Sitting down with Lauren Kleinman, it’s easy to get swept away in what seems to be her overflowing stream of sunshine...
Her infectious smile, undeniable charm and ethereal beauty would certainly be enough to hang a hat on. But Lauren is so much more than meets the eye. As well as having a background as a model, Lauren is a PR powerhouse and accomplished business guru. Having been part of the founding team at cult direct-to-consumer vitamin brand Ritual, Lauren’s background is what many entrepreneurial dreams are made of. Having built brands and communities for disruptive companies, she is now bringing this experience to her own venture. Did we mention she’s doing it all while raising her divine baby boy, Alexander?
Not one to paint an idyllic picture of the elusive balance, Lauren is honest and realistic about how – and why – she’s making it all work. She says she’s now, “Prioritizing flexibility and freedom to make sure I’m taking care of my own physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. I’m also fostering the relationships that are important to me, and working on something every day that I’m passionate about.” In a nutshell, she says she’s now focused on “Living days that I’d be happy if they were my last.” Now that’s a sentiment we can get behind.
“ Our CEO Katerina, who was one of the only other women in the company with children at the time, shared that one part of your life is probably always going to be a little compromised, whether it's your relationships, your health, or your work, and each week you have to decide what you want to prioritize ”
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I grew up in Newport Coast, California, as an only child. I shared a nanny–almost from birth–with my best friend to this day, Kara. I like to think growing up with her and her brother helped me avoid “only child syndrome”. Because I am an only child, our family was very closely-knit. My parents took me everywhere with them, but they also gave me a lot of freedom to explore nearby parks and the city on my own from a young age. It’s something I often think about, as that independence is not quite as easy to give our kids living in LA. Growing up by the beach, my childhood was fun, filled with curiosity, and pretty easygoing. Sports, specifically soccer and swimming, played a big role in my life, as well as art and creativity. In seventh grade, after I suffered a traumatic car crash, I moved from Newport Coast to La Quinta for a private college preparatory school. It was a big move from the beach to the desert, but I felt it made me more well-rounded and I grew a lot from the experience. After high school, at 17, I moved to LA to attend USC.
Tell us a little about your life now - where you live, what you do, your family and the type of life you’re creating...
I’ve been living in LA for the last 12 years. I moved around a lot–from downtown to Brentwood, to West Hollywood, to Venice. I’ve been in Venice for the past 6 years with my husband Andy, and our 19-month-old son, Alexander. We also have two, two-year-old white English retrievers we picked up two weeks before I found out I was pregnant (we got 2 puppies, found out we were pregnant and had a wedding all in the same 6 months!).
I left my role at Ritual a month ago to consult direct-to-consumer, impact-driven health and wellness companies. I’m so grateful for the amazing experience I had with Ritual. I’m really passionate about helping other emerging, innovative brands that have something to say tackle big challenges, as Ritual did, and have been grateful to be introduced to so many inspiring entrepreneurs even in the last couple weeks.
At this stage in my life, I’m prioritizing flexibility and freedom to make sure I’m taking care of my own physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, foster the relationships that are important to me, and work on something every day that I’m passionate about. There’s a word I really like, called ‘meraki’, which is when you leave a piece of yourself (your soul, creativity, or love) in your work. I want to bring that passion to all of the clients I’m lucky enough to consult for. If I’m checking most of these boxes, I’m creating “dream days”, or days that I’d be happy if they were my last–that’s really how I want to live my life.
What type of mother do you aspire to be? Do you subscribe to any particular parenting philosophies?
I hope to be the mother to my son that my mom was to me: endlessly loving, caring, and kind, above all. I am not a helicopter parent–I want to give him the freedom to find his own path, hopefully with a little bit of our direction and guidance. I want to support his unique talents and passions, and encourage him to foster and appreciate the many gifts life has given him.
I’m not super rigid on parenting philosophies, but to-date would say we’ve ascribed mostly to attachment parenting which focuses on the nurturing connection that parents can develop with their children through empathy. I breastfed for 14 months, and our son (for better or worse!) still sleeps in our bed. Now that we’re starting to look at preschools, I am attracted to schools that embody a combination of Montessori (child-centered approach), Reggio (collaborative learning, with an emphasis on the environment as a third teacher), and Waldorf (emphasizing the role of imagination in leaning). Our son is also bilingual (Spanish & English), so it’s important to us to also find a school that will allow him to continue to develop his Spanish-speaking abilities.
Can you tell us about your work with Ritual?
Most recently, I was part of the Founding Team at Ritual with our CEO Katerina, where I combined my lifelong passion for innovation, design, health and science. Throughout the years, I wore many hats, helping oversee Ritual’s branding, packaging, positioning and messaging, to more recently managing our PR and a few specific growth marketing channels including affiliate marketing, influencer strategy, content partnerships and strategic partnerships. It was amazing to see the incredible support we had from customers, partners, press, and the health and wellness community.
What did your career entail prior to Ritual?
Prior to Ritual, I was an early team member at Scopely, helping to scale the company to become one of the largest mobile game publishers in the world. I was also the first employee at StartEngine, a technology accelerator and crowdfunding platform. Throughout my career, I’ve been passionate about building brands, communities, awareness, and driving acquisition for disruptive companies that I want to help share with the world.
How did you find balancing work and motherhood? Were there any particularly challenging moments (pumping at work, for example?!)?
