Lisa Hom is the CEO and founder of Parasol Co., a modern baby and family brand that makes beautiful, eco-conscious products. I first learned about them when they offered to send over a pack of diapers and wipes for me to test out and I was instantly hooked (full disclosure: I’m now one of their brand ambassadors!). When I learned that the founder was a mom as well, I knew I wanted to interview her for this series and I’m so, so glad she was interested in sharing her secrets! Today she tells us all about her family, her work and why she most definitely is a night person…
First things first, tell us a little bit about your family and where you live.
If I could describe my family in one word, it would be adventurous. My husband and I grew up in the California Bay Area and we now live in Lafayette, California with our three kids – Lucas (10), Ella (7), and Kellan (4). We love traveling, exploring different parts of San Francisco, and sharing new experiences together – kayaking, fishing, hiking, parasailing, zip-lining, and skiing.
Which came first, the babies or the business?
All three of the babies came before Parasol Co. But every single job that I’ve had before today has helped prepare me for what it takes to run my own company. Working as a Merchandiser at Gap while pregnant with Lucas taught me how to own a P&L and use data to drive product decisions. When I had Ella, I had moved to the sourcing, manufacturing, and operations side of the business where I also pitched licensing deals to Disney and the NFL. And shortly after Kellan was born, I joined Kiwi Crate to build and lead the product design team. With each new addition to the family, Damon and I learned how to adapt as a parent. With each new career change, I gained confidence and experience. When I started Parasol, I felt completely ready in both aspects of my life.
What made you decide to be an entrepreneur?
Larger companies are great for training and learning about processes or best practices, but once I had a taste of startup life, I knew I couldn’t go back. There is nothing more exciting than to have a big impact on the business that you are building. And to have the ability to try new things, meet new people, and drive meaningful changes in a fast-paced environment. I love waking up in the morning and feeling passionate about the work that I do. Becoming a mom gave me the confidence and drive to take more risks in my life. The entrepreneur spirit had always been in me, but parenthood drove me to turn my dreams into reality.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Night. After I get the kids in bed at 9:00pm, the house is quiet. I put my headphones on and work on catching up on Parasol emails, do a little online shopping, pay the bills, plan the next kid’s birthday or family vacation, research summer camps… the list doesn’t really ever end. And after my husband is asleep, I get to catch up on my Bachelor and KUWTK shows! That might be the real reason I never sleep before 2:00am.
Coffee or tea? (Or are you a unicorn who does not need caffeine?!)
I tried coffee once, it made me jittery. That wasn’t fun, so I’m a tea girl. But I’m not picky, I love them all – matcha, chai, yerba mate, peppermint. My absolute favorite is iced lychee black tea.
What does your morning routine look like (What time do you get up? What’s the first thing you do in the morning?)
Hm… there is no straightforward answer to this question. I usually get up at 7:15am to start getting myself ready. Then, starting at 7:45am, I orchestrate a timed sequence of gently waking the kids up and negotiating clothing options that escalates to a more pleading tone when one kid decides they aren’t ready to crawl out from under the covers that day. Breakfast is set on the table, while I run back to my room to finish curling my hair and get dressed! Fortunately, I have a secret weapon named Ella, who is 7 years old. She will get her brother’s lunches from the fridge and remind her older brother to bring his trombone on Wednesdays and Fridays. What would I do without her? Every morning that I am able to get all three kids successfully dropped off at school wearing weather appropriate clothes is a small, but meaningful win for me.
Balance—we can’t do this interview and not talk about it! Mostly because I’m desperate to know all of your secrets. How do you make it work?
Balance is something that I’m still trying to figure out. I am definitely always conscious of it. So when I’m with my kids or my husband, I try to be present and in the moment. When I’m at home, it’s so easy to open up my laptop or chime in on conversations in Slack. But when Kellan asks to go outside and play or Ella asks to do a craft, I always prioritize spending the time with them. Of course, there are times when you can achieve the perfect balance of work and mom responsibilities too! When the kids run errands with me at Target, they know that I will be strolling through the baby aisle to scope out the competition and find new products to test. I love the fact that I am able to involve my kids with my business and they fully understand what mommy does at work everyday. This is something that I see many parents doing now, and it’s inspiring. My kids are my best product testers and usually have very insightful feedback!
Childcare is a big factor—what’s been working for you? Nanny, daycare or the stay-at-home/work-at-home life? Or do your kids go to school now?
I finally hired an after-school babysitter this school year, which has been a life changer. Having someone who can pick up Ella and Lucas from school and get them to their swimming, soccer, gymnastics, or basketball practice has helped to free up the weekend activities. And it makes me happier as a working mom to know that the kids have a chance to sign up for more activities even if we can’t take them.
How do you make room for personal time for yourself? When you do get down time, what do you do to relax, refresh and/or get inspired?
I make an effort to stay active because that always re-energizes me. It’s always hard to find the time, but I actually schedule it on my calendar so that it’s harder to make excuses for why I can’t go. Whether it’s a pilates class, hip hop dance class, a good hike, or an indoor soccer game, being active always makes me feel great afterwards. In order to stay inspired, I love traveling. There are so many interesting people and places in this world, one lifetime is not enough to explore it all.
What one bit of advice would you give to a fellow mompreneur trying to make it all work?
Find the right balance for yourself, because being a mompreneur is not a sprint… it’s a marathon. You need to stay healthy and happy to be the best mom and the best entrepreneur that you can be. Set high expectations for yourself, but also stop to recognize the small wins. When customer service wins over a customer by showing that we care, that is a win. When a customer shares an adorable photo of her newborn showing off his Parasols, that is a win. And when your kids think you are cool because you can Facetime your hotel room view from Manhattan, that is also a win. There isn’t a perfect formula, but you can make it all work for you!
Thank you for sharing with us, Lisa!! And for making really cute baby products the rest of us mamas can enjoy!