Say our names

‘Tigers die and they leave their skins.
People die and they leave their names.’
Japanese proverb

PTSD is real but it is very rarely explained to you if you are not a war veteran. You are a hot mess unable to articulate the out of body experience that you go through as you are under the onslaught of hate crime news and images.

I never cry. But I cried when Trump won. And I cried when a murderer shot and killed Asian women – a hate crime at the apex of xenophobia and misogyny. The murders sent me into a frantic whirlpool of high anxiety. I got triggered big time. After a week of profound numbness, I started to sketch out the crux to my suffering: racial trauma compounded by a personal story of domestic violence and sexual harassment. Turns out that the body and mind never forget.

The amount of shit I need to unpack is unlikely to be sorted by journaling. But I have to do something. Let me start ‘small’. Let me start by saying that anti-asian racism is not new, and is not mild. Micro-agressions cripple us. And today I am going to start with our names.

While I am not claiming that Asians are the sole victims of unfortunate nicknaming (who has not been given annoying pet names by their grannies, lovers or besties??), I am talking about the toxic lifelong feeling of being a bother or embarrassing others by your 10 letter first name. I am talking about being nicknamed on the spot by complete strangers, or worse, people in positions of power and the symbolic violence that comes with it.

The below is an everyday reality for me and many Asian people.

‘-Sorry for butchering your name but it is , you have to admit, very complicated. I am going to call you Sam or Soum.

-I would rather not.
-Ok, what shorter name can I call you?


-C’mon help me here. It is very long!’

I always think about retorting ‘So is Jean-Baptiste or Carmichael’ but I know better. The length of my name is not what we are talking about right now. As I was being well reminded of by every teacher, every year:
‘Sou……well you know who you are so can you raise your hand now?’
It is a vicious circle of embarrassment for you, the person calling you and everyone else witnessing the exchange; a circle that you learn from a young age to break by:

  • taking a western name. I have seen some folks taking notes for inspo while watching a French dubbed ‘The Little House on the Prairie’. SMH
  • raising your hand as quickly as if you were on a starting block, snatching your name tag right way at work conferences to prevent the reception staff from frantically looking for your name on the guest list because ‘it is so exotic’
  • rehearsing mnemonic tips for folks to say your name, to make it easy on them

The latter eventually got on my nerves – big time – as I was increasingly navigating in circles of accomplished grown ups. People could figure out complex financial algorithms but could not attempt to articulate 3 syllables together?

For the longest time, I was not fully aware of how such tactics were symbolic violence asserting subordination, squeezing the space I could claim in the world.

How can you fight for what you are owed when your first instinct is to not bother, when from the moment you meet someone you are made to feel that your identity is taken away from you by a simple ‘I will call you Sam, ok?’.

My name is Soumountha and I will stop telling folks that ‘it is like ‘Samantha’ with a ‘ou’’. It is nothing like Samantha. It is actually a gender neutral name, mostly given to men. My dad fought with my maternal great grandmother to give me this name and he keeps telling me that it means ‘Great person’. He is probably bullshitting me; but I will own gladly this bullshit.

Learning is tough. Becoming an Ally is tough. But calling someone their real name should not be. Don’t be frustrated at someone who lets you battle in the mud of pronunciation and syllables and tonals; be grateful.

If you want to know more about how to become an Ally, you can follow those social media accounts among others:


Painting by me.

Woman in the trenches

Almost a year since New York’s first lockdown…

I have put on the reserve bench many of my functions, prioritizing the feeding and teaching of my kids. This is what this ‘pandemic war’ is asking out of my body and soul while others are sent to the front lines to deliver groceries or heal the sick.

I have been drafted and have accepted that my contribution to society is what I am the worst at: ‘Children’. I have always fancied myself as a Katniss in a dystopian war movie, but who are we kidding? I would be the character who drags their feet, wetting their pants, and screaming “I don’t want to go!!!”. Very likely I would also disappear five minutes after the opening credits.

Therefore, there will be no D-day for me. Instead, I decided to handle home schooling like a company. Here is the business plan for the financial year 2020/21.

My entry level staff aka my children presented overall low work ethics so I had to call in a trusted training manager: babysitter Simone.

I promoted leadership development through an employee-owned fitness program with my daughter improvising herself as a yoga master for the entire family.

Daily chat board meetings with other mama-directors are held to discuss revenues, expenses and Profit/Loss of the pandemic.

