Eight Moms Who Work in Fashion on the Work-Life Balance

  • Nicole Chapoteau, Accessories Director at Allure, mom of two

    When it comes to having a family and a full-time job, is the balance real?

    More like the struggle is real! I do my best to balance but sometimes one of them gets the short end of the stick.

    What advice would you give to women thinking about having children but who are kind of afraid to pull the trigger?

    Just do it! There is no greater joy in life than having kids (well, maybe a Buy One, Get One Free Chanel sample sale but that doesn't exist). You can't wait for the perfect time; something will always come up. So if it's something you want, don't let fear hold you back.

    What about those who have recently become mothers and feel extremely overwhelmed?

    Drink a glass of wine, or two. Take a step back and laugh at what is making you feel overwhelmed. Like a good laugh until you cry. Sometimes you realize that it's not that serious and the sun will still rise.

    What do you do when your child is sick but you have a deadline?

    Kids do not care about deadlines! Sick or not, the world revolves around them and you have to drop everything to care for them. That is what God created sleep for -- not for you to sleep but for you to get work done while your kids are sleeping. Hopefully your boss gets it, so she will understand that end of day might mean end of week.

    What about when you're sick?

    There was a time when both my husband and I had a stomach virus, our eldest daughter was just getting over it and the baby was only a few months old and my dad came over to help out. Then my dad caught it and my mom came over to help out. Family is important.

    Do you ever have alone time? If not, what do you do to "treat" yourself?

    It's hard but you have to make time for yourself. I try to go to hot yoga once a week but when I can’t make that work, I wait until the girls are asleep and take a long shower. Usually when I shower, my daughter stays in the bathroom and complains (a.k.a. whines and cries) until I get out! I think if you don’t take time for yourself you will go crazy and you won’t be giving your best to your kids or your career.

    How does being a mom give you a different perspective on your work or career that you didn't have before?​

    Moms have real-life super powers. I realized that I can do anything with limited resources and negative sleep.

    Being responsible for another human being or two makes you more compassionate, makes you thorough, and makes you responsible. You pick your battles and always keep the big picture in mind. You cannot just say, “F*ck it." You have to perform.

    I always say Pascale and Severine are the epitome of Sour Patch Kids. First they're sour, then they're sweet. Then you eat so many that you get cuts in your mouth -- but you just can’t stop because it hurts so good.
  • Taryn Toomey, Founder of The Class, mom of two


    When it comes to having a family and a full-time job, is the balance real?

    It’s incredibly real and needs consistent navigating. One day I feel like I have it all under control, my energy is spread equally, I am not feeling overwhelmed. The next day, I feel a gut-wrenching guilt when my daughter cries because I had my sitter pick her up from school or when I know I haven’t given my husband any attention in weeks. When this stress happens, I try to remember all the other times I am there. Otherwise, I could get myself into a hole pretty quickly. What I have learned is to ride the wave and not get stuck, because things change within a matter of minutes.​

    What advice would you give to women thinking about having children but who are kind of afraid to pull the trigger?​

    The beauty of getting pregnant is that you have nine (really, ten) months to digest the idea and get your ducks in a row. There is a long road of acclimating to it, to understanding the changes and educating yourself about what "the new normal” will be. ​There are so many variables that you have to sort through when entering an unknown, life-long commitment. I was never the gal dying to have babies and never felt 100% ready. Trust your gut. Take away the fear. If you’re open and listen to yourself (instead of others), your intuition will guide you to making the right choice.

    What about those who have recently become mothers and feel extremely overwhelmed?​

    It will change; it will get easier. Put that on repeat. I feel there is so much focus on the pregnant mom and the birth moment, but not enough emphasis on what it's actually like once the baby arrives. Use your community and be real with yourself. We talk more about the reality of being a new mom (or a mom in general)​. It's normal to feel overwhelmed, but it soothes one to hear and know that others feel and have felt it, too. It’s not easy! Keep talking, keep believing, keep breathing and keep loving.

    What do you do when your child is sick but you have a deadline?​

    iPad and TV.

