In our How She Does It column, we talk to mothers about work-life balance, their favourite travel destinations, travelling with children, and how they really do it all. This month, we caught up with Stacey Bendet.
Fashion designer and founder of Alice and Olivia, Stacey told us about her life in New York with three daughters. We talk about family holidays, how she’s created an A-list loved brand and why it’s so important to support mothers when they want to return to work.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Stacey Bendet, founder of fashion brand Alice and Olivia. I live in uptown New York with my husband Eric Eisner who is a film producer, and our three daughters who are 14, 12 and seven.
Tell us about your work?
Work is life for me. I love what I do and when you feel like that about your job you are happy for it to be that way. I split my time between my office downtown in the Meatpacking District and my apartment in the Dakota Building. Sometimes I work from home when I have an event or something on at my kids school; it’s easier and quicker to be here rather than struggling through New York traffic. The new ‘Zoom life’ that we all have has allowed me to be more flexible. It’s allowed women to curate their lives better and adjust their working lives to fit in with being a parent.
What inspires you in your career?
I just love making beautiful things. Since I started the brand in 2002 I have always been inspired by dressing women and excited by every new season. I also love building my business and opening new stores. It’s amazing.
Have your career goals and aspirations altered since becoming a working mum?
Yes they definitely have. Before I had kids I was just about building my business, but now I really see the importance of using my platform for good. I want to make a positive impact on the world and inspire my daughters to do the same. I think about how my kids see me and what I do. Being a good role model is so important to me and I love that I help other women by working with charities such as the Global Fund for Women to make a difference to other mother’s lives and the lives of their children.
Which three items help you juggle everything?
My life is very regimented and I schedule everything to make sure I get it done, so I love lists and make them all the time – for work, for the kids, for designs – they really help me stay focused. So lists are definitely one thing I need. I also love yoga and try to practise every day. The last thing would be a cup of ginger tea every day which helps clear my mind.
If you had the power to change one thing for working mothers, what would you change?
I would make it easier for them to take flexible leave so that they can be parents and still do the jobs they love. It’s really important that women in the workplace are supported.
Tell us about the best holiday you’ve taken with your children:
Our best holidays are definitely at our Malibu beach house. We spend every summer there and we all love it. Aspen is another favourite. My kids are great skiers and I love the ski fashion, the beautiful scenery and overall vibe. It’s a really special place. I’ve started taking each of my girls on a trip, just two of us, so that I get to spend some really good one on one time with them. Recently I took my middle daughter to Paris and we stayed at The Ritz. It was such a fun trip and she loved the city as much as I do. My youngest daughter really wants to go to Korea, so that will be fun. We also love the Aman Resort in the Turks and Caicos, it’s such a wonderful place to relax.
How do you think travel benefits your children?
Kids grow up in such a homogenous bubble so it’s really important that they get to step outside of that and see the many other ways that people live and work, that are different to their own day to day. It really broadens their horizons which is so valuable.
Top tips for New York with children?
There is so much to do with kids in New York. Rent bikes and ride around Central Park, or head to Soho on foot to take them shopping. Walk The High Line and see Hudson Yards or head over to New Jersey to the Dream Mall – my girls love that. The Warhol exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is a must-see and it’s always great to go to the Whitney Museum too.
Favourite hotel – with or without children?
Villa Treville in Positano. My husband and I went there five or six years ago. It was so special and romantic.
Travel essentials with kids?
What are your travel essentials?
I’m an obsessive packer and like to make sure I have everything I need with me. I have my toiletries and my beauty kit that I always take everywhere. I love sunglasses too and match them to my outfits. Right now I’m loving oversized Rick Owens and Gucci styles. The crocheted beach bags from La Milanesa are great too.
If you have a day to yourself, what do you do?
Yoga for sure. I’d head down to my friend Eddie Stern’s Ashtanga Yoga Studio because they have the best classes there. I would also go shopping downtown. But honestly I’m most happy hanging out with my kids and having family time.
Heading ‘out out’ – where is your favourite spot?
My friend Scott is about to open his new restaurant Sartianos in the Mercer Hotel so I can’t wait to go there. We also take our girls out to lots of great restaurants in NYC. We love Cipriani and Nobu which are actually very child-friendly.
The best advice you would give to other mothers?
To establish shared responsibility at home. It’s not just down to you to make everything work, your partner has to play his role too. Life has moved on since I grew up and we have to change our mindset and share the load. My husband totally understands that and I think it’s very important that all men do. I’m a real advocate for shared parental leave and flexible working to enable women to transition into parenthood and return to work. Not all women want to take a year off after they have a baby and it’s right that fathers should be able to share this responsibility if it’s what works for that family.
How do you do it?
I have a rockstar team around me. The term ‘it takes a village’ is so true and I have a great village. From my husband to my team at work to my babysitter, the other amazing people who support me are instrumental in everything I have built.
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