Fashion designer Jessica Reid credits motherhood as the driving force behind her successful fashion label, s t e e l e...
“Becoming a mother was the best motivation I’ve ever had. When Asher was born, it was a wake up call. I realised I had two options: give s t e e l e . 100%, or don’t bother.” Citing freedom and flexibility as two perks of running her own business, the stylish mother of three-year-old Asher is honest when describing the juggle motherhood and career brings. “I’ve learned to set boundaries and not to stress when something cannot be done. Sometimes I have to just switch off and remember, family must come first.” Fusing bohemian spirit with a modern sensibility, it’s no surprise Reid’s covetable design aesthetic spills over into her beautiful Melbourne home. Read on for more of her inspiring thoughts on motherhood, motivation and the pros and cons of running your own business… Words: Marisa Remond | Photography: Nikole Ramsay | Hair and makeup: Tanya Guccione | Go to www.steelelabel.com
Jessica wears s t e e l e . moonlight shift dress, available next month
Did you enjoy being pregnant?
My pregnancy was wonderful! I found out I was pregnant four weeks before getting married, so the surprise just added to the excitement at the time and heightened the meaning of our marriage. I was so incredibly lucky not to have morning sickness, I was able to enjoy our wedding and honeymoon. I worked right up until my due date too!
How would you describe your approach to parenting?
My parenting style relies on intuition and reading my daughter’s needs. My priority in raising Asher is to make sure she knows she is loved unconditionally. I honestly believe in order to be the best parent you can be, you need to pursue your own dreams and ambitions. In leading by example, I want help Asher grow into the strong, confident and loving woman I already see glimmers of. Although myself and my husband Ben work hard, we balance our schedules with quality time and special experiences together, showing her that family time is key.
How would you describe the first three months of motherhood?
The first three months were a breeze, Asher fed and slept on cue. At four months, she stopped sleeping and we were up 3-5 times a night for the next six months. I kept up for a while, but after a few months started to crack. Sleep deprivation is like nothing else, it pushes you to lose control of your emotions and sanity. What I learnt was to ask for help, surrender your wonder woman cape and know that there is no shame in reaching out. The key is to remember it won’t last forever.
What has motherhood taught you?
I think I learn more every day about myself, my daughter and the mother I want to be to her. Patience would be a key lesson learnt, but is still a challenge. Above all, I believe I have learnt to love purely, instinctively and deeper than ever before.
Jessica wears s t e e l e . agatha dress, $249. Asher wears Country Road top and Seed Heritage tutu.
What has been the most challenging part of motherhood and how have you overcome any challenges?
The biggest challenge for me has emerged in trying to balance my career with motherhood. I’ve learned to set boundaries and not to stress when something cannot be done. Sometimes I have to just switch off and remember, family must come first. I am still learning to let go of ‘mummy guilt’ and to stop chasing the ‘perfect balance’ as it simply does not exist.
Growing up, did you always love fashion?
Yes! I was always drawn to beautiful pieces, stunning prints and statement pieces. I was always trying to find new pieces and develop my own sensibility, in searching for that, the foundations of s t e e l e . were formed.
How would describe your home?
Our home was one of the oldest original homes in Richmond, Melbourne, and holds generations of history. We maintained the original shop frontage and completely rebuilt from the façade back. Whilst I’ll always love our first home, we’ve already begun building house number two, which is more family friendly – I can’t wait to pour my creative energy into the new project!
What did your own mother teach you about life and motherhood?
She taught me to always be there for your children in times of need.
How do you keep your house tidy with a child?
Ben and I quickly learned that as we both run demanding businesses, outsourcing our cleaning once per week allowed us to focus on quality family time when we’re at home (and keep our sanity). I encourage Asher to put her toys away when she is finished playing, however we all know how ‘Threenagers’ can be!
Can you tell us about the launch of s t e e l e .?
s t e e l e . launched in 2010. I had spent the past 10 years in the industry, with a background in buying and wholesale, and with a confident understanding of the workings of a business, I took a leap of faith and s t e e l e . was born. I wanted to create a wardrobe for the modern bohemian woman; a girl who embraces nonchalance, nostalgia and femininity.
What does it take to make it in the fashion industry?
Persistence, hard work and intuition. It’s important to trust your gut and the voices of the carefully developed team you surround yourself with. Expect long days and late nights! But if you’re passionate, it will pay off.
Can you tell us about launching into the US?
We started our move into the US market in 2016, within a few months we were picked up by Revolve, which was a wonderful success for the label. Following this, we’ve forged relationships with other key US retailers and this year the focus is on fostering those relationships and continuing to grow across the boutique market. Like any venture into a new market, it has it’s up and downs – these make the wins so much more important.
Who is the s t e e l e. woman?
The s t e e l e . girl is unashamedly feminine and radiates confidence. She’s not afraid to make a statement.
How do you keep motivated and inspired?
I find taking breaks from work are important. In taking bursts of time out, you can save yourself from burning. I travel to rejuvenate, find new inspiration and return with fresh eyes. Recently, I visited Gwinganna health retreat, it was life changing!
Jessica wears s t e e l e . Agatha dress, $249
What have been some of your biggest career highlights?
Watching the growth of the brand, particularly over the last 18 months. Partnering with Myer in Australia and USA retailers such as Revolve and Anthropologie, have also been incredible highlights.
How do you juggle motherhood with work – what are your time management tips?
Don’t try to be a wonder woman! Accept that there are only so many hours in the day, so working productively will help to reduce stress. As a mother you can’t pull late nights in the office, so working from home is unavoidable, especially when running your own business. However, I know that I work best in the evenings once Asher is asleep, so I use the mornings for family time. I keep work and family time separate so I can be present wherever I am. At the end of the day, your health, both mental and physical, must remain at the top of your priorities. I exercise regularly, even with Asher, and take time off when my schedule allows to avoid burnout! The better you feel, the more energy you will have for parenting and working.
What’s your approach to health and wellbeing?
Listen to your body, and what it needs. Rest when needed and know when to pull back. Maintaining a balanced diet is key, but also not feeling guilty about treating yourself when you need it. Yoga, meditation and walks with my daughter help me to stay balanced.
What’s a typical breakfast/lunch/dinner for you?
Breakfast: Something healthy and substantial, which is vital for a productive day. My go-to’s are eggs or a smoothie bowl, with an almond milk latte. Lunch: Salad or sushi. Dinner: Five nights a week, it’s about health and simplicity. Salmon, vegetables and rice. The other two nights, dine out or our favourite, Asian take away!
Jessica’s little list of loves:
Podcasts Travel Smoothie bowls. Meditation Conversations with Asher. Hawaii Bali Home design/architecture.