Details matter, but don’t sweat them.

I have always been a big believer in the details in life. The ones that make the everyday interesting. The small inspirational wonders that can instantly turn the everyday grey “blah” into a smile for a minute. Especially if unexpected. Like today, when I received an RSVP from my son’s birthday party from his friend’s dad and the signature was “Don't Dream it, Be it!!”
He seems like an otherwise serious kind of guy which made it even more fun and surprising!
I also pay great attention to details in my area of our business. We design the products with the intention of finding the best little details that separate us in the market in our category. I also try to read most of the requests that come into the company from our mom’s and store’s and in regards to marketing, every graphic piece that we create commands my full attention down to the last detail.
But, there is a balance. The trick I have found, is to pick the details that really matter and cut loose the ones that do more harm than good. In a business you can easily get stuck on a detail that is demotivating just as readily as one that is motivating. It takes practice to decide what is important to let it go. It is important to take a single unhappy customer’s voice serious, but you can’t let it affect your whole day, because then you won’t have the energy to deal with all of the happy ones. It is the same with our children.. This morning when I drove my kids to school we were talking about their lunches. My little one said “I remember those stale goldfish you once gave me” and my daughter replied “yes and the carrots that were filled with carrot juice in the bag…yuk” and they went on and on…I became a little sad because I feel that I pay a lot of attention to their lunches and even though it is 6am (and even dark outside at this moment) when I prepare the lunches, I pour a little invisible love into each of them. So I said “do you not like the lunches that mommy makes you?” and they both said “yes we love them, it has just been a few times”… So yes, nobody is perfect, but by trying your best to pay attention to the details that do matter, and remembering not to sweat the ones that don’t, the bigger picture eventually becomes a reflection of your successful focus … on the one’s that count.

Perspective

I remember a young mother at a birthday party that I attended when my first daughter was a toddler. She was screaming in a shrill loud voice “NO NO NO” to her son because he had grabbed a piece of chocolate and was not allowed to have candy.

Her reaction made everyone in the room jump, because it sounded as if we were all in danger of something terrible. She was a first time mother, and I was a first time mother … we’ve all been there before … and we were both probably both a little too idealistic about all that is motherhood at the time.

In the beginning, it is difficult to know when and how to pick our battles. We learn a little later to look to the whole week’s diet to get a perspective of our children’s nutritional balance, or that a small taste of life is sometimes more beneficial to our little one than the harm that a small piece of chocolate might do. It is about gaining perspective. It comes with time.

Sometimes at work I remind myself of the same. When it is your own business you tend to get very absorbed in the world of what you have played a big part creating. There is a tendency to be too focused on the minutia, to lose perspective and become either a little demoralized or demotivated in the face of how difficult the business world can be day to day.

I always found that my own best cure to restore perspective is to travel, to get a sense of how big the world is outside of your own. My immediate fix is to take a walk through the streets of Manhattan and just really observe everything around me, people dining in the restaurants, walking on the streets, getting in and out of cabs, rushing to the subway, talking on the phone, so many people, so many faces with their own life history, family stories and experiences, all with lives to run and issues to deal with every single day. It is a big world that we live in - and while each of our lives are so very important, we are still just one of so many others.

The other day my fifth grade daughter told me “do you know mom that our planet is just like a piece of sand among the millions of other planets in the universe…”

“yes”, I responded, “and do you know that you are very smart!”

NYC

I work in the heart of Manhattan on the 23rd floor overlooking the skyline of the pulsating midtown, New York City. My office is a nerve center of energy and tight deadlines from the minute I step in the door and so the days just seem to zoom by… Before I know it I am heading back home to my three children and family life in the suburb up north.

However, from time to time I do dive into the city jungle beneath me. These days it is usually if I have something pre-planned with my husband or dear friends. While I may “plan” an event or trip to a restaurant, the city as I know it is still often full of surprises. The other night, for instance, I went to a poetry reading in the village with a friend and suddenly the rock legend, Lou Reed, was sitting in the chair to my immediate right. I noticed his age first, and since I listened to him when I was young, it reminded me of how time marches steadily for all of us. I was a little stunned sitting next to this music personality, with such an historic past in this city, and such a cool celebrity persona worldwide.

He seemed to be dozing off a little while listening to the poetic voices. I also had a hard time concentrating, as a million things were going on in my mind that unfortunately had nothing to do with the poetry that filled the air, but instead pertained to more mundane everyday matters with work and the kids … For a moment, I tried to imagine a much younger Lou Reed invitingly proposing “lets take a walk on the wild side?” Secretly I answered, “Sorry, but I have to go home and do laundry……”

Lifestyle.

I have a gallery of framed pictures on my wall in the hallway when you enter my house. My children in all ages, some with toothless smiles, hair growing fuller by the picture and faces that are losing the round baby look and appearing just a bit more profound. There are also a couple of pictures of my husband and I, pre-kids, pre-marriage, and before starting a business together. There is one in particular that my children just love. It is a picture of Michael and I standing in front of our white VW van/bus in New Mexico, holding each other. Me in a flower short dress and my husband with sunglasses, longer hair and an open shirt. When visitors glance at the family collection, one of the children always announces “this is my mom and dad when they were hippies!” I laugh every time. Were we hippies, I don’t know?!

