She’s photographer with amazing taste who started Smokks, a line of dresses for moms and daughters that we are crazy about…and live in.
Give us a little background on yourself/what you do/how you came to it. How much did becoming a parent shape what your business is? How is your work life balance?!
I am a working photographer and have spent most of my adult life traveling (coming from Australia you kind of have to!) which is inspiring and amazing and gives you such a sense of freedom. Having a baby did slow that down for the a year or so, until Pompie (now 6) was old enough to come, which was about 10 months I think, so it was a drastic change for me to suddenly be in one place for a long period of time. After that we traveled together as a family to all my jobs for 4 years until Pompie started school. It was such an adventure together that I miss it!
“I just need clothes I can handle”…OH! my husband George’s famous last words…( such a dramatic statement was born from me being away and receiving a video of our daughter at her ballet graduation wearing her pajamas! OMG! I almost died..I almost cried! Mothers would do a hundred buttons daily without question if it meant their daughters looked beautiful!). Frantically I call home from Australia, not even caring about the time difference, to find out what went wrong! “she looked so cute” he said..”How would I even know they were pajamas he mysteriously joked….”because have you ever seen her in a chocolate brown outfit with a pink cat on the front”! That’s really how Smokks began! Did he know then and there that our “family” project (so to speak) would be creating a line of fun stylish and effortless girls clothing!
Soon after that can of worms was opened we set sail on our journey to launch a creative dressing system for families who like us need “clothes they can handle” all year round. (I do say this loosely as its really for fathers, grandparents and care takers to dress these little ladies so “suddenly” they don’t look like nobody owns them when mummy is not present!)
George and I started Smokks a year and a half ago and it took off quickly so we didn’t think we would be as busy so soon, so in our family business he does everything financial and production wise and I do the creative and social/PR side. I think it works well when it’s divided and no one is ever going to work as hard on your business or be as passionate about it as you are. So I think we have a really great balance in many ways. I’m an early riser so I get a lot done by 7.30 am (I wake up daily at 5 am without fail…my dream is to sleep until 8 am just one day in my life!). We don’t have a nanny or any family in the United States so we share everything, we love the equally shared parenting philosophy and it really works for us..two Aries and a Libra! Best team ever.
Do you work in a home office, and if you do, how do you deal with working from home (while parenting)? When I am working on Smokks I work from home and in hotel rooms before and after work..home is challenging as Pompie always wants to “play” so we take turns. Pompie is very theatrical in the sense that she loves movies and acting them out..at the moment we are in our singing in the rain phase so she does waft off into a beautiful dream world with music and our big mirror and act out scenes for hours on end – she calls it playing movies. Santa has a wonderful eye and dropped off a couple of Tutu De Monde outfits under the tree so generally she’s an old time flapper girl. I do play UNO and Zingo in between doing our social media moments! In saying this–we try to get everything done in school hours.
What would you say is your “mom uniform”? I am very simple..it’s a Smokk or I do a jean and v-neck cashmere sweater…I don’t layer! Alway in winter a knee high boot and a knee length Moncler down coat. George is the same actually but even more uniformed..dark denim jeans, Navy v-neck t shirts..all year round. When he finds his thing he literally buys 5 of them and that’s it for the year. We both love everything to be as simple but made well.
Do you cook much–if you don’t, what are your ways around not cooking, and if you do, what are your go-tos–both for yourself, and for your kid? I LOVE cooking! When home I cook most nights and when away I cook before I leave to make life easier for my husband so he just has to heat food up. Our go-to super easy meal would be roast salmon and rice and an arugula parmesan salad. We eat together every night and we eat one meal..none of this separate meals carry on for Pompie!! When we do go out which we love to do we actually do Japanese, Italian and our new favorite hot spot is Streetbird, Marcus Samuelsson’s new chicken joint.
What’s your weeknight family dinner routine? Same time every night and all together. It’s so nice to sit down together, catch up on our days, Pompie’s day, and play UNO, or as Pompie says “talk about fancy things”..like princesses!
