Being Mama: Cassandra Grey
Cassandra Grey, the founder and CEO of glamorous cosmetics company, Violet Grey, is also mom to Jules, 11 months. We talk to the entrepreneur about balancing work and family, and why date nights are off the menu for a while.
“I didn’t understand how much love and joy a person could feel until I had Jules. It’s a very different kind of love. I certainly hadn’t experienced that until I had Jules. And I think it might be different with boys and their mothers; the link is so strong. I can’t believe how open and joyful my heart feels with him. It’s interesting to step back and look at how perfectly we’re designed to care for our kids – if we didn’t feel that level of love and devotion, we wouldn’t be able to care for our kids so well.
My pregnancy with Jules was planned. I remember quite eagerly checking to see if I was pregnant, and taking tests before I should have been. There was this very faint line – almost not there at all. I assumed I wasn’t pregnant because it was just so faint. But because I wanted to be pregnant so badly, I did some digging around online and saw that a faint line could be a sign I was pregnant. A few days later – on Christmas Day – I did another test and found out I was pregnant. It was an amazing Christmas present! We were so excited.
I was sick for the first four months of my pregnancy. My doctor told me it was a good sign; even though I felt like I was dying, he told me it was a sign I had a healthy baby! After that, the pregnancy was more typical. I felt tired but quite powerful; I was so excited about becoming a mother. And I really felt that I was getting to know Jules while I was getting pregnant. I got this sense of what his energy was, who he would turn out to be – and it’s turned out to be spot-on. It’s hard to explain, but it’s definitely something I felt.
When you’re an entrepreneur, I don’t think you can really ever step completely away from your company. Choosing that life is very much a commitment – it’s one of the most challenging careers you can choose. I consider it very rewarding and a huge privilege, but it is difficult. I had three weeks completely off, but the company wasn’t at a place where I could take more time away. I don’t want that to be the standard of our company culture, but it’s not something I regret. We have mostly women working at Violet Grey, and so fostering a family-friendly work environment is something I am very passionate about. I want to make sure my staff is using their time in a way that’s healthy and productive.
Having a child has made my days a little more typical. I wake up with Jules – between 6 and 7. We spend the morning together, with my husband. We have breakfast, read the paper, drink coffee. Then I go to the office around 9 and get to work. There are a lot of meetings, generally. I’m the CEO but I’m also the creative lead, so I tend to go back and forth from the right to the left side of my brain! I’m home for bath time, around 6.30pm, and then my husband and I put Jules to bed. After that, I either go back to work (at home), or read and relax, or on very rare occasions, my husband and I go out. That doesn’t happen too often, though!
My husband and I both have demanding careers, but I really stand by the statement that if you want something done, you ask a busy person! We’re both mindful of being healthy – meditating, eating well, exercising. But I think it’s totally possible to be productive and be very busy – we’re good at prioritising. And it’s always an adjustment, we’re constantly fine-tuning what we do! It is a challenge, and I’ve always been the type of person who takes on more and more. And I’m very lucky, I have people around me who are incredibly helpful – at work and at home.
My mom was a Montessori school teacher, so that has really shaped me. I want to raise Jules in a similar way. I think humour is a big part of parenting – I want to be able to laugh with Jules, and I think it’s important that parents can find the humour in the weirdness of parenting! I think the best thing you can do as a parent is be consistent. Jules’s life is very predictable, and I think that’s really important. And as he grows older, it’ll be important to be consistent with the way we discipline him.”
“The best thing about having Jules has been that I’ve become aware of just how much love you can have for someone. Romantic love is a bit different, I think. With babies, it’s so unconditional. You can’t really wrap your mind around that until it actually happens to you. When it does, it just blows you away.”