We have been huge fans of Lucky Fish since our kids were toddlers, so we jumped when we had a chance to meet the mom behind one of the brightest, happiest brands out there.
Give us a little background on yourself/what you do/how you came to it.
I grew up in South Africa, and while at art school I began printing textiles on the side to earn some money. I worked with a friend, Jane Solomon, with whom I still collaborate as designer for her South Africa-based line of textiles, FabricNation. After college, as the struggle to end apartheid reached its crescendo, I taught at a non-profit, the Community Arts Project, teaching T-shirt design and production to young activists as part of media training program. We also worked in “workshop style” teaching, designing and producing media for the anti apartheid movement and its organizations. It was an exciting time.
After that, I took off a few years traveled around Europe and lived in London, as many of us from the global south like to do. Amazingly, I managed to survive by doing markets and selling tees all over the continent. After that, I went home made more printed clothing, and also art. I moved to New York in 1994. My son was born in 1996, and when I finally had time, I started printing tees for the kids — there was nothing really that was cool in the stores at the time, so felt like a necessity! I have two big children now — Milla is 11, and Gabe is 17!
Where do you live?
Do you work in a home office, and if you do, how do you deal with working from home?
I have a studio/office and a home office, but me and my lap top work from anyplace!
What would you say is your “mom uniform”?
Dress code denim!
Do you cook much if you don’t, what are your ways around not cooking, and if you do, what are your go-tos?
So my husband has totally overtaken the cooking and he is a really great cook! Not a day goes by without a Whole Foods shop, and even weeknight dinners are kind of extravagant! He’s going to provide the go-to recipe. One of our favorites : Ottolenghi’s Zatar chicken, which works for family or dinner parties. Right now, we are ramp crazy — having just picked a bunch with the kids upstate.
What’s your weeknight family dinner routine?
We come home late. My daughter is busy almost every afternoon, so it’s homework and some time with our devices! Tony cooks for all of us and we eat kind of late–enjoy some family time with something delicious!
How do you celebrate your children’s birthdays?
We did all the fun decorative party stuff when they were little, but as kids got older, they now love to go to Joe’s Shanghai for soup dumplings for their birthday dinner. We take gangs of kids, grab one of the huge
round tables and it’s so much fun. Sometimes the waiters sing Happy Birthday; sometimes if you are lucky you might get a candle in your orange wedge. Then, home for sleepovers and some kind of make-it-yourself and eat-all-you-like parfait sundae whipped cream indulgence because oranges don’t really cut it for birthday desert.
Best kid purchase/bang for your buck?
Yard sales, yards sales, yard sales, best deals in Brooklyn! There are tons in our neighborhood. And here in New York the abundance of sample sales make fun shopping for the kids.
Any rules about TV/screens?
So sorry we no longer have any! Rules that is. No TV was allowed when they were little, only movies on DVD. It didn’t help much: they are both addicts. But I think everybody is these days.
Preferred social media is….?
I’ve just been through an instagram obsession…it’s kind of tapering off now…been trying to avoid Pinterest (afraid its going to be a time sucker) but now I’m getting into it a little bit.
What’s a typical weekend like?
Some things I like about weekends…Weekends are very seasonal: in summer we beach as much as possible and love to picnic in the parks in spring and fall. The Brooklyn waterfront barbecue area is a fantastic option for warm-weather cookouts. I love museums movies and brunches in winter time. And we go upstate a bunch. To Margaretville where we have a communal rental (we share the house with friends) on an organic vegetable farm. That is my favorite in summer. We build fires, work in the fields, planting, picking, weeding, eat field-to-table meals. We go hiking, swimming. Just enjoy the outdoors. In the winter I can get into crafting pottery, beading, dyeing etc. Watching lots of movies. So much fun. The kids like going skiing but it’s not really my thing. (Oh and we have no wifi up there!)
What’s the thing that always stays on your to do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you?
It’s all about buttons ! They fall off everything. I mean to sew them back on but never do. Looking at that pile drives me crazy! I remember my mother teaching me how to do that.
Do you have a failsafe beauty product or routine?
Right now I use a line from South Africa for sun damaged souls like me! Environ. It’s also available here.
I’m not sure that I’m a believer in anything though I love trying new stuff out.
Best family trip?
Vieques in Puerto Rico—great for beautiful and relaxing family trip around this time of year. But visiting friends and family in South Africa is always the most special for us.
Any small business advice like what is something you wish someone had told you when you started your business?
Hardest part is getting started. Second hardest part is keeping it going! You have to be prepared to do it all to know and understand all aspects of your business. So you don’t have to love it all, but you need to be able to do it all. And don’t employ your friends!
And what is something you just can’t live without?
I suppose it is my phone now. I can’t imagine life without it.….maybe….mascara!
Any personal/parenting “aha” tips?
It’s all developmental, and occurs on its own time – try not to panic too much along the way.
You feel your best when?
I have a tan!
Coffee and chocolate and cocktails–but why should that make me feel guilty?
Proudest moment in parenting?
When I see them standing up for the rights of others. When the kids clean up after dinner and my boy takes out the recycling! When he kisses the top of my head because he is 6 foot now. When my daughter gives me life advice! My kids are now both so wise! And she bakes amazing cupcakes.
Best parenting advice you ever got?
Choose a babysitter you would like to like to spend time with yourself!