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These Two Sustainable Brands Are Making Fashion "That Fits" the Many Stages of Womanhood

Sotela and Of An Origin are changing how we design womenswear

Fashion is fun... when it fits. For many woman, the feeling of not "fitting" into clothing can be the mental equivalent of losing oneself-- especially after having a child. While clothing may not be at the forefront of a new parent's mind, that form of comfort, adaptability and expression is otherwise lost in an uncomfortable, awkwardly worn outfit.

Being a mom is the hardest job there is, and there's no clocking out after 5pm. As a mama, you are not only an all-encompassing caretaker, you're a nutritionist, in-home chef, cruise director, body guard, and housekeeper. With all of this multi-tasking, not to mention a tighter sleep schedule, being a mom may be the recipe for cultivating better entrepreneurs. A prerequisite, if you will, to the on-top-of-it adaptability, priority management and thoughtfulness of a good CEO.

For the women I interviewed for this article, their journeys into motherhood allowed them to hear their calling: to serve women in a purposeful way -- all while raising three kids!

Recognizing that a woman's body is ever-changing, Hanna Baror-Padilla was inspired to start Sotela, an inclusive clothing brand creating custom styles to fit every woman. All Sotela clothing is custom made-to-order in Los Angeles using sustainable materials.

While postpartum, Candice Collison, felt her anxiety and depression intensify when she could not find easy, comfortable clothing for nursing or pumping. In response, she founded Of An Origin, a brand that disrupts modern maternity wear by creating styles that are versatile from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond.

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SFPR: What's a typical day for you in juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship?

Hanna: A typical day feels like a race to get everything done. We have one kid in school while the other two are at home so it's a constant juggling act to see who is available for school pickups while the younger two nap. My mom watches the kiddos 3-4 times a week so I can get a solid 6 hours of work done at the studio. Once I get home, it's a race to get dinner on the table and the kids in bed so I can have time to either finish up work or relax.

SFPR: Why does working for yourself make more sense for your life and family?

Candice: At Facebook I led a fulfilling job in sales and then as a business marketing leader. It was a lot of fun, but it was also a high pressure job that started feeling less connected to my identity and purpose when I became a mother. Before becoming a mother, and while still working for Facebook I started my first slow & ethical fashion venture, Mod + Ethico. After having my second daughter, I went through a transformative experience - where I knew that my career, my passion for slow fashion, and my calling as a mother had to intersect. Today, I jump out of bed ready to live this fully integrated life as a mother and a business leader.

Entrepreneur and mother with two of her children
Candice Collison, founder of sustainable brand, Of An Origin, with two of her children

SFPR: How has being a mother enhanced your ability to be a good business owner?

Hanna: It has made me so much more efficient with time. When I'm at the studio, I'm able to focus and get through my to-do list. I feel like motherhood has made me more productive in the little time I have available.

Candice: I am productive in ways I wasn't before. I know that if I have nap time to work, or some time while the kids are playing or eating that I can tackle small tasks. I don't try to start and stop tasks that take deep thinking. I save longer blocks of time for when I need to get into a flow, or I need to tackle a task that takes deeper thinking, like forecasting or designing an email campaign. I used to procrastinate, now I focus on being the most productive that I can in the time and space that I have. I also make a very conscious effort to enjoy and be present with the kids. I try hard to limit my phone use around them.

SFPR: How does your work at Sotela empower other mothers?

Hanna: I believe it shows mothers that it's possible to have your own business while raising small children. When I found out I was having twins, I cried for days. Sotela was at its peak and I worried that having twins would be too overwhelming to continue working. There are days that feel overwhelming, but because I love creating and designing so much, it fills my cup. I'm a better mother because I'm able to work and use my gifts doing something I truly love.

A woman holding a dress  while carrying her child in a baby wrap
Hanna Baror-Padilla, founder of inclusive fashion company Sotela, with one of her babies.

SFPR: How does Of An Origin normalize PPD and how is the brand empowering new moms?

Candice: My own matrescence experience (the transformation into motherhood) inspired the brand purpose, and our designs. Of an Origin's purpose is to help women transition into motherhood and throughout the journey. Our styles are designed to evolve through our changing shape and functional needs. I heard from one customer that our designs gave her the confidence to breastfeed her newborn in public. Another mother shared that she felt that our pieces were flattering at a time when nothing else seemed to be. Feeling comfortable and stylish while having functionality that you need while pregnant/nursing/pumping makes all the difference emotionally.

SFPR: Do you have any tips you can pass along to other women leading the dual lives of parent and entrepreneur?

Hanna: I firmly believe that even when it feels too overwhelming to keep going, you will make it work one day at a time.

Candice: It's been a difficult but fulfilling journey so far, and if you feel that way - you aren't alone. It takes endurance, if you look at the day-to-day performance of your business, and how taxing motherhood can be it's easy to burnout. Set long term goals, and measure how you're progressing. I would also recommend using virtual assistants, and outsourcing operational responsibilities like bookkeeping. I've handled every aspect of the business for the past two years, while maintaining our home, buying groceries, making our meals, all while having three young children home with me. We are now in the process of hiring an Au Pair and I just hired someone to clean our home once a month. I've been trying to do it all, but something has to give! Find solutions that work for you and your family. If you can't afford full-time childcare, can you hire a part-time nanny, or does an Au Pair work for you?

Images provided by Sotela and Of An Origin.


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