Being Mama: Emma Grede
Founder & CEO of Good American and mother of two, Emma Grede, admits that she often suffers from mom guilt. She also admits she’s not going to let it stop her from chasing her personal dreams anytime soon. In this article we chat motherhood, motivation and why it’s okay to admit if you feel really bad after having a baby.
Image via Claiborne Swanson Frank
Image via Claiborne Swanson Frank
When it comes to understanding brand partnerships and fashion, Emma Grede is a guru. Born in London, she now resides in Los Angeles after a wildly successful 10 year run with her first business, ITB, to focus on her family as well as her joint venture with Khloe Kardashian – Good American. Launched in late 2016, the luxury denim and active wear brand has taken the world by storm one Instagram feed at a time. With sizes ranging from 00-24 as well as celebrated racially diverse advertisements, the inclusivity that drives the brand is refreshing, while the quality is what makes people keep coming back.
Fascinated by Emma’s ability to seemingly have it all, we asked her a load of questions to get a better look at her life. Emma admittedly grew up in a chaotic yet happy and loving home and was always encouraged to go after the impossible. Her mother taught her and her sisters that they could do anything their hearts desired if they worked really REALLY hard. Creating a global entertainment marketing company and luxury denim brand (that raked in $1,000,000 on its first day…) is definitely something we’d class as “Difficult to attain.” However, Emma made it all happen by simply working REALLY hard.
“I grew up in a lower working-class family in a really poor part of east London, but never once did I think something wasn’t a possibility for me to achieve and that is a testament to my mom.”
Not only did Emma’s mother teach her the importance of having fierce confidence, a strong work ethic and drive, she emphasized the importance of having good manners and loyalty because these form the foundation of good business and healthy relationships. As the mother of four-year-old, Grey, and two-year-old, Lola, being kind, respectful, compassionate and grounded are the key virtues Emma constantly aims to instill in her children.
When asked how she keeps her kids grounded while her career continues to sky rocket, Emma says, “By actually being a very grounded person myself. I believe children do what they see and behavioral patterns start there. I’m very aware my kids are being raised with tremendous privilege – the polar opposite to my upbringing. At this point in my career I’ve chosen to be very involved in charity work. I sit on the board of the wonderful charity Women for Women and I’m an ambassador for Baby2Baby. Right now, my children are both very young but for example, I recently explained to them that we are packing up their old clothes and toys to be given away to less fortunate children – not an easy conversation to have with a four-year-old who frankly doesn’t want to part with any of his toys! – but it plants a seed that you have a responsibility as someone with material wealth to give back and that it should be woven into everyday life and not a special occasion or gala ticket once a year. As they get older, I will encourage both Grey and Lola to get more and more involved in the charity work I do for sure.”
Even before Grey and Lola made their entrances into the world, Emma was setting an example for them by being an incredibly decent human. Perhaps it’s her can-do attitude, undeniable exuberance for life or refreshing honesty, but Emma’s desire to live and live fully is infectious and made her a natural when it comes to motherhood. However, Emma admits that it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine in the beginning.
“Even though I feel like mothering (surprisingly) came very naturally and it didn’t take long for me to decipher different cries, coos and needs, the first few weeks with both of my children were incredibly difficult and somewhat sad. I’m incredibly lucky that I have really good friends who warned me that baby blues or post-natal depression is extremely common and part of the journey. They were really honest and detailed about everything that happens to your body after having a baby so I focused on accepting the highs and the lows and tried to accept my somber feelings as part of my path. To be honest, I really suffered emotionally especially after having Lola. Nothing as severe as text book post-natal depression, but I found myself with the baby blues for a good three weeks, which felt like an eternity, made worse by the fact that I didn’t experience anything like it with my first, Grey. I also had terrible post-labor contractions and Lola didn’t feed as easily as Grey. If I’ve learned anything from that experience, it’s that it’s important to not be ashamed to get help. I had a brilliant lactation consultant who also recommended Chiropractic craniopathy for both myself and my baby. I don’t know if it was the craniopathy that worked or just talking freely to a stranger about the way I was feeling but I was soon back on track and ready for the inevitable new challenges being a working mum of two would bring.”
Even though Emma suffered from the baby blues, she still maintains that the most surprising thing about motherhood is that it comes so naturally! She spent a lot of time thinking about what type of mom she wanted to be, but the moment she laid her eyes on her children, she knew that they would let her know who they needed her to be.
“I love that I know my children so well. I can even tell from their cries if there’s a real need or not. There’s something very satisfying in that bond.”
When asked about her pregnancies, Emma gratefully shares that they were complication and morning sickness free. It was also incredibly endearing to hear that Emma said the greatest side effect was being less patient.
