Since becoming pregnant I've become increasingly interested and inspired by shops and businesses owned by mothers. I think this fascination has to do in part with me trying to figure out the crazy juggle of the two. It amazes me what woman are capable of accomplishing, meanwhile nurturing a life. I've decided to start a small blog segment featuring some of my favorite shops owned and operated by mothers.
Today is all about Au Lait, a breastfeeding friendly line designed, owned and operated by Emily Hsu out of NYC. I discovered Au Lait while I was pregnant and in search of clothing that would work well post baby. I was so surprised at how small the market was for clothes designed with nursing in mind. A lot of the lines I found felt like they were lacking in so many ways, style included. Then I came across Au Lait and I was drawn to the beautiful, timeless yet modern designs. The fabric is sourced in the US or Japan and the pieces are crafted in the heart of New York City, so you can feel good about the clothes you are wearing. Make sure you read below to see the interview with Emily. I was saying "amen" to all of her answers! It's so good!
Here are some of my favorites from her line...
THE GOING HOME DRESS
Why I love it- Dresses are a no brainer for me. One and done. I was so sad to realize that 98% of the dresses I own don't work with nursing. This one is so soft and easy to dress up or down. It's a winner all around.
THE TEE DRESS
Why I love it- I love the structural look of this piece. It's so flattering and the design makes nursing in public quick and stressless.
THE POCKET SWEATSHIRT
Why I love it- Having a baby in the Fall meant wearing a lot of heavy sweaters and sweatshirts. One thing I quickly learned is that pulling up a thick sweatshirt to nurse is not easy. The side design of this makes it all much more simple. Plus the luxe material of this sweatshirt makes it such a versatile piece to add to your wardrobe.
Meet the Mama | Emily Hsu
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START AU LAIT?
Breastfeeding was not easy for me with my first as Motherhood seemed to trigger all sort of self esteem issues for me. I chose to always prioritize the baby over myself and I was shocked by the confusion of how happy and joyful I felt towards the baby versus how much I loathed the way I looked everyday in sloppy clothes. When I realized that maybe prioritizing my happiness (cleanliness) would actually make me a better mother, I started searching for clothes that would help me feel more like my old self so I will feel more confident in my new body and also to nurse in public. I couldn't find any options that didn't make me look like I was partially still in my pajamas since everything in the market was stretchy, clingy, and just some variation of a t-shirt. The idea really did not become concrete until I was on an international flight to Asia with my then 4-month old daughter and she refused to be nursed under a cover.
HOW DO YOU STAY ORGANIZED AND ON TRACK? DO YOU HAVE SYSTEMS IN PLACE OR ARE YOU A FLY BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS KIND OF GIRL?
I have to write everything down these days or else I will simply not even remember that I have things to do. I USED to be organized. Now with 2 kids, I will open my desk drawer and find a toothbrush and maybe some random doll bits that my daughter has decided belongs in there. Having a list and simply working your way through it is the only way I can focus on the task at hand these days. It is also important for me to learn to be ok with not getting through my list at the end of everyday because the children might have different needs each day. Now I view my to-do list as a weekly project and as long I get most of it done by Friday afternoon - I call it a week. It is really about priorities and since I have decided to be a work from home mom, I remind myself it is because I have chosen to prioritize my children's need at this point in their lives.
DO YOU WORK FROM HOME OR DO YOU HAVE AND OFFICE OUTSIDE THE HOME?
I work from home with a little office across the street for stock.
DO YOU HAVE MAMA GUILT WHEN IT COMES TO WORKING? IF SO, HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT?
I work from home because I have mama guilt all the time. I am getting better at handling the guilt because I am trying very hard to reinforce a daily schedule for myself that does not always incorporates my kids. Working from home is extremely stressful and I would not recommend it for anyone! I am constantly meditating about this issue about if moms who work from home suffer even more guilt since it is hard to feel like you are doing either job very well due to the lack of focus.
WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF BEING A MOM AND OWNING A BUSINESS?
I think the challenge would be the same for any mom with or without a job: time management is possibly the hardest skill to improve upon when every parent tries their best to have some sort of routine or schedule but really it depends on the kids whether or not that schedule can always happen. I would have an ambitious week set up but if either of the kids get sick or has a playdate then I will simply have to just prioritize and do as much as I can. It can be frustrating because at times I wish I just had a full day to focus on my work but I know that day will come soon enough!
WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR AS A BUSINESS OWNER?
I want other moms to feel beautiful because what we are doing is so amazing. I am always so teary when I get emails from other women about how they travelled 15 hours in my sweatshirt or started leaving the house more after purchasing my dress because they can nurse in public with so much more confidence and be discreet or not as they choose to be. I feel like when the moms put on my clothes, they will understand my intention of just wanting to make things a little easier for all of us.
WHERE DO YOU GO FOR INSPIRATION?
Come on. I'm a mom..PINTEREST!
HOW DO YOU RECHARGE?
Long walks along with Hudson River with my husband and the 2 kids. Being with the people I love the most and a good night sleep is all I need to go through another hectic week. Key is a good nights sleep - so I just need Ryan's teeth to just come out already!!