Mien Muse | Rebekkah Cefai - Mien's Brand Photographer

Rebekkah Cefai, Mien's Brand Photographer. You probably have seen photos of her on our feed. She steps in as a model for my line from time to time, with her husband Justin behind the lens when that happens, but all the other times Rebekkah is the woman behind almost all of the gorgeous photos for Mien.

We met in late 2017 on social media. We met for coffee, our connection was instant and became great friends and collaborators after that. Rebekkah's eye and talent in photography brings each of my collections to life. Outside of our work relationship, we have developed a great friendship over the years and our sons, both 5-years-old, are best friends. One of the hardest working people I know, I've seen her juggle her rigorous university studies (she has since earned her degree from USC), her thriving photography business, motherhood, and more, with grace. With all her accomplishments and even busier schedule, being recently promoted to the team of environmental impact studies at Apple ®, she'll still pick up my call at any time of the day because that's the type of friend she is.

I am so honored to feature her as our muse at the end of 2020. Because through all the challenges and turbulence of this year, she's still here by my side helping me and cheering me on while being there for her family and everyone else. Yes, we work together, but she is much more to me and now even to my family as we've gotten to know her and lucky enough to experience her kindness and love.

xxLisa

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Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hello! My name is Rebekkah Cefai and I’m from the suburbs of Los Angeles County, California. I’m Mien’s Brand Photographer as well as an environmental professional in the tech industry. My husband and I are raising our five-year-old son named Levi, a furry rescue dog named Walter, and a very shy turtle named Leo.

Please share with us a typical day in your life.

6:30 am - Wake up, indulge in some homemade pour over coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. Get Levi ready for his distance learning class and walk the dog.

8:00 am - Levi’s class has started, so this is my quiet morning time with Justin before our day is in full swing. We sit on the couch and drink our coffees together while catching up on the news or reading a book. I’ll to do a light yoga stretch before helping Levi with his schoolwork.

10:00 am - Time for ‘second breakfast’. I’ll usually whip up some breakfast tacos or an omelette for the myself and the boys. I’ll set up Levi’s workstation so he can stay busy with Legos or online read-aloud books while I check my emails and get to work. His class is online/offline throughout the morning, so we have to make sure he’s quietly entertaining himself.

1:00 pm - For lunch, I’ll either pick up a sandwich from a local shop, make a salad, or eat leftovers from the previous nights’ dinner. Justin and I will watch a quick, 30-minute TV show (we’re fans of PEN15 and Ted Lasso) and then take Walter out for another walk before we get back to work. 5:00 pm - I’ll do a speedy grocery run to the nearby Sprouts to pickup ingredients for dinner. Most of the time, I have what I need to cook our meals at home. If I’m lazy, I’ll order Taiwanese dumplings or sushi - both of which are Levi’s favorite foods.

7:30 pm - Time to start tidying up the apartment to prep ourselves for the following day. Justin and I alternate between cleaning the kitchen, walking the dog, or getting Levi ready for bed.

8:30 pm - It’s a small victory each night when Levi is asleep by this time. Justin and I can finally enjoy some TV with a glass of wine.

Our evening shows include The Vow and Lovecraft Country. Then, it’s lights out by 10:00 pm.


You’re a freelance photographer, a full-time working professional, and a busy mom. Any advice on how to balance the day to day challenges?

I can’t say it’s been easy during the pandemic - it’s wreaked havoc on our working lives and we are still striving to adapt as a family. Moms have had it particularly hard and it’s distressing to see so many of us be completely overwhelmed with work and the pressures of needing to be good parents to our children during this rough time. However, I will say that what’s helped us move forward is being able to still find the silver linings. I’m grateful that I can spend time with my son and teach him how to be independent at home. He acknowledges how hard I work and he is starting to learn how to be quiet, patient, and respectful when I have to give my undivided attention to my work. With that said, I think the best advice I can give is to ‘find a routine’ - this will help you stay on top of the things you CAN control within your home. It makes life slightly more predictable and manageable amidst the chaos.