How do you celebrate your Pompie’s birthdays? We have a party every second year rule! This year we sit it out. Last year was great..we won a kids’ party at our school auction, which included pizza and the school’s gymnasium. We invited 2 other friends to join us as the kids birthdays were so close and it meant we got to free up 2 weekends for families which the parents loved! We had a bouncy castle, a hilarious clown called Banana Peel (for you New Yorkers with young kids) and lots of pizza. The kids loved it. We had it from 4-6 so kids were fed, worn out and ready for bed! Oh and a Happy Hour for the parents.. that’s kind of a must!
Best kid purchase/bang for your buck? This may sound strange..a mannequin!! The best $49 ever spent! ever!! We bought a mannequin ( well 3) for a Smokk show and little did we know..Pompie has spent endless daily hours playing “Dress up and Movies” with these new friends! she keeps the 2 kids sizes in her room and puts what she wants to wear to school the next day (always a Smokk) and we’re ready!..oh the joy!
Any rules about TV/screens? We were TV-free for the first 2 years of Pompie’s life and now it’s only weekends. We prefer movies over shows so it just doesn’t keep going. Our go- to shows the Brady Bunch, and Bewitched maybe because I like them!
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life? Preferred social media is….? Romy and the Bunnies, Conde Nast Traveler, Pirouette, Passported (formerly Feather and Flip) Lonny, Coos and Ahhs, The Grace Tales, and The Glow. I love family travel and experience. I always have ants in my pants for a new experience and Pompie is the same…George is a little more reserved..I twist his arm slightly! Instagram is my thing..I understand it and love that’s it’s a visual thing. Love love love home and design and still always go back to The Cool Hunter. I am guilty of loving GOOP as well. It encompasses everything and is so straightforward, and look forward to my Lonny almost daily updates..I love the feeling of stepping into someones else’s shoes for a minute..
What’s a typical weekend like? Friday nights we go out for dinner probably with family/friends which is always fun. We do ballet on Saturdays and after we explore and see what’s on that we can do, Sundays are pretty casual..usually a trip to the Hungarian pastry shop and a visit with our local peacocks Harry Jim and Phil that live at St Johns Divine…and some park and movie time. George and I split the day as well half on half off so we get some time for ourselves.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you? (Photo albums? Organizing your kids art projects? Planning a family trip?) Yes – photos! Omg…I discovered this amazing app that made art collecting of Pompie’s so much easier ArtKive. I take a photo as the art work comes home then “artkive” it and press “make a book” and it’s done and the grandparents get a xmas gift!
Best family trip? Aspen! As a family, a ski trip is our favorite..it’s exhilarating.
Any small business advice–like what is something you wish someone had told you when you started your business? And what is something you just can’t live without? Starting a business is like having a baby..if someone dares to tell you the truth you might not ever do it! Loving what you do is the key I think. I mean it’s so much more than that.. however that’s a good start. I feel like you have to be so hungry out there now..be fierce and lovely! I can’t live without my iPhone!! i know it’s sad yet true- I have to take pictures of everything all the time!
Any personal/parenting “a-ha” tips? Bedtime is our time that we talk about emotions so if anything has happened through the day it comes out just before bed. If we ask “how was your day” right after school we get the “good” quick response..bed time it goes in-depth!
You feel your best when? I exercise, especially swim.
Guiltiest pleasure? Facials..anytime-anywhere, please!
Proudest moment in parenting? I think recently when Pompie was with some friends and 2 girls had a little of banter of the usual stuff..”you’re not coming my party bla bla” all the girl fun stuff..Pompie walked away and said “oh mum I’m just not getting involved”!! I laughed so much and at the same time thought..oh so mature and great!
Best parenting advice you ever got? I am a mummy’s girl I have to say and my best friend has 2 amazing girls so I rely on them for their amazing insights. I think for me (and no one knows my strengths and weaknesses like my mother) so her advice about getting a great routine going is really the best advice for us as a family and my BFF helped me with the sleep routine when Pompie was born and we got a baby that slept through the night by 6 weeks and she still does. I feel like sleep is such a key to a good child. And like my mother no one knows my daughter like I do so I always feel my way of what we think is right, and Pompie is so expressive about all her feeling so we can always get a good sense from her. I do think the old saying is true “mother knows best”.