Category: Creative mama

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

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

 

Mood of the day: vintage

There is ice and iced water everywhere in Harlem. On Wednesday, DH came back 5 minutes after leaving the house and said: ‘I cannot take L to the day care, it’s like a freaking ice rink out there’. So I had to do a work video conference call with Europe while L was smashing everything in the background and I had to throw breakfast food to L & P while they were watching TV. At this point, it is not multi-tasking. It is insanity.

Yesterday I had to push L’s stroller over mountains of icy snow; the poor chap felt like riding a Winterland roller coaster. Some people were looking at me ready to call Child Protection Services and I was like:‘I am SO going over this block of ice, I am. Watch me’. I am so sick of the snow, I am so OVER it. 

Today to cheer me up, I took out from my ‘magic’ box, aka my accessories drawer, 2 things I love to complement a GAP little black dress and my MK rainboots:

– a feather ornament I made with 2 shoulder pads cut out from a 192os flapper dress and an old sparkling brooch. The pads used to belong this woman whose grandmother was a tap dancer and I got them for $10 via Ebay. Just love the idea of having the spirit of a dancer watching over me 🙂 I bet she kicked ass too.

– a golden thin stretch belt with a lion’s head as a clasp found in a stall at an Harlem flee market for $20. Snow: I am ROARING at you roaaaaaarrrrrrrrr

20140207-154421.jpg

20140207-154643.jpg

20140207-154655.jpg

20140207-154507.jpg

Creative mama: Robin

As soon as Fall has arrived and until cherry blossom explodes on the streets of New York, I usually enter into my Feathers and (faux) Fur mood creatively. You might have already noticed this tendency from my last winter’s mood of the day posts.
This year, I also have to be resourceful to fulfill my appetite for new clothing because I still haven’t found a full-time job and I am still have post-pregnancy 15lbs to shed. So I started a sort of wardrobe surgery clinic by transforming some of my old maternity clothing into things that I might actually like to wear rather than have to wear because of my Sharpei like belly and cash shortage.

So here it goes: DKNY simple black maternity dress, brass sequins from the shoulder straps of a worn out Pea in a Pod maternity dress, 2 feather trimmings, black felt and…snaps from Spain (it seems like a random fact but my fashion designer cousin got me these while working for Loewe few years ago and I have yet to find nicer ones… Love them).

Et voila. I like the edge it gives the outfit and even without the feather patches, I could wear the dress with the snaps being visible.

It is called ‘Robin’ because:
A – it’s a bird
B- the kids are currently obsessed by 1970s Disney’s ‘Robin Hood’ or as G would call it ‘Robin the Poop’ so I have to endure it twice a day. It is like brainwashing. It is driving me insane. The worst part of it is that it is supposed to be the story about some guy stealing the bad and rich and give back to the nice and poor. So basically the story of a good dude with compassion, right? So why did my kids become complete pains in the ass since they started to watch this animated movie? I am NICE and POOR!!! Don’t they get it? I NEED compassion.

20131217-094120.jpg

20131217-094157.jpg

Creative mama: Toy

The whole week sucked. So I decided to do something creative with my hands instead of punching a wall. I had no idea what to do and started to rant about all the clothes I really need to get rid off because they have breast milk stains…Bingo I was going to make a breast milk patch in leather for a very cheap but comfortable Forever 21 top I used to wear loads while nursing.

I was inspired by my amazing childhood girlfriend Toy who now lives in Ireland. She wore the quirkiest and prettiest dress for her wedding. Her black dress was made magnificent by a stylish and clever accessory by Le Bestiaire Unique . I also thought of her because she has a very very contagious smile and laugh and boy do I miss it today. I also found inspiration in a lamp sculpture I saw in a Chelsea gallery earlier this week (before everything unravelled). I had the sculpture in my mind for the whole day but cannot remember the name of the artist to save my life!!!

I cut circles in 3 types of leathers (different colors, smoothness and thickness), glued them together into some kind of harmonious configuration, glued the male parts of snap buttons in the back and sew the female parts on my top. The idea is to be able to remove the leather ‘patch’ when washing my top.

