FIVE X FIVE: Amy Nelson
The Tot FIVE x FIVE invites inspiring mamas to answer five questions on motherhood and curate their favourite kids’ products they can’t live without. Here we talk to Amy Nelson, mother of four girls and the founder of The Riveter, a network of communities and work spaces built by women, for everyone.
‘Built by women. For everyone.’ This is hands down one of our favorite taglines of all time and we have Amy Nelson to thank for it. When pregnant with her third daughter in 2017, Amy launched The Riveter, a network of communities and work spaces built by women, for everyone. Through curated content, live events and flexible co-working spaces across the US, The Riveter is passionate about championing and elevating the conversation about gender diversity, equity and inclusion in work and in business. Now the mama of four girls (who are insanely adorable), Amy isn’t slowing down at all when it comes to her quest to make the world a better place. Open and honest about what it’s like to have a baby in the boardroom and her reliance on her husband, nanny, mother and others, Amy is the mom-friend we all desperately want and need.
Amy on Motherhood
- Your background in corporate litigation and experience co-chairing Gen44 for President Obama’s National Finance Committee is impressive and inspiring. What made you decide to head in a different direction? “I was a corporate litigator for a decade, and I had a very successful career as a lawyer. At the time, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else as I loved the work and felt challenged and fulfilled… until I got pregnant. All of a sudden, I wasn’t viewed as just a lawyer in my office, I was seen as Amy, the pregnant lawyer who no longer wanted to travel for cases or take time away from her family. It was at that point that I began to think about my next career move. Starting my own legal practice was the most natural next step and so I attended a few different classes in Seattle that taught business skills including navigating financial projections, and how to write a business plan. Most of these classes took place at various coworking locations and when I looked around the room, I realized these spaces were built by men and for men. They did not meet the needs of women in their 30’s, looking to start a new career. I knew there had to be a better way for women to learn business skills in an environment that was smart and efficient, inspiring, and full of like-minded women, and so from there, I decided I needed to be the person to create it.”
- Was there a particular moment or event that the idea for The Riveter popped into your head? “My experience in realizing there were no spaces built and designed for professional women drove my desire to create The Riveter and continued to evolve from there. One of the most pivotal moments for me happened when I sat down with a friend of mine and told him about my idea for The Riveter. At that time, I had just thought about opening one Riveter in Seattle. He said, “Amy, this is certainly something that is needed. Why would you open just one location?” It was at that time that I realized he was right – it wasn’t just a Seattle problem – women around the country were experiencing the same gender bias as I did, and they needed a community to support them.”
- How do you explain feminism to your children? “As a mother of four daughters under the age of five, I am so fortunate to be doing work that I love and that will change the world my daughters will grow up in for the better. I hope my daughters can see this as they get older. Given my daughters are so young, we haven’t gotten into the idea of feminism in depth, but I am proud that they see a world where their mom is the CEO and founder of a venture-backed startup, and that their father supports me in my work. They get to see that I am extremely proud of what my team and I are building at The Riveter, where we are driving change to make equity of opportunity a reality.”
- How do you think businesses in the US could better cater for working parents? “Where do I begin? In many ways, I believe Corporate America is a broken system which has left women behind – from the pay gap to lack of lactation rooms around the country to the fact that women with children are less likely to be promoted. I firmly believe that individuals shouldn’t be treated differently in the workplace because they identify as a woman, have children, or are pregnant. Women can be both mothers and business leaders, and can be damn good at it! The single best thing businesses can do to cater to working parents is hire and promote women. At the same time, America should pay women what they are worth and equally to their male counterparts, treat women fairly in the workplace (with or without children), and every parent should have access to paid parental leave from their employer when a baby is born and/or brought into a family.”
- As someone who travels all the time for work, what are your tips and tricks for traveling with toddlers and infants? “I think about this all the time! We have a few tried and true hacks for family vacations. We pack backpacks with new toys for airplane trips – and by toys, I mean basic things like bags of rubber bands, playdough, and more. Keep the little hands busy! If we are traveling for more than three days, I use Amazon to ship diapers, wipes, snacks, and more. When I travel with an infant, I rely so much on my Ergobaby carrier. It’s great for transit and the plane. Finally, with all travel, we keep to our sleep schedule. We live and die by it, and it helps everyone stay happy.”
Amy’s Five from The Tot
Lovevery Play Gym: Incredible quality, beautiful colors, and it grows with your babe as you can add on toys and accessories.
GATHRE Micro Mat: We love the Micro mats! They make for easy clean up after meals, and with four kids that is the ultimate goal.
Petit Collage Wooden Stroller Books: They are so fun to give to the babe while we stroll, so they can play with it as we are on the go. It’s very helpful during errands!
Bonpoint Dresses: These are a family favorite. The material is beautiful, they last for years, and the prints are adorable.
Miniware First Bites Travel Set: We use this a lot when traveling with the babies! I find it helpful to have the bowls and utensils on hand as restaurants usually don’t have good dinnerware for early eaters. It’s also super easy to clean – and stylish.