When Everlane's brand marketing director Franchesca Hashim isn’t working on one of the world’s most exciting and innovative fashion brands, she’s at home in San Francisco with her toddler twin girls – Zora and Naima – who might just be the cutest twins we’ve ever seen (seriously, can you cope with their matching outfits? Cue ovaries going into overdrive).
Franchesca is open and honest about all things motherhood from going into preterm labour at 22-weeks to an emergency c-section which ended in her being completely sedated during her birth. And of course, as always, we cover it all in our interviews – the big questions around babies and also the little ones, like, what does the wardrobe of an Everlane director look like? Read on mamas.
You’re a mother of too very cute twin girls. Tell me about your journey to motherhood and what have been some of the biggest challenges such as going into preterm labour at 22 weeks?
My pregnancy was completely unexpected. We had been planning and wanting to get pregnant, but I’d been having a really difficult time. I’d miscarried before and the doctors were a little bit concerned and beginning to talk to me about things that I could do to help with my fertility. I was in a mental place of, “Oh, no, I won’t be able to have kids.” So, I went out and I bought a dog. I got into this place of like, “Okay, motherhood is for me, but it’s going to take some time for me to get there.”
Then I found out that I was pregnant with twins, and I was just like “Goodness!” What an unbelievable experience. One of the things that came out during my pregnancy fairly early on was that I had a shortened cervix. At my 22-week appointment, they noticed that I was having contractions and that I was going into preterm labour – my cervix had nearly gone away.
From that point, I was put on hospital bed rest for a little over a week. It was terrifying because with a shortened cervix in twin pregnancy, there’s not much that you can do. There’s surgery that involved getting stitched up, but they don’t recommend doing that. So, I was really just sitting there, hopeful that, if I were able to calm my body, that hopefully I could keep my babies inside and help them develop more. After 10 days of being in the hospital, I was released to go home. The preterm labour contractions slowed down, and I was brought home where I remained on bed rest from 23 weeks to when they were finally delivered at 37 weeks.
What was your birth like?
It was a pretty hectic delivery. I was in labour for a little over 24 hours and I had two epidurals. I ended up trying to have a vaginal birth and then after four hours or so of pushing, I had to go into an emergency C-section. During the C-section, because I had the epidurals so far apart, the epidural started to wear off during the operation, so they had to completely sedate me. I was completely out of it. I missed the birth experience. I missed them holding up your babies and telling you it was fine. When I did come to, they put you in a separate room as they have to make sure that you’re coherent, you can say your name, you realise where you are. Then they immediately come and they bring you your babies. I remember just having this moment of confusion. I’m just like, “Oh, my God, that is just what happened. I just gave birth to two beautiful babies,” but it was more the shock of trying to account what just happened through that labour process. Then in awe of looking down at them in my foggy state and then immediately trying to do skin-to-skin and breastfeeding. It just felt very surreal, one, because I was coming out of a dazed induced state, but also surreal having these four little eyes stare at you.
What do you think are some of the biggest, most unrealistic expectations placed on mothers today?
I would say the most unrealistic expectation, and I’m still grappling with it, is that moms can do it all at equal rate and equal steam, meaning that, yes, you can do it all. You can have the job, you can have the family, you can have healthy and full relationships in your life, but there is not going to be an equal amount of time. There’s not an infinite amount of you to give to all of those things, and so there has to become this expectation that there are some pieces of you that you’re going to spend more time on than other.
After having the girls, I returned back to work and I just assumed that like, “everyone said that I can have it all. So, I’m going to show up and I’m going to be my most ambitious, professional self and go full steam.” I wasn’t actually emotionally ready to make the trade-offs of what that meant for how I show up as a mom at home. So, yes, you can have it all. I do believe that to be true, but you have to be clear on what all of it means to you. And that was a bit of an eye-opener for me as I went through it.
Can you share some tips for other moms who have twins?
There is this image of motherhood of “I’m going to be so maternal, sweet and lovely, and I’m going to spend all this time cooing over my baby with soft music playing in the background” – you kind of romanticise the experience. I found, in my own experience with twins, that you do have those really sweet and loving moments, but you have double of them, which also means you have the double the tears, the double the chaos and double of trying to orient yourselves around this new life.
A lot of twin moms will say a routine is critical. You get introduced to routine much more quickly than anyone else in that you can’t just throw your baby in a sling and go to a coffee shop. There are so many logistics that you have to think through in order to get there. It’s a very grounding experience to be a twin mom.
How did the feeding go with twins?
I was fortunate enough that I was able to overproduce milk. I had a good supply, but that did not mean that it was an easy journey. Trying to breastfeed was a very emotional time for me. It was a lot to figure out how you breastfeed both when they’re hungry and when they’re doing cluster feeding.
