Boss at Home, Boss at Work: Nicole Feliciano's Greatest Tips On Balance
Nicole Feliciano, CEO of motherhood media website Momtrends, chats with us about the early goals of the brand, how to properly balance work and home life, and the accepting that motherhood is going to be an imperfect mess.
How did you decide to leave your position as a fashion executive at Ralph Lauren and start Momtrends? What did you feel was missing for modern mothers and what did you want to achieve with a media brand?
The biggest reason was the lack of control over my schedule and my growth. Corporations need employees to be part of a team and that's wonderful, but in my opinion, motherhood shouldn't be relegated to the scraps of time left over after you've devoted yourself to work. I felt there was a better path for me--one where I could be passionate about my work, but also have the ability to grow my business as it suited me and my family.
Knowing how delicate the balance is between work life and mom life, I wanted to create an online resource for moms where problems were solved and time was well spent. That's how Momtrends began, and we've stayed true to this mission over the past ten years at Momtrends.com.
Now that we have seven employees, I've tried to build in flexibility to all we do. Most employees work from home, the one day a week we all gather together is Wednesday, otherwise, the Momtrends team cobbles together schedules that work for them.
Will you share with us what you have learned so far as a CEO who is also a mother?
Plan ahead. All sorts of things are going to pop up to distract you--some of them wonderful, some of them mundanely unpleasant (like chronic ear aches in a 3 year old). When you have a schedule in place, it's not as painful to have to adapt.
Delegation is key. Outsourcing things like 5-6 hours of childcare a week were essentials in the early days of my brand. It's completely OK to invest in your dreams. Don't look at those child-free hours as luxuries.
Time management matters. Make the most you spend away from your family.
In the beginning, when the girls weren't in school I had very limited kid-free time that wasn't late at night. I focused my kid-free daytime hours on networking meetings, attending events and making calls I couldn't accomplish at night. Don't waste kid-free time on social media!
Focus. The most important (and challenging) lesson is learning to have your head in the "now." By this I mean, if you are at the 3rd grade choral concert, do not check your phone. Notice the details of life in front of you. On the flip side, when you are traveling for work, don't fret about how your spouse is making inadequate snacks for school. The kids will survive and you will better serve your brand if you do one things at a time.
What did you hope to accomplish with your book, Mom Boss?
I want to create opportunities for moms to grow and flourish as business leaders.
Mom Boss is the book for all the women out there who have big ideas, but are also struggling with how to fit it all in with family. I’m all for women leaning in, but not to the point where something snaps. I think moms who become business founders and CEOs are flexible and strong. This book will show you the path to setting up a life you love, full of challenge and ambition, but also equally full of ballet recitals and family dinners.
Where do you look for inspiration for your company?
I'm lucky to live in Brooklyn, the city with the highest percentage of female CEOs in the nation. I get inspiration from my neighborhood and of course from the amazing women who make up the Momtrends community
Tell us about your pregnancy experience and breastfeeding (or early motherhood experience) in New York (or wherever you were), as a busy working city woman.
For my first pregnancy, I was freelance writing. I left Ralph Lauren when I decided to build a family. Since I was freelancing, I was able to create a wonderful pregnancy experience for myself. I was well-rested, well-cared for and studying journalism while working freelance. It was a great time. My feisty first daughter, gave me some initial troubles with breastfeeding, but with much research and heaps of patience, we figured it out. Daughter #2 was born after Momtrends launched. I was more confident of my parenting skills, hence I think the breastfeeding (and mothering in general) was easier.
Nicole, with her two daughters
What were some surprises or challenges you faced when tackling both roles as a worker and a mother?
I can't say I was surprised, but I continue to struggle finding time to do all the things I love.
What has been the most rewarding part about Momtrends?
Building a supportive community of moms who read and share and interact with our stories and images. Followed closely by having built a work family that is creative, unapologetically ambitious, witty and purposeful.
What does a brand like Mitera mean to you?
Just ten years ago the fashions and gear available to moms were scant. Mitera is one of the brands that identified what modern women want--they want to feel supported and fabulous in all they do--from motherhood to womanhood to career.
What does mindful parenting mean to you?
Going in with a plan while being able to adapt. I am an analyst at heart. I love constructive feedback and numbers, I am eager to identify weaknesses and try to fix or improve them. Mindful parenting is a blend of noticing what's not working and coming up with solutions and also being in the moment and recognizing you can't fix everything. Sometimes you just have to embrace the messiness of motherhood.
Just for Fun:
What is an average Sunday in the Feliciano household like?
It usually involves a long run with girlfriends. It's the one day a week where I can get in a longer workout. We always have family dinner on Sunday night. Usually fish with fresh veggies, eating together and cooking define our family.
What would you do if you had one more hour in your day?
What is your morning routine?
I wake up and remind myself of the intention I set the night before--the most important thing that has to happen that day. From there it's breakfast with the kiddos (usually prepared by my husband) and then I fit in a workout before heading to work. I try not to go online or check emails until I get to my office.
What’s always in your bag?
At least three tubes of lip gloss.
Do you think motherhood gets easier as the kids get older?
No. I think it's less physically demanding, but the scheduling and the mental requirements increase with time. It's all good, embrace the stage you are in.