Let's get straight to the facts. Parents (particularly of babies) are obsessed with sleep.
How much they're receiving (or not). How to optimise their children's sleep environments. How do dress them correctly for the season. How to make sure every second of shut-eye counts. Need we go on? Now in this environment when we're all forced to stay at home … Let's just say that obsession has been stepped up a notch. Which is why ergoPouch – always our go-to for all things child sleep-related – has become even more of a staple in the homes of The Grace Tales team.
As well as being safe and optimised for your child's sleep, the range is beautiful enough to justify keeping your kids in their pieces all day. (Thank goodness.)<p>Regardless of where your child is at in their sleep routine, there's a piece that will fit the bill.</p><p>Highlights of the range include:</p><p>The ergoPouch Pyjama; 1.0 TOG pyjamas suitable for kids aged 2-5 years, featuring slim fit, ultra0stretchy organic bamboo and cotton, designed for a seamless journey through toilet training and preschool. The 1.0 TOG rating provides a thicker pyjama than what's commonly found on the market, keeping kids warm during cold nights as they learn how to use their blankets in a big bed. </p><p>The 3.5TOG Sheeting Bag with sleeves is a customer-lead innovation that features 1.0TOG organic cotton sleeves for extra warmth, designed to keep babies warm in winter without the risk of overheating. The Sheeting Bag is designed for room temperatures between 14°C and 20°C, and features a luxurious 400-thread count organic cotton outer and lining. The Mint Clouds print will also be available for children aged 3-6 years who still love their sleeping bags.</p><p>Two-Piece Bodywear also continues to be a staple in the AW20 collection, following the success of the Bodywear launch to the ergoPouch brand in 2019. The line of organic, ribbed essentials are available in two new styles; pant and top separates, in the colours Sterling and Primrose. </p>
As with all ergoPouch products, AW20 is certified organic, using only non-toxic fibres that are skin friendly and sensitive to eczema and dry skin conditions...<p>All of ergoPouch's products are ergonomically designed with comfort in mind and continue to wear the title of sleep-saviour for every developmental milestone. What's more, all ergoPouch swaddles, sleeping bags, sleepsuit bags and sleep onesies come with a nursery thermometer and <a href="https://www.ergopouch.com.au/blogs/what-to-wear-guide" target="_blank">What to Wear Guide.</a> Sleep obsession, you've met your match.</p><p><a href="https://www.ergopouch.com.au/" target="_blank"><em>Shop ergoPouch</em></a></p>
One year after Daniella Gelman met her now husband, she moved from New York to Paris to complete her MBA.
The couple had always dreamed of setting up a creative workshop (in fact, it was something they discussed on their second date), and when they later became parents, suddenly it felt like their dream could turn into a reality. In 2016, luxury French baby brand Atelier Choux was created, inspired by the products they wanted to have for their son. "Like many first-time parents, we were very idealistic and wanted to design his nursery with our tastes in mind. We imagined a whimsical world inspired by the architecture we see on a daily basis in Paris – but adapted for kids," she reflects.
Your professional life had led you and your husband into “conventional” careers – when did the idea of an “atelier” begin?<p>Working in an "atelier" or creative workshop together was the topic that my now-husband and I instantly connected about on our second "date" in 2009, after meeting the evening before on the Lower East Side in New York. I was working in financial services but taking night classes at the School of Visual Arts in metalworking, focusing on large scale furniture. Nicolas was working as a consultant in Paris but was also enrolled in a continuing education class focused on woodworking. Exactly one year after we met, I moved to Paris to complete my MBA. We got married in 2012 while the "atelier" remained an "idealistic idea" until 2016! </p>
Have you always had a creative and entrepreneurial side?<p>Absolutely. I grew up in the early 90s following all the creativity in the beauty sector – when brands like Urban Decay, Hard Candy and so many others were just launching. I kept clippings of all the magazine articles and still have them today – I was and still am a "magazine clipper" and hoarder of visual inspiration. I'm sure many feel the same way – but wish I had had the insight then to create Pinterest! Entrepreneurship has always been my passion – it's amazing how early on in life one can feel these reflexes.</p>
You began your business at the beginning of your leap into parenthood – what was it like doing both at once?<p>The idea stage felt very natural since the inspiration behind Atelier Choux came about when we began thinking about products we wanted for our son before he was born in 2014. Like many first time parents, we were very idealistic and wanted to design his nursery with our tastes in mind. We imagined a whimsical world inspired by the architecture we see on a daily basis in Paris – but adapted for kids.</p><p>On the practical side, the stress of our conventional careers at the time we become parents pushed us to determine if we would ever be able to support ourselves with our own creative activities. This part is the hardest part of juggle – and my feeling is it's best done gradually. We did a lot of research from the idea stage before our son's birth and only officially launched Atelier Choux in early 2016, about 9 months before the birth of our daughter.</p>
You moved to Paris – a dream for so many – was it a dream? Can you share any of the challenges you faced relocating to a new city?<p>It was a dream in many ways but came with all the logistic challenges of immigrating to a foreign country. I am not a natural at new languages and it is still a challenge to deal with true administrative issues in French, although it does get easier over the years. Paris is a beautiful, romantic, touristy city but securing a visa, bank account, an apartment and navigating the healthcare system are all very un-romantic experiences! There are, of course, many daily pleasures that come with living in Paris – walking anywhere and taking in the incredible architecture and statues, Haussmannian apartments with high ceilings, fresh produce, charming shops and an amazing selection of activities for children – from intricate carousels everywhere to beautiful parks and museums. I don't take any of that for granted.</p>
