Behind The Scenes

22-03-2019

Behind The Scenes With Katya Libin & Amri Kibbler

"'SOLO.' So much of parenting year one is an experience with you and your baby alone. It's something I didn't see coming.” - Katya Libin

We’re just going to say it: going back to work after giving birth can really suck. Sure, you may love your job and even be anxiously counting down the days left in your maternity leave, but there will come a moment when you’re back at your desk, looking at your mounting emails while thinking of your responsibilities at home, and the whole thing will feel too overwhelming. 

Luckily, HeyMama is here for the moms who reach this moment and think “ok so…what now?”

HeyMama, founded by Katya Libin and Amri Kibbler, describes itself as “the most bad-ass league of mom-bosses you know.”  We’re inclined to agree. HeyMama members have access to events across the country that explore topics like How to Choose a Mentor, perks from countless brands, and articles that offer a plethora of advice (like this one from Marie Kondo.) The company’s mission is to keep working mamas thriving at home and on the job.

All of these reasons and more are why we did cartwheel boomerangs on our Instafeed when we got the chance to sit down with our friends at HeyMama: co-founders (and best friends!) Katya and Amri.

WHY CREATE COMMUNITY?

Many times in the workplace, parents keep their struggles internal, opting instead to project a picture of perfection. Of course building a community of executive women and moms is a nice idea, but what made Katya and Amri feel like this could thrive in the marketplace? 

HeyMama CEO Katya found the inspiration to start the company in her early days of motherhood. “I was worried about how I was going to manage my career. I was the only woman in the company to have ever given birth. I didn’t have a lot of examples around me and was just a bit shocked by the lack of support at companies for new moms.” 

Katya also found, outside of work, there didn’t seem to be a clear access point to reaching similar moms. “I struggled with how lonely and isolating motherhood felt for me. I would go to the playground and try to make friends, but alas, I didn’t really find my people until we built this community. It was hard.” 

HeyMama was created to connect and empower moms. “We’re inspired by what moms can achieve and hope all the mom bosses out there know they are unstoppable,” she shares.

“There is no perfection here,” adds Amri, Creative Director at HeyMama, “and I think that is so important.” 

With children, your whole life changes and sometimes you need to surround yourself with other women who are right there in the trenches with you. Even if your first year postpartum isn’t difficult in terms of recovery or adjustment to this new stage of life, not having a supportive community can make the hard times seem even harder. Katya says, “My health and home life was something I really looked forward to, but the lonely walks to the playground, not so much. I was so surprised by the lack of support both at my company and locally, that when I met my now co-founder Amri Kibbler I clung onto her stage 5 style.” That bond with Amri led them to think on a broader scale about how they could create that same community for other moms. “Thank god the feeling was mutual and we became besties”, Katya continues, “which not only gave us that ride or die support we needed but actually led us to start HeyMama so we could make it easier for all working mothers down the line.”

Amri says it was her difficult second pregnancy and postpartum recovery that really opened her eyes to the need for a community like HeyMama. She shares, “I was incredibly hormonal and wrecked with anxiety. She didn’t sleep at all and had a stomach problem so she was constantly vomiting. I was burning the candle at both ends, the combination of a new business and new baby that wasn’t sleeping was really challenging for me. I was in great distress and didn’t recognize that I need help at the time.”

“From delivering your baby with the world checking out your vagina, to sitting on the toilet breastfeeding while another child barges in and demanding attention and then your husband pops in to ‘chat’ since we were all in there—there’s nothing quite like being a mom,” says Amri. Who else are you going to share these experiences with if not other moms who can completely relate?!

WHAT ONE WORD DESCRIBES YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

Every woman is going to experience motherhood in their own way, and that is especially true of that first year postpartum. We asked Katya and Amri to think of one word that sums up their first year in the trenches of motherhood, good or bad! Because we really, truly believe that we need to share every aspect of our experience, not just the shiny, happy moments. Motherhood is chock-full of those, yes, but it’s also full of real moments that can take you by surprise. Amri had very different experiences with both her children. She says the word for her first postpartum year was “MAGICAL”, while she describes her second as “OVERWHELM”. Amri says, “I believe the difference was that I didn’t take time for myself/ take care of myself and allow my body and mind to recover the second time.” For Katya, her one word is actually what surprised her most about that first year of motherhood. She chose the word “SOLO” because “so much of parenting year one is an experience with you and your baby alone. It’s something I didn’t see coming.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

When we think of parenthood, it kind of already feels like its own club. You never really ‘get it’ until you’re in it. Which is why it makes total sense that HeyMama would be quickly attracting working moms from across the globe (plus, they live up to their promise of ‘baller mama nights out, and decadent brunches’. Yes. Please.)

If asked what their biggest challenge is, we’d bet the house most parents would answer “time.” Turns out even powerhouses Katya and Amri struggle with this. For parents in the thick of it, we asked both Amri and Katya, what’s your advice?

“Carve out tiny pockets of time for yourself to just sit and breathe, meditate, or take a walk,” advises Amri. “Even 5 minutes can help you get through stressful times.” Amri adds that she took on a lot during that first year that she felt she had to, and in hindsight, “should have given [herself] more of a break”. 

“Take good care of yourself,” Katya says. “The better mama feels, the better the whole house feels. Meditate, workout, get to your nail appt. Make choices that make you feel good, and hold up your priorities. You can’t get time back. It’s our precious commodity. It’s worth it. You’re worth it.”

Aside from taking the time you need to focus on you during that first year, Katya also believes that leaning on your community is so incredibly beneficial. “Spoiler: no one really knows what they are doing!”, says Katya. “But if we share with one another and do our best, we’ll be so much stronger.”

Amri adds, “It all changes so fast. So if you are in a rough patch just hold on and it will pass so soon!”

It’s clear that these two powerhouse women have a passion for creating community and lifting up other mamas. In a nutshell, they embody women helping women. And we are so here for it.

So, when you’re in the thick of it, Amri and Katya want you to remember three things: no one has enough time, we are all just doing the best we can, and a happy mama is a happy house.

If all else fails, Katya has one last piece of advice: “Grab a book and a glass of wine!”

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Christy Turlington

“I like to say that I became a global maternal health advocate the day I became a mom.”

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Mara Martin

“I literally thought it was going to be this picture perfect scenario. Like these pictures I see – even in my childhood – of like, all of us in the hospital bed, smiling.”

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Rebecca Minkoff

"Evolution. I went from a singular focus to a mother, and that opened up the 4th dimension for me of senses and love and seeing my heart outside my body."