    What about when you're super sick?​

    Call in the troops! In the 6.5 years of being a mom, I have only had one major issue that has kept me out -- throwing out my back. You reach out to the community around you. That’s the beauty of having a support system. ​It's amazing how much other moms support other moms. I am always doing a "ring around the rosie” with my kids and friends' kids -- we swap, pick up, drop off. Community is key.

    Do you ever have alone time? If not, what do you do to "treat" yourself?​

    I really don't. I remember when I got to the retreatment we held in the Dominican Republic to find two sitters (one for each kid), food prepped and everything set. I didn't know how to relax. It was alarming to not know how to do nothing. Treats usually mean getting a pedicure with my computer on my lap or slipping away for acupuncture (which I cancel more often than not).

    How does being a mom give you a different perspective on your work or career that you didn't have before?​

    It made me realize that I could handle a lot more than I thought. There's an expansion of self when one’s life is changing rapidly. It's uncomfortable. Feeling a lot of spheres spinning in different aspects of your life can be overwhelming, but you just have to tend to each one separately. This deepens your clarity and expands your ability to evolve. Then, your capacity to steady yourself while growing can allow for such a beautiful development of subtle strength.

    Anything else you'd like to add?

    If you haven't had a baby yet, get ready to feel a love you didn't know was possible. All of the above aside, know that the expansion of your heart and the ability to feel a love that is so intense and so real can keep you afloat when the going gets tough. When things get really tricky and pull you in many directions, tap back into that love you feel. Let it fill you. Having a child is like wearing your heart outside of your body. But remember, that love is inside too. Know it's there and sit with it to ground yourself.

    (Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis)
  • Jessie Randall, Creative Director and Founder of Loeffler Randall, mom of three

    When it comes to having a family and a full-time job, is the balance real?

    It's always a challenge. It has been a learning process all along the way. I don't think it's gotten easier but maybe I've gotten more confident about setting a schedule that works for me and to really be a hard ass about enforcing it. I've been trying to find the balance. It changes based on what is happening in the business and what my family needs from me. For example, now that my twins are getting to the middle school years, I want and need to be home with them more in the afternoon. I'm looking at ways to have more of that flexibility, from getting the strongest team in place, to learning to lift myself out of the minutiae, to reworking my hours and (trying to) let go of the guilt I feel constantly that I am letting someone down. I don't know that anyone ever feels they have the balance right or that the situation is perfect but I'm trying to listen more to my gut about what is best for me.

    What advice would you give to women thinking about having children but who are kind of afraid to pull the trigger?

    I don't really think anyone can give someone advice on a matter like this. If someone is afraid to pull the trigger, I think they should listen to that very real voice inside themselves. Maybe it's not the right time or right decision for them. They shouldn't ignore that voice. That being said, I remember my mom saying to me when we were thinking about starting our family that it will never feel like the right time and you'll never feel like you have your life in the right place to do it and you'll never feel like you have enough money saved up but that somehow it will all work out. I thought that was good advice.

    What about those who have recently become mothers and feel extremely overwhelmed?

    I think it's important to remember that it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed. Your whole life has changed and you are responsible for another life. Plus you are completely exhausted. I couldn't even process my own sense of feeling overwhelmed during that first year of having two babies, going back to work full time, and dealing with a NICU stay. It took me a few years to even realize how tough that time was for me. I'm still processing it. I think you have to be gentle with yourself, try to take good care of yourself, ask for help, remember that you are human and can only do so much.

    What do you do when your child is sick but you have a deadline?

    You need to have systems in place where you can be out of the office if an emergency comes up. When it happens for me, I try to work from home. But sometimes I just can't miss work, a deadline or an important meeting. There is no sadder feeling than leaving your sick child at home with someone else when they want you to be the one to stay. I'm lucky to work with my husband so we can take turns. In all of this I try to remind myself that I am working to support our family. Everything I do is for them, whether I am home or whether I need to be at the office.

    What about when you're sick?

    My life is so busy and so exhausting with three kids and a growing company that sometimes I secretly get kind of excited if I come down with a cold. Isn't that crazy? But just to be able to knock myself out with some NyQuil, let go of all the running around and the chores and the commute and to just rest for a full day -- that sometimes feels luxurious to me, even if I am sick.

    Do you ever have alone time? If not, what do you do to "treat" yourself?