The compensation structure will not include cash but owner’s equity in my children’s 2033 annual salary.

As for immediate dividends payments, they will be expected on Mother’s day, May 9th with no deferring allowed.

Signed and approved by Soumountha, CEO, CFO, HR director and janitor

Sharing home office

Friday, March 13 at 9:19 AM

‘Denial is the most predictable of all human responses-.


A has been just told not to go to the office and work from until further notice and I don’t think I have seen this man smile as much in the 20 years of his financial career at 6.30am in the morning. He is the least suit guy of the suit guys. He is also deep inside an introvert. So he is thriving right now. Trading in sweatpants, complaining about my old Macbook Air because he was rushed out of the building and somehow could not get a spare piece of Corporate America tech.

I feel a little violated by weird scrolling screens with zillions of red and green lines of numbers and abbreviations. Hard to believe I did once advanced mathematics. All this feels very ‘The Matrix’ to me: I cannot understand a damn thing and people talk in robotic voices. After eavesdropping for a couple of hours, without any doubt in my mind, I can say that I have no idea what Antoine does for a living. NO BLOODY IDEA. 

I have been living with the man for 20 years and nope. Don’t get it, can’t get it. It occurs to me that I have been chit chatting about A’s job for years at his work drinks and Christmas parties and that his colleagues were very way too polite, nodding at some credit derivative BS coming out my mouth. It occurs to me that they may have thought : ‘she must be good at sex and be a good cook’. Oh well…

I look at A. sideways because he is smiling way too much. It is very unsettling. He looks like this new colleague who keeps smiling at you so much that you feel that you should really invite him to join your lunch break – the lunch break you planned a week ago that was going to be a “Friday let’s get hammered’ lunch with my girlfriends who work nearby aka besties who are already working from home today. 

Eventually, my ‘new colleague’ skips off for lunch and the girls’ lunch is back on. It is strange because we don’t get to hug each other and instead we do those kiddie side magic hands. We ponder whether we should be using environment destroying straws or not for our wine and Prosecco. We share our french fries, feeling somewhat naughtier than a Halloween naughty nurse, because are we even supposed to share anything now?

We are pouring our souls out, lamenting our shortcomings as mothers. And I go something like this:

‘Total meltdown the other day. I just blanked out. Did not know what to do.’ 

Two fries chuffed in. Two sips of Prosecco.

‘I don’t know if  I like them most days but I am pretty sure they hate me most days’. 

Three fries chuffed in. Four sips of Prosecco. 

‘I suck; I really do. I am failing this. Fuck, kids’ therapy; I am the one who needs therapy. Do I need therapy?’ 

Five fries chuffed in. Ordering another Prosecco.

‘They are talking about closing schools. It is a joke, right? Because I cannot stay home with them. I cannot.’ 

No fries left. Downing bottom up the second Prosecco.

We say our ‘I love yous’ and ‘You Are Not Alones’. It feels good but when I leave, I have a strange feeling. We say bye to each other – still with the jazzy hands – and joke ‘well, we see each other (LONGEST PAUSE)…soon?’ But it echoes pitch less. Yeah, soon does not sound the right word far from it.


How I started to slowly lose my chill about Covid19

Losing your chill

March 12 at 3:18 PM

‘Mother, mother

There’s too many of you crying

Brother, brother, brother

There’s far too many of you dying

You know we’ve got to find a way

To bring some lovin’ here today, eh eh

What is Going On?’ – Marvin Gaye

[Disclaimer: I want to say that I am taking Covid 19 very seriously and all my thoughts are going to those who are already affected.  I just need to process the last 24 hours in my very own neurotic way.]

I usually never panic. When everything falls apart around me, my face does not move and I usually keep chopping onions. This is probably the result of a rather troubled childhood. Growing up in a home where people would get screamed at or hit at for no apparent reasons, or where you are having dinner without never knowing the person who is eating next to you trains you for the ‘no reaction resting bitch face’.

Ten years living in New York sealed the deal: nothing, absolutely nothing fazes you. Things, for example, like your children wanting to apply their CPR technique on a crack addict who fell on the street at 8am build up your armor. You just cannot lose your cool over here.

Yes, I always pride myself for never showing emotions and keep on, business as usual. And I chop onions, cilantro too. My favorite garnish.

However, here’s the step by step recount of the day when I started to waver during the coronavirus pandemic.

Step 1: What is going on in Whole Foods???