What’s it like raising a child in Paris? How would you describe the French approach to parenting?<p>I believe French parenting has a reputation for being strict and discipline-oriented. Good manners, table etiquette and respect for elders are all important. I see this from my parents-in-law, sister-in-law and parents at school. I wish I knew the French approach better in practice as our household is a mix of parenting styles, with myself as a "softy" and my French husband as the one who "means-business". We are all "night-owls" and "dreamers" which can make schedules and bed-times difficult. I cannot blame our children too much for rebelling against schedules and early mornings as they get it from us. I do think a tough, disciplined, French approach can be very beneficial. I'm hoping to try it on our third, due at the end of this summer.</p>
How did you come to work with Mattias Adolfsson?<p>We were fans of Mattias' work well before starting Atelier Choux and had several of his books. We had once gotten in contact with him about purchasing a print for our living room. When we were expecting our first child in 2014, I imagined one of Mattias' prints (called Pedestrians*) on crib bedding. It's hard for me to let go of my "visions" and kept insisting how nice it would look. The idea for a baby and children's brand around Mattias' work evolved after that. During that 18-month research phase at some point, we jumped on a plane and went to meet Mattias in Sweden. The whole experience was thrilling, I'll never forget that feeling of possibility.</p>
You buy all raw materials and make the finished products from A to Z – why was local manufacturing so important to you? And tell us about what you’ve achieved in terms of the production of your products? What prompted you to ensure the global organic textile standard (GOTS) and the oeko-tex standard 100 in your product?<p>We started manufacturing locally as a matter of necessity – no "large" factories would work with us in the beginning and we also wanted to work side by side with a team to ensure we could achieve the finished product we had in mind. A chemical-free, organic cotton base was essential, and luckily these days it is not terribly difficult to find partners who can provide this option. Product safety is paramount of course, and we use organic cotton whenever it is feasible.<br>We are now privileged to work with many small factories, from those who weave the fabric from raw cotton, a selection of printers and confectioners. We are really proud to support local factories and small sewing companies in France. The process is not always flawless and it is a challenge achieving perfection across many partners. It remains an artisanal process.</p>
Your Atelier Choux boutique was a dream come true – can you tell us about the store?<p>The small space gave us an opportunity to create a dreamy space to welcome our customers and partners. This was the moment where we could finally put our physical "Atelier" dreams on paper, by designing ornate cabinets with animal carvings and with clever trompe-l'œil spaces, including two hidden doors and an expandable "comptoir" (counter) to maximize the tiny space. The carvings are supposed to reflect the space's Renaissance influences, with a sense of humor. The pastel color palette, intricate carvings and colorful Murano chandelier have become part of our brand identity.</p>
Talk us through your product offering?<p>Our range has grown since we launched our first carrés (swaddles) in early 2016. At that time we didn't know anything about textile manufacturing and thought a 1 meter x 1 meter square of fabric (in organic cotton, complicated enough!) was an easy-enough canvass to showcase our prints. It took some time to get to where we are now in terms of print quality and softness, it was by no means an easy journey but working with local partners allowed us to learn and evolve quickly.</p><p>From our carrés we moved into bibs, bedding and wall decor, which established our point of view in the nursery and children's interior space. Clothing was a natural extension and we now offer a selective range of seasonless, gender-neutral clothing in many of our prints.</p><p>We see Atelier Choux as a playful, lifestyle brand and have since launched temporary tattoos and wall art. The new product launch path is based on our personal whims and the products we want to use at home as our children grow. New products in process include beach and bath towels, along with twin bedding. We are aiming to get parents more interested in our products too, with whimsical prints that work for the living room along with ceramic tableware. </p>
Finally, what’s it like being a parent in Paris right now – what has your COVID-19 experience been like?<p>COVID and the confinement experience has taught us so many things – about our priorities and of course all the little things in life to be grateful for. We were extremely fortunate not to know anyone with serious health complications, which of course changes everything.</p><p>Like for many parents, it was difficult to be confined with our two young children while managing home-school and our business, especially during my second-trimester which has been particularly tiring. We also had plans to open a second, lifestyle-oriented boutique but had to suddenly put that vision on hold.</p><p>Like many families, we really enjoyed the extra quality time we suddenly had together – baking with our children, gardening on the balcony, playing board games, etc. I believe this experience has somewhat "reset" our priorities, slowing us down a little and forcing us to be more present. Health and family are paramount, and COVID-19 has definitely reinforced that.</p>
We've heard that so many of you delight in reading the stories of our members across the world, and we know this week's subject will be no different.
