Five x Five : Anita Gatto + Sarah Ivory
The Tot FIVE x FIVE invites inspiring mamas to answer five questions on motherhood and curate five products they can’t live without. Here we talk to the Co-Founders of SELF EMPLOYED, Anita Gatto + Sarah Ivory, about their fast-growing experiential marketing agency, gratitude for their support systems and importance of being able to reinvent yourself and business in the time of Covid-19.
When friends and co-founders of SELF EMPLOYED, Anita Gatto and Sarah Ivory, each respectively became pregnant in 2016, they didn’t just birth babies. They birthed one of the fastest-growing experiential marketing and brand strategy agencies in Los Angeles. Now, some three years later, they collectively have four kids and a list of clients that include KKW, Kylie Cosmetics, MoetHennessey and Harper’s Bazaar.
Refreshingly honest about just how much external help they need as parents, wives and business owners, their ability to create results-driven campaigns and events while raising epic little humans and making time for their own self-care is why we are bowing down and taking notes!
Anita + Sarah On Motherhood
#1 What’s been your proudest moment since launching Self Employed so far?
Anita Gatto: I feel the most proud every time we hire someone. Sarah and I put so much blood, sweat and tears into this company in the early stages, going after global brands when it was just the two of us (with newborns). I have mad respect for companies who have thousands of employees, no one ever stops to realize how hard that is. I’m very proud of the team we have today.
Sarah Ivory: I feel really proud when I see our team working closely together to get a project to completion. They literally look out for each other in a way that’s really generous of spirit, considerate and self-less and it makes me feel really good that we have managed to attract these people and bring them together in such a productive way.
#2 What is one piece of advice that really resonates with you as an entrepreneur?
Anita Gatto: Enthusiasm is contagious. No matter how tired I’m feeling or uninspired, I always try to be enthusiastic when talking to our clients, or about an idea. If you’re not excited about your own company, no one else will be either. During these times I’ve also realized that you really have to be ready for your business to shift gears at any moment. When things are out of your control stop holding on to what you “built” and be excited about building something new.
Sarah Ivory: Eat what you kill and be prepared to constantly reinvent yourself. It sounds aggressive but it really just means that you need to go out and find your next meal e.g. work, project/clients. During this unprecedented time we lost at least 50% of our business which was dedicated to live productions. We immediately came up with a solution for virtual pop ups and events and shifted more heavily on custom mask productions using our merch partners. This is how we have saved our business from being another Covid casualty. You can not stay still and you can not get complacent.
#3 What is one piece of advice that really resonates with you as a parent
Anita Gatto: We can’t control our children. We can simply provide them a loving and hopefully thriving environment to grow up to be who they are. Being home with my two kids during this time, I’ve realized how different they are but they share the same values (kid values like kissing us good morning, listening to their grandparents on facetime and saying thank you. I don’t believe you can mold your kids, rather imprint values that allow them to be respectful while being who they are meant to be. I can buy the clothes, but Mia shows her true colors by selecting what she wears every day.
Sarah Ivory: It takes a village to raise a child. I never truly understood what that meant but now I see that there’s a real village of people around my son that all contribute significantly to the things he says, the way he behaves and what he learns on a daily basis. He gets something from all these people (my mom, my nanny, my nieces) that makes him who he is. During the first couple months of quarantine, I got a taste of what it would be like to stay at home full time with my son. But for me personally, I need the separation of mom time and work time in order to do both to my fullest capacity.
#4 Do you have any support systems or routines in place that help you kick all the parent and entrepreneur goals at the same time?
Anita Gatto: I have a calendar in the kitchen like a crazy mom in a Rom-Com movie that details what is happening daily so we don’t miss a beat. When my husband and I have to fly somewhere for work, my mom usually flies in to be with the kids so they always have plenty of family love around them. Our family always has breakfast together as well. We listen to BBC radio (British husband) so my mind is provoked on global events, kick starting my day, while spending quality time with the kids and husband.
Sarah Ivory: 100% and I could not do it without them. My husband and I are both self employed so we can have flexible schedules at times but for the majority of the time we are servicing our client’s needs and that means there are days when I can’t make it home at exactly 5 when my nanny leaves. If my husband can’t make it either, my mom always steps in to cover us. I really take the weekends to enjoy with my family. That’s my personal boundary for keeping a good work life balance.
#5 What is your favorite activity and/ or place to travel to with your family?
Anita Gatto: We spend a lot of time in Toronto and London due to our families living there. My favorite place on earth is up north Canada. Specifically the Muskoka lake area, about 3 hours north of Toronto. We try and bring the kids there every year, it’s important to me that they learn how to fish, see the unbelievable stars in the sky and eat a little dirt!
Sarah Ivory: Our family usually goes to France and Italy every summer for 2 weeks. I literally work towards this trip all year long and it is so worth it! Now we go to the backyard, but it’s all good. We’d rather be safe than sorry!
Anita + Sarah’s 5 Must-Have Items from The Tot
This travel crib is easy to pack and check with luggage as well.
This invention is brilliant for travel. Our older kids use it as a drawing station when we are waiting to board and then as a leg rest on the flight.
Available in more colors
The BABYBJORN Baby Carrier in Jersey (Jersey is key) is the coziest way to get around airports. We both tried to avoid bringing a stroller when the kids were newborns. With this on our fronts and a backpack on our backs, we both felt balanced walking around.
Available in more colors
Want to learn more about the incredible work Anita and Sarah do?
Follow @WeAreSelfEmployed on Instagram
Like SELF EMPLOYED on Facebook