This month, we’re celebrating our third annual Five Fascinating Moms feature in Pregnancy & Newborn. The common thread of motherhood connects them—and us—on our journeys through pregnancy and parenthood. As you read the stories of these remarkable moms, it is our hope that you will not feel inconsequential or underachieving but rather supported by a community of strong and beautiful women, like yourself, and empowered to be the best mom you can be.
Meet Elle Rowley.
Residence: San Diego, California
Occupation: Creator of Solly Baby
Children: Lucy (5), Solomon (3), Frances (1 month)
Favorite color: White
Best way to spend a Saturday: At the beach
Strangest pregnancy craving: Grilled PB&J sandwiches
Elle Rowley was the mother to a toddler, wife to a full-time student and just finishing up her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Communications when she was accepted into a masters degree program at the University of Utah. Instead of enrolling, however, she found herself blogging, sewing and pregnant again. “In a strange way,” she explains, “this turned out to be the perfect storm for the birth of Solly Baby,” her high-end baby carrier company.
“Blogging created the perfect network for me to launch my shop, sewing children’s clothes provided the skills I needed to make the first carrier, and after being totally disenchanted with what was on the market for newborn carriers with my first baby, my second pregnancy gave me the motivation to make a better carrier myself.” The other key factor: “Did I mention we were broke?” asks Rowley. “Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.”
Three years later, the small company is thriving. Rowley and her surfer husband run the business out of their home, working side-by-side in their garage-turned-home-office, meeting with suppliers, shipping orders and interacting with customers. Rowley reads every email that comes to Solly Baby’s inbox and attests that connecting with so many other amazing mothers and fathers has been the greatest reward of the job. “These emails are often what push me through the inevitably challenging times every small business owner has,” she says.
Among those challenges, the toughest seems to be finding balance between her family and her business. Says Rowley, “There are plenty of other problems that come up, but being the best mother and wife that I can be and the best business owner at the same time is the most important in the grand scheme of things.” Still, she’s realistic: “I don’t care about being perfect in those spheres, but I know when I’m giving my family my best self, and I definitely know when I am stinking at it. I guess my biggest fear is looking back and feeling like I missed it, you know? Not the big stuff like graduations and dance recitals, but the little everyday things that really matter.”
Rowley may have a lot on her plate between launching Solly Baby’s spring/summer line, publishing a babywearing board book called Carrying Baby (on shelves this month) and starting a new curriculum with her preschool-age children, but that didn’t deter her and her husband from adding another member to their family this spring. “Having more children than parents is crazy,” she says, “but a good crazy that makes everyone grow up a little more and work together a little more.” Besides, she’s once again able to put her thoughtfully designed wraps to use. “Babywearing gives you the feeling that you are giving your baby everything she needs, just by keeping her close,” explains Rowley.
The mom of three may still be acclimating to life with a family of five, but she knows love and hope will help her navigate the uncharted waters as they have so many times before. “Motherhood is a million times harder and infinitely more rewarding than I ever could have imagined,” Rowley says. “It has exposed my weaknesses and shortcomings in a way that has been painful at times, but it’s also unearthed a part of me that is better and stronger and softer than I would have believed.”
(Photo by Jylare Smith Photography, courtesy of Elle Rowley.)