I get a concerned call in the middle of a business meeting from my husband, A., begging me to get medications and food because ‘we may have a lockdown situation on our hands soon’.

I am laughing; he is not. He is really getting on my nerves right now. I truly married Mr Doom and he does not even wear a freaking cape. His hipster beard is NOT a steel mask so can he just drop the act? OK, fair enough, he has foreseen countless financial crises or dips which saved us some money on the housing market back in 2007. Still, I am still not over that time when he refused to tape our windows for the Irene hurricane mocking me for my over reacting – which led to angry sex and…my youngest son, L., 9 months later as I was barely out from breast feeding the twins. I am not regretting the arrival of  L. but I am still mad about the Irene’s ‘I am not duct taping your fucking windows’. So we argue for 5 mins over today’s ‘it is the end of the world’ shopping.

Eventually, I give in mainly out of pure viciousness. He has been a total jackass about our grocery bill for months and I am having a free rein today? B**** , no need to tell me twice.

So here I am casually strolling through Whole Foods getting Morbier cheese and snails in a jar just to take the piss. But then, I end up facing empty shelves after empty shelves. There are no pasta, rice, lentils, or quinoa. Granted it is freaking Whole Foods so there is always a shortage of quinoa. I do lose my smug face straight there.

When the same shit happens in the frozen veggies section, I start frowning. The only thing left is frozen corn – which is not a vegetable by the way.

When I see that the only sugar left is biodynamic organic sugar – whatever it freaking means – I am getting dizzy. Hmmm…

Note to self: biodynamic means ‘of or relating to a system of farming that follows a sustainable, holistic approach which uses only organic, usually locally-sourced materials for fertilizing and soil conditioning, views the farm as a closed, diversified ecosystem, and often bases farming activities on lunar cycles.’
Is it bad that as I am reading this definition the first thing I am thinking is the female body and menstruations and not sugar at all?

Guess if we are in a lockdown, the folks who will be ahead of all of us are the ones who know how to make their own bread, cook frozen corn and flax seeds.

As I am pondering whether or not I am ready to take the flaxseeds leap of faith to add to the dry ‘no idea what these are’ mung beans in my shopping cart, I am texting my girlfriends to laugh. My girlfriends and I have this 24h day SMS line in which texts go from ‘I just told my kids to shut up’ to ‘people need to check their privilege’ or ‘shots, vodka or Prosecco? #askingafriend’ . These women do not play, they don’t BS and talk it real. Harlem real. I rely on them every day to keep me cool as a cucumber. Or just cool, period.

I start ranting about how people are all nuts starting with my own husband. But after 5 mins, I realize that I have now set up a train wreck in motion. ‘Speed 2: the movie’ has nothing on me right now.  Keanu, come back and save me!!!

Yep, my girlfriend’s husband is texting her now: ‘A. knows something!!! Get food, get cash!’.

Me: ‘Chill out, ladies, A. knows nothing!!! He is a hypochondriac!!! Stop freaking out, people!’

But it is too late, way too late. Guess I am really taking that last organic semolina pasta pack off the shelf.

Step 2: Corona caused first family dispute

A. comes back home: ‘if the whole city shutdowns, should we drive to Vermont???’
Me: ‘The city is not SHUTTING DOWN! This is New York. Stop it!’
Then he starts questioning my ‘it is the end of the world’ supplies: ‘that’s it?’

Me: ‘oh yeah???? You are complaining? Are you kidding me?  Look at me losing my shit now! This is me dealing with 5 hours at the ER eye center with L. and looking at him licking the reception desk. Yes! LICKING!

This is me taking G for 3 cavities filling. This is me being blamed for being late for ballet by P because I was bloody looking for pasta…yes, there is a shutdown: MINE !!!! And yes, you are going down Sir but because I am going to smother you in your sleep! I am and I am going to take my fucking time doing it.’

Things got silent quickly at the dining table. I am so not cool as a cucumber right now. Try jalapeño heat level.

Step 3: Overnight, these things happen. 

Tom Hanks is sick with Covid19. If Mr Nice dies, it is the end. The world does not need this right now. Tom, I am ready to go all ‘Saving Private Ryan’ on you. We all need you to make it.

Travel from Europe is banned. Okay…

The Met is shutting down. What?

Broadway is closing until further notice for the first ever, 100 million dollars in revenue loss expected.. I am beyond Jalapeño now. I am not chopping onions or cilantro anymore. I am leaking like some cheap runny guacamole.

