Interviews & Guest Posts

A Conversation with: Penelope of Smoochie Baby

A Conversation with: Penelope, owner of Smoochie Baby

We are excited to be interviewing Penelope Stipanovich, the owner of one of our long-time retailers, Smoochie Baby in Williamsburg, Brooklyn! After originally opening the baby clothing boutique while living in Toronto, Penelope and her family moved back to NYC where she re-opened the store in her new Brooklyn neighborhood. Full of “big style for little smoochers,” Smoochie Baby’s a must for checking out what’s fresh in children’s fashion, picking up unique baby gifts, or discovering the latest new brands. We we’re lucky enough to ask Penelope a few questions about running her own business, can’t miss spots in Williamsburg, and favorite parts of motherhood…

1. Smoochie Baby is full of stylish duds for urban kids. Where do you discover these brands, & are there any new ones you’ve discovered recently that should be on our radar? I am always on the lookout for cool new brands. I visit trade shows, go to showrooms, and get daily submissions in my inbox. I also find new and noteworthy lines through blogs, Pinterest and Instagram. I’m a little obsessed.  Always looking…  Our newest lines are MimPi from Sweden, Billy Blush from the UK, Little Eleven Paris, and Miki Miette from L.A.

2. Best and worst parts of being your own boss? The best part is I have no one to answer to. The worst part is I have no one to answer to. In other words, I make all of my own decisions about the store but if I make a wrong decision (and I do all the time) I have no one else to blame.

3. When customers stop in looking for a special newborn or baby gift, what do you recommend? Our “go to” recommendation is our Smoochie Baby Brooklyn onesie, an Estella Metrocard rattle, Brooklyn 123 board book & a pair of baby sunglasses. Very Brooklyn!

4. Favorite Estella toy? The MetroCard rattle (naturally!)

Smoochie Baby Williamsburg

5. When you were a new mom, were there any must-haves (for you & baby!) that you always hand on hand? My organic sling from Dr. Sears. I was back at work right after having my son so I carried him in a sling everywhere.  I wore him around the house and all through the city, talking or singing to him the entire time.  I also loved the Boppy Pillow and an organic sleep sack.  I used it from the time we were done swaddling and he would associate being zipped up in it with sleep time, and go right to sleep. At the time, sleep sacks were not popular in the U.S. (he is 10 years old now) but they were everywhere in Europe. I like to think I played a part in bringing them here.

5. You’re store in located right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – any favorite neighborhood spots (stores, restaurants, parks, etc.) that we should check out if we’re in the area? Not just because it is my husband’s but my hands down favorite restaurant is The Heyward on Wythe Avenue. They serve delicious “new southern” cuisine and the most incredible cocktails. I also love Mogador & Cafe Colette. The East River State Park (with the Manhattan skyline as its backdrop) is always fun for a stroll but especially so on Saturdays when Smorgasborg is going on. You can sample yummy food form a myriad of Brooklyn purveyors. My favorite stores in the neighborhood include Pearl, Shoe Market, A & G Merch and CatBird. I always love to stop in to Mast Brothers for a bar of their divine chocolate and for kids clothing Smoochie Baby of course!

An Interview with: Penelope of Smoochie Baby

6. What about NYC in general – any can’t-miss, baby & kid-friendly places or activities (especially now with the warmer weather!)? Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park has the best playground in New York City. Don’t just take my word for it, Time Out Kids said so as well for the last 2 years in a row. If you’re coming from Manhattan, ride the East River Ferry to get there and be sure to stop at Pier 1 on the way for a ride on the gorgeously restored Jane’s Carousel. In Manhattan I love the splash pad in Madison Square Park. We used to go there all the time when Max was little. For an old fashioned soda fountain experience head to Farmacy in Cobble Hill and sit at the counter. It’s awesome!

7. Finally, what’s one thing nobody told you about parenthood? That you will not sleep in again until your child is 16. But it’s okay because being a parent is the single most rewarding experience of your life!

Thanks, Penelope! Check out Smoochie Baby’s online store here.

