Whitney is one of those mompreneurs I’ve admired from afar from the moment I discovered her. She’s certifiably adorable and has bangs that make me want to grab the scissors and copy her, but much more importantly she runs a super successful business that solves a real problem for moms: comfortable, machine washable clothing that is feminine and put-together. Her company, Sonnet James, is known for their “play dresses for playful moms,” and they are ethically and responsibly made in San Francisco. How awesome is that?!
Below Whitney shares her secrets with us on how she keeps it all together as a mom and a business owner—be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a details on a very special giveaway, too! (Update: GIVEAWAY CLOSED)
First things first, tell us a little bit about your family and where you live.
I grew up in Phoenix, AZ but I currently live in Palo Alto, CA with my two boys. Satchel (7) and Eero (5). Palo Alto is home now and I can’t ever imagine leaving!
Which came first, the babies or the business?
I started Sonnet James when Eero was almost two, so the babies came first!
What made you decide to be an entrepreneur?
It was a combination of inspiration – I’ve always loved fashion, but after my boys were born I really wanted something other than yoga pants to wear when I was playing with them so I didn’t have to worry about ruining my dry-clean only clothes! I came up with the idea of a play dress for moms and when I started wearing my homemade prototypes to the park I was constantly asked about them – that’s when I knew there was a market. And desperation – my marriage was ending and I knew that I would soon need to provide for my boys by myself. There’s nothing that compares to a mother’s love and her survival instincts. None of this would have happened if it weren’t for my boys motivating me.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
I’d like to think of myself as a morning person – the days when I get up early and work for a couple of hours before the boys wake up always feel the most productive! My secret to that is in bed by nine pm, read for an hour and then lights out at ten. But I do love staying up late when I have a good show to watch…
Coffee or tea? (Or are you a unicorn who does not need caffeine?!)
The only caffeine I consume is through chocolate, I really love good chocolate.
What does your morning routine look like? What time do you get up? What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
I like to get up early, workout, and have a good breakfast – something like eggs and toast or oatmeal. Then I’m dressed and ready to work until the boys wake up. Mornings when they have school can be crazy making lunches, finding shoes and brushing teeth!
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?
The balance is so hard. This year has been a little bit easier because the boys are both in school most days so I try to do as much work as I can in the mornings while they’re both gone. I’ve scheduled a couple of days that are “work” days. I’ve got a babysitter that comes to the house to take care of the boys so I can work uninterrupted. These are also the days when I schedule all my meetings, phone calls and visits to the production house. This really helps me be more present when I’m home with the boys because I’m less worried about work stuff. My other secret is I head to the library to work so my son and the babysitter can stay at the house to play. I can’t afford an office space yet, but I get so much more done when I’m not in my house. I get too distracted!
One thing is for sure, Sonnet James does some AMAZING photo shoots!
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’ve tried all of the above! Right now the boys are both in school so that helps a lot. I do work from home so I double up on a lot of work/mom hours, but I did hire somebody to come in a couple times a week (20 hours) to watch my youngest son so I can focus on work.
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 have two tried and true methods for relaxing and finding myself. The first is to walk the dish. This is a loop in the foothills behind Stanford University that takes about an hour to walk. It’s so beautiful and as you climb up the trail you can’t help but get caught up in the beauty of the area and the perspective you get from being above the rush of life. I always leave this walk feeling regenerated. My second favorite method of relaxing is to get a massage. There’s this amazing place right here in Palo Alto that offers one hour full body massages for only $30. It’s the best!
I definitely pre-ordered this one for myself—the Charlie dress!
What one bit of advice would you give to a fellow mompreneur trying to make it all work?
“You’ve got this!” Write it on your bathroom mirror! And have fun. PLAY. Don’t let things get too serious; it takes all the joy out of life.
And now, the GIVEAWAY DETAILS!!! Today, Sonnet James and I have partnered to give away a $100 gift card to Sonnet James and $100 gift card to my shop! For a chance to win, please visit @sonnetjames on Instagram to see entry rules. The giveaway is now closed—thanks all for participating!