    I rarely have alone time. Growing up, my mom's biggest wish for me was that I would grow up to be independent. I think I kind of rebelled against that. I don't actually like being alone. I'm trying to own my faults. I sort of like this quality about myself. I much prefer to be with my husband, my kids or my friends. If I do have a rare moment of quiet time I like to work on a craft project, take a long, hot bath, read or just lay in bed. My favorite thing to do is snuggle with my kids. The other day I was telling my almost nine-year-old son that he has to promise me that even when he is an old man he has to remember to still spend time hugging me.
  • Jodie Snyder Morel, Co-Founder, President, and Designer of DANNIJO, mom of one

    When it comes to having a family and a full-time job, is the balance real?

    I make a conscious effort to separate the two. When I'm at work, I'm 100% focused on work and when I'm with Margaux, I'm 100% focused on her.

    What advice would you give to women thinking about having children but who are kind of afraid to pull the trigger?

    It is true what they say about maternal instinct. I don't think anyone is ever fully prepared to be a mother but you learn along the way. You don't need to be afraid, because every mother is nervous and afraid before she becomes one.

    What about those who have recently become mothers and feel extremely overwhelmed?

    It is very overwhelming at the beginning -- another human being depends on you for everything, and it's a real adjustment. It takes time to find balance and time for yourself but it's important to not let being a mother take over your identity. Find time to do one thing a day for yourself -- work out, get a manicure, read a magazine.

    What do you do when your kid is sick but you have a deadline?

    I really do believe that mothers sort of just become superwomen. As a mother, you're forced to make every minute count. Also, learning how to function on less sleep gives you a few extra hours in the day.

    What about when you're sick?

    I'm lucky that my husband is a great father so he always takes care of her when I'm sick.

    Do you ever have alone time? If not, what do you do to "treat" yourself?

    I didn't have any time for the first few months but I found ways to find balance and time for myself. It's a lot harder to find time for "you" stuff when you're a mom, so when I do, I appreciate it much more than before.

    And my husband and I make sure we schedule a date night every few weeks.
  • Rachel Comey, Founder, CEO, and Designer of Rachel Comey, mom of two

    When it comes to having a family and a full-time job, is the balance real?

    It's bananas.

    What advice would you give to women thinking about having children but who are kind of afraid to pull the trigger?

    I don't think many people regret having children. It's certainly challenging, but all the love and silliness ultimately trumps the challenges.

    What about those who have recently become mothers and feel extremely overwhelmed?

    Just know that it's normal and that you are not alone. There doesn't seem to be enough talk about how frightening the beginning can be. As a pretty high-functioning person, I was surprised by how unconfident, scared, and nervous I was around my first newborn. I'm not sure I was alone with him for a year! No joke. I guess in that sense being a working mom helped. I was really fortunate that there was either a mother, mother-in-law, my partner, our caregiver or one of my employees around all the time.

    What do you do when your child is sick but you have a deadline?

    Well, you pretty much drop everything immediately to figure out what is going on. That part can be scary. If I am absorbed with work and one of the kids gets sick, the immediate reaction is to drop what I am doing, panic a minute, and then start problem solving. Being away from them when they are sick is really hard -- mostly that first moment, as it makes me feel like I'm not taking care of them properly -- but then after I fully understand the situation, it gets easier and I can mother them. A deadline can always be wrangled.

    Do you ever have alone time? If not, what do you do to "treat" yourself?

    Ha, no way. Not even in the shower. The kids will just come right in and start playing in the water. Hmmm. Treat myself...I guess things that I wouldn't have called a treat in my pre-kids days, like an exercise class or a flea market stroll, are basically a treat now.

    (Photographed by Willy Somma)
  • Leland Brito e Cunha, Co-Founder and President of AZIONE, mom of one

    When it comes to having a family and a full-time job, is the balance real?

    There's a priority shift that inherently happens when you have a baby, but your work life (which you still love and value just as much) hasn't slowed down, so you have to pace yourself differently. I've become highly efficient during my "work hours," and I'm learning how to shut down and focus all my energy on the baby when I'm home with him -- because at the end of the day, you can't get that time back, and you really don't want to miss anything.

