If you've ever found yourself daydreaming about a slow, idyllic life in the countryside of Barcelona, you should probably stop reading now. Because the tale of Loreto Gala and her joy-filled life may just push you over the edge.
As the mother of three and co-owner of sustainable fashion brand Twothirds, she is living a life that many of us could only ever dream of. But like so many of the incredible women we feature on The Grace Tales, her perfectly muted Instagram feed tells only one part of her story.
In fact, Loreto and her family made the conscious decision to remove themselves from the fast pace of city life, and while they are reaping the benefits, Loreto remains refreshingly honest about her experience of life and motherhood. Even with their somewhat picture-perfect lifestyle, she admits that she and her children are not immune from the realities of modern life, saying, “It is heartbreaking to see my children sad because of someone else. This is something I can’t control at all, so it will slip through my fingers. I’m working and learning every day that they are going to have their own paths and I can only give them the tools to get over a bad situation, to make them strong and resilient.”
She’s also not afraid to share the truth behind a happy home, saying, “We have a housekeeper during the week, so when we come back from the office, the house is clean and tidy. We don’t have to discuss who does laundry or who has to wash the dishes. It’s only time to enjoy our kids, house, garden and life….”
We’re ready to jump straight onto her bandwagon, just as soon as we stop dreaming of her gorgeous Spanish life.
Tell us a little bit about your childhood and where you grew up.
I was born in May 1981 in Barcelona, as the second of five children. I was a very creative and musical child. I was always composing songs and singing, writing stories or poetry, drawing and painting which I would present to my family and friends. We lived next to my grandparents and spent our summer vacations between the Costa Brava and the Pyrnees.
My parents had a very complicated marriage, so my childhood wasn’t a very happy one. That’s probably the reason why I was always creating; to channel my sadness into my music and art.
When I was 10 years old, my father, who is Chilean, decided to move back to Santiago de Chile. That came as a shock to me, as I loved my life in Spain. Chile seemed so far away. My family never told me about this country and the reason why we were moving there. I never managed to fit in. After having grown up in a small, open-minded city like Barcelona, Santiago was too big and too conservative for me. It was also difficult for me to further develop my creative side.
My youngest brother was born in Chile with Downs Syndrome, which helped me to develop my empathic side. I understood that suffering was a part of life and learned to turn a disgrace into a blessing. That’s probably the reason why I went on to study psychology.
Our house in Santiago literally always had its door open. We could come in and go out so easily. Only a big black Labrador called Bosco was watching it! Almost every night, my mum asked how many there would be for dinner, as almost every day we would have a different guest at home.
Our house was fun, despite many episodes of sadness in our family. My parents separated after 25 years of marriage, but we had a lot of laughs. Being a family of five children, and having such good relationships with my brothers and my sister, helped me to overcome a lot of my parents’ disputes.
In a nutshell, I grew up in quite a dysfunctional but overall lovely family, and I learned a lot from it.
What prompted your move to Barcelona?
I always missed Barcelona during my 14 years living in Chile. So I decided to go back after my studies when I was 24 years old. But then I met the love of my life. He was German, so I went to Germany instead. I lived in Hamburg for four years, which is where we got married and had our first daughter, called Mar.
Even when I was back in Europe, I missed my country. I found that Hamburg was too cold and rainy to raise a baby. My husband had just founded his own company, called Twothirds, which is a sustainable clothing brand made for surfers, so we decided to move to the Basque Country, which is the mecca for surfers in Europe. Those three years were the hardest for me, and I became a mother for the second time when our daughter Sophie was born.
After living a stressful life (because my husband was always travelling and I was alone with two young children in a very small city), I decided to move to Barcelona, finally back to my city. My husband accepted this and I started to work with him supporting Twothirds.
Four years later, our youngest daughter, Ada, was born.
Our flat was in a wonderful 1900s building, which was typical for Catalonia: with different ceramic floor tiles in every room and high ceilings. But it was too loud at night. We had everything around the corner: bakeries, supermarkets, schools, restaurants, hotels… This was very comfortable but at the same time very stressful is it was too noisy and always crowded. Every weekend at night, I had to go to our balcony to ask young people to go and drink in another place! It was noisy day and night. The streets of Barcelona were too narrow for two girls and one buggy. I remember always saying, “Careful with the scooter, careful with the dog poo, careful with the old woman…” We were also struggling to get our company on the right track. Our life was too fast, too loud, too much and I felt I was surrounded by brick walls.
I realised I did not want our children to grow up this way. We needed to calm down, be closer to nature, and to find a happy place to build our little family. So we decided to move into the countryside of Barcelona. By car it is only 15 minutes to the office, but we cross the Tibidabo Mountain through a tunnel and enter a different world which swaps buildings and cars for trees, birds, and the sky.
We built a house from scratch – a sustainable house made from wood – and moved in last year. We got a dog (a chocolate Labrador) and started to live a slower life. It was the best decision ever.
What sort of childhood are you creating for your children in Barcelona? And what type of parent do you aspire to be?
