Co-founder of The Tot
Home: Dallas, Texas
Kids: Tomtom (4), Daniel (2), Bella (3 months)
Pregnancy craving: Pomegranates, watermelons and cucumber
Favorite way to unwind: A hot bath with organic bath salts and bubbles by Susanne Kaufman
What did you do before The Tot, and how did you become interested in entrepreneurship?
My love for entrepreneurship began when I moved to the U.S. from Russia at 15. I knew that someday I would create my own company. Before The Tot, before becoming a mother to my firstborn, I worked across several sectors, from media business development, fashion and even a non-profit where I worked as a grant writer on behalf of immigrants in New York City. While not intended, it’s been incredibly useful for becoming an entrepreneur.
What prompted you to build a business while also building a family?
When I became pregnant with my first child, I was obsessed with educating myself about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. I learned about toxic dyes in toys, BPA in bottles, different types of chemical flame retardants on car seats and strollers, harmful ingredients used in baby and adult personal care products, and petroleum and alcohols in baby lotion. It was overwhelming, but I remained hopeful.
I created a list of all the brands and products I found in my research. Eventually, it got to the point where my friends were asking me for my list of products when they became pregnant. I knew then I needed to create a single destination for mamas to read, educate themselves and shop safe, nontoxic products. So my list eventually became The Tot.
In terms of setting up a business with raising a family, it’s incredibly hard, but also very rewarding! In many ways The Tot has been one of my babies, and like children—it takes a village to raise a business.
Walk us through a typical day in your busy household.
We get up at 6 a.m. to brush our teeth, use the potty (we are potty training at the moment), change and then go down for breakfast (usually a smoothie). I’ll drop off my eldest son at school and then head to the office, which can involve anything from reviewing the latest products, testing new gear, visiting our store for an event, or shooting product videos for our Instagram. In the afternoon I pick my son up from school and have time to play and bond with my kids when I get home. Then we all sit down for dinner as a family, and then it’s time for the bedtime routine. If my husband and I are lucky and there’s no work to be done (this is rare!), we might sneak in a Netflix show.
How do you manage time with family and work?
I’m very lucky in that I have a great support system at home. It’s the only way to truly juggle motherhood and a career, successfully. I also place a lot of importance on self-care, and this can mean anything from going to a yoga class, getting a massage, catching up with friends or going on date nights with my husband.
We have to admit we’ve creeped your Instagram. Your style is next level! Care to share your inspiration?
When I was growing up in Russia, I remember loving my mom’s style. It was the ’80s, so she always had huge pops of color, vibrant patterns and fun chunky accessories. While pregnant, I opt for pieces that are comfortable and provide room for my growing belly; I don’t limit myself when it comes to wearing pieces that make me feel extra fabulous. The one thing I do compromise on a tiny bit is shoes—sometimes I just need flats!
We noticed you keep your babes’ faces hidden on social media. How do you capture amazing family photos while also honoring their privacy?
It’s hard to not post my children’s gorgeous smiles every day, but until they can advocate for themselves (and the world is a safe place), I don’t feel like it’s my right to share every detail about them. I try to capture candid photos where they’re not looking directly at the camera, which is actually a more honest version of our life anyway!
How can fellow moms live their best lives while also contributing to the well-being of society?
It’s important to do the jobs you’re not just good at, but passionate about. While I like to think I’m good at motherhood, I am without a doubt passionate about it. Luckily for me this passion crossed over from my family life to my professional life. I love getting to learn from my own life experiences to curate and create the best content and products for parents. Moms created many of the items we sell on The Tot. Believe in yourselves and don’t be afraid to think BIG.
Please share your favorite piece of postpartum advice.
I think the most helpful thing for me was how much dialogue I had from friends and fellow mamas letting me know about the hormonal roller coaster I would be going on after I became a mom. Because I expected it, because it was normal, because we need to break the stigma, I was able to look at each thought and feeling in the eye and think: This is part of the journey, and it’s OK to ask for help.