How has being a mother changed the way you look at life?

Motherhood taught me how to reinvent myself and pursue my passion with more grit and determination than before. I had Levi when I was 23 years old and it shocked me to my core. I dropped out of university when I was nearly done with my bachelor’s degree and devoted my entire world to my son for the first year of his life. Then I worked up the courage to return to school as a working mom to finish what I had started back in 2009. I finally graduated from USC in 2019 with my B.S. in Environmental Science. Last week, I landed my dream job and I’m still a bit in denial. To be honest, I could not have done this alone. I realized just how much I depended on my family and friends for their unconditional support through the toughest years of my life. I’ll never underestimate the power of community and relationships and how they can uplift people and their families in so many ways.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the important movement for Black Lives matter, do you try to explain to your son Levi what is happening in the world around him?

Absolutely. At 5 years old, Levi is more of an activist than most people I know. He is naturally curious about everything, and that makes it easy for us to teach him about complicated things such as politics and environmental issues. A few months back, Justin painted a BLM poster which sits on our balcony and Levi shows his support by yelling, ‘Black Lives Matter!’ whenever we drive past a peaceful protest. For our 5 year anniversary, Justin and I completed a 25-mile cycle ride with hundreds of other riders for the BLM movement. There were a handful of young kids riding with us, and when we told Levi about it, he got so excited. He’s ready to learn how to ride his bike so he can join us someday. I’m constantly amazed at how quickly he’s developing his own worldview and I’m glad that we have the opportunity to teach him at such a young age.

What is the most important value you wish to instill in your child?

I want Levi to be curious about the world. I want him to ask questions and to challenge normative ways of thinking. I want him to be a sponge and soak up as much information about culture, science, art, and politics. He does this already as a young kid, but it’s important for us as parents to never let that curiosity dwindle.
What is your go to meal for a weeknight dinner?

You can never go wrong with pasta for dinner. The boys and I love this recipe: https:// juliasalbum.com/sun-dried-tomato-and-mushroom-pasta/

Do you try to practice self care? What are some of the things that help you unwind and re-center?

Recently, I’ve been enjoying long, slow walks around our neighborhood. I’ll play a walking meditation using the Ten Percent Happier app on my phone and try to pay close attention to the sights and sounds around me. This is one of the rare moments that I get to just be alone with my thoughts and emotionally reset before returning to the bustle of family life.

What are some activities you and Levi enjoy doing while at home?

Levi loves playing with his Legos and when I have the patience, I’ll pour a glass of wine for myself, play some music, and build whatever he wants me to! I’m pretty proud of what we end up building together and I can see his design mindset coming to life. Other activities we enjoy doing include watercolor painting, reading, and playing video games.

How would you describe your sense of style?

As a busy mom, I like to dress functional yet simple to feel as though I’m put together - it’s one of the ways that I can instill confidence in how I carry myself day-to-day. I am a huge fan of capsule wardrobes that can be dressed up or down, depending on the season or occasion. I mostly enjoy shopping for conscious clothing or finding vintage pieces that I can breathe new life into. In general, I love well-made pieces that are tailored to fit my tall, lanky body figure. I lean towards oversized, loose tops that I can ‘French tuck’ into a neat, structured pant. In the Fall, I usually dust off my unusually large collection of turtle necks and pair them with a high-waisted skirt, sheer leggings, and cream Chuck 70s. It’s been my go-to outfit since high school.

 

What are some of your favorite Mien pieces? How and when do you enjoy wearing them?

I rarely leave the house without my trusty Painter’s Jacket - I own about 5 different color ways because I’m obsessed with the fit, the buttons, and the huge pockets! When I’m working from home, I just throw on a Lakeside or Sedona Jumpsuit because they both feel absolutely luxurious and comfortable while making me look presentable for a day full of Zoom calls :)


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