I grew up with a lot of laughter but also with a lot of screaming and conflict. I learned a lot from my parents’ failed marriage, and I try to not make the same mistakes. I believe that growing up in a dysfunctional family doesn’t mean that you are not capable to build a great, happy and healthy family. It’s exactly the opposite. You can learn from their mistakes and change your own path.
From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I was absolutely conscious that my child would always need my love and understanding as their first emotional reference. I also understood that I should work first to overcome my own fears and issues before becoming the mother of a child. A book by Laura Gutman, “Maternity: coming face to face with your own shadow” opened my eyes. I could differentiate between real issues with the baby and what I was projecting from my own childhood.
I believe that our children don’t belong to us, they are a gift. It is up to us how we take care of this gift.
I know that our kids have their own minds, personalities and lives, so we can only accompany them with unconditional love and understanding. I’ve carried them (and still carry them!), breastfed them, co-slept and I hold them in my arms every time I feel they need it. My husband and I do not have a rule book or anything, we just try to be loving and compassionate, remembering our own feelings when we were kids.
I believe that the best way to change the world is to love your children and to show them how much you love them, as they will treat others the same way and society can change for the better.
Spain is a bit old school in terms of child education. There are very strict schools from 9 to 5, with a lot of memorising and repeating. Birthday parties also involve a lot of sweets and plastic toys.
People think that our way of educating our girls is quite “hippie.” But we have chosen to live a more sustainable and conscious life. So we don’t buy plastic toys and we don’t eat fast food. We have less stuff at home and don’t buy anything unless it is necessary. I also ask my friends and family not to give material presents for birthdays. So we struggle with that at times. Our daughters know there is another way to live, and they don’t complain about having a “different” life. They appreciate how we live and enjoy nature, open spaces, wooden toys and role-playing games, eating healthy food (cooked by mum or dad and not by a robot) … That said, I’ve heard that the Termomix makes amazing food!
Our day-to-day life is fun. “Everyday is a party” is what I think before I go to bed. Because we laugh a lot together and do fun things with our children. We also listen to a lot of music, play the guitar and sing together, cook together, watch movies together … It is a very close relationship. If we were a company, you could say we have a flat hierarchy!
You have three young children and a thriving business. How do you do it all!? Do you have any hints or tips for mothers who are trying to make the juggle work?
We made a deal from the beginning and set up our roles very clearly: my husband is the CEO at Twothirds, so his role at the company is the most important. I’m the mum, so my role at home is the most important. So, we find the balance between who does what. Sometimes it happens that I have to work more. Then my husband is in charge of the house as I work at the company. I think it helps to understand the role of your partner better.
The hardest part is to leave “business” at work and to not speak about it at home. But I guess it’s a common mistake. We are constantly having new ideas or doubts that need to be shared. When we start to have a discussion, we can cut it immediately. Of course, our marriage has more “points of disagreement” because of the company, but it helps us to always find a solution. This actually strengthened our marriage.
There is only one thing that we have learned, and it is not to talk about the business before we go to sleep. It’s forbidden!
On the other side, we are very clear with the girls and talk to them about our work and why we need sometimes to work at home too. They know perfectly what Twothirds is and are very conscious that it’s our work and own company.
Another thing that helps us a lot is to have a housekeeper during the week, so when we come back from the office, the house is clean and tidy. We don’t have to discuss who does laundry or who has to wash the dishes. It’s only time to enjoy our kids, house, garden and life. This is the big thing that changed my work life balance.
What was your experience of pregnancy and birth with your three children?
Our girls were born in different places, so I have three different experiences.
Mar, the eldest, was born in Germany. During that time, I was very influenced by the Spanish way to give birth: very controlled, in the hospital with your own doctor and an epidural. After the baby was born, they’d be taken away for a couple of hours to be cleaned and dressed up. For the first night, it was common to sleep alone, without your baby, to recover. In Germany, everything was the opposite. The birth was done with a midwife, and the doctor came only at the end. The epidural was less popular in Germany, but my family and Spanish friends told me to have it, because birth is so painful. So I asked for it, and it was terrible. After two injections and still feeling an impossible pain, it was worse than I expected. Once my baby was born, the nurse received her, wrapped her in a towel, put her in my lap and left me alone. I was alone the whole night. Nobody asked me if I needed help. The baby was crying and breastfeeding was terribly painful, and I didn’t have a single drop of milk, nor colostrum. My family was far away and my husband couldn’t stay with me in the hospital. I also didn’t have any close friends for support. I remember carrying my tiny baby and walking throughout the night through the floor, and nobody came to ask if I was OK. I was so sad and frustrated because I couldn’t breastfeed my child.
But after the horrible hospital experience, an amazing young woman (a midwife) accompanied me every day and night to support my breastfeeding attempts. She was the one who encouraged me to keep trying and made the best of my situation. She showed me another way to bring my baby up, which was very different to the Spanish way; it was emotionally-based on contact. I learned to carry my baby with a wrap and to hold her most of the time in my lap. This was something new for me. After one week of trying to get out of the vicious cycle, my milk came through and I breastfed my baby for nine months.