We traveled through America in an old VW bus for six months, and we now live in a pretty NYC suburb with three beautiful kids, commuting to our office on the 23rd floor in midtown, Manhattan.

Our packaging is different, and we are older and more experienced, but we are still fundamentally the same. We both love our freedom and we are dreamers with big ambitions and not afraid to take chances. Similar to when we were “living in the van”, our business has taken us through rocky roads and endless horizons of possibilities, encouraging creativity and issuing challenges, pushing us to new places where new decisions must be made, without overlooking the practical maintenance of the running engine. Living and experiencing every bump, but always as the driver, that has been our life together - It is a lifestyle!

Building bridges and a company...

I believe that many mommy owned businesses are built from an idea inspired from the presence of being or becoming a mother. Glamourmom began by creating, caring, nursing and building an idea into a business and as a founder it often feels more personal than any other previous job or work that I have performed. Over the years, I have often referred to my business as my fourth baby when discussing it with others and in interviews. In my trail of blogs, I draw upon many experiences linking my motherhood with the realities that I encounter as the founder of a business because I have learned so much from both, including the art of being patience, persistence, creativity, commitment, problem solving, managing, staying organized, and so, so many other things..

My children take up every inch of my heart and more, and while the business touches me on a lesser personal level, it is in other ways still tremendously personally profound. It is enough to make me sleepless at night at times, to worry and be hurt, to stress or become disappointed when something goes wrong. Having a business can be a roller-coaster, and you are required to ride with its ups and its downs (note: The “ups” are INCREDIBLY satisfying).

A while back after I had a “bad” day at work, my daughter noticed that something was affecting me when I came home. It was stressful behavior that only your mother or your children senses, and she asked me what was wrong. I told her that my work day had made me extra tired and a little disappointed. She looked at me and said “mommy just build a bridge and get over it!”… I will never forget that refreshing sentence, so simple, but also so filled with wisdom! Moving forward is always the way to go! I have since built many bridges while building an even bigger business,, trying to remind myself all of the time that it is just a business (not personal), … really…. right?!:)

Creativity


I have learned many things during my motherhood experience, including  the importance of reaching for constant ongoing creativity.  On a daily basis, I am faced with the pressing need to conjure up interesting, new solutions to coordinate the busy schedules for my three children.  Like yesterday, for instance, my two daughters had a dance recital and at the drop off back stage, we realized that one head band was missing from a costume. I suddenly faced a nervous, teary eyed eight year old looking to me for the immediate “mommy fix”..  As many mothers would do, my mind instantly began searching for the quick solution, and I noticed that it would be no problem to snip off a little piece of the inner part of her costume skirt.  So we did and within moments, a head band was made.

Many similar situations have occurred over the years – whether it was configuring my big scarf into a pair of make-believe pants for my son (after he had vomited on his clothes while on a trip over the Atlantic) or using loose random notes in my pocket book to create an interesting game during a wedding ceremony after the children had lost patience – there was/is always an adventure and a problem to be solved.   

Sometimes I am called to routinely channel my creativity for the same purpose every single day.  My son prefers that I tell an original, new story to him every night before he sleeps. So while I am fumbling around within my blank, tired mind searching for  imaginative characters and thinking that this story is just never going to make any sense, my son’s excited eyes let me know that it is just fine to let the fantasy go wherever it may go, …and usually, the story somehow works (for him).  There are so many situations like this, every single day, that I could go on and on….

Does this creativity translate to the workplace?  I think so.  At work I try to use a similar creative approach to our daily challenges by trying to assess practical alternatives by looking at them from fresh new angles.  While the context and the frame work are different, the environment is certainly more controlled and there are often many more pieces to the puzzle, I find that my creative solution oriented approach (coupled with the goal of creating a happy outcome for all involved), skill sets fashioned from motherhood, tend to work more often than not! .

Managing the little people and the big people.


These days the hours in my life are very much about managing my children at home and the creative team around me at work. Sticking to schedules, appointments and status sheets and making sure that everything gets done so that dates are met and it all runs smooth.


I remember when I had my first baby and hours were spent just being; breastfeeding, enjoying the new and inspiring state of motherhood and meeting with new moms to share this exciting new time in my life. There was no actual schedule, only taking care of a baby and trying to catch up on my own sleep while baby was sleeping. The baby went with me everywhere, at almost anytime. It seems like only yesterday!! Now that my children are grown into little independent people, they are still too little to manage their own lives, but not too little to demand play-dates, classes, sleepovers with their friends and so many other things that they would like to do which have little to do with my time anymore.

At work I have an amazing team of people working towards the same creative goal, all with their unique qualities and skills and experiences that are all independent from my own. I have learned so much from both my children and my colleagues alike. The balance and the challenge is to treat my children as individuals and meet their needs independently, while simultaneously directing them subtly so that their routine fits into the universe of our family - so it all works together as a whole. I feel similar at work, where everyone plays their own individual important role, but it is only by working together as a team towards the same shared vision that we can succeed as one big family.

