We have a fun little series for you! I find myself in awe of all the business owners I meet who are also moms, so we wanted to share a few of their profiles with you, and also an exciting giveaway collaboration! This series profiles 4 women (including me!) as we talk through what it means to us to be mothers, business owners, creators, community gatherers and natural lifestyle enthusiasts. We talked with Sy Yang and Maria Vogelei, co-founders of Nook, a play and learning space for the modern family, based just outside Washington, D.C., Julien Garman, co-founder of Aperture Coffee Roasters and creator behind ItsJulien.com, a fashion and lifestyle blog. These women are wildly impressive and have so much insight to share – enjoy!
In celebration of our amazing community, we’re giving away some pretty amazing goodies from Take Care, Nook and Aperture Coffee, so be sure to enter here!
1. Tell us about your company. What’s your role?
Becky: My role at Take Care is Founder/CEO. I have my hands in all aspects of the business, but my main role is curating the shop, leading our engagement work (things like social media, creative partnerships, etc) and crafting our trajectory as a brand and community.
Sy + Maria: We are the founders of Nook. We’re on a mission to make space for the modern family — a space with intention, and a space to play, learn, and celebrate these precious days. We have a space at the Mosaic District in Fairfax, VA, with another one opening at Ballston Quarter in Arlington, VA.
Julien: So my husband and I own a coffee roasting business called Aperture Coffee Roasters. It was founded in the Spring of 2018 and is based out of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. We’re a three-person team of a husband-and-wife duo (Shawn Garman is the CEO and head roaster, while I, Julien Garman, man the creative side of things), and our green sales coordinator and assistant roaster, Kevin Deans. With a strong focus on ethical sourcing and high-quality beans, we wanted to offer a cleaner, brighter cup of coffee for those interested in a more fulfilling coffee experience.
2. How old are your kids?
Becky: My daughter, Lily, is almost 17 months. Being an entrepreneur has impacted me as a mom in many ways. First and foremost, it’s given me the flexibility to spend a lot of time with Lily. I make my own schedule and I cherish that privilege – I know most women do not have that option. The flip side of that is, of course, that I find myself always working. And as I see her get older faster and faster, I know I need to create more separation so I can truly be present for her and for Take Care. Beyond the immediate family dynamic, though, being an entrepreneur and mom means I have an easier time listening, understanding and connecting with other women. We are all truly in this together and business ownership and motherhood are two experiences that make this truth so tangible.
Sy: My kids are 4y, 2y, and 2 months old. Being an entrepreneur of an early stage company means waking up in the morning and not really knowing how the day will end. I am constantly forced to go with the flow and expect the unexpected. And in that way, it’s so much like parenting. As our business has grown and expanded, we have had to accept a “new normal” week after week. And that’s pretty much been my journey as a mom; especially since adding a third kid to the family, I am certainly getting used to a “new normal”!
Maria: My kids are 4, 2, and 4 months. Being an entrepreneur has made me slow down my pace as a mom. Running a start-up means everything is go go go, chasing a new opportunity every second. So I balance that chaos by taking it slow with my kids: Not rushing through the very detailed stories about what happened on the playground. Saying yes to the 10th round of hide and seek. Happily sitting through a marathon nursing session.
Julien: New mom here! Our little is just under 3 months old. It’s definitely gotten more challenging to run a business with a cutie pie on your hands (not to mention two other jobs each!), but we make it work because we’re super passionate about it. Just the other night, after I finished feeding our babe, I passed her off to the husband for burping duty while I popped on my computer to finish up designing a new round of coffee bags. Then we switched off while he paid invoices.
3. What’s your best memory/experience in building community?
Becky: Last year we partnered with BYT to present Local Lips, a series of discussions with women making an impact in DC. We took gorgeous photos (actually, the very talented Leah Beilhart took them!) of our “Local Lips” ladies in a bold lip color and my original plan was simply to write blog posts on them. But after reflecting for a few months, I knew I really wanted to create an experience around their stories. That’s when we connected with Brightest Young Things and hosted a series of sold out panels. There is nothing like seeing a room full of strangers connecting and embracing one another as they shared stories, questions and experiences that shaped their lives. I cherish having the space to hold conversations like those – hopefully we will do something similar soon!
Sy: I love seeing moms connect while playing at Nook. A lot of people walk into our space with an open heart — a real openness to connect with others. As parents with young ones at home, we easily lose a sense of connection to the outside world. But we need that — we need to feel seen, and we need that sense of community to help us appreciate this special time in life.
Maria: My favorite thing to do when I’m at our space is to eavesdrop on parents’ conversations—especially the ones in which the parents have found some common ground on a challenge—whether it is potty training or finding time for self-care. You can actually see their shoulders relax, their faces get a little brighter, when they realize, “Okay, I’m not alone in this.”
Julien: We did a coffee tasting event at Take Care a few months ago and it was such an incredible experience to see people interact with the coffee. Becky was the most gracious host of all time, greeting people and telling them about our coffee. It was a really beautiful reminder of how amazing and imperative it is for small businesses to support each other!
4. What’s one thing you can’t live without at this stage of your life?
Becky: Hot showers, hot baths and my Earthwise cleanser, serum and moisturizer. I try to get in a shower or bath that’s enjoyable instead of just functional at least once a week to release tension and enjoy some me time. Sometimes I test new products and other times I just sit quietly – both are lovely! And because I do feel a little tuckered out sometimes, I know it sounds silly, but having a skincare collection that makes me GLOW makes a huge different. When I catch myself in a mirror and say, “Ooh loving my skin!” versus “Ugh I look so tired,” it really changes the tone of my day for the better.