As the founder of Luxuosa Residences, the wonderful Joanna White may soon be your go-to woman when it comes to booking luxurious, family-friendly holidays. We were delighted to speak to Joanna about her road to becoming a business owner, how she manages the work-life juggle and of course, her top travel picks. We're ready to pack our bags and come right with you, Joanna!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your work?<p>I'm from Sydney, and grew up in a great family home surrounded by lots of wonderful friends and family. In 2012 I met my husband on a work trip to Hong Kong, and a few years later moved up to be with him and set up a life in Hong Kong. I did a career U-turn at the age of 25 after working in the film industry, and turned my interest to travel and hotels. I had some incredible opportunities and experiences working for hotel groups, and was lucky to do a lot of travelling and was exposed to so many wonderful cities and cultures through my work. When I moved to Hong Kong, I did some work for a company specialising in luxury villa rentals, and I absolutely fell in love with this part of the industry; private villa rentals and bespoke holidays. I set up Luxuosa while I was pregnant with my son Angus, and continued to build the business for the next 18 months, launching after the birth of my daughter, Farrah. They are 17 months apart.</p>
What does a typical morning look like in your household?<p>Mornings I try to keep fairly routine and fun. My husband has an early start at work, and the kids are usually up for cuddles around 6.30am so I have a cup of tea in bed and they have their milk and giggle as they play hide and seek under the blankets. I then get them breakfast and ready for the day, and then they have a play for an hour at home while I get ready and do some work catching up emails from the night before. Then I drop my son at pre-school, while my daughter (19 months) heads off to the park, zoo or library with our lovely nanny. </p>
Did your work or career shift since becoming a mother?<p>Yes, it was when I fell pregnant with Angus (now 3) that I decided I was ready to start my own company. I spent most of the pregnancy working as a consultant to some luxury travel brands i.e Luxe City Guides, while building and creating the website, product and platform that runs Luxuosa. I absolutely love what I do, but I'm someone who wants to do it all and tends to burn the candle at both ends, so it took time to get into a rhythm of juggling being a new mum, and founding a company. </p>
How do you make the juggle work in your family?<p>We have a fairly structured week Monday-Friday which means I have full days in the office, and other times can work remotely to fit around the kids' activities. My husband is also incredibly supportive and helps when I'm working into the night speaking with clients and suppliers in the UK & Europe. I'm also an early riser and manage the get at least half an hour in the mornings to myself which is a huge help in getting on top of things for the day, so no matter how the day unfolds, I'm ahead.</p>
Can you tell us a bit about Luxuosa?<p>Luxuosa is a hybrid of luxury holiday villas around the world, and bespoke travel design.</p><p>Every one of the bookings is personally curated, and bookings are by enquiry only – we don't offer an online booking channel so it allows us to get to know each client very well.</p><p>We take incredible care in helping the client find the ultimate villa/estate or in some cases castles, for their holiday and then tie all the ends together whether it be boat, car, jet transfers, private experiences right down to personally selecting babysitters and chefs. </p><p>Each one of the villas we work with is vetted and hand-picked and all villas have a quality which makes them special; whether it be its location, interiors, gardens or history. Currently at over 500+ villas, we are constantly expanding and growing with the goal of being the "go-to" for every holiday-maker looking for a holiday home and experience designed specifically for them.</p><p>Our clients are scattered all over the world and we take bookings any time of the day – regardless of where the clients are based. We also offer a very wide range of villas so there are lots of options as every client has a different budget, style of villa they like, and specific needs i.e. expansive lawns for kids to run around, in-house hammam, beachfront location, remote island; the list is endless. </p>
Could you name a favourite property?<p>Such a hard question! I love all of them.</p><p>If I had to choose one for me and my family now I would probably book two weeks at <a href="https://luxuosaresidences.com/properties/domaine-dares/" target="_blank">Domaine d'Ares</a> in Saint Rémy de Provence. It's a magical estate with over 8 acres of gardens including a huge heated swimming pool and tennis court. On the other side of the house past the vegetable gardens, is a children's house and garden; a paradise entirely dedicated to the kids to play in. It sleeps up to 18 guests across 10 bedrooms so is a great summer home for a few families sharing.</p><p>I also love <a href="https://luxuosaresidences.com/properties/casa-juliette/" target="_blank">Casa Juliette</a> in Ibiza, and its location close to Es Cubells and Sant Josep means there is an endless number of white sand beaches on your doorstep which are perfectly kid-friendly. It has two pools, lots of outdoor space including a children's playground and the bedrooms are large and bright. For family holidays in Ibiza, June or September are ideally the best times to go to avoid the crowds, and the weather is perfect. Plus the rates can drop by up to 50% outside of July/ August, which is always a plus!</p><p>In Asia, <a href="https://luxuosaresidences.com/properties/villa-analaya/" target="_blank">Villa Analaya</a> is an incredible 6 bedroom beach-front villa with a huge outdoor living area and edge infinity pool overlooking the Andaman Sea. It has 3 separate sleeping quarters (each with two bedrooms) so if you're sharing with friends or family you have your own private space. It's located on the West Coast of the island so it's great if you want a few dinners out as well. We recommend Catch Beach Club & Amanpuri's Thai Restaurant.</p><p>And lastly, in Byron Bay, <a href="https://luxuosaresidences.com/properties/orana/" target="_blank">Orana Beach House</a> is a fabulously chic beach house walking distance to Clarkes Beach and town. It generally books out well in advance, but if you're organised to book at least 6 months out, you'll be very happy with a week or two here. Top Shop is around the corner for morning coffee and egg rolls and it's perfect if you want to share with another family as there's great privacy between the bedrooms.</p>