Posted by Estella Editor in Interviews & Guest Posts, New York City, 0 comments

A Conversation With: Angela Tafoya of Refinery29

A Conversation with: Angela Tafoya of Refinery 29

Meet Angela Tafoya, one of Refinery29‘s San Francisco editors! In addition to working at one of the most popular fashion & lifestyle sites, Angela is expecting a baby girl later this year! We were lucky enough to ask the super chic mama-to-be about her pregnancy style, shopping for baby, and favorite spots in San Francisco. Enjoy…

1. Congrats on your pregnancy! What have you loved most/least about being pregnant thus far?

Thank you! There haven’t been too many things I’ve disliked about the experience — mainly the fact none of my clothes are fitting, and that can be a little rough. The best is definitely feeling her move around. It makes the experience so real and makes you feel so connected. I love it. It never gets old.

2. Any crazy cravings or major surprises?

Not so much cravings but aversions, yes! I used to love Asian food and now I can’t stomach the smell. I hope it goes away after she comes, because I need ramen back in my life.

3. Has your style changed since becoming pregnant? What are your top style “dos” for dressing the bump?

This is definitely something I am learning as I go. Before becoming pregnant, I wasn’t much of a body-con dress person, but when you’re pregnant they’re the best things ever. I love accentuating the bump. I also think wearing garments with waist definition help and are super flattering. I found it helpful to stock up on basics, like dresses and skirts from Storq — super necessary and cozy. Oh, and, a comfy pair of shoes are everything.

4. Have you started shopping for baby? Any favorite brands for baby girls you’ve come across?

Oh, definitely! She almost has a full wardrobe and not even going to lie — I wish some the pieces came in my size, ha! I love Mini Rodini, Micaela Greg, Bobo Choses, and Zara are all faves right now.

5. What would be your dream baby shower gift?

Oh, that’s tough! I may be a little selfish here and say a massage, I know after the baby comes I’m gonna need it.

6. Favorite Estella organic baby toys?

The little cookie and pretzel rattle are too cute. Is it weird they kind of make me hungry?

7. You live in San Francisco – are hidden restaurants/shops/museums/parks we should know about?

This really isn’t hidden but I love Emmy’s Spaghetti shack and it seems like such a family-friendly place, so I can’t wait to take her there when we’re ready to adventure out the house. Also, there are a few parks in my neighborhood (the Mission) that I have been scoping out!

A Conversation with: Angela Tafoya of Refinery 29

Thanks so much, Angela! Stay up to date on Angela’s Refinery29 stories here & follow along on Instagram and Twitter.

Posted by Estella Editor in Interviews & Guest Posts, Pregnancy, 0 comments

A Conversation with: Joanna Vargas (+ A Giveaway!)

Joanna Vargas Facialist Interview

NYC facialist Joanna Vargas has amassed a loyal following over the years due to her effective treatments that leave clients with glowing skin and clear complexions. And, even if you don’t live in New York, you can still reap the benefits of her work with her line of all-natural skincare products. We had the opportunity to chat with Joanna on her beauty and skincare tips while pregnant, new mom must-haves, and her favorite parts about motherhood. Bonus: we’ve teamed up with the Joanna Vargas salon for the ultimate Mother’s Day giveaway – enter here for your chance to win a facial and Joanna’s entire skincare line for mom and an Estella bamboo baby romper, hat, and two organic toys for baby!

1. Are there any beauty products/ingredients/treatments that women should avoid and/or seek out when they’re pregnant?

I would stick to basics- doing gentle cleansing facials with lots of oxygen always feels right when you are pregnant.

2. A day at the spa can be such a treat for a new mom. What would you recommend?

I think a great exfoliation is both cleansing and relaxing. I love recommending a full body microdermabrasion because it thoroughly removes dead cells and surface dirt while helps to restore ones elasticity and nothing is better for a new mom! I also would recommend a nice oxygen facial to help cleanse the pores and soothe and hydrate the skin.

3. Are there any common skin concerns you see in pregnancy women or new moms that can be prevented or easily treated?

Common concerns deal with the sensitivity that pregnant women face with their skin and the hormonal breakouts. It’s really hard to prevent a hormonal breakout but you can easily keep it under control with the right regimen. I love using Eminence Organics on my pregnant clients because everything smells wonderful and is very safe for the baby.

Joanna Vargas Facialist Interview

4. What were some of your favorite ways to treat yourself during pregnancy?

Yoga was always a great way to treat myself during both pregnancies. I loved how it made me feel more energized and during my second pregnancy I found that plus Pilates made me sleep better, keep my lymphatic system working properly (so I didn’t have swollen feet) and my back felt great. My delivery was amazing and quick the second time around too because my body was so much stronger from the Pilates!

