Meet The Women Behind Minimode - The Grace Tales

Meet The Women Behind Minimode

Before you read this, we should probably warn you that Colleen Crivello and Maria Benetos will make you want to shop. The chic founders of MINIMODE have killer personal style, which they’ve translated into a fabulous commerce and editorial destination for fashion-conscious mamas. In a nutshell, MINIMODE edits down the best of everything for mother and child from accessories to clothes to décor to beauty. We caught up with the New York-based mothers to find out more about their exciting venture…

Left to right: Maria Benetos and Colleen Crivello

How old are your children?
Colleen: Alba is 4 and ½ (emphasis on the ½)
Maria: Kaia is 5.5 years and Elin is 4 years

What has motherhood taught you?
Colleen: I’d like to say patience, but I actually think it is more like efficiency. I just get so much done now that I never would have imagined I could do. Still there is never enough time in the day, but none the less, I never waste time any more. Also unconditional love… I never knew what that was until I had Alba. I don’t think it is possible to love another human as much as you love your children.
Maria: It has taught me patience. My husband always said that impatience was one of my most prominent traits, but it’s got so much better since the girls came along. You can’t control a lot of things when you have these little ones in your life so you learn to just go with the flow.

What advice would you give to your own children on finding their career path?
Colleen: Whatever you choose, be passionate about it…and sometimes it takes a few tries until you really find what moves you. And success doesn’t happen overnight, it may seem like it does to outsiders, but instead it takes long days and hard work to make it.
Maria: Travel and experience the world a bit before you settle into a career. That teaches you more about life than any class you take. And do what you love, then you’ll find success.

Colleen with her daughter Alba

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about motherhood?
Colleen: Follow your intuition and bring them on your adventures and they will adapt and thrive.
Maria: That even at their worst, they’re still amazing. I heard that once from a mom who suffered a huge loss and it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I’m having a difficult moment with the girls. The other bit of advice is to take time for yourself. Exercise, indulge yourself, spend time with your friends and go out alone with your husband. All these things help make you a better parent because you’re happy as a person.

Can you tell us about your background and how you came to launch MINIMODE?
Colleen: I was a womenswear designer for Jeremy Scott, Under Armour and others. After I had my daughter I launched my brand kids brand CHALK in 2013. Maria and I knew each other through mutual friends and the NY mom scence (that’s a thing, btw).
Maria: I spent my entire career in magazines, first at Rolling Stone then Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue and InStyle among others. I sort of fell into marketing and that’s what I stuck with - I loved the combination of being strategic but at the same time, creative. The main inspiration to launch MINIMODE was a personal need for it. As a mom who has a full-time career, I do most of my shopping for my kids and myself online but I felt it was overwhelming sifting through everything that is out there in the children's market. Colleen and I met through a mutual friend and started talking about how we felt there was a void in terms of a site that really talked to cool, chic moms - all the moms we knew! We wanted something very curated but that would also be fun to visit so we came up with The goal is to inspire women with our trend stories and profiles on stylish and successful moms while giving them a joyful shopping experience.


Why is MINIMODE unique in the market?
Maria: It's a style site for women whose love of fashion did not change once they became moms. When I had my girls, yes, I became a mom but I was still the same person. I still love all the fashion and beauty products I loved before and now I also have two other little humans to shop for! I didn’t feel like there was anything out there that spoke to me as a mom and a woman. All of our content goes back to product and shopping - for kids, babies and new and expectant moms. Or you can skip the content altogether and just shop.

What are your go-to brands for children’s fashion?
Colleen: Bobo Choses, Soft Gallery, Zara, Atsuyo et Akiko, Boy + Girl, Mini Rodini, Bonpoint.

What pieces do you love dressing your children in?
Colleen: Dresses, dresses and more dresses. I’m also obsessed with kids shoes and jackets.
Maria: Kaia is in an odd phase in which she’ll only wear long sleeves, no matter how hot it is outside! So we do a lot of short dresses with long sleeves. Elin is more of a girly girl and is totally game to try anything so we have more fun with fashion. A few of my faves this summer are her Bobo Choses leotard with a matching ballet skirt as well as this adorable floral shorts and top set from Zara. And we always do cool shoes for both girls. Pom D’Api sandals in summer and Maa statement high-tops when it gets cooler. They look really cute with dresses and skirts.


Did your career change at all after the birth of your children?
Colleen: YES! I went from designing women’s clothes to kids clothes and now I’m completely emerged in the kids market. I’d say it definitely changed.
Maria: Not at first - not until we launched MINIMODE. I’ve met so many other like-minded mom entrepreneurs since I’ve become a mother so I often joke: Want to launch a cool company? Have a kid! These moms are killing it nowadays.