What’s your favourite travel destination as a family?<p>For families with younger children, anywhere with a beach or big pool and lawn is incredible as they are entertained for hours, and it's a great burn out for them too. In Asia, I tend to recommend booking a well-located villa in either Thailand, Sri Lanka and Bali.</p><p>All of these destinations have incredible villas, service and food. <a href="https://luxuosaresidences.com/properties/zambala/" target="_blank">Villa Zambala</a> in Canggu Bali is excellent for families, and their staff are incredibly playful and kind with the children. Once you have a well-appointed villa you don't tend to venture out too often which gives you a chance to relax while the kids are entertained. In Asia it's very easy to make the villa the destination and bring in all the wonderful experiences i.e. yoga, art classes for the kids, cooking classes, massage. </p>
What’s your proudest career achievement to date?<p>It would definitely have to be launching Luxuosa. I have always dreamt about having my own company, and finally sending it live was a huge milestone.</p>
What’s your most memorable moment of motherhood so far?<p>Gosh, so many… The most memorable though would have to be the birth of both of the kids. Those first precious moments together are euphoric and nothing can come close to that maternal explosion of love.</p>
How do you switch off and make time for you?<p>A good laugh, a cheese board and a bottle of Chardonnay with my best girlfriends is my usual go-to, but I also play cricket for the Hong Kong Cricket Club. I played at school and uni and picked it back up again last year and I love it. Playing in a team again, who can be fairly competitive is great and my kids love coming to watch me play on the weekends.</p>
What lessons are you hoping to instil in your children, or legacy are you hoping to create?<p>Resilience, confidence and a good sense of humour. My Grandmother used to say to us when we were young, that it was important to find a partner for life with a good sense of humour, as laughter makes for a great life.</p>
What sacrifices have you had to make since becoming a mother?<p>It's definitely been a shift and an adjustment to the speed in which my husband and I used to live life, socialise and travel for fun, but I love the time I have with the kids, and we take them with us a lot of the time to friends places and to BBQs. We also plan our weeks around being able to get out and see friends, watching and playing sport (for Adam) as I think it's important to retain (where possible!) that interaction. We're both total extroverts so somehow we make it work! </p>
What are the top ten things on your favourites list at the moment?<ul><li>Ottelenghi's book SIMPLE is my go-to for dinners and I love almost all of the recipes in this cookbook of his. The slow-cooked lemon, mint & cumin lamb is always a crowd-pleaser.</li><li><a href="https://www.standishwineco.com/" target="_blank">Standish</a> wines from the Barossa Valley. Head wine maker and owner Dan Standish produces I think, some of the best Australian red wines.</li><li>Rationale's tinted sunscreen/ moisturiser C7 product is heavy enough to substitute <a href="https://www.rationale.com/" target="_blank">foundation</a>, and just seems to disappear and look invisible at the same time.</li><li>Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette is a staple and gives you shine and bronze in one which I love. I go through it far too quickly!</li><li>I'm a big fan of Isabel Marant's Etoile range, and floaty silk pieces by Ulla Johnson or Chloe. Hong Kong tends to warm most of the year so I live in sandals (K Jacques) and dresses.</li><li><a href="https://www.retykle.com/" target="_blank">Retykle</a>: An innovative luxury resale e-commerce platform (and soon to be permanent shop in Hong Kong) enabling you to buy great kids clothing at a fraction of the retail price with brands I love like Bonpoint & Jacardi.</li><li>The Daily podcast which is news podcast covering the latest political, cultural breaking news hosted by Michael Barbaro from the New York Times – It's 27 minutes and gives great insight and understanding (perfect for the walk to work).</li><li>Fleabag Series by created and acted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also stars in it is absolutely hilarious and a perfect laugh after a long day.</li><li>Xtend Barre Classes – I've recently taken this up and I'm a convert. It's the perfect mix of Pilates and cardio. Flex studio in Hong Kong is fresh & bright and they limit classes to 8 people so you get a lot of hands-on adjustments if you need it. Great for an energy & muscle booster.</li><li></li></ul>
Building a business you adore, with your best friend by your side, as you make time to be present for your growing family ... Could it get any better than that?
If you ask Lauren Emerson and Genevieve Hewson – the founders of Sydney-based textile label Walter G – the answer is "no." While many would advise against starting a business with your closest friend from childhood, Lauren and Gem are living proof that it can be done – with a healthy dose of success and joy along the way.