5. When you were a new mom, were there any must-haves (for you and baby!) that you always had on hand?

My must haves for both babies was Mustella Face Cloths. The smell is incredible and nothing quite takes away the smell of baby vomit like those. I also couldn’t live without Jurlique Calendula Cream for both kids’ skin. It keeps away baby eczema really well and is a great secondary diaper cream.

6. There’s so much talk about the work-life balance – as a mom and business owner, what has worked for you?

I think forgiving yourself for not being perfect is big. I don’t make a big deal about it if I mess up sometimes. I am very strict about my schedule and I always explain it to clients if I am unavailable because of a kid thing. No one ever begrudges you for needing to be at your kids school play. And I am pretty good about not bringing my work home. Once I cross the threshold, I’m just mom.

Joann Vargas Interview - Estella Blog

7. What is one thing nobody told you about parenthood?​

How wonderful it is and how it enhanced my whole life. I feel like I love my work so much more because it’s only a part of my life instead of my whole life.

8. Lastly, spring has finally arrived in NYC! What are some of your favorite kid-friendly spots or activities this time of year?​

My son takes Parkour classes in Central Park- it’s the best city park I have ever been to!

Thanks, Joanna! P.S. Enter our Mother’s Day giveaway here.

(Images via Joanna Vargas Salon)

Posted by Estella Editor in Interviews & Guest Posts, Pregnancy, 0 comments

A Conversation with: Courtney Klein of Storq

Maternity Clothes - Storq

Meet Courtney Klein, the San Francisco-based entrepreneur and founder of maternity label Storq! Courtney founded the brand with the belief that your wardrobe and sense of style shouldn’t have to change during your pregnancy. The brand debuted with four pieces (leggings, a skirt, tank top, and midi-dress) that can be purchased as a bundle and worn for all nine months. Each garment is available in a luxuriously soft black or white modal fabric (although the spring dress just launched in three new colors!), designed and manufactured in California, and meant to be mixed and matched with your current wardrobe. All-natural, pregnancy-safe creams and beauty items have also been added into the mix. We caught up with Courtney recently to ask her all about life with her baby Nell, newborn and maternity must-haves, and what’s coming next for Storq. Thanks, Courtney!

1. First off, congrats on your new baby! How has motherhood been so far?

Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It’s unreal. One of my favorite parts of being a parent thus far is getting to experience everything again for the first time through my daughter Nell.

2. What have been your go-to newborn essentials so far? Any favorite baby brands?

White onesies, Aden + Anais swaddle blankets, and the Baby K’tan wrap. As for baby brands, there are so many good ones. Obviously Estella bamboo baby clothes but also Makie, Bobo Chooses, Little Hip Squeaks, Moon et Miel, Wolfechild, Mini Rodini, Tane, Misha and Puff, Goat-Milk Kidware, Nature Baby… I could go on and on.

Maternity Clothing - Storq

3. What about for you? Anything new-mom items you can’t live without?

My Fjallraven Backpack in lieu of a diaper bag, a wide brim palm-leaf hat for shading the babe when we’re out and about, Storq tanks and leggings for getting comfy around the house, Portland Apothecary New Mom Tea to keep things running smoothly, Fat & The Moon Face Spray when I need a quick refresh, and WhatsApp to keep far away friends and family up to date on all things Nell.

4. Switching gears, tell us how Storq was created. When, why, and how did you put your idea into action?

The idea for Storq came about after listening to pregnant friend after pregnant friend passionately discuss maternity fashion, or the lack thereof. There’s a real desire to preserve a sense of identity and style while pregnant and not a lot of options out there for doing so.

Maternity Clothing - Storq

5. How would you describe the Storq aesthetic? What is the spirit of the brand?

We believe pregnant ladies are human, too. Our aesthetic is clean and minimal, the ideal canvas for a women to express her own sense of style.

6.  You also offer a body bundle and a beauty bundle. Why did you think it was important to offer these options, and how did you decide on the particular items to include?

Pregnant women have a unique set of concerns when it comes to what they can put on their skin and it can take valuable time to wade through everything out there to find great products. We’ve tested them all and selected our beauty and body favorites that are not only safe for moms-to-be, but also effective and luxurious.