    What advice would you give to women thinking about having children but who are kind of afraid to pull the trigger?

    Motherhood (though I'm still just a freshman) enhances everything else in your life, and you're joining a tribe of women that have been and will be beating the balancing act odds for years and years (to come). We are literally programmed to be able to handle the craziest life-altering things, and snap back with flying colors.

    I think as a woman I always felt pretty strong and independent, but as a mother I feel empowered, more empathic, patient and slightly badass. I think it's made me a better boss and ultimately, a better person.

    What about those who have recently become mothers and feel extremely overwhelmed?

    That's normal! And, by the way, I'm one of them sometimes. Just because we sometimes feel like Superwoman, doesn't mean we are super human. The best recipe I've found for recalibrating the stress scale is to take some time for yourself when it exists. Even if it's only five or ten minutes when your child is napping for some kind of breath-work or simple movement. If you're lucky and can get in an hour for a workout, that can be a total game changer, but that's not often available and you learn to take advantage of whatever you can get. My mom always told me 1+1=3 in a healthy relationship -- and that's you, the other person and your life together. So my advice? Take a moment to reward yourself each day, however small, and reset.

    What do you do when your child is sick but you have a deadline?

    This hasn't happened yet but I imagine I'll cross this bridge eventually and when I get to it I'll do my best. That's all you can ever do right? One thing I'll stand behind is that family is number one, more important than any deadline. So take care of that and hopefully the rest will fall in line.

    What about when you're sick?

    People are more reasonable than you think. If you need an extra day, ask for it. Taking care of yourself is pretty important because if you're not operating on all cylinders, chances are the rest of the machine -- your family -- won't run properly either.

    Do you ever have alone time? If not, what do you do to "treat" yourself?

    Though it's few and far between these days, I do get some alone time and I think it's crucial. Usually I'll opt to take a workout class or meditate, but sometimes I'll meet a friend for a glass of wine even, or once in a while I'll pamper myself with a facial or get my nails done. I think it's important to not only have that personal time -- however infrequent, just to try and maintain some semblance of your pre-Mom life. You appreciate everything much more than you used to, so maybe that's a good thing.
  • Liya Kebede, Founder of of LemLem, mom of 2

    When it comes to having a family and a full-time job, is the balance real?

    You work with the chaos to make it work. I always try to organize my schedule around the kids whenever possible.

    What advice would you give to those who have recently become mothers and feel extremely overwhelmed?

    Just take it one day at a time. I think many mothers have a tendency to be overly critical of themselves. Its important to give yourself a break once in a while and not to be afraid of asking for help. Having a support system is so important.

    What do you do when you're sick?

    I'll try and power through most of the time. I'll load up on vitamins and fluids and get plenty of rest.

    Do you ever have alone time? If not, what do you do to "treat" yourself?

    Rarely but yes, I do get some alone time! I'll load up on Netflix or try and read a good book.
  • Joey Wölffer, Founder of The Styleliner and co-owner of Wölffer Estate Vineyard, mom of one

    When it comes to having a family and a full-time job, is the balance real?

    Not a chance, but I am lucky that I work for myself. I do a lot at night so that I can spend some waking hours with my daughter. There's a lot of guilt that no one prepares you for. You know that working is important for you, for your family and even as inspiration for your child, but sometimes you just don't want to leave the house.

    What advice would you give to women thinking about having children but who are kind of afraid to pull the trigger?

    There is never a good time, but I do think being married for a couple years (if you have the time) is important. A lot changes when you bring another person into your family and it's important to be ready. Your relationship with your partner needs to be strong because it's emotional, exhausting and stressful to have a baby! But at the same time, it's the most successful you will feel regardless of what you do for work.

    What about those who have recently become mothers and feel extremely overwhelmed?

    As a relatively new mother, I would say it continues to get better and easier. I was literally stupid for four months and terrified that I would never get my brain or drive back, but you do and you become more efficient because you want to do everything.

    Do you ever have alone time? If not, what do you do to "treat" yourself?