Sy: Um, an abundance of strong coffee… but it’s organic! Does that count as being part of a wellness regimen??
Maria: My parents. I am so lucky to have them nearby. They remind me that it’s okay to ask for help.
Julien: Natural deodorant, ha! Really though. And I’m addicted to the Kjaer Weis line of all organic makeup I found at Take Care. When I was pregnant, I knew that anything I put on my skin could affect my baby, and now that she touches my face, I feel great knowing that all the ingredients aren’t harmful. Plus the quality is phenomenal.
5. What’s your beauty/self care routine right now?
Becky: Ah, it’s so delicious. My skincare and makeup routine most days are:
- Cleanse/mask with Earthwise Marshmallow Cleanser
- Mask with Sun God face mask. I love concocting my own mask blend based on what I am feeling like I need – I usually add a pump of Nap in the Meadow Serum and a spray of Cistus Moonlight Toner, and blend it all up with water. Then I get in the shower or bath and let it sit in the steam for a while and rinse clean at the end. Keeping the mask wet keeps all the ingredients active!
- Apply Nap in the Meadow serum and or Marie Veronique Vitamin C serum
- Apply Yasuni face balm. This stuff makes my skin radiant, I absolutely adore it!
- Gressa foundation in shade 2.5
- Kjaer Weis Lip Tint in shade Sensuous Plum on my cheeks
- Kjaer Weis mascara on top lashes, with a little bit of RMS Living Luminizer on my lids
- Kari Gran Lip Whip on my lips
It’s a quick, easy routine that makes me feel fresh faced and glow, and only takes a few minutes to achieve.
Sy: I am not a big make up person and I have never been. But I’m fairly religious about skincare. My must-have skincare product is a good Vitamin C serum (I use the Marie Veronique). My postpartum face is pretty much devoid of any color signaling life so I use Suntegrity tinted sunscreen and I use RMS lip tint for lips and cheek for when I have to see and interact with humans other than my kids.
Maria: I use Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum day and night and it makes my skin look like I have actually slept 8 hours and have had lots of water to drink, when in reality I am going on 4 hours sleep and 2 large lattes.
Julien: I try to take small moments for myself when I can. A bath in the evenings, painting my nails. To be honest, going to bed early for my beauty sleep has been one of the best ways I’ve tried to take care of myself. Beauty-wise, I focus on skincare before I leave the house (oils, serums, moisturizers) then do my makeup when I get to work, which I keep pretty simple! Some foundation, lip color that I swipe on my cheeks and mascara usually does the trick!
6. What does a natural lifestyle mean to you? How do you implement it? How do you involve your kids?
Becky: To me, a natural lifestyle means creating space in our life to connect with nature, using products and foods that aren’t so far removed from nature that they feel or smell synthetic (for me, “fragrance” is a big nono), and eating foods in as close to their natural state as possible. I love that our backyard has fruit plants for example – Lily will grow up understanding that berries and apples and plums come from plants, and hopefully she makes the connection early on that we must take care of the earth for it to take care of us.
Sy: What constitutes “natural” is sometimes a bit misleading. A lot of brands and companies slap on an “all natural” label on their products and foods and there is no consistent meaning behind it. So I try my best to buy and eat organic produce and pantry items. But living with three young kids, it’s not easy to seek out organic produce all the time. We are solidly in the buy-everything-bulk-at-Costco stage of life, so I’m also realistic. With my kids, we talk a lot about where things come from (classic 4yo mindset) so we talk a lot about using things that originate from the earth. If a 4yo can understand it, it’s a pretty good test that something is “natural”.
Maria: A “natural lifestyle” at this stage in the game for me means going on a feeling. If a food or product feels right, I give it to my kids. If I tried to go strictly organic, it would feel forced, the opposite of natural. We do what works and what feels right for us at that time.
Julien: To me, it means taking care of yourself. It can be anywhere from choosing yummy, healthy foods to put in my body or it might be using natural cleaners so my babe doesn’t come in contact with harmful chemicals. Another way is being intentional with gratefulness, and when I am, I find myself to be less materialistic, enjoying the moment more and not focusing on comparison quite as often. I want my girl to grow up knowing it’s ok, perfect even, to take good care of herself and know that she’s worthy of good care.
7. How does your community impact your business and family?
Becky: Take Care is so much more than a store where you buy products. We are a community of people who are interested in and excited to take care of ourselves, support the people around us, and spread love and compassion through natural wellness. Community doesn’t just impact us – it IS us, and our business, family and future are all connected.
Sy: For us, our “community” starts with each other. It’s really pretty special to work with a business partner who not only shares the same vision for the business, but also happens to be going through the same triumphs and challenges at home. We each had our third baby this summer, and it’s pretty great to talk brand strategy one minute and complain about middle child issues the next.
Maria: My “community” makes me accountable. Some days I’m too tired to show up, but I do it because I know that I am part of something larger— be it the family that my husband and I are raising, or this brand that Sy and I are building—and we’re relying on each other to show up.
Julien: In a lot of ways! I’ve found myself supporting our community now more than ever in the places I shop for our family and for Chloe. And I’m excited to get Aperture Coffee more involved with the community as well once I can get a handle on the new mom gig. 😉
Thanks for joining us in exploring our local creators & community builders. Don’t forget to enter our Natural Mama sweepstakes here, live through Sunday, November 4, 2018!