A former stylist, Sacha Dunn realized a couple years ago that her true (and unexpected) calling was in cleaning products. Last year, she co-founded Common Good, a line of green cleaners in eco-friendly packaging that are designed to be refilled at various “stations” throughout New York. (The plan is to go national this year.) She is originally from Sydney, Australia, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two kids Max, 6, and Sadie, 3.
How did you wind up move from Sydney to New York?
My now-husband Edmund and I had been together for several years and decided that we were too settled, so we moved to New York. We started all over again and it was well worth it — we got a second youth!
How did Common Good come about?
On a trip back to Sydney to see my parents, I was doing laundry and realized that we were buying refill pouches to refill Mum’s laundry bottle. We wondered: Why we couldn’t do that back in New York where we were still recycling giant bags of plastic bottles each week?
Now I work from home and have a much more flexible schedule than I did as a freelance stylist. I can take the kids to the doctor and go to their shows. I also get a huge kick out of being able to pick up one of our products and know that it might make a tiny difference.
What are your tricks for living with children’s things?
We try to keep the amount of stuff they have reasonable, passing on toys that they’ve grown out of. But every surface still ends up with piles of stuff. The volume of art projects is huge — if it’s really special, like a recent self-portrait Max did, we frame it; if it’s great, we put it on the fridge for a few weeks until the magnets just can’t hold them any more, then we move them to the “art drawer” where they stay indefinitely. One day, when no one is looking, I edit out and keep some for the archives and chuck the rest. I feel guilty but there’s just no way to keep EVERYTHING!
How do you celebrate birthdays?
Max’s 6th birthday was Superman themed. Our friend, Phoebe made a giant Superman crest cake with the most lurid frosting we’d ever seen. We ran up some capes with left over fabric I had from my styling days — they weren’t superhero-y at all, they were polkadot and florals. The kids just ran around in the park and had a great time.
Sadie turned 3 in July. It was one of those 100-degree days so we had a little party at our place. She wanted a polar bear baby and a polar bear mummy cake (which sounds hard but is better than the other option which was a “Kitty cat that when you lift it up has a love heart underneath”). We made some big crepe paper pom poms to hang from the ceiling and blew up some balloons. I made pink grapefruit soda for the kids and Pimms cocktails and coffee for the adults — no reason why the grown ups should suffer.
What are some of your family rituals?
Ever since Max was little, we do the same thing every night. He was such a tricky kid to get to bed that I had to create a routine. Sadie’s always been happy to go to bed but she loves the routine, too. We snuggle in bed and read one story each. Then the lights go out and I sing them one song each, and then kisses and hugs. They will do anything to keep me there as long as possible, so I have to keep it the same every night or I’m in trouble.
What are your go-to activities when you’re stuck indoors?
It’s so great now that Max wants me to read chapter books. We’re on our first Harry Potter book and, honestly I’d read it to him all day if I could. We all like cooking, so baking is a good option. Or they just tear the living room apart and make a fort.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off?
Updating software and editing photos.
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine?
Hardly fail-safe but Benefit has a great brightening thing that does seem to work a little magic.
What’s your favorite accessory—something that makes you feel instantly pulled together?
A pair of Prada boots I bought way before having kids. They will last forever, which is good because I love them.
As a parent, what are you great at? What responsibility to you happily hand over to your partner?
I don’t think I’m great at anything all of the time. I think Edmund and I are both great at many things and also suck at them some of the time. If anything, I guess I’m good at calming them down. Edmund is good at pushing them to do exciting things and have adventures.
What kind of parenting advice did you receive from your parents? What was mom/dad right (or wrong!) about?
The only advice Mum ever gave me about having kids was to go and live life for a while beforehand. Once I had kids, they were full of helpful advice about every little question I had. They really just reinforced that everything would be ok. When I was up at night with Max, I could call Mum because it was daytime in Australia, so that was fantastic.
Proudest moment in parenting?
This might be the proudest moment for all of us — Edmund, me, Max, and my parents. We were upstate when Sadie was born prematurely at 31 weeks. She was in the hospital for nearly seven weeks and then on an apnea monitor for six months. I had to drive three hours each day to see her. My Mum flew out the day she was born and helped look after Max who was only 3 then, himself. Now Sadie is 3, and is so sweet and so feisty. She doesn’t even know how fragile she was. Three years ago, it seemed impossible that we could ever have a normal life with two healthy children but we do.