What inspired the launch of Walter G?<p>Walter G is Genevieve Hewson and Lauren Emerson – two best friends who met in Year 7 in Sydney's North. After graduating Commerce and Design in 2008 and 2010 respectively – they went on to travel extensively, particularly to places known for their textiles – such as South America and Vietnam. Lauren travelled to India to do an internship as part of her degree, and Gen went to visit several times. They completely fell in love with it – and the idea that they could start a textile company was born.</p><p>They promptly moved to India for 6 months and immersed themselves, learning everything that they could about indigo and block printing techniques – living in tiny and remote villages. Upon returning to Australia, sadly both of their grandfathers Walter and George passed at a similar time. Walter G is named in their honour – and the business was officially launched at Life Instyle in Sydney in 2012. Lauren and Genevieve believe strongly in maintaining a hands on approach within the business, travelling to India annually and staying true to their passion for the hand block printing process. They describe their brand as lived-in, imperfect, timeless, relaxed, and artisanal. All designs are their own creation, developed hands-on with a team of Indian artisans and completely hand-printed.</p>
What did your careers entail prior to the launch of your business?<p>We started Walter G when we were both 24, so honestly speaking, prior to that was university and a suite of casual jobs which we used to fund our travel to random textile rich countries around the globe like Vietnam, Peru, Guatemala, etc.</p><p>We had little to no experience in running a business and went into it completely blind, without even a business plan. However, this approach tends to suit our personalities, our passion was strong and we thrive in sink or swim situations.</p>
Can you tell us about the business?<p>Walter G is an Australian-owned and Sydney-based boutique textile house. Taking inspiration from old textiles and new surroundings, we work closely with a wonderful team of artisans in India to collaboratively produce a tactile range of hand block and mud printed fabrics.</p><p>Channelling the relaxed vibe of coastal living, through pattern, fresh colour, texture and nostalgia – Walter G's fabrics are designed to be mixed and matched to elevate an interior with both style and comfort.</p>
Can you share the story behind the wonderful artisans you work with?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://thegracetales.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ4MjU2MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTU0MDQ1Mn0.fyNx1Hv5won9Kt1boOE7pmZYEwczCSftH1WvHPdCW7c/image.jpg?width=980" id="8333f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="01fe7493c0da2419fb962dc18ba061ad" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
What is your design process like?<p>Our design process begins with us drawing or painting a design in various layers, then scanning it into Photoshop where we manipulate the drawings and put them into repeat. From here we send our completed designs to our artisans in India who carve the wood blocks by hand. We then proceed with test printing in different colour combinations. Once we have sample swatches of all the different designs and colour variations, we then play around, mixing and matching to decide on what pattern/colour we will release in which size. It's all about creating various sub stories within a collection that layer beautifully with each other and timelessly with our past collections.</p>
How do you make a successful business partnership (and friendship) work?<p>Everyone we know warned us against going into business with your best friend. To this day, people that we haven't seen in a long time still ask us (with a nervous expression), "Are you still doing that textile thing with Gen/Lauren?"</p><p>We think that the reason it has worked for us is the same reason that we didn't hesitate going into business with each other in the first place: we have exactly the same work ethic, and naturally gravitate toward the same aesthetic and are total textile tragics. </p><p>Where luck has played into it, is that our personal lives have tracked very similarly. This has meant that we've both been able to support each other and pick up the slack when one has been married, had kids, got a mortgage, gone through family 'moments'. Had we been in different places, particularly when it comes to motherhood, we feel there would have been a lot of strain on the business. Even if people want to be understanding and sympathetic, it's not until you really go through pregnancy and motherhood yourself that you can fully appreciate the compromises that you need to make. Also, from the perspective of running a business, our goals are aligned: we want to grow the business steadily, not rapidly so that we can live a balanced life and still be able to be present with our families.</p>
What are a few of your favourite pieces in your collections?<p>There have been many favourites over the years. Samples regularly go missing from our studio as we each 'try' a new look out at home!</p><p>Gen – my current obsession is our Luxor design that Lauren did. I have two chairs upholstered in it and would like to also do a bedhead in it and wallpaper my powder room in it. I just can't get enough of it! </p><p>Lauren – I'm not normally a huge green girl but I'm loving mixing our new Saltbush colour way with our Celadon and Saffrons. I've recently siphoned some samples home to pick the perfect combination for my guest bedroom!</p><p>A favourite for both of us this Summer will be our online exclusive release of Walter G Melamine plates. They are the ultimate kid friendly companion for Summer BBQs at home or by the beach – bright, patterned and unbreakable!</p>
How do you incorporate so many incredible textiles into your homes?<p>With great ease! Even when there is no space left, we will begin to layer them up. This is really how we design all our collections – with the idea that they can be layered in with new and old. More is more! A designer in Boulder, Colorado just tagged us in an image where she had installed our Luxor Blossom wallpaper on the risers of her clients staircase. There is always room for more pattern in your life! </p>
"I don't go to therapy, I cook," says American stylist-turned-jewellery-pioneer Jennifer Fisher...
For her, life doesn't get better than whipping up a feast in her Manhattan loft for her two children, Shane and Drew, and husband, Kevin (who is also her business partner).
Log onto her website and, as well as the clean sculptural jewellery, you will find the Jennifer Fisher Kitchen teeming with simple clean recipes, complete with her range of specialist salts. Here is a woman who, when she finds a passion, is not afraid to truly embrace it.
