago called Winnetka. What I love about this place is the sense of freedom that the kids have. I grew up in a big city. It was impossible and unsafe for me to go to school riding my bike but in Winnetka, I see my kids experiencing a completely different childhood. There is always a friend ringing our doorbell, our neighbours are the kindest people I’ve ever met and are always ready to help or surprise us with something delicious. There is a real sense of community and doing good things for others that I’ve never experienced before. I’ve learnt that simple acts of kindness can be really magical and I’m happy that my kids can experience this from such a young age because those acts can really make the world a better place.
Where do you love to travel to and why?
I love travelling to all sorts of places. If I could I would spend my life travelling. Recently I went with the girls to Yellowstone Park and it was an incredible trip. There is something about being in contact with nature that I adore but I also love exploring pretty cities with charming restaurants and cool coffee shops… so it’s hard to say which one is my favourite of all. I think every place has something special for you to see.
Where were the printebebe photos taken and tell us about that shoot?
The printebebe photos were all taken in Winnetka and on a weekend trip to Geneva, Illinois. Those were our last days of summer so we were trying to soak it all in: pick all the flowers we could, enjoy the lake, go on nature walks and eat ice cream… all the good stuff that kids love to do during summer.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, loving and determined.
What has motherhood taught you?
Unconditional love. To care about someone more than anything else in the world.
What are some vivid memories of when you first became a mother?
The births of my three girls were for sure the best days of my life. Nothing beats so much emotion. It really is a miracle! I always wanted to be a mother so I enjoyed every little thing, from changing nappies to breastfeeding. No matter how tired I was, I never alternated with my husband because I didn’t want to miss a thing.
Talk us through your career path and how you came to focus on photography/styling?
I studied fashion design in Sao Paulo and I graduated as a fashion photographer. I was starting to pursue a styling career when my husband had a job offer to move to Madrid. Moving to somewhere I didn’t speak the language and I didn’t know anyone in the area when I was 22-years-old was very challenging and I accepted the opportunities that showed up along the way. While in Madrid, I worked with a fashion designer called Baruc Corazon. In London, I did an interior design course and worked in an interior design office called Ashley Hicks, and in Miami after the girls were born I started my own event styling and planning business. When we moved to Chicago I decided that I wanted to pursue my old passion for photography and styling and, as a personal exercise, I committed myself to post one picture per day on Instagram for one month, then I increased it to two months and then for a year. Slowly, my followers started to increase and collaborations and work opportunities started to appear.
What are your top three time management tips for busy mums?
Set your watch 10 minutes earlier because you will forget you did it and will help to keep you on time. Don’t overload yourself because your kids can feel your stress, so it’s better to order pizza and be relaxed then cook complicated, healthy food and be overwhelmed. Be organised with your schedule because that always helps to make the day more peaceful and stress-free.
What makes you feel stressed?
When I have to deliver too many things in a short period of time.
What advice would you give other mothers looking to launch their own Instagram account and get a following?
Only post what you love. Be patient everything takes time and commitment but you will get there.
How do you tackle social media – what’s your strategy for using social media to grow your business?
Connect with other accounts, be genuine, explore your hashtags and be consistent with your posts.
What are your favourite pieces from the new printebebe collection?
I love everything printebebe makes. All their pieces are beautiful, delicate, timeless and exceptional quality. I tend to prefer anything from the bode rose and the light grey palette. If I had to pick two or three I would go for the Holiday Dress beige stripe linen, the Charlotte Dress in musk stripe and the Astrid Skirt in bitter pink.
What’s your approach to raising girls? What will you teach them about self-love?
I always look them in the eye, I am present, and I pay attention to the things they say. I teach them to be loving, caring and kind to others and each other. To be confident, to believe in themselves and to follow their dreams. I praise the good things they do and their qualities in a genuine way.
What’s your advice to mothers on self-love and confidence?
We all make mistakes and that’s okay. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Love is everything.
Five things you love right now?