“Usually I don’t let things like a flight delays or failing entertainment systems bother me, but I was a pretty easily agitated pregnant person! Even though I couldn’t watch a movie, I knew that I could catch up with sleep on those flights. Once I flew from London to Sao Paulo and slept the entire flight! I woke up to a flight attendant telling me we were about to land. Nothing like a deep pregnancy sleep. (Am I right?) I learned to love being pregnant, actually. People are so nice to you when you are carrying a child. I loved that strangers would start conversations with me, just smiling or chatting when they normally wouldn’t.”
When it came time to prepare for her first birth, Emma was initially drawn to the principles of the gentle birth method by childbirth guru, Gowri Motha. However, she found it hard to stick to in real life.
“In the end I gave up and felt strongly that my body would know what to do when the time came. I was also open to pain relief in the end, despite trying to convince myself of a more natural birth. Deep down I knew that was never going to be my path. I had epidurals with both of my kids and quick easy births.”
With Grey, she returned to work within a few weeks, but quickly learned that was too early for her.
“Going back so soon was a huge learning curve and gave me visibility into a side of the business that I normally wouldn’t otherwise have had. With Lola, I took three months off living in our house in the English countryside. I still worked on email, but I didn’t go into the office at all which was a big deal for me.”
It’s so fun to talk to someone who has an endless amount of love for her family as well as herself. It’s also refreshing to hear that other women, even ones who are on top of the world, also suffer from the baby blues. Hearing that Emma recognized the need for time and space with Lola is incredibly powerful and encouraging and makes her a great role model for working mamas. Speaking of working mamas, Emma admits that Mom Guilt often takes over, but that becoming a mom has actually given her a sense of balance between home and work.
“Work life balance was something I didn’t have before having Grey and Lola. But with kids you almost don’t have a choice when you actually have tiny little humans depending on you for pretty much everything. I still work and travel a lot though. I make sure I’m there for all the big moments in my kids’ life, but I’m not the classroom parent. I’m not volunteering for school trips. I find this can be difficult in a weak moment. However, I truly am at at peace with my choices in life. I’m very ambitious and working less would not satisfy me at this stage of my life, however I’d be lying if I said I didn’t suffer with pangs of guilt now and again. The thing that helps – knowing that whatever I do, I do it wholeheartedly. When I’m at work, I’m really at work. When I’m home with my babies at night, I don’t even take my phone out of my bag until I’ve finished bedtime. I’m a Libra. I’m very much all or nothing. It may not be textbook balance, but it works for me. One of my biggest focuses is making time for the things I love and creating memories. Life goes by so quickly and if I can’t stop, schedule family trips and special things to do together I’d be doing something really wrong. I’m looking at time in a whole new way. If I have 16 summers with my children before they want to make their own summer plans, then they’re going to be the best ones ever!”
When asked what a normal day looks like in her household, Emma says, “I’m up early, usually 5:30am. I work out before the children wake and then we have breakfast and get ready for work and school around one another. I take Grey to school one or two mornings a week and get to my office by 8:30. My days are a mixture of meetings with each of my divisional direct reports, fittings, collection reviews and research. I spend a lot of time changing clothes, actually as I’m always wear testing new fabrics and trying new fit developments. However, I’m surprisingly really good at “Me Time!” I love acupuncture and massages, so I try making time on a monthly basis to do both. I used to read a lot, but I have less time now that I have two children, so I listen to Podcasts on my journey to and from work, which I love and really count it as “Me Time.” My favorites are Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations and David Axelrod’s Axe Files.”
Grey and Lola are lucky to have Emma as their mama and if it’s up to Emma, more siblings will be on the way!
“I come from a big and very close family. I value loyalty over everything and really aspire to have a big family unit. I am one of four and my husband is one of five children, and I always think you want to recreate your own childhood experience to some extent…so more children are in the cards for me if I’m lucky enough.”
Fast Five with Emma
- Three wardrobe staples for busy moms? Good Jeans! My favorites are my Good American Good waist skinny jeans with a super high rise, a good white shirt and a good flat for me…preferably sneakers!
- What’s your parenting style? I’m the disciplinarian in our house. I’m very scheduled; the children wake and have bath, stories and bedtime at the same times every day but apart from that I’m relaxed. Firm, but fair I would say.
- How does your style of parenting differ from that of your own mom’s? My mother was pretty strict, but she was a working single mother without help and four kids. She had little choice than to keep us all on a short leash!
- What’s your favorite weekend family activity? Oh, we LOVE Sunday morning movies at Soho House West Hollywood. At 11am every Sunday they show children’s films. It could be the latest Pixar movie or an old classic like ET but it’s becoming one of our favorite family outings.
- What is your most important family tradition? I’m very, very big on Christmas! I start thinking about it in October. I usually have three trees, the entire house is decorated and lit! I’ll make a cake and preserves and bake them. I host and cook for my entire family for all the main days. We also go to Stockholm with our families and best friends every year. We host a party in my favorite hotel – Ett Hem.
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