Where is your happy place?<p>I am happiest at home cooking for my kids and for my husband.</p>
What do you love about cooking and why did you decide to launch your range of specialist salts?<p>My passion outside of jewellery is cooking — it always has been. The salt thing happened totally by accident. I'm gluten-free and dairy-free most of the time because I have thyroid disease. I cook for the kids and for the family and I'm always super-conscious about what we're eating. I try to eat nothing out of a packet when I can, if I can help it, and what comes naturally with that is seasoning. I started this little mixture of salt on the side of my stove mixed in with organic lemon rind that my dad sent me from California and a mix of herbs that I like. I sprinkled it on my eggs every day, and our salads and on meats and everything that we would make in the house.</p>
And what inspired you to start your brand?<p>I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. I began my career as a wardrobe stylist working on feature films, television shows, and commercials in both New York and Los Angeles. After college, I worked as a wardrobe stylist for 10 years for national ad campaigns like American Express and Budweiser. It wasn't glamorous but paid better than fashion jobs – I had teams of girls working for me and could easily juggle two, three or even four jobs at a time. After 10 years of dressing and styling Hollywood, I met my husband, Kevin, and we settled in New York City, where my company is now based. I was living and styling in NYC for an LA based director, when I was diagnosed with a desmoid tumour. I went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, to shrink my tumour, all the while working on ad jobs. This is when my husband Kevin, who you may know through my Instagram stories, proposed to me. He actually popped the question on Halloween night right before we were about to throw a big party. Ten months later, we were married in Santa Barbara.</p><p>When we wanted to have children, my oncologist didn't think it was a good idea for me to carry a baby because my tumour grows from oestrogen – so we went through the process of hiring a surrogate to carry for us in California. After multiple rounds of IVF where our surrogate was pregnant twice and miscarried twice, we came back to New York and we decided to try IVF on our own, against my doctors' orders. Unsuccessful yet again, my doctors recommended that we adopt or get an egg donor. I needed a break from it all and took the summer off. That's when I became pregnant with my son Shane, naturally. Against the wishes of my oncologist I carried my baby. After a perfectly healthy pregnancy and baby boy later, I learned that my tumor had actually shrunk from my pregnancy.</p><p>After Shane was born, I began receiving jewelry gifts to represent him in the form of single letters that were very dainty and weren't very me. Shane's birth was a major deal for us, I wanted something to wear that represented him in a way that felt like me and expressed my personal style. When I couldn't find it, I decided to go up to 47th street in Manhattan and design and produce something myself. I designed a dog tag charm with Shane's named stamped on the front that I styled with a long, thick link chain. I didn't take it off. I wore my dog tag on set while styling and started to get multiple requests for the same necklace. A hair stylist friend of mine was working with Uma Thurman at the time and suggested I make something for Uma that represented her kids. She ended up wearing it on the cover of Glamour Magazine and Jennifer Fisher Jewelry was born.</p>
What is your greatest achievement?<p>Having my children.</p>
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from building your brand?<p>Trust your gut. Separate your fashion (work) friends from your real friends. Have a team that has your back as people come and go – everyone is replaceable. Don't take it personally because they will, that is a big lesson I have learned.</p>
Do you think yours is a good industry to be a working mother?<p>No, I think it's incredibly hard. I think being a working mom is difficult and being an entrepreneur as a working mom is even harder because you are always on, you're always working. There is never any time off. On the weekends or at night, even if I am with my kids, I have to take a moment to do something for work. When I am leaving work, my day starts with my family, so it's hard. The one amazing thing about having my own company is that I do get to set my own hours. So there is flexibility there which other people don't have when working for others. So that is the one thing I have to say.</p>
What are your efficiency tips?<p>Do whatever you can the night before. I make sure that my kids backpacks are packed, their snacks are packed in their bags, whatever partial part of their lunch that can be made is made if I need to do that, their sports gear is out, washed, and repacked. I get everything done the night before, so my nights are really busy. I am constantly getting everything reorganised and ready for the next day.</p>
And any mum-hacks you have learned?<p><strong>Mum Hack #1: Prepping meals in advance</strong></p><p>I prep partial meals whenever I can in advance for the family so there is less to do when I get home from work. My slow cooker is my friend. If I can start something in the morning that is going to be delicious by the time we get home, that's great and it's a win-win. This includes cooking rice, pre-chopping all my vegetables, I do all of that stuff in advance to make my nights a bit easier.</p><p><strong>Mum Hack #2: Plan out what I am going to wear <br></strong>I also make sure that I know what I am going to wear the next day. I check my calendar every night to see what is planned and if I need to be dressed up for an event. If I have to have a look ready and an extra change of clothes, extra pair of shoes, an extra bag, I pull and pack all of that the night before so that by the time I go to drop my daughter at school I have all of those things with me for the day and they go to the office with me.</p>
How do you get (so much) stuff done?<p>I just do it and I don't complain about it.</p>
What has your journey to motherhood taught you?<p>Well, now that my kids are older, you have to lead by example. My kids are watching everything that my husband and I do. We have definitely calmed down a bit recently now that our kids are teens and we are home a lot more and we are readily available for the kids. Also, we don't drink as much or go out as much. There are just things that we don't do. We want to be setting the right example for our children.</p>
