A Letter To Mothers

YOU LOOK GOOD, MAMAS

When I meet you at Mien's popups, I connect with so many of you instantly. You're genuine, you're witty, confident, and sharp as tacks - you're super women in my eyes. I see you with your adorable little ones enjoying a day out, or you're just walking around alone having a nice day of self care. To me, you all look gorgeous and so put together, even in just a pony tail, a bare face, and workout clothes. You're with your family and enjoying some quality time, whereas I'm not with mine and I only put on some makeup that morning after what feels like weeks of just combing my hair - that's when a lot of my mom guilt sets in. I love what I do, I can't believe how lucky I am to be excited to "go to work" everyday. But starting a business, especially a sustainable clothing line in an already competitive industry, is a long and arduous feat - I'll even put it as a selfish endeavor in my case because my family is unconditionally trusting in my belief to make this work, even if it means that I'm away a lot of times and I'm letting my husband carry the sole responsibility of being the breadwinner these first few years while I put everything the brand makes back into the business. This is the truth that isn't always convenient to share. Trying to do some good in an industry that has a bad environmental track record aside, this is the sacrifice my family and I make so I can fulfill my version of being a working mom. It's personal, it's not glamorous, but it's real.

 

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

I get compliments that it's amazing I can handle a growing business while being a mom to a young child. "You make it look so easy." they say. "How do you do it all??" Well, I don't. As we all know, nothing is perfect and when one thing is going well, something else is not. Just from swapping stories with my fellow makers and mom business owners, even with you guys when we have time to chat at popups, I know our struggle takes on different versions but it's one of the same. My reality is that I work from my home so packing, shipping, customer service, photoshoots, meetings, etc. all get done from our 1400 sq. ft. bungalow, which means it's hard for me to stop working because my home is basically my office. I work nearly every weekend (popups, meetings, on location photoshoots), stay up late on weeknights, but my entire family and my friends don't bat an eye or ever make me feel bad when I have to bail on family gatherings, bridal showers, bachelorette trips, and birthday parties. My husband and I don't remember the last time we had date night. He wants to see Avengers Endgame. I don't know what the movie is about but I hear it's three hours long and that will take some maneuvering to squeeze into our schedule. I love my job but I also wish I can make it to most of these things. I miss out on a lot of things.

By now, my son will be four this year and needs me more and more. Mien is growing also so it demands even more of my attention. I don't know how to juggle being a terrific mother, and a do-it-all "momtreprenuer." I don't ever want to project the false image that everything is always as nice as they seem and that what we all do - juggling work and a personal life - is easy. These past months, especially, I've felt very overwhelmed with my workload and motherhood. I also had a miscarriage at the beginning of the year, which was crushing. I didn't allow myself to really heal from the trauma, and like so many women, our jobs and responsibilities can't wait so we push through. Soon after, I started making careless mistakes here and there, feeling tired and frazzled all the time. When I walked out of my door in house slippers one day for the second time, that's when I knew I needed to slow down and ground myself back to normalcy. These days, I ask for help from Rachel (you may know her from seeing her at all of our popups, she's the best), who is now officially handling all customer service, fulfillment, and project coordinations so I can focus on design, your shopping experience, and production. I also have great friends that lend me a hand whenever I need it, and I accept now! These women have been a blessing and I'm finally getting a more normal pace of life back.

 

REFLECTION

Mother's Day is here. While we all should definitely give our tired selves a great big mental hug, some of us will inevitably do some reflecting on this so-called mom life. We work, we mother, we love, we bake cookies for the bake sale, and our family depends on us for everything. No matter what we do, social media and the world in general tells us the grass is always greener under someone else's stroller. I know you all struggle with your own challenges too, whatever they may be. So even if some business expert comes across this and frown upon my uncouth confession of a blog post talking about money (still taboo), and how I struggled, stumbled, and then tried to pick myself up again, this is what it takes for a mother to try to win at life. With motherhood, year after year, or maybe even month by month, our children present us with a whole new set of pleasant surprises but also challenges along with them. I don't want to miss those milestones, but I also am aware of the hardship ahead. We're strong, we may not do everything perfectly - I know my son sure doesn't get a bedtime story every night and is still not potty-trained - but you bet we're doing it no matter what. That sounds pretty perfect to me.

 

Mien headquarters - aka our third bedroom. If we do have a second child, the living room will have to be the nursery.

Light of my life, my son Grey, and our pup Winston.

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How I produce my clothing line matters to me. I work with small factories locally in Los Angeles near my Long Beach studio which means I can be there every step of the way.  Every piece is cut and sewn by workers who are paid fairly and work in a clean and safe environment.

FOUNDER + DESIGNER, LISA HSIEH