I am now thinking that I do have a couple of dresses (also ruined by breast milk) that may be enhanced by this new patch. Yippee!

What do you guys think about this?

20131102-183422.jpg

20131102-183502.jpg

Creative mama: Archer

After a quick start and a madly productive period, I dropped the ball with the Amateur Art August challenge…Almost 20 days have passed since I last finished something. It is not because I was lacking inspiration but it was blatantly because I lack skills. I basically spent 2 weeks thinking of a prototype for some removable cuffs and then I finally got into action. Blimey. I realized that even though I really want it, I am not Stella McCartney. Terrible design. Terrible choice of materials. Terrible pattern. Terrible construction. Usually when I create something, it is is an original piece as in ‘look closely at it because you will never see me doing this piece ever again’. It is not snobbery; it is just that I usually have no fucking clue how I got there.  I just wing it.

The key problem with my latest creation was simple: 2 arms, 2 wrists, 2 bloody identical (preferably) cuffs. So yep, totally outside of my comfort zone. Anyway here is my ‘Archer’ piece, tribute to Archibald who was on my ass for the last 10 days  saying ‘Just do it woman, just do it!!!!’.

I cut 2 pieces of soft leather, pleated flannel animal printed fabric with tulle material, and stitched the whole thing together. Then I finished with some golden snaps so the back of the snaps can be seen to add some edge.  I tried them on a long sleeved black top and underneath a men’s jacket. Oh well, let’s hope they’ll last until the end of Fall. Also, it is clearly not suitable for when eating soups.

Lessons I need to apply for my future projects include:

– I have to learn how to use my sewing machine because hand stitching is NOT always a good idea especially if you sew like a drunken sailor walks.

– Because your hand stitching sucks, try to find some ‘forgiving materials’ that won’t show every screw up you make. For example, ‘varnished’ animal prints are a NO-NO, OK?

– There is no way to make shortcuts to cut your leather properly. It takes time. Yes it sucks but that’s the way it is. You need to clean your cutting board, use it with a sharp blade and stop using a pair of scissors to cut leather as if you were doing some friggin’ paper Origami.

I think this is my last piece as part of the August challenge, I had fun and hopefully my creative streak will remain alive. Thanks to my fellow bloggers who took part in the challenge:

Archer 2

Creative mama: Sandrine

I cannot believe I am still part of the Amateur Art August challenge. I seriously thought I was going to drop out after the first week but that’s the beauty of the blogosphere, you get to ‘meet’ women from all over the world who, despite being sick and/or trying to juggle everything, stuck to their pledge and have been pretty productive. So thank you:

because of you, I am on the longest streak of accessories production since…well…EVER. This week’s piece is called Sandrine, as a tribute to a dear Japan-obbessed friend (or at least, I think she is Japan obsessed, if not…AWKWARD :). Anyway, this friend, a very, very long time ago told me: ‘You should take your creativity seriously, just do it.’ Better late than never, I guess.

I shaped some teal straw and added a double bow. To tell the truth, the shape is pure luck because I cut it out from some old and damaged summer hat. I was going to through the hat away but thought the wave was interesting so I cut out the center piece thinking that one day I might do something half-interesting with it. I hand stitched a piece of black suede leather (yes, my fingers are still hurting and yes, my needle is ruined) into a japanese Obi style shape and used a vibrant ribbon from Mokuba to maintain the shape. Mokuba is an exclusive Japanese ribbons and trims supplier which has stores only in Japan, Paris and NYC. It is like Heaven:  everything is beautiful and soft there.  Heaven with some tenacious guards who don’t allow you to touch anything. You have to look at the ribbon rolls with submission and reverence and you have to lie (e.g. ‘Yes, of course I own a fashion label, here is my uber fake business card’) to be able to buy a piece of Heaven. God Mokuba, I hope I served you well with my ‘Sandrine’.

Sandrine