As the Global Communications Manager for Net-A-Porter, Alexandra Carello is responsible for guiding the unified PR and strategy message of the world’s favourite online store...
It’s a role that her impressive career background – from Louis Vuitton to Burberry and Jimmy Choo – lead her to through determination, hard work and persistence, and when you take one look at her personal style on Instagram, it’s easy to see why such prestigious fashion roles are such a natural fit for the mother of one… After welcoming baby Olimpia three months ago, Alexandra has swapped the fashion world for the all-encompassing ride that is maternity leave, and she’s happily relishing in the slower pace of life right now. “I’m so lucky that I don’t have to rush to go back to work so I’m really taking this time to just do what I feel like each day. Sometimes it’s nice to feel like you have a lot to do and other times you just want to stay in PJs all day. At the moment she [Olimpia] is my priority and everything else comes second and I find having that clear in my mind helps me not place too much importance on trying to do everything. I find sticking to timings harder and I hate being late so I try just to give myself extra time. I always end up being early but for me, that is more relaxing. I don’t mind feeding her wherever we are so I’m not cramming things into a two-hour window. The whole world has seen my boobs and I’m ok with that!” We caught up with Alexandra to talk new motherhood, mama and mini style and why the best piece of advice for all new mums should be about trusting your instincts… Follow @alexandracarello | Photography: Helene Sandberg
Take us through a typical day on maternity leave for you at the moment...
Each day is different. Some days we are out and about all day, seeing friends for coffee, going for long walks in the park or doing things like baby yoga or baby screenings at Electric Cinema. Others I worry that I’m doing too much and missing her grow in front of my eyes so we spend all day just her and I at home playing together, taking naps and going for walks with the Babybjorn. This is the first time I haven’t worked since I left university so I am really taking advantage of spending my own time exactly as I wish.
Was pregnancy and birth what you expected? Did things go to plan when you gave birth?
I had no expectations and really went into the whole process quite naively. My thought process was women do this every day and it is an incredibly natural experience so I didn’t want to overthink it and complicate anything. Similarly, I didn’t want to expect too much and end up disappointed when it didn’t go as I wished. I also saw that most people’s plans while pregnant or giving birth went up in smoke so I thought I’d just go with the flow. For this reason, I didn’t have a birth plan and as it turned out Olimpia was in breech position so the decision was made for me and I had to have a C Section. I was upset I didn’t get to experience natural labour because as much as it would have been painful I wanted to know what it was like. However, a happy healthy baby is all you can dream of so the way in which she came out was irrelevant.
Did you always know you wanted to be a mother?
I always knew I was going to have children at some point but I never felt a strong maternal instinct or desire. In fact, I was kind of anti-kids before I had my own – I didn’t understand them or have any experience with them. When Olimpia was born the powerful emotions shocked me and took me to a place of love I never thought possible. I now think all children are magic.
The first year of motherhood is often the best but hardest of your life – how are you finding things 6 months in?
I feel lucky because she is (touch wood) a fairly straightforward baby. We haven’t had extreme crying or reflux/colic episodes but I think the thing I find the toughest is the extreme responsibility of having a child. The crushing responsibility of keeping something so precious and fragile alive, them being totally dependent on you and not to mention shaping them into functioning adults. It’s also not something that men seem to understand, so trying to explain why I get up a 100 times a night to check she is breathing or why I sometimes act as if she is made of glass is not something that my husband can empathise with. He thinks I’m mad but I do feel the responsibility intensely.
How did you come up with your daughter’s name?
There wasn’t really a discussion or thought process. My husband and I just both loved the name and that was it. From the second trimester she was Olimpia and we didn’t have any other options. We chose Olimpia with an i rather than a y because that is the Italian spelling, my husband is 100% Italian.
Do you have any family support or help at the moment?
I had a maternity nurse for the first two weeks and then a night nurse for 4 weeks. I didn’t do any of the pre-natal classes as I just thought I would learn on the job with the guidance of the maternity/night nurse. This helped me feel confident as a mother knowing I had an expert to show me the way. Now we don’t have any help but both my parents and parents in law are close by so if I need company, babysitting or anything help is close at hand.
You’re currently the global communications manager at NAP after working for Jimmy Choo – can you describe what your role entails?
As Global Communications Manager I am responsible for designing the global PR strategy and calendar. I make sure that all regional PR teams have the strategy, messaging and assets to enable them to communicate with press effectively and ensure that each region is singing from the same hymn sheet while considering regional nuances. I work closely with the buying, creative, marketing and content teams to ensure the PR and storytelling is in line with the bigger picture and we are all working as one.
How did your career in fashion begin?
I always wanted to work in fashion and throughout school and university (I studied English literature at Nottingham) I interned. I worked for magazines, PR agencies and event production companies trying to find my niche in the industry. I loved my experience in PR and stuck with this. After university, I applied to about 20 brands to try and get my first job in PR. Louis Vuitton was the only one that replied and I was lucky to start my career with them. I then went on to Burberry, Jimmy Choo and now NET-A-PORTER.