I wake up and want to apologize to A. but instead text: ‘why is there still no wine on your ‘must haves bunker list’ ???

Guacamole, I am. But a bitchy guacamole.

(Raising) Kids in America post election 2016

‘Looking out a dirty old window
Down below the cars in the city go rushing by
I sit here alone and I wonder why’

Kids in America – Kim Wilde

I woke up numb after going to bed feeling sick to the stomach. The results of the US presidential elections emptied my soul in a way I feared it would. I am feeling numb, sad, angry, afraid, shocked, rejected, hated, useless, abused. I really don’t know what to say to my kids who both ‘voted’ in class for the qualified person to be in charge. Sorry kiddos, your wish was not granted. How do you explain this morning to your kids that, in most states, their fellow Americans have chosen a person and ideology that hate your parents and what they stand for? How do I get up tomorrow without hating and fearing whom who hate and fear me? How can I forgive and understand women who vote for a Trump/Pence ticket?

As I am nursing P who ironically woke up sick with fever (atta girl), I started to think hard about the conversations DH and I have been having with G in the last month or so about his new class.

As you may know, we decided to send our kids to our local public school. And the first month has been a mixed bag of emotions. We love being in the school community; we miss our friends and their children who are in other schools. It is kind of normal. But something else has happened. Some things in life challenge you to the core and demand that you rise above your own fears. I very recently realized that the guiding hand can be that of our children. Let’s set some background here.

Our local school is predominantly Black and Hispanic and while P is in a very culturally diverse class, our son G is the only non Black or Hispanic kid in his class. Some public schools also have classes with students who have special needs and G’s class is one of them. I could not help but wondered how G was doing. Growing up as a child, for about three years I was in whites only class between the age of 6 and 9 – with the exception of my own sister and a Black kid from Ethiopia who was constantly bullied. It was very traumatizing to me. I used to pull my own nose every night for 15 minutes to ‘construct’ a nose bridge because I was sick of having a ‘flat face’. I wanted to change my name to Stephanie and was so adamant about it that my dad slapped me in the face screaming: ‘Over my DEAD body’. Dad: I will never thank you enough for calling my shit out. I have nothing to do with a Stephanie. An Imogen maybe, but never a Stephanie 🙂

For all these reasons, every morning, I feared that G was going to get picked at because he is the only kid with straight hair. Picked at, the same way my sister and I were, because we were the only kids with slanted eyes and darker skins with weird sounding names. I tried to rationalize my concerns but I could not help but feel some anxiety.

Then one day, an accident happened with a little boy X who has some behavior issues. He kicked G… The teachers handled the incident very well but it did not stop my concerns. A few weeks later, there was another incident with another kid XX. I started to panic in my own head like a crazy mom. Thank god DH is more sensible.

Is it G in particular that gets picked on because he is half Asian, half Caucasian? The teacher assures me he is well loved in his class so I start asking him questions pretending to be cool and collected (while deep inside I am shitting myself fearing that my son is a victim):

Me: ‘So about that kick with X…what happened afterwards? Are you ok?

G: X is a little difficult with everyone but with me he is cool now.

Me: Oh great. How come?

G: Well, the day after he kicked me I went to see him and asked him if he would become my best friend. He said yes so now we are friends. Also I saw that the teacher who helps him uses the truck to calm him down when he goes a little crazy. He just needs his truck’.

Note: at this point, I think my son is a political genius and the most open-minded and practical chap I know. He kind of put me to shame because instead of letting it go I kept pressing on:

‘What about the other kicks by XX and YY? Is it just you?

G: it is not just me; sometimes it is someone else who gets kicked.

Me: Are you not afraid?

G: No. I am not. And then he starts lowering his voice and murmurs: ‘I am not afraid because I am using my super powers…’

Me: Oh wow. What are those MAGIC super powers???

He starts beaming and screaming: ’To be super super nice!!!’.

This just nailed me. My eyes were moist with tears. ‘How can this little chap be stronger and more generous and fearless than I am?’ I was in awe. That was some weeks ago.

On this 9th November morning, as my soul was crying and as G was getting ready for school I asked him: ‘Can you give me a bit of your superpowers?’ he touched my hand and said ‘ZZZZZZttt’ ‘I only give you a little because I am tired’

 That is OK, buddy. Keep yours. I will have to resource my own power source anyway to not fear and not hate so I can help you next time the way you helped me this morning. You may not have the President you deserve but I will work hard to be the mom you deserve.