Present

Sometimes my head is just overloaded with information … whether it is the endless stream from the workday, or the limitless demands of motherhood. I have to confess that there are moments when I start to lose it. “It” meaning, I start to completely lose the “present.” I may be sitting in a business meeting or engaged in a work related project and my mind begins to wander, did the babysitter remember where to pick up the girls from dance or, did I in fact cancel my son’s dentist appointment - because he really wanted to go to that birthday party - or, did my oldest daughter finish that important current events assignment at school?

At home, I may be putting the Blockbuster DVD in the mailbox instead of the birthday invitations or, picking up the remote control to the TV and using it to dial the office.

There is just so much to do and remember in our lives and it may be stressful, but I have to admit that I enjoy the mixture of responsibility and excitement from being in charge of a family and a business … Being healthy and driven - before the time comes to step back and grow older. This is the time, during the chaos of work and family, in the prime of our lives.

I have come to the conclusion that thinking ahead in order to make it all function, and the “loss of the present”, merely mean that my mind is doing its best to be everywhere, trying not to miss out. It may feel disjointed, but it is life in its prime, and I am enjoying the crazy ride as it is, right now ...

Life is what happens while you are making other plans.



Yesterday I had a radio interview scheduled while I was at home with my children who are on spring break. Years back, before we were able to move Glamourmom into an office space, while we still ran the business from our home, if a customer called my husband or I would answer, “Hi this is Glamourmom can I help you?” while simultaneously feeding a toddler and soothing our infant. Our children regularly heard mom and dad switch magically into a serious business voice.


My oldest daughter is now ten, and she finds the business of Glamourmom very interesting, loves being involved any way she can, and knows even at this age how to be professionally quiet when mom is going on air.

It happened to be raining severely when the phone rang with the producer in the other end, ready to begin our on air interview. A brook happens to run across our back yard, and it can turn the neighborhood into Venice if the downpour is strong and sustained…and this time it was…and as I watched from the window, the rain kept coming…as if on cue, the interviewer probed “so how do you balance having a worldwide business, an office in NYC and being a mother of three children” just as my daughter gently knocked on the door, whispering “mommy the water is in the basement”…

While still staring at my concerned little one, my immediate answer was “first you have to be mentally very flexible, knowing that just when you have an important business meeting scheduled your son might come down with a fever”…

Life sometimes is just what happens while you are making other plans…

Style

Once when I lived in London, before I was a wife, a mother of three children and an owner of an apparel company, a close friend of mine said the very famous sentence “you can’t buy style!”

We were sitting in a corner café and a woman walked by our window wearing an oversized long heavy coat, high heels, lots of expensive looking jewelry and a very tight skirt. Observing her, she did not look comfortable or happy, there was a real disconnect from her overdressed, constricted appearance and the foggy, busy street of the inner city, the reason for my friend’s style comment, I guess.

I believe style is a very personal matter, it often reflects how a person feels wearing his/her clothes and that expression is often noticeable. My friend who was sitting with me in the London café happens to be a person that by my definition “just has style”. His clothing always expresses and reflects his life style! When he went clubbing he would wear flattering sports clothes, jeans and fashionable sneakers so he could dance all night long and when he went to work he would wear the casual, but smooth ironed collar shirt that could carry him comfortably to a drink afterwards at the nearest pub without sacrificing style or comfort.

Most people look great if they feel good, and feeling good often has to do with comfort which translates into the fit of the garment, the quality of the fabric and the right function to support the person’s lifestyle. Fashion has always been a big passion in my life, but I am very hesitant to follow trends which sacrifice comfort. I can not deal with heels that are too high for walking, or a jean that is too low cut and exposes too much skin, and I generally refuse a fabric that is too constrictive or synthetic. The discomfort associated with some clothing leaves me feeling stressed out!

I like to move in clothes that feel like a second skin on the body. As a new mother, my craving for stylish clothing that enhanced my new lifestyle led me to seek clothes that helped me to be active while raising small children, while also accommodating my body as it adjusted first to a growing belly and growing breasts and then the whole way back!

When my first daughter was only a couple of weeks old, that same friend visited me here in NYC. We were now sitting in a restaurant in Soho and I was struggling to breastfeed my newborn with a regular nursing bra. I hated to expose my post partum belly and I was fumbling around with the weird slits in my nursing shirt until I gave up and just lifted up the entire shirt. My friend felt my discomfort (it was plain to see!) and a couple of days later when he was back in the UK, I received a post card from him with a photograph of the model Jerry Hall, lounging on a couch with a fur coat paired with a black, cotton slip dress, with one strap of the dress pulled down as she breastfed her son Gabriel Jagger. On the post card he wrote “They all do it!” Jerry Hall had her belly covered in a fashionable way (simply her dress), just what I wanted, but she needed to actually remove the top part of her outerwear dress in order to nurse. Staring at the photo, I began to realize that I needed to somehow make the outerwear discretion function as a nursing bra as well! She looked so comfortable and at ease, - her task of breastfeeding was integrated into her lifestyle at that time of her life in the photograph, she looked like a true “glamourmom” to me…!