The cluster feeding with twins meant that I never left the bed. Eventually, and by eventually, I mean a month in, I ended up pumping exclusively. This allowed me to make sure that I had a lot of milk that I was able to stash in the freezer, but it also just helped me share the responsibility of feeding with my husband and other family members. I wasn’t the only source for them to get food from and to care for them. I ended up doing breast milk until they were about eight months or so. I was exclusively pumping. I even pumped when I went back to work for a bit, until that became too difficult to manage.
Last year, the Black Lives Matter movement came to the forefront of every news and social feed around the world. What was that moment like for you?
I have to say that while it was a very difficult time to experience, it’s also a really exciting one to see the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement and how it has become mainstream. There was a time when it first came into fruition as a movement that, yes, it was popular, and yes, there were a lot of lively protests that were taking to the streets. But there wasn’t that mainstream adoption of people realising that this was something that needed to change systemically throughout the world.
What I hope to continue seeing is the ongoing education and being able to say, “This is where we stand as a country. This is where we stand as a global community.”
“ I would hope to encourage and challenge other parents to start to look around their social circles and make sure that they're creating diverse circles that their kids can begin to realise the norms of people both being alike and different and accepting both ”
What's your advice on how to teach young children about anti-racism?
First and foremost, it’s always about modelling behaviour. My children are two, and I see how much they mimic me and all of my behaviours and all of the nuances of how I show up. It’s incredibly important to not believe that it is as easy as giving your kid a book and hoping that they take on those beliefs. It really starts from a really deep level of commitment and education from the parent, and then them demonstrating and modelling those behaviours to their kids.
Also making sure that you’re putting yourself and your kids in environments that are diverse and inclusive so that their experiences with other people aren’t experiences through just a book or a TV show. They’re lived experiences where they can better understand multiculturalism in the way that people show up in the world, because they know those are their friends. Those are the people they grow up with. They don’t know any other way. I would hope to encourage and challenge other parents to start to look around their social circles and make sure that they’re creating diverse circles that their kids can begin to realise the norms of people both being alike and different and accepting both.
What sort of qualities will you instil in your girls growing up?
I hope that my girls are empathetic, that they have really high emotional intelligence and are able to see people for who they are. I hope that their aspirations are really grounded in the type of person that they want to become, not the type of job or the type of role, but the type of influence that they want to have on the world. And, again, I guess that goes back to characters. I’m just really hoping that I can raise two beautiful, caring and intelligent women who have a really well-adept sense of identity and what that means to them. I have no aspiration for them being CEO, or, like, “You got to be a doctor and you got to go into this field.” I would feel much more happy as a mom if they were not only self-aware of their presence among others, but they were very much aware of who they are and how they want to show up in the world.
Obviously, with COVID, a lot of industries are suffering and a lot of people are talking about consuming less, but better. In your opinion, what will fashion look like this time next year?
I hope it will get to a place with fashion where the curation doesn’t necessarily come from a curation of how I want to present myself online. That curation comes from a place of, what do I actually need? What are the pieces that actually make me uniquely me? And what are the pieces that I need to go through my day-to-day life? I found it funny that, with COVID, that all of our behaviours turned upside down.
What are those 10 items that you keep going to consistently? What is that one shirt that you throw on for the Zoom meeting, where you know that you feel good and you feel confident in? Those are learned behaviours. How are those habits going to translate into behaviours post-COVID – I think that it is going to take us to a place where people are going to consume way more thoughtfully about what is actually a true basic to them and what is essential.
What's the most exciting part of working at Everlane?
Everlane is exciting to me because there’s so much to be done and everything just feels like an opportunity. There isn’t these big barriers inside of creating change. If you want to do something, you can just do it. You can figure out, if you think that there’s a better way of creating a product or presenting yourself to the world or doing a marketing campaign – it is part of a company culture for you to be able to do that. Everlane has been fantastic about wanting to ultimately give the consumer all of the information that they need to make the right choice. So we’ll give you the complete cost of what it takes to make something, we’ll give you the quality of how it’s made and where it’s made.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide if it’s a value and if it’s something that you need. And I mean, being able to do that so openly and so transparently to say, like, “We’re not going to convince you of this thing. We’ve just given you all of the information for you to decide on if this is right for you.” I feel in a time when people are questioning sources and questioning the way that companies show up in the world, I think Everlane is very well positioned to give people all of the facts and the truths that we have and let them decide.
I'd love to know what your wardrobe is like? How do you approach getting dressed in the morning?
This question is very different now than it would have been before COVID! There’s a lot of Everlane. I truly, truly love the product. I have a lot of basics and pieces that are comfortable and feel good. What’s the quality of it? Does it feel good on my skin? Does it feel good when it presents itself? Right now, I’m probably the most casual I’ve ever been in my career, but that has also been quite a freeing experience to realise the way that you show up right now, whether that’s casual or if you choose to get dressed up, or if you choose to be athletic, whatever your uniform of the day is, it doesn’t actually influence the way that you get work done and the way that you present yourself to others in this Zoom digital world. I’m still as effective as I was when I was getting dressed up every day as I am now in my loungewear and my basic T-shirt.