That said, I’ll start working tomorrow. Today this mama is on strike. #notmypresident




The only mother I can be

‘It is not what I do; it is who I am.’

Some self-motivational chap somewhere on the Internet whose quote – despite my skeptical dispositions – I cannot seem to shake off.

As most of you know, I have changed careers more than Kanye West said he loved himself. I think I can claim that I was always good enough at what I was doing and probably nobody would disagree with it. But I never felt I was at my best. As the founder of Another Garde and mom to 3 kids, I try every day to be that best of me. And boy, it’s a bitch.

I have said it time and time again – without becoming a mom I would have never been strong, centered and humble enough to hustle it out every day to sell a bag or a ring, let alone get out there to build the exposure I need for my business.

But I figured that once you’ve had 3 babies pulled out of your limbs in a bloodbath (thank you, emergency C-sections 1 and 2) and once you have spent years on your knees patting your kids’ bums half naked until the wee hours of the morning, well, you are probably ready for anything and surely ready to do anything.

So yeah, pride and fear have long gone since my stitched up tummy days. I have learnt patience and I am now learning – with a lot of difficulty – to appreciate little victories like having finally my three kids out of diapers or having my first client in Denmark.

However I got annoyed enough this week to ‘take the pen’ again. Not so long ago, I got frustrated by how I had been socially JEDI tricked into thinking that I would be able to walk smiling and having my shit together, 2 months post baby delivery while the reality was that I was suffocating inside spiritually and physically . That sense of betrayal created Redlipstickmama – that infuriating moment when I felt like a hot mess while I was supposed to only feel bliss.

Since then, I am more at peace with myself. But today, I felt the urge again to open my big mouth for another massive rant – just in time for Mother’s Day. Lucky DH.

It is a lame rant because ‘Duh, it is obvious girl…’ but I’ll say it anyway. The other day, I felt sickened by magazine spreads of (fashion) mom entrepreneurs living in oversized downtown apartments harboring Irving Penn’s prints on the walls, wearing designer frocks and looking with adoration at their long wavy haired only child sketching in corduroy covered notebooks (Note: details are totally BS but you get the idea).

I know that perfection is always staged because no one can have such a life or else KILL me now. But it still annoyed the hell out of me. What bothered me the most is that this type of shit used to inspire me, make me dream, live a fantasy for a few minutes but right now I just feel fucking pissed off and feel stolen of my hardship. Things are made so easy that you actually feel shit struggling. It is the post-C section ‘I am so happy’ pictures all over again. I wish there were reports of struggle and not just some ludicrous fantasy advertising ‘Get your ticket, you can be next.’  I wish there were pictures of red faced women trying to breathe in and out the stress of running a company while emptying the dishwasher.

I am very tortured about what I am writing now because I am the founder of a boutique selling quality and elegant design to inspire so shouldn’t I look and sound the part? But what is ‘that part’? Really.

Well, my truth is this one: mom entrepreneurship is ugly. For example:
–      My kids wake me up because once they go to bed, I continue to work late and thus oversleep. I look like a rag and my daughter pushes me: ‘Mom, C’mon. I really don’t want to be late for school. Again. And how can you sleep with a W-E-D-G-I-E? Don’t you find it very uncomfortable?’
–      I am refraining from going to Starbucks because 2 double tall skimmed cappuccinos can pay for an hour of my assistant’s time.
–      My kids have started to talk to strangers on the subway – on their own initiative – to promote my company. They tell everyone their mom is ‘BOSS’. I thought of stopping them out of embarrassment but let them do it thinking ‘you never know, they may find me new clients’. Shameless.
–      I don’t get free clothes. Ever. I pay for them. I only have endless temptations. Like a recovering alcoholic in Pegu bar. Meanwhile, the kids wear polo shirts with way too short sleeves because I lack the time and money for shopping.
–      I have so many IOUs with my friends and family that I hope I am a true Buddhist who will go through various reincarnations to pay up my dues.