Our second daughter, who was born in Spain, was a completely different experience. I used the Spanish way of birth: I was extremely supported by my midwife, doctor and nurses in a private hospital. Everything ran so well. It wasn’t painful. The birth was natural, quick and we just smiled the whole time. The midwife was super nice, and explained to us what was happening and encouraged us to touch and see. Everything was wonderful but I made a big, big mistake: I let my small and sweet baby sleeping in the nursery with other babies. I was told to do it because it would be good for me, and based on my last bad experience in the German hospital, I wanted to do it differently. But I couldn’t sleep that night as I felt so guilty. This is something that I will always regret.
With the youngest, in Barcelona, I wanted to do a mix of what I found to be valuable from both my previous births. I asked not to have an epidural and also to have the baby with me. But again, the private hospital forced me to get an epidural with the “argument” that I would enjoy the birth much more. Then I slept the whole night with Ada in my lap. I already knew that the first days I wouldn’t get any milk, so I just gave her a bottle and it was fine. After five days of bottle feeding (and continuing to offer the breast) my milk finally came in and could breastfeed for a year.
I always say, there is no birth similar to another. They are completely different, and even if you have experienced it before, you often have the same fears and worries, and you don’t know how is going to be. You just have to trust and let it flow, and accept that each child has his own story and their birth is part of that story.
What has been the most challenging part of being a mother?
I am afraid that something bad might happen to my daughters. A sickness, an accident… I am afraid to lose them.
For me, it is also heartbreaking to see them sad because of someone else. This is something I can’t control at all, so it will slip through my fingers. I’m working and learning every day that they are going to have their own paths and I can only give them the tools to get over a bad situation, to make them strong and resilient.
What about the most rewarding?
The satisfaction when I see that they are happy and kind. There is nothing better than to see your children feeling good and that they seem to be great people.
What does a typical day look like for you?
During the week, I wake up one hour earlier than my children, to have time for myself. Even though we try to be on time, there is always something that causes us to be late! So every morning is the same: we rush in the last minute. The girls go to the same school (that offers from kindergarten to Bachelors), so we have them all in the same place. They love their school (it was actually the school I went to when I was young), so we go to work with the feeling that they are fine and well taken care of.
The school ends at 5pm, so we pick up the girls from school and go directly home. Since we live in our new house, going home feels like a holiday. We have three hours for us: in order to play, cook, do bathtime and so on.
To go to bed is always a difficult moment. We still have to learn how to put them to sleep without spending too much time, because then we have no time left for us as a couple!
Can you tell us about Twothirds?
Twothirds is a sustainable clothing brand dedicated to ocean-friendly people. Because “two-thirds of the world is covered by ocean.” Our driving force is the connection to the sea and surfing. My husband, the founder, has surfed since he was a child. He travelled to and lived only in countries with waves and his biggest dream was to create a fun, grown up and ecological brand that stood for a love of the sea.
We produce and sell only in Europe and produce under the pre-order system, to avoid overproduction. We are constantly sourcing new ecological fabrics that also come from Europe.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
I always talk about co-responsibility. We are all responsible for taking care of our own habitat, because that is all we have. As parents, we have to be role models for our children. If we teach them how to protect our planet, they will treat our planet with care. And their kids will do the same. I think with the advancing of technology, humans have lost the ability to be grateful for nature, and we need to reconnect with nature to be motivated to protect it.
How do you embrace sustainability in your own home and family?
We started by getting rid of everything we don’t need. A book called “Goodbye Things” made a big impact on me. We don’t need anything to be happy, only things to make our lives a bit more comfortable. Owning things only distracts us from what really matters.
So I only have clothes I really use. The same goes for the kids and all our items at home. Before I get something, I ask myself – Do I really need it? For what? For how long?
Another way is to avoid single-use packaging, like plastic bottles, plastic bags, etc. We avoid supermarkets because of their excessive packaging.
How do you make time for self-care? What nourishes you?
Well, this is something that I’m just learning to do. Until now, I’ve never had time for me. My life before moving to the countryside was so stressful that I even didn’t have any time to think about what could I do for me. I was just caught up in a vicious cycle, like a hamster box. I did not manage to make time for myself.
Since we now live close to nature, and our house has a lot of natural light, I have started to wake up early. This gives me more energy and I am in a better mood in the morning.
I do need a bit more time for singing and playing the guitar, as these are my biggest passions. So that’s my next goal for this year: to find the time to do this. At least I can now close the door and sing for several hours, knowing that there is no neighbour listening!
Do you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed out? If so, how do you work through it?
Yes, of course. But never too much. I come from a very large and lively family, so I do not get easily stressed. I also think I was made to be a mum, and when you’re doing something you love, you stress less.
I am also very communicative with my girls, so when I get stressed or upset with them, I tell them directly and they understand immediately that I need a break. It is very cute to see how they respect my necessities. At such a young age, they understand give and take.
What's on your current list of loves?
- Singing and playing the guitar
- Really good coffee
- Sushi (my husband doesn’t come home with chocolates!)
- Warm weather and a warm sea
- Feeling nature
- Travelling (with or without kids)
- Having a space to pray