So excited to present our very first c+w interview! This will be an ongoing series that will feature wildly beautiful and creative entrepreneurial moms who embrace a healthy lifestyle as well as all of their imperfections. Today we chat with Gretchen, 34, about all things beauty, style, and simplicity. She is a lifelong friend of mine who is truly the most real and honest person i know. I have always admired her deeply and feel lucky to have her as our first guest! Gretchen lives with her sweet husband Derek and two ADORABLE boys; Fausto 3 and Boui 1. Welcome sweet lady!!
What makes you a creative?
I work at a big advertising agency called Hill Holliday. I manage our in-house production where we shoot and edit a lot of the agency's work. I am lucky to work with a lot of really talented and creative people. I'm a producer and have always viewed my role as bringing creative visions to life by taking what's on paper and bringing the right people together to make it a reality. I love that part of my job and i love seeing the final product when it all comes together.
Outside of work cooking has always been a passion of mine. Before kids, i spent a lot of time experimenting with new recipes and techniques. I even had a food blog for a few years! My husband used to joke when i made a meal he really liked that it's too bad he would never have it again because i never cooked the same thing twice. My time to cook is much more limited now but i still like to be creative with meals and try new recipes. There are just a lot more simple one pot meals these days!
Describe your abode:
My family and I live in a teeny tiny apartment in Boston's South End. It's 1 bedroom and about 700 square feet. It's pretty nuts but for us the small space is a sacrifice that's worth it. We absolutely love living in the city and our neighborhood in particular. We really have a community there. Our kids know the neighbors, the people that work at the local shops, the owners of the bar down the street, even the local construction crews! This is mainly because we bike and walk everywhere so we are out talking to people all the time year round. I also have a super short commute to work which really maximized the time i get to spend with my family.
What's changed since having the kiddos?
Everything! It's hard to remember a life before children. I definitely look back on those days and can't believe i thought my life was busy then! It was nothing compared to now. I work full time and my husband is mostly home with the boys. So when i am not working i try and give him a little break from them. I think one of the biggest things you learn as a working mom is how to be more efficient with your time. It also really puts things into perspective. I find that some little things that used to stress me out don't really seem like a big deal anymore.
Where does simplicity show up in your life?
Living in a tiny apartment has forced me to streamline and simplify. I still have too much stuff but i try to really pay attention to what i actually need and use on a daily basis and clear out (or at least hide away) everything else. My husband is great at this and...i'm working on it.
You have awesome style can you describe it to us?
For me style is all about not getting stuck in a rut or wearing only a certain look. I like to mix my style up, change it, readjust. I am lucky to work in a creative industry where i can basically wear anything to work. Some days its jeans and sneakers and other days dresses and heels. I like to think of my style as being eclectic although it leans towards classic and preppy and at times, i like to throw in some fun bohemian and trendy pieces. But, lately i have been really into tomboy/menswear inspired styles. Button down shirts, boy-cut jeans (the more holes the better), and oxfords.
The dress i am wearing in the photo above is from Sonnet James. I am obsessed with her dresses! She's a mom who started her business as a kick-starter to make "play dresses". They're adorable and made with super comfy stretchy material that you can get dirty in. They are not too short and not too low cut and so versatile. I'll wear them with sandals and sneakers on the weekends and tights and ankle boots to work.
How do you stay healthy?
Food is a huge priority in our family. It's very important to us that we eat local, seasonal food made from scratch as much as possible. I try to build meals around vegetables and use meats as a garnish rather then the main component. Practically all of our dinners are one-pot meals like soups, stir fry's, casseroles, pasta dishes. And it isn't not just because they're easier and you can make large portions (hello leftovers) but because its a lot easier to get the kids to eat vegetables when they are chopped up and mixed in with other foods...although somehow they manage to pick out all the kale! I strongly believe that if you make food from scratch with whole ingredients, you don't need to be restrictive with what you eat. There is plenty of cream and butter in our lives. If you make it yourself, to me that is healthy.
What are some of your imperfections and how to you use them to your advantage?
I'm a natural introvert, which sometimes can make me come off as being aloof or bitchy. When i was younger i always felt like being "shy" or "quiet" were bad things. These are qualities that we don't normally celebrate in children. I have never been scared or intimidated by social interaction i just don't love small talk and prefer spending time by myself. As i have gotten older i have learned to love and embrace these parts of myself. I don't care if i am not the life of the party. Building close personal relationships are much more important to me. Also, spending time alone these days is a complete luxury. It's not easy being an introvert living in a tiny home with 3 crazy boys!!
We are constantly growing and working on ourselves. What are you working on right now?
Being more patient, listening more, and yelling less are my current goals as a parent, as a boss, and just as a person. I have a tendency to react and respond too quickly so i am working on listening and hearing people through before jumping to give an answer or try to solve the problem.
What is your beauty regime?
I am just emerging form spending four years straight either pregnant or nursing, feeling like my body was not my own. It was so hard during that time to focus on myself, on looking my best, and paying attention to my own beauty needs. My body went through so many changes i felt i aged exponentially during that time. So coming out of the baby haze i really needed to adjust my beauty routine. I have also stepped up my makeup game because a fresh face and a swipe of mascara doesn't cut it anymore. I discovered CC cream which is a moisturizer, foundation, and corrector all in one. I use Supergoop and it's amazing. Also Yves St Laurent Touche éclat concealer is a lifesaver. I love playing with fun lipstick colors and really like Ilia and Bite brands. Bite is made of all food grade products so you can actually eat it (if you had to).
I have been trying to switch to more natural less chemical products. I recently started using a natural deodorant from Fat and the Moon. It smells amazing and actually works. Some other products that i love:
What are 5 things you cannot live without?
- coffee (my husband makes his own cold brew and it's our life blood)
- chocolate (unoriginal but so true)
- my iPhone (guilty)
- a water bottle (i get anxiety if i don't have one at all times)
- my boys (obviously)
What advice do you have for other mothers looking to find balance in both being healthy and staying creative?
I think the key to balance is to try not to do it all. I really think the idea of "having it all" is a myth that sets us up for failure and just makes us feel bad about not being perfect. I think its important to live in the moment and focus on one aspect of your life at a time. And you need a really strong support system to help pick up the slack in the other areas that aren't getting your focus. When i am at work i try really hard to focus on doing the best i can in my job and career and not stress out about all the things i am missing out on at home or with my kids. Just being present wherever you are, do the best you can, and for goodness sake let go of the guilt!
Thanks Gretchen for all your words of wisdom and letting us peak into your wildly beautiful and imperfect life. You can follow her on instagram and please like, share, and leave her a comment below!!
* first photo by liz colanto