How do you look after yourself?<p>I watch what I eat. More importantly now, I am drinking less alcohol in addition to watching what I eat. I am also trying to exercise more because that is some of the only time I have to myself. I am trying to take more time to focus on myself and my health.</p>
What has surprised you about becoming a mum?<p>I have been a mom for a really freaking long time – nothing surprises me. But really, what has surprised me? I am much more sensitive now that I am a mother. I didn't have that sensitivity chip before. Now I am much more empathetic to people and other people's children.</p>
What has been the hardest lesson to learn?<p>Nothing is free.</p>
Who are the mums that really inspire you and why?<p>My grandmother and my mother. I am inspired by people in my family that I look up to. I look up to my mother-in-law too. She is awesome.</p>
What do you not get enough of and how will you change that in 2020?<p>I don't get enough time to myself. I am going to start doing yoga again. I am going to start doing something that's a class where I can leave my house – even if I walk down the street for five minutes that's time to myself so if I can get that, I will take it.</p>
How often do you travel and what do you pack?<p>Work has been very busy so we have been travelling almost every two weeks for the past few months. In my carry on I always have hand sanitising wipes, breath spray, extra jewellery and my Jennifer Fisher charm necklace, which is my talisman for my family. I do not fly anywhere without it. It is my good luck charm; I always have that with me. I've got my air pods, extra work I can get done, my sketchpad, pencils and a healthy snack. Like most, I struggle to find healthy options at the airport, so I always have my own snacks. I also always have beauty basics. Like my little bag that has my all my essentials of what I need: powder, balm dotcom and perfume. I always cover my neck, so I always make sure to pack a Jennifer Fisher bandana.</p>
And what would surprise people to learn about being Jennifer Fisher?<p>Nothing, I am totally normal just like you.</p>
The Grace Tales is a global lifestyle platform for mothers searching for style, substance, and solidarity. Driven by creating content, community and connection, we celebrate the paradox of modern motherhood; the struggle and the beauty, the joy and the relentlessness.
Classic boots. Gorgeous mules. Are there any more coveted styles of shoes in a mother's wardrobe? We don't think so.
Coveting the perfect pair is one thing. But finding them is another entirely. Which is exactly how Brigitte Sharp felt when she decided to launch her range of direct to consumer luxury footwear – Lou.
Can you tell us about your career path to date?<p>My career path has not been a linear one. After graduating from university, I lived in Chicago and worked as an analyst for a commercial finance company. I quickly learned that finance was not my calling, and after years of dreaming about moving to New York City to work in the fashion industry, I quit my job and moved the following summer. I applied for every fashion assistant role I could find, and after much persistence and a bit of luck, I was offered a position in the women's production department at Marc by Marc Jacobs. I was completely green and had no clue what production even was, but I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity, so I immediately said yes! It was a complete whirlwind, and I had to learn everything on the job. I was very fortunate to work with senior leaders who had amazing experience and knowledge. Working at such an established company gave me a very strong foundational training.</p><p>After 4 years at MJ, I was ready for a new challenge and craved a more hands-on role. I accepted a position overseeing product development and production at Cushnie et Ochs, which at the time, was a very small, young brand. I worked directly with the co-founders and designers through every stage of the product life cycle. Sampling and production was exclusively done in New York City, so the exposure I received through working with the best factories, pattern-makers, and suppliers was invaluable.</p><p>After another 4 years working with Cushnie et Ochs, my husband was offered a job in his home town of Austin, Texas, and we moved down here just over 3 years ago. Although I had always loved Austin, it was a bit of a culture shock in the beginning. I decided to start consulting, since it would allow me to keep doing what I loved, but with a more flexible schedule. I worked with so many unique, young brands, and it forced me to step out of my comfort zone, producing products that I ordinarily wouldn't have if I stayed in NYC. Getting to know the founders of these independent brands, who stayed true to their own vision and aesthetic, inspired me to finally branch out and build a brand of my own.</p>
Did you always know you wanted a career in fashion?<p>Yes, although back then, I didn't understand what having a career in fashion meant. When I was a kid I would steal my mom's fashion magazines and become completely immersed in this glamorous world that felt so foreign to me, growing up in the Midwest. </p>
What inspired the launch of Lou?<p>When I became pregnant with my daughter, Simone, I thought a lot about the kind of role model I wanted to be for her. I had been feeling a bit burnt out with consulting, and I was craving a more creative outlet. The same day Simone was born, my grandmother passed away. Having two significant life events occur on the same day made me fully understand how beautiful, but also how fragile, life is. It's what ultimately gave me the courage to start my own business.</p>
What is your vision in Lou and the shoes you create for the modern woman?<p>When designing Lou's debut collection, I wanted to create shoes that were timeless and elegant in design, without sacrificing comfort or quality. I like to experiment with contrasts, finding the balance between minimal embellishment and rich texture, or a masculine aesthetic with a feminine twist. More than anything, I wanted to develop shoes that would become cherished items in a woman's closet. The shoes you reach for time after time, because they're a seamless addition to your wardrobe. </p>
How would you define your own personal style, and how does this play a role in the creation of Lou and your shoes?<p>I lean towards a more minimalist, clean and classic style. I also love menswear-inspired pieces. Lou is an extension of myself, so my personal style has definitely translated into the brand. I chose the name Lou because it's the casual, boyish nickname of Louise, which is my daughter's and my middle name. </p>