Finally and most importantly I wonder every day if my husband will end up divorcing me. Contrary to the popular belief, asking my husband to fully support my folly is not getting him to take nice shots of me wearing skinny leather pants for my Instagram feed (you should check out this video of Instagram husbands, hysterical). And it is more than being the sole income earner. The man behind the mom entrepreneur is a guy who believes so much in her that he is probably now the gayest straight man at work talking about fashion designers crafting beautiful prototypes on their kitchen tables with his female colleagues instead of commenting on the latest Yankees game. It is a guy who is accepting a tougher life to pay for the childcare and cleaning help she needs to be a full-time entrepreneur. A guy who puts his own dreams aside for hers, leaves work earlier to mind for their sick kids or has to take days off to help her set up pop ups in swanky hotels – taping japanese screens and putting IKEA furniture together when he barely knows how to use a screw driver.

It is a guy who does not think he is making her favors but rather knows that she HAS to do this.

And indeed, I have to do this now.

My ticket number to be the next best thing may never be called up. I am not going to lie about it. Who knows?

But what I know is this. With Mother’s day coming up, I do encourage everyone to celebrate their moms because they have shit days – sometimes very often. But this one mama does not need anything from her family. She has been short-changing them for a while now and is just grateful that they accept the Mom and Wife she can be and allow her to be the Woman she wants to be.

Below my journey as an entrepreneur in selfies but with clothes 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 12.07.24 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-03 at 12.07.45 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-03 at 12.08.05 AM

May The Force Be With You or the rat race of kindergarten applications in New York

“Never tell me the odds.”

Han Solo, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back


This week, we received an offer from our local public school for G & P’s kindergarten that starts this Fall. Said this way, it feels like the simplest thing in the whole world. You live somewhere you go the school next door, right? But as any parent living in a big city with an (un)healthy dose of ‘we want the best for our munchkins’ will tell you ‘yeah… you wish but truth is; it is the fucking Hunger Games’.

And DH and I ended unwillingly participating in it. And when will we stop? When you finish reading this, please feel free to judge me. I do judge myself.

Let’s back track a few months to understand my personal journey to insanity. I am a fervent supporter of dual language programs in New York public schools and was hoping a community of French speaking families would be able to open one in our neighborhood – but it was to no avail.

So DH and I decided ‘Fuck this; let’s take it easy and stick to our local community school. It is only kindergarten after all.’

Then, you start having lunches with friends who went to all the private schools’ open houses and interviews in New York. Some have prepared their kids for he last two months for the lauded but also worrying G & T programs ( I still did not figure out the answers to some of the practice test questions). Others have visited all the public schools of the district and have built seriously impressive matrices to rank all options.  You keep hearing that it is essential to start the kids on the best track now so they can go to the best middle school, high school and best college and then best …actually conversations get vague then. But what seems to be the general conclusion is : the likeliness of one kid to be a dropout and be that Facebook guy or a prosperous rapper is slim so really, we need to increase their chances to be… Conversations get even more vague then.

Yes. You have all kinds of reactions and you discover so much about your friends’ and your own anxieties, upbringing, disappointments, hopes etc.

And then you have this kind of mom: the clueless one whom everyone is calling because they think she has her shit together because she wears red lipstick on a Saturday afternoon.

And the clueless mom first standing firm on her resolve to not bother is now starting to wither. ‘OK; everyone is leaving Earth in this shuttle for The Jedi Empire to train Padawans. And I am now on my own with all my principles and my kids because of me will remain forever storm troopers’.

So that is when clueless mom is getting all Darth Vader:

I started to drag the kids on a Sunday morning unprepared to the last spots of G & T testing and your kids are like ‘what the heck? We thought we were going to K’s for a play date!’.

I started to ask questions to people I hadn’t talked to in ages to know where their kids go.

I started to freak out at urban legends of 10 families being on the same lease so as to be zoned  in their coveted school.  Who fucking  does this ?
Actually I do know who does this: immigrant families who have to share rents or have to show a residence to find a job or open a bank account- to basically access basic social and economic rights.

Thank god; sometimes you find another clueless mom to prank with about how a popular school has decided to put places on the waiting list down as fundraising auction prizes. You laugh hysterically and then embarrassingly because for a split second you actually believed her!

In the end, because you are still a lazy shit you end up applying to two public schools.

Fast forward and the results fell this week. At one point of the day, I was on multi texting with 5-6 moms. DRAMA. I tried to lighten the mood: ‘heh guys relax. I think I was in a refugee center for the start of my kindergarten year.’ But in truth it is no joke. Whatever you say, you cannot kick away this interrogation: ‘Am I doing the best for my kids?”