Storq Maternity Line

7. Many women struggle with getting dressed and feeling like themselves while pregnant. Others don’t even think purchasing maternity wear is a worthwhile investment. What advice do you have for them?

To the women who make it through pregnancy without buying a single maternity item, more power. And for the most part, they’re right, you’re not really making an investment, per se. We focused on the pieces that help to fill in the gaps in your wardrobe so you can make the most of what you’ve already got and still feel like yourself, just more comfortable.

8. What is your favorite part of designing & producing maternity apparel?

Empowering women who are pregnant, who are doing this mind-blowing thing, to look and feel amazing.

Maternity Clothes - Storq

9. For moms (or any women, really) starting their own businesses, what advice would give?

The hardest part is taking the plunge. I say just jump!

10. What’s next for Storq? Are there any upcoming projects in the works?

More chic essentials from your friends at Storq. Stay tuned.

11. Your talent speaks for itself through everything you’ve already accomplished with Storq. Is there anything you don’t do well that you wish you could?

You are way too kind! Seriously. There are so many things I wish I was better at, but I’d be pretty excited if I was a great chess player.

Bamboo Baby Clothes - Estella NYC

P.S. – Here’s a picture of Courtney with baby Nell in our baby bamboo!

(Images via Mother Magazine, Racked, & Storq)

Posted by Estella Editor in Interviews & Guest Posts, Pregnancy, 0 comments

A Conversation with: Melissa of WINTER DAISY

Baby Nursery Decor - Elephant Theme

We recently got the chance to chat with Melissa of WINTER*DAISY, an interiors studio that creates dreamy and modern baby nurseries and spaces for children. Melissa’s aesthetic is soft and calm with unique details and whimsical touches that result rooms for little ones to explore, play, and grow. Plus, as a proud mama of 3 little ones, many of Melissa’s recommendations come tried and tested. Read on for more nursery decor tips and ideas…

1. What’s the best way to go about decorating a nursery if you are keeping the sex of your baby a surprise, or just want to avoid the stereotypical girl and boy colors?

A neutral palette is timeless and so easy to add to once the little one arrives.

Baby Boy Nursery Decor - Winter Daisy

2. Are there any nursery items worth the splurge (or, are overrated and not worth purchasing at all)?

The item I most often recommend splurging on is a chair. Try it out. Sit in it. Feel the fabric. Make sure it’s easy to clean. With the vast array of options for nursery chairs, there really is something for everyone in every budget. This is the place you will spend hours feeding, holding, reading and generally loving your baby right from the beginning and for many years to come!

3. Ideally a nursery will be functional and practical yet still beautiful and inviting. Any tips on how to achieve this balance?

Of course it is so much fun to have a beautiful space but without a doubt, functionality is key with children. Having three children myself, I can often point out the items that just might not work so well. Before we came on board, my last client had already purchased a change table that sat over the crib. I let her know that this might cause minor disasters in the months to come. Needless to say, after 3 days of her newborn peeing into his crib, she decided it was time to move it. There are so many amazing products to choose from, recommending ones that work well is built in as part of our service.

A Conversation With: Melissa of Winter Daisy

4. What are your top nursery must-haves for new moms?

For new moms? Somewhere to sit, somewhere to put your feet up and someone to bring you food! We also LOVE blankets. Cotton, cashmere, bamboo…soft and cozy and useful for everything from keeping baby cozy to keeping Mom’s (and Dad’s!) toes warm. The blankets we had for our girls when they were born are now used in imaginative play as capes, dresses and for building forts. You can never have too many.

5. Do you have any go-to brands for nursery décor, furniture, and newborn essentials?

There are two many incredible brands to list, but I do aim to use as many local to you stores as possible.

Baby Girl Nursery Decor - Winter Daisy

6. Outside of the decor, what essentials do you recommend new moms should have on hand in the nursery?

Water and cloths! We put so much effort into ensuring our babes are fed and happy, that Mom gets neglected far too often. It is essential to make sure Mom stays hydrated too. Cloths can be used for everything from wiping spit up to runny noses. Can I also recommend a personal masseuse? That sounds like it an incredible essential to me! Ha. Wishful thinking.

Thanks, Melissa! For more, check out Melissa’s InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter for more inspiration, too.

Nursery Decor - Baby Room

(Images via WINTER*DAISY)

Posted by Estella Editor in For The Home, Interviews & Guest Posts, 0 comments