Yael Cohen Braun is one of the most dynamic women you'll ever meet. She’s not only an inspiring leader in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship but has also been named one of the 100 most powerful women in Canada. Not to mention awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award...
She’s also a mother (Jagger Joseph Braun was born last year and she’s pregnant with her second child); a wife (she’s married to Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun); and after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, she founded Fuck Cancer, a cancer education organisation that activates millennials to engage with their parents about early detection and communication around cancer. She’s also recently launched a blog Motherlucker, where she writes openly about motherhood. We caught up with the super mama to find out more… Image: Ben Heath. Go to www.motherlucker.com
What’s a typical morning like in your household?
I wake up a little before JJ most days, to get everything ready for him and have a minute to have a cup of tea! We get up, get ready for the day, go on a morning walk, have breakfast then play/explore/read until it’s time for his first nap.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given about motherhood?
You were a wife before you were a mother. Keeping a happy and healthy marriage is important for everyone – baby included!
What has been the most challenging stage of motherhood for you?
The first few weeks/months for sure! The adjustment just took me a little while. Everything was new and vulnerable (and sore!) and between the lack of sleep, general confusion/terror and revolving door of guests – I was definitely overwhelmed!
Can you tell us about your childhood?
It was wonderful! We moved a lot, so my family has always been incredibly close. We knew that in a year or two we’d move again and it would just be the four of us – so we bypassed a lot of that bickering family shit. I was born in South Africa and we basically moved every two years until I was 10 or so. I’m actually really grateful for all the moving, it taught my brother and I the importance of family, how to make friends quickly and that the world didn’t revolve around us.
You are the co-founder of Fuck Cancer, a movement dedicated to the prevention, early detection and communication of cancer...
I started FC when my mom was first diagnosed with cancer over 7 years ago now. I wanted to create an authentic, vulnerable, edgy place for patients and their loved ones to find information, community and support. Specifically one targeted at the digitally savvy community, who communicated, consumed and created online. We focus on prevention, early detection and psychosocial support. We recently merged with another group called FC who runs amazing fundraising events and now I have a wonderful partner and epic team who are really pushing forward with our work.
You’ve been celebrated for everything from your philanthropy work to your creativity. Have you always been ambitious?
I guess I have always been. From starting riots for an early lunch in preschool to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity in high school – I always believed in speaking up, speaking the truth, and helping those who need it.
What does success mean to you?
Balance. Without balance – family, friends, joy, health – none of it means anything.
Are you an organised person?
Yes, often to the annoyance of my husband! Everything has a place!
Can you tell us about the launch of Motherlucker?
I was chronicling my journey by writing, but it was just for myself. To be honest this was probably my way of processing my new normal and journaling this crazy process. On occasion I shared my thoughts with a girlfriend who was going through the same thing and it occurred to me that I would have loved some of this honesty too. Motherlucker grew from there very organically.
Can you tell us about the journey falling pregnant with your second?
It wasn’t particularly easy actually. We had months of help. Lots of pills, shots and disappointment. We all have our journeys to get our little loves, and it’s always worth it!
Did the way you view your career change when you became a mother?
Absolutely. In an instant I learned to say no to the things I previously thought were make or break opportunities, to set boundaries for our family life and that success looks pretty different to me these days.
What are your time management tips?
Lists, I love lists. They help me keep track of everything I need to get done in a particular day or week. And apps – outsourcing what I can to save time!
What’s your favourite social media platform and why?
Instagram these days, because I’m visual but often don’t feel like watching video (with volume).
What is your approach to health and wellbeing?
I strongly believe that you have to make time to take care of yourself. Years ago when I was in startup phase of Fuck Cancer, I was burning the candle and both ends and putting everything before my own needs and health. My trainer and dear friend Nathan Mellalieu asked me “How do you expect to take care of other people, when you can’t take care of yourself?”. It hit a nerve and instantly changed how I saw taking time to care for myself.
What are your daily beauty essentials and how long does it take you to get out the door in the morning?
Ko Gen Do Spa Water or another great fresh cleanser, a good clean moisturizer and SUNSCREEN! If I’m feeling fancy, eye cream, and if my skin is struggling, an oil under my moisturizer. I’m an up and out kinda gal, so under 10 minutes to get dressed and on my way.
How to you treat yourself?
Time with friends (the kind of friends who are family) always recharges me.
Do you prefer to text or call?
Depends on who it’s with. But text me if it’s quick, because I can respond when I have a second rather than almost tripping over toy trucks and Lego houses to answer the phone.
Coffee or tea?
Both actually. Tea at home, coffee out.
Your role model is?
My parents, I think they balanced their marriage and children and real life beautifully and intentionally.
What did your own mother teach you about life and motherhood?
Everything, she’s the best teacher and mom in the world. No seriously.
Are you tidy or messy?
Tidy, maybe a little compulsively so…
What will we find in your handbag?
Handbag?? You mean diaper bag/JJ’s toy bag these days! Burts Bee’s tinted chapstick, hand sanitizer, wipes, toy trucks, and lizards for JJ. Oh and a phone, wallet and keys if I have my shit together that day!
What are your fashion essentials?
Good basics, ripped jeans, distressed tees, comfy sneakers and these days a lot of tour merch!
Where are your favorite places to go with Jagger?
Any playground with a good (clean) sandpit, he loves them (while I cringe!). Fire stations are always a hit. The pool, he can swim for hours! The Zimmer Children’s Museum, age appropriate and awesome! The aquarium, mesmerizes him!
Yael’s little list of loves:
1. Toy lizards, we hide them in the garden and JJ goes looking for lizards, it’s thrilling for him! 2. Washable swim diapers, love reusing and not having to waste (especially with how much he swims!). 3. Color Wonder markers, they only draw on the special paper so our floors, walls and sofas are safe! 4. Honest company leave in conditioner spray, it makes JJ’s hair so soft and he loves to spray it! 5. Sunscreen! Always choose a good clean one and reapply often. 6. Hooded long sleeved swim shirts- even if I can’t get JJ to keep a hat on , this head, and upper body are sun safe with these. 7. Matching shoes, I’m super into getting the whole family matching sneakers these days. My husband isn’t quite as excited about it! 8. My Momma Tribe. As always these chicks are a staple in my sanity and joy. So grateful to have women to share this journey with – the good, bad and the ugly!