Being Mama: Stacey Effman and Amy Koenigsberger
When Amy Koenigsberger’s son suffered a severe allergic reaction, she knew she could do better for him. What she did next – with friend Stacey Effman – will revolutionize the way you think about kids’ clothing. We talk to the Founders of 12I12.
Amy Koenigsberger will never forget the day she thought she was losing her son. Ryan, then three, was cooking with Amy’s mom – something they did together frequently. Amy’s mom was snacking on cashews and Ryan grabbed one, too. Within minutes, the little boy’s eyes were swollen shut, and his face had become completely distorted. “It was a very scary situation,” says Amy now. “Luckily, my mom has great instincts, and she gave him a dose of Benadryl immediately, before taking him to see the doctor.”
While Ryan recovered fully, the family had to change their lifestyle somewhat to ensure his safety. He takes his Epi-Pen everywhere, is a pro at checking food labels and is sure to tell everyone at a party or dinner that tree nuts are off the menu for him. Five years later, Amy’s second son, Colby, was diagnosed with the same allergy. Like his big brother, Colby knows how to manage his allergy.
But the boys’ allergies got Amy thinking: how could she do more to make sure her boys stayed safe, away from potentially harmful chemicals and allergens? And then one night, over dinner with her husband’s childhood friend, Amy met Stacey Effman, and the two came up with the idea for 12|12 – a completely organic childrens’ clothing range, made from the softest cotton they could source. It made sense: Amy had been in the fashion industry her whole career, at Bloomingdales and then THEORY, and Stacey’s background was in graphic design and marketing. Over wine and a meal, a business was born.
Though the two are “complete opposites” says Stacey, they work incredibly well together. “Amy is a numbers person and I’m more creative. She covers everything I don’t know about running a business (projections, margins, etc), and I cover the design and creative aspects.” Though they have complementary skills, the pair don’t make a decision until they’re both totally comfortable with it, says Amy.
Like Amy, Stacey is a mother, to two-year-old Lilia, with another on the way. While Amy says both of her pregnancies “flew by” and that she was “definitely one of the lucky ones” in terms of how she felt when pregnant, for Stacey, the time was essential for mental prep. “When I saw the positive pregnancy test, I told my husband I didn’t want to talk about it that night. He was so excited and wanted to celebrate, but I felt like my worlds were colliding. But at 5am the next morning, I woke him up and told him I was excited, too.”
Both women feel strongly about including mothers in the workplace, and lead by example. “Returning to work, no matter how many children you have, is probably the most difficult situation to figure out and go through,” says Amy. “On one side you have this new addition to the family who is dependent on you. On the other side you have a high profile position that you very much enjoy and challenges and rewards you. Both terrific jobs, both difficult jobs.” Both concede that balance is a tricky concept to achieve. “I used to think that I had balance,” says Stacey, “Because I could spend a lot of time with my daughter but still find enough time my work done. But lately it has become a bit harder, and I think balance is a very difficult thing to achieve. I do try to be as present as possible when I’m with my family, so that time spent is quality and not diluted by distractions.” Amy agrees, saying that the most difficult thing about becoming a mom is figuring out where her work life ends and her family life begins. “It’s a juggling act, but worth it. I need to remember the values that I’m teaching my children and patience is the biggest one for me. With balancing being a mom and running a business I trust my support system (my husband!) and know that we’re always on the same page.”
Motherhood has changed both of them, they say, for the better. “I’ve become more aware of my actions,” says Stacey. “Everything I do can be reflected in [Lilia], and I want her to see the best side of me.” And while Amy admits that her “Type A personality hasn’t changed,” she says one of the best changes since becoming a mom is her renewed focus on health. “Because of my sons’ allergies, I need to know a lot more about health. And that’s a good thing – I feel empowered to make better choices for me, and for them.” After all, she adds, “Family is at the core of everything.”
A few of Amy and Stacey’s favorite things
Stacey’s maternity style
“When I was pregnant with Lilia, I refused to spend a lot of money on maternity clothes. I shopped for deals and bargains as much as possible. Now that I’m pregnant at the same time of year again, I’m regretting that decision! All of my old maternity clothes are falling apart. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m investing in some better pieces this time around, just in case there is another!”
Stacey’s must-have pregnancy items
- Water! I drank so much more than normal
- A pregnancy pillow, it’s heaven towards the end
- Organic honey crisp apples – I have one every day
- Honest Beauty moisturizer – my skin has been so dry, and this fixes it right up. I love it.
Stacey’s favorite new mama items
- Obviously, all of 12|12 pieces, because even though I’m clearly biased, they truly are the softest cotton you’ll find!
- Earth’s Best snack pouches
- Honest diapers and wipes
- The Oxo wipes dispenser is great
- The Baby Bjorn travel crib is amazing, it’s so light and easy to set up
Amy’s maternity style
“I tried to wear cashmere sweaters with some super amazing leggings. In the summer months, I resorted to light fabrics that were breathable.”
Amy’s must-have pregnancy items
- Green apples
- Coco butter
- A great book
- Paw-paw lip balm
- Cashmere blanket
- Peanut butter (which sadly I never cannot have anymore due to the nut allergies!)
Amy’s favorite new mama items
- Anything from 12|12, of course
- Honest Company products
- Earth’s Best baby food
- Beautiful music
- Great books