We did not get our first choice; we are on the waiting list for that school and the wait game is now starting. But I am actually good with the second choice we were given too so let’s see.

One thing for sure though is that I will not surrender to the Dark side. If I start to falter I will think hard of ‘The Force Awakens’:

– the main heroes are a scavenger and a rebellious storm trooper who understands what is right and wrong

– and yes luke skywalker may be a freaking powerful Jedi who owns a fucking (deserted) island, but Han Solo was always so much cooler 🙂 Period.




‘Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
It’s only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and…
Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?’
Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

G woke up this morning telling me : ‘Mom I had a really nice dream’.

And the first thing I want to reply is: ‘I don’t really care’.

He and his siblings almost got the end of me yesterday night laughing, fighting, switching the lights on until 10pm while I was trying hard to work on some excel spreadsheets and figure out how many button ups I can realistically sell this year.

Yeah I want to say I don’t give a shit but the endearing mama came back for a split second and I enquire about it.

He replies:

‘I dreamed that you, Dad, P., L. And I moved to a new big house.’

‘Oh really? What did the house look like ?’ I am thinking:’ did DH brainstorm him about moving to the countryside ?’ A hot topic between his parents

‘It had a door to a garden and when I opened it I could see the trees and it was Fall and the leaves were red, yellow, green and …blue!’

– ‘Was there anyone around us?’ I am trying to come up with a quick brainwashing trick to get him to equal space to solitude and the slow death of his mom’s soul.

– ‘Nope; no one just us’.

– ‘No one huh ? So what are we doing then?

‘Dad did not work. You did not work. We never go to school. We play games all day. We watch the Yaya (iPad) every day. And we NEVER have school.’

OK… I sigh in relief: that is not the suburbs, it is the fucking Chocolate Factory !

As the three of them shoot off for school on their scooters, I am left to ponder what my dreams are actually made of?

What are my blue trees looking like?

The truth is my dreams hurt me too. When you live them, they make you feel furiously awake and alert. They also make you want to throw up because you are suddenly scared that you are not worthy of your dream. And you are really scared shitless that it will just crush right in front of your eyes. Dreams are super scary. I cannot but hear my father in law’s favorite saying about teams throwing up the towel seconds before the final whistle while they had the whole game in their hands. He always says: ‘He is afraid to succeed. He is afraid to win it’.

I always hated it. Having always been a sore loser and an ultimate fighter, I always thought ‘why would anyone on Earth be afraid of winning. Losing sucks!’

This morning, however I feel I may connect with its meaning for the very first time.

Wins breeds more craving for wins. Wins come with a responsibility to uphold a promise to yourself and others (if you feel you have succeeded on your own, you are misguided me thinks).

You get addicted to what you feel viscerally when you win. You get addicted to the look of your loved ones when you win. It is exhilarating. It is intoxicating until you cannot breathe because you can see the next move, the one after, perhaps the one after that and then things get blurred. And you ask yourself, what I am to do when all my moves are done.

So yeah major freak out. I really want to cry. If only I could cry. Note: there’s a now an infamous conversation between my assistant and me in which I told her, very shortly after we launched our online store, that I was not able to cry. She asked: ‘Why?’
I replied:’I don’t have the time to. Mind you, we are walking now and it is raining on my face so that would be the perfect moment to cry’. It did not happen but my assistant has probably kept this conversation in her notebook titled ‘The shit my boss says on a daily basis’.

Anyway, I could cry. Instead I blank out until I enter this quiet and bright studio and showroom in Brooklyn where two humble and super talented designers, sisters and moms, created one dialogue after another, one conviction after another a luxury leather goods brand working with American leather and New York craftsmen (more about their beautiful universe soon on my online store – fingers crossed). And my heart beats again. It beats so strong it wants to burst but the nauseating feeling is gone. For now.

I found my cure. No tear drops, just a new bone. When my own dreams act like an enraged bulldog biting my ass, I decided to rely on other women’s dreams and let myself carried away by their force and beauty. I will be a temporary parasite and blood sucker. Yes, that is my coping mechanism.

Should this fail, I still have G’s home and its blue trees 🙂


Konstantin Dimopoulos


Also not that it is what I personally think but it made me laugh to see this statement in my Manhattan mini storage the day after my conversation with G.



This year has started sweet and sour. But that is exactly why it is already exciting.


In the first weeks of 2016, David Bowie and Alan Rickman left us leaving this world with an ounce less of inspiration.