How have you found dressing post-baby – has your personal style remained the same or have you had to switch things up?
No one prepares you for your body post-baby. No one mentions that your tummy is still as big as before you gave birth and that your boobs become enormous so post baby dressing was harder than I imagined. It takes a while to get your confidence back and feel good in clothes again I’m still not quite there. My style has largely remained the same except now I just have less time so wearing easy things is key. A great print or bold colour for maximum impact with little effort. I also have a series of outfits that I know work if I just need to throw something on in two minutes. More days are spent in athleisurewear than I would care to admit but you just don’t see that on Instagram!
What sort of baby clothes and brands have you loved buying?
In all honestly, people have been so generous I haven’t had to buy a lot! I haven’t been buying expensive pieces though as much as I love Tartine e Chocolat or Bonpoint I think Petit Bateau and Zara Kids are just as cute and much more cost effective. There are also smaller, less well-known brands that do wonderfully cute pieces. Shirley Bredal is adorable. I also love La Coqueta Kids.
What are your favourite brands to wear and buy?
I love feminine, colourful pieces. The power of a good outfit is real for me and I love always making an effort or wearing pieces that are conversation starters. REDValentino is one of my favourite brands ever. For designer brands, Fendi are great at doing whimsical but still grown up pieces while I will forever be loyal to Chanel ballet flats. I also think Zara gets better each season. Hairbands by Alexandre de Paris, Summer dresses by Gul Hurgel… I could go on. There are too many great clothes especially from younger, independent brands.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood, and what sort of advice do you now pass on to expecting or new mums?
Most advice has been unsolicited and not that helpful. The world and his wife have an opinion or advice to give when you are pregnant and a new mum. Honestly, I wish people would just wait until they are asked. My advice to new mums would be to block out the noise – your instincts guide you and just have someone on speed dial who you trust when you need to ask those questions, which of course you will.
Motherhood is all consuming, how do you fit in time for yourself, your husband and friends?
Olimpia comes with me everywhere so when I see my friends it is often during the day and with Olimpia. I’m lucky that a lot of my friends are freelance or have flexible jobs which means I can see them in the day. Me-time is that little bit of time after she has gone to bed or a gym class while I leave her with my mum. I love staying in at the moment during the evening when she is sleeping and the house is quiet. There is a safety and peacefulness in being near her when she is sleeping that I love. Husband time is a little trickier. I think we are still navigating the new relationship and need to make more time for just us.
What’s your approach to health and wellbeing?
I have always been very conscious of health and fitness and actually thought that I would find my changing body and weight gain difficult. However, I sort of embraced it and used it for the first time in my life to just let myself relax a little. I just had a baby – who cares if I’m not back in my skinny jeans. I want to be able to nourish her and if that means eating a few more potatoes, great! I do love exercise so I try to do a good class once a week. Paula’s Body Barre or Heartcore Dynamic Pilates are great. I try to have a fridge stocked with everything healthy especially while breastfeeding. However, at the moment my post-pregnancy craving is chocolate cookies, it must be the tiredness, so quite a few of those sneak in. I love baking as well but Olimpia’s patience is not quite there yet. We’ll bake cookies when she’s ready!
How do you handle feeling overwhelmed and stressed?
I’m so lucky that I don’t have to rush to go back to work so I’m really taking this time to just do what I feel like each day. Sometimes it’s nice to feel like you have a lot to do and other times you just want to stay in PJs all day. At the moment she is my priority and everything else comes second and I find having that clear in my mind helps me not place too much importance on trying to do everything. I find sticking to timings harder and I hate being late so I try just to give myself extra time. I always end up being early but for me, that is more relaxing. I don’t mind feeding her wherever we are so I’m not cramming things into a two-hour window. The whole world has seen my boobs and I’m ok with that!
What are some things you are looking forward to sharing with your daughter as she gets older?
I do hope she inherits my love of fashion. That would certainly be fun to share together. But I’m hoping to be able to share everything with her ultimately. I can’t wait to talk to her and hear what’s going inside that mind. Motherhood is an unleashing of intense and powerful emotion. Someone said to me get ready to see the world in technicolour and I totally understand this now but rather than colours it is emotions for me. You feel in technicolour, everything is heightened.
Alexandra’s Little List of Loves ...
Being a mother. Marathons of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno – it makes me laugh out loud in the street so I look like a nutter. Long walks in the park with Olimpia in the BabyBjorn. Kilts – I love the brand Le kilt. Starbucks tall extra dry soya cappuccino. My one coffee a day is treasured – I am still breastfeeding so limit myself to one but coffee is my weakness. The Nut Butter Fudge smoothie and two bite brownies at Juice Baby on The Kings Road. Chocolate cookies. Christmas – it felt so festive and I couldn’t wait for Olimpia’s first Christmas (although she had no idea what was going on!)