How old are your kids and how long have you lived in Westport? My son, Julian, will be 6 in January, and my daughter Simone is 3. I was born in Westport, lived in the city for 10 years after college, and then moved back….when I fell in love with my antique farmhouse (in need of some TLC).
What has been the most difficult age with your children to date? What helped you overcome the challenges at that time? My hardest time as a mom was when my son Julian wouldn’t eat (and subsequently wouldn’t gain weight). Our pediatrician was not an alarmist and reassured me that Julian wouldn’t starve to death (in spite of my fears!) He promised me that it was a power game, and eventually he would fold…. and of course he was right. But for the record, I was definitely nuts about getting him to eat.
What is your favorite family activity to do in Westport or the surrounding towns? One of my favorite things is being outside and exploring. We have a favorite little spot on the Saugatuck River that we go to sometimes. We take a fishing net and a bucket, and we find goldfish, frogs and other creatures. I also love buying fish bait by the Black Duck, walking down to the docks and fishing. It doesn’t hurt that the Duck supplies delicious Bloody Marys=) In reality, my favorite thing with my family is quite simply being together. We have limited time together during the week so our weekends are sacred. I love gardening with my kids. I love doing crafts. I love to foster creativity. So anything we can do that uses their imagination makes me happy.
What was your most memorable family vacation and why? Block Island with family friends. I love watching the kids just be themselves, and seeing them get increasingly comfortable in that place year after year…they go a little deeper in the water each summer, and become more and more adventurous.
What’s your favorite app right now- for you- and for your kids? Amazon Prime. Fun fact (sort of) – I did not use Amazon until 2014 when my mom friends all looked at me like I was nuts and basically had an intervention to show me how to use it. Now I’m an addict.
What’s your can’t live without beauty product? Trish McEvoy Mascara. When I was still adjusting to the “professional world”, my first boss after college told me that I needed to learn how to take mascara off so that I didn’t look like a party girl….I fell in love with Trish McEvoy because it comes off in cylinders and you don’t end up with all the schmutz under your eyes. It has truly allowed me to fly Transatlantic without looking like I’ve been up all night. I don’t always wear makeup. But I pretty much always have mascara on.
What’s your favorite restaurant for a family dinner? Since my mom still lives in Westport, I’d say our favorite place to go to is her house. It’s easy, she’s a great cook and she had all sorts of Granny Sue treasures that the kids enjoy playing with so Matt and I can relax for a second.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I don’t use an alarm clock…ever. I make a 6:30am train EVERY morning, and have never missed my train! I’ve also never smoked a cigarette and I don’t like chocolate. And I’m actually quite sensitive, which many wouldn’t expect.
If you weren’t doing what you are today, what do you think your career path might have been? I’d be a zookeeper. I love animals, and find them therapeutic (maybe because they can’t talk?!=)).
If you had 24 hours to do whatever you wanted – what would you do? I would take the day off, watch Julian get on the bus, drop Simone at school, bring our bunnies for a visit at Simone’s school, do recess duty at Julian’s school, and then prep for a kid’s party at our house with some sort of craft involved. I would want to be at everything with my kids that I possibly could. I would also love to disappear and go to the spa for a year….But really I want to be with my kids, and immerse myself in all that they are doing.
What is your most marked characteristic? Authenticity
What do you most value in your friends? Authenticity. I want genuine friendships, and to be surrounded by people who care about my family and me, and who show that through their interactions on the heart level, and not on the social level. It’s about being the real deal.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms? Be you. And don’t worry about all the rest of the shit. Your kids will appreciate it more than you know. Don’t get lost in the insignificant day to day minutia…focus on the bigger picture.
How did you end up where you are now in terms of your job, or whatever passion project it is you might be doing? I believe (without getting emotional) that it takes a village to raise children. Growing up in Westport, you have the advantage of being exposed to a lot of different families with a lot of different dynamics and a lot of different professional pursuits. When I grew up in Westport, it wasn’t a competition over who did what, when and where. I was lucky enough to have a good friend whose father happened to “work” for Playtex. When I was looking for an internship, he opened up the first door that basically laid the foundation for my career, only later to find out that he was the CEO. If it wasn’t for Mr. Chaden, I wouldn’t be where I am. Mr. Chaden gave me my first internship where I worked at Ralph Lauren Intimates for 2 years while in college. I worked summers, winters and spring breaks. I then did an internship for Candies Shoes after meeting the CEO on a tarmac in Florence; you truly never know when opportunities may come your way! When I was finishing up school, Bali Intimates (now Hanes) was looking for a Merchandising Manager, and an old boss of mine put in a good word though they were looking for someone with much more experience. While waiting to hear if I’d gotten the job, I called them every Monday morning at 9am (because my grandfather told me to be persistent) and I got that job…..and that was the beginning of it all. I started in Intimates at Bali (Hanes), working on Barely There and WonderBra brand. After a few years there, I went to Vanity Fair, then to Jockey as Director of Design in 2007 where I stayed for 7 years, and then started as VP of Design and Merchandising at Wacoal American in 2015. What that essentially means is that I’m responsible for identifying new ideas, overseeing the design, development, fit and construction of all new products through the manufacturing process. I engage with retailers, fabric mills and overseas factories. I sign off on every single product we produce.
I’ve always trusted my intuition, and in product design, this is critical. You are predicting what consumers will need 18 months from now and this is informed by fashion trends, social trends and a whole lot of gut instinct. Much of design management is being able to deal with different personalities and to get the best out of them. People at work say they often know my mood based on my hair…which changes constantly. As an example, real stress is my hair in a bun with a pen in it, and my hair down in my face is when it’s sheer madness. I wake up everyday ready to go to work; I see each day as a challenge where I get to identify problems and try to solve them. In fact, our newest product hitting stores this month is a nursing sports bra, inspired by conversations with my mom friends in Julian’s preschool class. Inspiration surrounds us everyday, it’s all about keeping your eyes (and ears) open.