DH’s grandma L. also followed her husband  J., who passed away a month or so ago, leaving this world with an ounce less of devoted love. Throughout the last twenty years since I met DH, I wondered so many times how two individuals could have possibly been living apart for a total of 48hours in their entire 75 years of life together. How could they possibly do so and still love each other? The final flight of these two lovebirds put an end to all questions I had. I guess.


My relationships in New York have recently morphed into something very comforting . When living in London, I was young and malleable and basically living with my college crew or look alikes. Things were easy: we laughed at the same jokes, studied the same stuff, had similar dreams and were the only family we had around.

Then we moved. I got preggers. I now have a family with little ones whom I am trying to learn to know. Tantrum after tantrum, cuddle after cuddle, mishap after mishap. Therefore more than ever I need some grown ups behind and by me. People with whom silence is no longer uncomfortable and this, my friends, takes a fucking long time to build. It takes even longer when you are dealing with a panoply of mismatched individuals: Harlem families, child free gay couples, grandma substitutes, and single and killing it girlfriends and so on.

And then gradually, slowly, and at times awkwardly these people who have nothing to do with each other become your life support. A family who drove mid-November to a House of horrors in the middle of nowhere in the Catskills to celebrate your and DH’s 20 years of life together. A family who heard en route that Paris was under terrorist attacks. Every minute we were on this road,  the number of dead people was soaring. And your celebration does no longer have any sense. It would have become absolutely meaningless if it were not for those faces facing you, trying to pause for a moment their thoughts of Paris to smile and eat your dry and overcooked cassoulet.

These same people turned up to unwrap jewelry after their kids’ morning school drop and before going to work to help me open my holiday pop up boutique and before I had a nervous meltdown due to the now infamously known as ‘where the fuck are all the chokers?’ freak out.

And that is why 2016 is of course about stepping it up with my fashion boutique Another Garde , of course keeping on discovering who my children are but it will also be a year deepening friendships in this city that is finally no longer ‘my new city’ but ‘home’.

…and Welcomes

People around me started to make babies again moving to number 2, 3 or 5 (!!!). I have stayed away from babies for a couple of years now because of the trauma of my back to back pregnancies. I was that one mom circling around you always with a glass of champagne in the hand so she would not be asked to carry or cuddle your newborn earning the moniker of the ‘why is she ALWAYS dancing?’ Mom. I have recently chilled out and now I am back to embracing all these new cute babies around me…DH’s recent vasectomy has also helped a lot 🙂 mouaaaaa

#broodywithoutconsequences #yeah!!!!

And finally L. is talking in a way that I can understand. During the Jonas blizzard, he said ‘it’s a snowstorm.’ Not ‘snow’ or ‘white’ but a clear ‘it s a snowstorm’. Welcome talking L.; papa and I cannot wait to hear more about you.



It’s a woman’s world…

Or the day when redlipstickmama became Soumountha

When I started this blog, I can say this now: I was not well. I was a little lonely not because I had no friends but it was a weird loneliness. I was lonely because I was freaking lost. Too many thoughts, very few outlets, no clairvoyance. The blog started like an extended Facebook like rant, turned into a full self-administered therapy and somewhat transformed into the release of something strange and beautiful: the courage to explore things I had no idea were buried deep inside of me.

Things like writing because I just have to do it, entrepreneurial cravings, the boldness to say things the way I just want to say them and the hope that I can somehow touch other women out there.

This would have not been possible without being inspired, supported and sometimes challenged (I dare you to do it) by some amazing women I met through blogging. It was just easier to come out with strangers first like it was always easier for me to be naked in front of strangers than my own sisters – note:I still don’t really do it very often #anotherreasonIDONOTgotothegym

Anyway, more than two years later, these women are still galvanizing me. I am beyond flattered to be interviewed by uber stylish and atta mom-creative-blogger Kate from Maison Bentley about the launch of Another Garde. Her questions were so insightful that it actually made me think hard about what I do and why I do it. You can read the full interview Another Garde by Maison Bentley. I also for the first time say it here: my name is Soumountha 🙂

I hope you will like it and do check out Kate’s blog on a regular basis. She has an amazing eye for elegant and relatable and yet ‘you have never seen it quite like this before’ pieces.

Love you Kate xoxo

#feelinghumbledthismorning #love #determination #womenbehindwomen

Photography by Kate Bentley

Kate 1

Kate 2

Kate 3


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