It’s definitely hard, and I can’t say that I’ve found balance (I don’t even know if balance exists when you’re trying to “do it all”!). Our CEO Katerina, who was one of the only other women in the company with children at the time, shared that one part of your life is probably always going to be a little compromised, whether it’s your relationships, your health, or your work, and each week you have to decide what you want to prioritize. Now that I’m self-employed, it’s been a little easier to balance all three, but I can’t say I’ve cracked the code. Pumping at work was challenging (pumping anywhere is challenging!), but my company made it so much easier by welcoming and celebrating pumping with open arms. One particularly challenging time was the month after coming back from maternity leave. It was such a big adjustment and so hard for me emotionally. I really felt like I was still in a daze.
Did motherhood change the way you approach your work? Did it make you any more or less ambitious?
My ambition is higher than ever as a mother. I want to give the best possible life to my son, but also want to honor the ambition within myself and make myself proud. In the early days of motherhood, it definitely made me force myself to stop working very late into the night because I was simply exhausted from minimal sleep. More generally, when you become a mother, your priorities shift. I wanted to be more present for the important things in life, outside of my work. I became much more efficient with my time – at work, and at home – and in turn, I think it made me a more effective professional.
What has been the biggest surprise of motherhood?
How much your heart expands and how much more patient you become. Whenever my grandma would tell me “I would take a bullet for you”, I thought it was morbid but could never really fathom what she meant. When you become a parent, you know exactly what that means. The amount of love is just so exponentially above everything else. I was lucky to feel that attachment and love from the very beginning, and it truly grows stronger every day.
What has been the greatest joy of motherhood (so far)?
Seeing my son learn, discover and grow every day. He is so kind, gentle, curious and funny already, and it’s so much fun to witness his personality traits manifest in new ways every day.
And the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I’ve come up against has been the massive shift in responsibility, limited time, lack of sleep… I could go on. I thought it was a metaphorical term of speech when moms would say they didn’t have time to shower some mornings. I couldn’t wrap my head around that. After becoming a mother, not only did I learn firsthand what moms everywhere go through, but my lifestyle also shifted from really being able to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it, having plenty of free-time of my own, to my days really being dictated by nap schedules, nanny schedules, and just this incredible new sense of responsibility. Your needs no longer come first.
Do you have any particular “mom hacks” that help you through the day?
What’s your approach like to self care? Do you make time for it?
I do my best, but could definitely be better! My weeks are sometimes erratic, but I try to do yoga and Pilates 3-4 times a week. Now that I’m working from home, I like to eat healthily and make my own meals. I’m also starting to carve out more time for growth and reflection at the end of every night, whether through reading a book, journaling, or researching something new.
What does a typical day look like for you today?
My son wakes me up usually by tapping on my head and saying “mama” over and over again until my husband and I get up. Our nanny usually arrives around that time, which gives my husband and I time to get ready for the day. Depending on the day, I’ll try to fit in a yoga or pilates class in the morning, then come back to the house to work, or work out of Little Beach House Malibu (these are my favorite days!) or a coffee shop if I need to get out of the house. Most nights, my husband, Alexander and I cook and eat dinner together. Our bedtime routine starts at 8pm with a bath, books and a bottle. Alexander goes to sleep around 9pm, and my husband and I will spend time together talking then or watch a show to decompress.
What’s your approach to food and exercise - particularly being a busy working mother?
With regard to food, I try not to be too hard on myself and find a balance between giving myself what I’m craving and giving my body the nutrients it needs. I really believe in listening to your body carefully to inform what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat. For me, unfortunately, this means I’ll have a chocolate chip muffin the morning 2-3 times a week. The rest of the day is relatively healthy. I try to keep my food diverse but simple. Balance and moderation are key. I try to walk as much as I can and I subscribe to Classpass and take a few classes a week, but there’s definitely room for improvement in the exercise department.
What's on your current list of loves?
- My Brava oven is a game-changer. I’m so inspired to cook and bake now just because of how easy it makes everything. It is magic.
- I’ve been fan-girling all week over this sustainable new cleaning company called Blueland. No harmful chemicals and no plastic waste.
- One Strange Rock is blowing my mind and helps really put everything in perspective in terms of how interconnected everything is and how important it is to care for our planet.
- I’m reading Microbia right now, which is a little dense, but fascinating book on how microscopic organisms, mainly bacteria and fungi, are implicated in every aspect of our lives.
- I ordered some new Outdoor Voices gear recently which somehow makes me enjoy working out more.
- Schitt’s Creek on Netflix is my husband and my favorite light-hearted show we’ve been binge-watching right now. Catherine O’Hara’s Moira Rose is character is hilarious.
- You’ve never tasted real olive oil until you’ve tried Brightland. So many olive oils you buy are rotten, overprocessed, or fraudulent. This is the real deal, with no fillers or artificial preservatives.
- I recently picked up new limited-edition art from Spacey, which is an art experience featuring collections from curated, emerging artists. Their taste is impeccable, and their artists are heavily women, which makes supporting them feel extra good.
- I recently was prescribed Magnesium, D3 under the tongue drops and Saw Palmetto after visiting an amazing primary care doctor Dr. Jaclyn Tolentino at Parsley Health. All of my life I’ve suffered with hormonal breakouts around my cycle, and Saw Palmetto has been balancing my hormones. For the first time in my life I haven’t broken out due to my period in months. I couldn’t believe that something so simple could be answer. I’m adding those supplements to my morning routine, which also includes Ritual’s daily vitamin (shameless plug, but I’ve been taking for over 3 years, obviously!), as well as Seed’s synbiotic, which is basically a prebiotic and probiotic all in one. I take these with Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie which I try to make most mornings.
- Podcasts I’m currently listening to include Him and Her by Lauryn Evarts (she’s a friend, and such a boss! I’m so proud of what she has built), as well as Gary Vaynerchuck and Lewis Howes‘ The School of Greatness. Invisibilia and Second Life are also on my “to listen” list.