    I treat work trips as vacation. I feel like when I can make my own plans or wake up on my own schedule, that's a treat! I was in Paris the other week and my friend wanted to have dinner at 9:30 (which feels like four in the morning these days), so saying yes was such a treat.
Leandra Medine | March 24, 2016

Try not to smile after clicking through this

That elusive work-life balance, man. Does it even exist? Who has it figured out?

Sure, we’ve covered it before, but this time we’ve enlisted the help of the wonder women who have seemingly mastered what it takes to conquer the farce of limited time and maintain their careers while also having children. (This is a task that sometimes feels more invasive, confounding and difficult than executing your own root canal while standing on a single foot in the middle of Times Square. Not that I’ve ever tried it.)

But if you’re thinking about children, have children or just want to hear from some efficient women who’ve cracked the code on time management (Guess what! It’s a mental construct!), enjoy the slideshow and brief interviews above. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that manicures, pedicures, sufficient sleep and time to shower are not a first world right — they are a privilege.

Photographed by Simon Chetrit (follow him on Instagram @simonzchetrit).

man-repeller-bar-working-moms

  • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

    The arrow/circles to flip between the shots often gets in the way of the text. Interesting article, nevertheless!

    • Yvonne Dunlevie

      This is fixed — thanks Denisse!

      • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

        Awesome, thank you! Though filling in the blank can be fun sometimes 😉

        • Effie Hammond

          I am getting a salary of 6700 dollars each week. Over a year ago I was in a horrible condition , jobless and no bank credit ..et Thanks to one of my friends who showed me a way where I was able to gather myself and making average of 58 d/h. So it can change your life as it has changed mine. Why not try this.

          Look here for details
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  • Rebekah

    Not to downplay the point of this article as it was an interesting read but it would have been nice to hear the opinions of everyday working class mothers too. Obviously women have a wide range of careers but this was kind of a narrow focus on a particular class and I feel like the concept of “work/life balance” is drastically different for most of the women I know personally. What about moms who work at the bodega down the street? Work as teachers? What about mothers who have no flexibility in their jobs or option to work from home? I never remember my mother (a nurse) being able to take days off when I was a child and was sick, and though as an adult I have a job where my hours are up to me, when I take a day off to take care of my son when he’s sick I miss out on a day’s pay and added up (when is your child ever sick for just one day, right?) that can get pretty rough before next payday. Honestly I’d be more interested to hear the points of view of a broader range of women who are more realistically reflective of most mothers.

    • Amelia Diamond

      hey guys! our first round of mamas centered on fashion (or those close to the industry) and we definitely should have clarified that in the title, but we can’t wait to feature more moms on man repeller. in that vein, actually, our next career month post features people from a variety of industries that we hope you’ll enjoy. going live the 31st!

      • Rebekah

        Can’t wait to read it!

      • JPM

        The article was very interesting in that 7 of the 8 founded their own businesses. It would be interesting to understand if the entrepreneurial bug was always there for these folks or if motherhood somehow helped them find it. Is there a link between being career oriented and driven but wanting to find a balance? I don’t know I just throw it out there…

        It would be great to hear about those who work for other people in other industries as well. I’m looking forward to reading that.

    • Julie

      I realize the wonen featured have careers in fashion but isn’t it important to include all different women in fashion, not just incredibly successful ones? What about other moms who work in the fashion industry? In sales, retail, production, media… These women are the backbone of the industry and often don’t get insane salaries or control of their schedules… There are plenty of fabulous and stylish women in the lower levels of the fashion industry that you could highlight and their stories would be much more relatable to the real world. I appreciate ALL of these women you chose and I applaud them but it is hard to look at their glamorous lives and feel better about my own…

      • Dominique

        I thought the exact same thing, also wondering how and if these women empower their female employees who also have children.

  • thebrightblush.com

    This is wonderful and inspiring and encouraging, but I agree with Rebekah below. These women have so many more resources available to them than most of us including income, flexible schedules due to their awesome jobs as entrepreneurs, homes/apartments that are probably fairly spacious in fun neighborhoods, a network of available help that probably extends itself quite far when needed, and just *options* in general that many of us will never have. HOWEVER, I appreciate that the words of these women did not seem to reflect that very much. Most appeared to say the same encouraging things, which is actually comforting and lovely. I do agree that it would be nice to hear from those that are outside of this bracket, though. Encouraging overall.