How has becoming a mother changed your approach to business?<p>Motherhood has made me more purposeful, and I value my time much more. As a business owner, this has made me a more efficient worker, because if I'm not working, I'd rather be spending time with my family. Becoming a mother has also made me think more about the future, and the future my husband and I want to provide for our children. It's now very important to me to build a company that aligns with my values and vision. My goal is to achieve long term success, not quick, fleeting success.</p>
What about style? Has becoming a mother shifted the way you dress every day?<p>Becoming a mom has inspired me to embrace uniform dressing. Before I had my daughter, I had more time in the morning and evening to choose and style an outfit. Now, I'm always on the go, and I reach for what I know will work with my body and my daily schedule. It's still very important to me to maintain my personal style because we all want to leave the house feeling great about how we look. That's one of the reasons I love fashion. It can transform your attitude and have an emotional impact on your day. Clothing is our armor.</p>
What is the outfit you reach for on a day to day basis?<p>I'm expecting our second child early in the new year, so to accommodate my growing mid-section, I reach for one of two outfits – my form-fitting knit dresses in neutral colors, or my black jeans paired with a bodysuit. I've learned that sticking to a monochrome palette and showing off my bump is more flattering for my body type. Pre-pregnancy, I loved a great pair of high-waisted pants or vintage denim.</p>
If you want to look slightly more elevated, what changes do you make to your outfit?<p>To add a bit of polish, I like to add structure to a look. Lately, I've been reaching for my double-breasted blazers as a finishing touch. During the workday and when I'm with my daughter, I like to keep my jewelry simple, but if I have a meeting or plans that evening, I accessorize with gold jewelry. Of course, I think footwear is the easiest way to elevate any outfit. My Simone boots and Eva mules are on constant repeat in my wardrobe.</p>
What’s your favourite way to style your mules?<p>I love styling my mules with denim or a cropped trouser. I think the juxtaposition between a feminine mule and a more casual pant gives the outfit an interesting twist. The mules add a bit of polish without looking overdone.</p>
What about your boots?<p>Now that the weather has cooled a bit, I've been pairing my boots with a midi-length slip dress. For day, I'll throw a cozy sweater over the dress, and for evening, I'll add a vintage blazer.</p>
What does a typical morning look like in your home?<p>During the weekdays, we follow the same routine to be able to get out the door on time. My husband wakes Simone up around 7am while I take a quick shower and get dressed. Then I feed her breakfast, pack her lunch, and try to grab a bite to eat for myself. We're out the door by 8:20am and on the way to school. On the weekends, we try not to over-book ourselves. The whole family is up around 7:30am (thankfully, my daughter is a great sleeper!), my husband makes us coffee while I feed Simone, and we then go on a long walk around the neighborhood.</p>
What brands do you gravitate toward?<p>For accessible pieces, I love Frankie Shop and vintage Levi's for denim. For designer brands, I've been inspired by Bevza, Bottega Veneta and Khaite. When I have some free time, I love hunting for vintage. Austin has some amazing local vintage shops.</p>
Who or where do you look to for style inspiration?<p>I'm inspired by strong, confident women. I love looking at old photographs of Lauren Hutton and Diane Keaton from the 70s, and Winona Ryder from the 90s. Photography has always been a source of inspiration for me, and lately, I've been reaching for books about Man Ray, Peter Lindbergh and Helmut Newton.</p>
How do you make the juggle work in your family - between work, motherhood and everything else that life entails?<p>The Libra in me craves balance, but I've come to realize it's not always possible to achieve. Some days are better than others, but it's a constant struggle. I have an amazing partner in my husband, Spencer. He is a very hands-on dad, and he's also my biggest support system. I would never have been able to balance being a new mom while creating Lou without his encouragement. I also lean on my girlfriends for solace or when I need a good laugh! Having a tight community of women around me has been a constant source of support. </p>
Do you feel mother guilt? If so, how do you overcome it?<p>There are times, yes. Society places a lot of pressure on women, especially mothers, that it's almost impossible not to. I overcome it through the understanding that for me to be the best parent I can be, I need to first and foremost, be a healthy and fulfilled individual. I'm lucky in that I enjoy my work. Having an outlet through work is very important for my mental well-being, which then translates into me being a better mother. As women, it's important that we not place judgement on other women. We are all operating under different circumstances and trying to do our best with the resources we've been given. </p>
Who inspires you?<p>My daughter and the women in my life. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing my friends achieve their own success or watching them enter motherhood. Whether in their personal or professional lives, watching the women in my life overcome challenges with such grace and courage is endlessly inspiring. Experiencing life again through my toddler's eyes has been such a wonderful gift. It makes the struggle of new parenthood and start-up business life worth it.</p>
Where do you see Lou evolving in the future?<p>In the short term, I'm focusing on expanding Lou's footwear offering. For the future, I envision Lou evolving into a full, sustainable accessories brand that includes handbags, as well as vegan leather options. Our footwear is exclusively made in the US, specifically Los Angeles, and maintaining luxury-level quality is at the core of Lou's brand ethos.</p>
With a name like Jade and a daughter called Olivine, you could say that a gem-focused jewellery brand was written in the stars for Jade Howard-Smith.
As the founder of and designer behind Two Green Stones, Jade has not only created a beautiful range of pieces, but also a legacy for her daughter.