How do you juggle your work commitments with being a mother?
Colleen: A fellow mom said to me recently... it's not a balance, it's all about the juggle. As a working mom you still want to do it all (at least I do). I want to spend time with my daughter, workout, keep up with beauty regiments, go out for drinks and focus on my career...therefore the first thing to go is sleep, ha!. I'm up early, to answer emails and get a workout in, all before 7am. Also I schedule my days, down to every last detail including travel time and manicures. The day is spent in meetings and I usually have drinks out a couple days a week and dinner with the husband...then I come home and work some more when everyone is in bed. Downtime is a rare commodity and weekends are spent with the family.
Maria: It’s all my kids know and I’m glad they do. In their eyes, mommy and daddy are equals. We both go to work each day and have our schedules but once when we’re not working we focus on them. Truly focus. It’s not the quantity but quality of time you spend with them. Most mornings, evenings and weekends we’re there and we make the most of that time together.

What are your time management tips?
Colleen: Everything goes in the calendar! Everything, from work meetings to dates with friends and even time spent with Alba (she likes going for manicures, so I schedule that like everything else.)
Maria: Make a list! I often make two. One that I have to act on immediately - to have those tasks completed by end of day. Then on the second list, I have all those items I get to once list number one is complete. It works for me. I get great pleasure in crossing things off my lists.


What kind of work do you need to do in a day?
Maria: We recently launched the site so Colleen and I wear many, many hats! We write, edit, curate product, art direct, communicate with influential moms and brands, coordinate photoshoots and act as own PR and marketing team. It definitely makes the workday go by fast!

How do you procrastinate?
Colleen: Instagram.
Maria: My job involves going through beautiful images and looking at fashion products all day so I’ll often just get caught up in that. I’ll be curating product for MINIMODE and next thing I know I’m creating a wish list for myself or my girls! I also get sucked into Pinterest. I love photography and typography so I easily get caught up in searching for beautiful imagery.

And how do you focus?
Colleen: Between 5:30 and 7am when the house is still quiet, followed by a run to clear my mind.
Maria: I meditate 4 mornings a week, which really helps me. I also feels that exercise keeps me focused throughout the day so most mornings I start the day with a run or with my trainer either doing kickboxing or circuit training.

What’s the most challenging part of running your own business?
Colleen: Getting it all done, wanting to do so much and figuring out where to place your energies and what is most important each day to focus on.
Maria: At this point, it’s the volume of work that needs to be done. No matter how many hours I work, I feel like I could be doing more.

What do you love about raising children in New York?
Colleen: Possibility, diversity, accessibility and exposure.
Maria: The fact that NY kids are so savvy at such a young age and are exposed to so much culture and diversity. I also love the convenience of it all and the fact that everything we need is right at our doorstep - parks, amazing schools, restaurants, museums and friends are just a short walk away.


How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Colleen: My style is… ‘less is more’. I mix a lot of vintage with contemporary pieces and I spend on shoes. I think you can have a simple outfit and a killer pair of shoes that elevates the whole look. I love to mix masculine and feminine with a touch of vintage lace, cool, comfortable and play with subtle sexy…an exposed shoulder or an open back. But ultimately, the most important thing…if I feel good, than I look good…it’s pretty simple. I also have long crazy hair which is almost an accessory in it’s own right.
Maria: My personal style is definitely minimalist with a bit of tomboy thrown in. I can live in black leather pants, a luxurious tee and killer shoes. I tend to keep things very simple, even when I dress up. I wear a lot of Isabel Marant and Acne Studios. My style hasn’t changed at all since becoming a mom. If anything, I put more effort into how I look now because it makes me feel fab.

So far what’s the hardest and best part of being a mum?
Colleen: The hardest is to be in the moment, to focus and put the phone down long enough to engage with Alba. The best part is... all of it. Watching her laugh, how her mind works, being blown away by her understanding of the's incredible they go from these little creatures that complete depend on you to independent tiny people that are wildly capable.
Maria: The hardest part is the pressure to do right by them. Every decision you make as a parent will dictate what kind of person your child becomes so you often worry about what’s best. The best part is the love you feel for them. People always tell you that you’ll never love another person like you love your child but you can’t even imagine it until you’re in it.

What’s your favourite part of the day?
Colleen: The early dawn when anything is possible…
Maria: Mornings. I’m such a morning person. I walk to Soho to meet my trainer before the sun comes up, and strolling through the empty, quiet streets of New York is magical. It feels like it’s all yours for that brief period of time.

Photographer Ashley Kickliter