  • Yvonne Dunlevie

    I am VERY far from even thinking about having children, but I really loved Taryn’s advice about their being 9 months to plan. I think I need to apply this to other aspects of my life — I often sit around and get overwhelmed about things, and need to realize that there is almost always time to prepare for whatever it is. One day, when I think about having a child, I will be grateful for those 9 (actually 10!) months.

    • AJ

      Well, by the time you find out you’re pregnant, you’re already a month along, so it’s more like 8 months…not that it makes much difference! 😉

  • Luxe Lis

    Great article, MR! I’d like to give my wisdom using your questions : 1. Balance for work &family? Become flexible…life is a roller coaster…Full of thrills & chills. 2.Want kids? There are pros and cons to having one or more. Make sure your financial situation is aligned to provide, before you have children. Be fair to yourself and your children. 3. Feel overwhelmed? Taking care of your health and your child is a priority. 4. When sickness knocks on the door? Ask for help…don’t be super woman. Involve super man…a.k.a. your partner! 5. Alone time at last…? Enjoy every moment. None us know when we will leave this earth. Wishing you all health, good luck& happiness! 😘 Follow me on Instagram@ luxe_lis

  • Amelia Diamond

    “Moms have real-life super powers. I realized that I can do anything with limited resources and negative sleep.”YOU GUYS ARE SUPER HEROS 4 REAL THO

  • http://www.erniekdesigns.blogspot.com/ s j Kurtz

    I ended up quitting office work with baby2 because child care costs were doing to exceed hourly pay. I’ve made a quilt of different work activities since then, often because new potential employers looked at my resume and said “You quit. Why should I trust you?” More often than not, those employers were moms themselves (albeit with living parents aka free child care). I had to make my own way, and I’m glad that I did, but I want to be very clear about this:
    I love my children, but – Being a mother is a job. It doesn’t pay, but it’s a job. It’s never a part time job; you just get another job on top of it. My dream is that social security will someday recognize the hours I’ve put into this job and give me some credit for it. As it is, I have nothing to show for the decades I’ve worked when I regard my financial records.

    I will never retire. And I am going to guess that none of the women you interview will retire, either.

  • http://www.thesequinist.com TheSequinist

    I feel like if you have children and you work, something always suffers; you can’t do both perfectly. You can MANAGE, but you can’t do it perfectly, and that is ok. You need at least a 27 hour day to get all of your shit done. What I wish employers understood is how hard it is to be present and focused at your job when all you want to do is be at home with your child who wants YOU around when they’re sick. It takes a toll on your soul. Fact.

  • Charlotte

    This article makes me feel more included than anything I’ve ever read on Man Repeller! Love it.

  • http://talesonsilk.com/ Tales On Silk

    I smiled, nodded & well even shed a little tear reading this. I have a 2 yr old and I can vouch for all of what has been said. The joy, the guilt, the love – I still keep saying this – I never thought I could love someone so much! Motherhood is wonderful, terrifying, overwhelming and the most gratifying experience one can have. It would be interesting to read Dad’s perspective as well – because yes, the woman does have to do more than a man, Dad’s life also changes a lot with a kid around!
    http://www.talesonsilk.com
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/talesonsilk
    http://www.aliveshoes.com/talesonsilkxleoniez

  • http://theinnerlining.com/ Maia Wilson

    I absolutely loved this article. I am only 19, so I’m not even close at all to having children (fingers crossed!), but I’ve always known that when I grow up I want to be the type of woman who has it all (a great job, kids, and loving husband). This article helped me see how REAL women actually accomplish this dream of mine. Glad I read this one!!

    theinnerlining.com

  • https://thecactusmag.wordpress.com/ Terri C

    I really like this series! I’m five months pregnant and nowhere near as accomplished as these women but it’s still soothing to hear from mothers who are doing well and battling the rough times. It would be really interesting to hear from them about how their work changed when they had children (if at all) and how that impacted what they do now. Terri x

    https://thecactusmag.wordpress.com/

  • Meg

    Love this! The only thing I would suggest is adding more moms that aren’t the boss or owners of their own business.

  • http://www.jet-lag-trips.com/ Christel

    Very interesting.