What do you do for a living?
I am the founder & designer of harly jae; a line of feminine and vintage-inspired womenswear born from my desire to bring positive change to the fashion industry. All the garments are ethically manufactured right here in Vancouver and adopt the slow fashion framework by being timeless, versatile, and made of quality fabrics.
Could you describe yourself in one sentence?
That’s a hard one, but I read this sentence before, and it deeply resonated with me: “I am a collective of those I love and have loved, paths I have crossed, and conjured dreams I have yet to acquire.”
Last year was extremely testing. Emotionally, how are you feeling with this being your first pregnancy and near the end?
I’ve been practicing living in the present moment for a few years now, and let’s just say that Covid has been the perfect test to see how well I can put this into practice. The first few weeks of the pandemic were testing. There was so much unknown and panic around us. It took me a little bit of time to “cut the noise” and lean into my inner self. Staying positive and taking it day by day instead of projecting myself into the future has been the key to my happiness this past year.
That’s not to say that it was easy, though. I was supposed to get married in Greece this past July, but instead, we had an intimate wedding locally. My family, who’s all back East, won’t get to see me with my first baby bump, and I’m likely not going to have a baby shower either. These are all little things I’ve had to mourn, but not compared to what some others have had to go through during this challenging time; it’s really nothing.
How has pregnancy changed your daily routine?
I’m lucky to work for myself and have a lot of flexibility around my daily schedule, which was especially important in my first trimester. The two main things pregnancy has changed for me are eating and rest. I never used to sit down and have a filling breakfast before starting my days. Before being pregnant, I would just grab something quick and leave the house in a rush (in my true “always late” fashion), but now if I don’t eat, I don’t feel well, so it’s something I’ve had to make time for. I also have to rest a lot more. I don’t do much after work because, well, I’m exhausted! Long baths and early bedtimes are my go-to’s these days.
I feel like a lot of anxiety can come with motherhood and specifically a new mother. The Smart Sock from Owlet is the first baby monitor to track your baby’s oxygen level and heart rate while they sleep. Do you feel this will help ease some new mom anxiety and help you sleep better?
I need to start by saying that sleep is sacred for me. And I know it is for everyone, but really, I cannot function without a good eight hours. So, my biggest worry about becoming a mom is around how I will manage the lack of sleep. Funny enough, I recently started having dreams about not being able to sleep at night for fear of something happening to my baby. So yes, I think that new mom anxiety is real, considering it’s already haunting me in my dreams!
That said, I feel fortunate to live in a day and age when a device such as the Smart Sock exists to makes sure that my little one is safe and sound while sleeping so that mamma can also get the rest she needs to enjoy the newborn stage. It’s incredibly cool that we have monitors and tools like The Smart Sock accessible on our phones.
Do you feel this will be a helpful tool during day naps so you can get some alone time without stress?
Absolutely. As an entrepreneur who loves her job, I know I’ll want to get as much done as possible during nap times. Again, having that peace of mind that baby is safe while I do so will help me be productive and feel like myself because I will be able to get back to the things I genuinely enjoy doing. Technology is a beautiful thing.
Will you be taking a full mat leave?
I won’t be. It’s pretty challenging to do so as a small business owner, and honestly, I love my job. I don’t see myself completely cutting myself off from work, but I did just hire my first full-time employee, someone I fully trust, so I will be able to step away for a couple of weeks without having to worry about everything running smoothly.
What is one thing you didn’t expect that came with pregnancy?
My first trimester was extremely challenging. I had never really asked my friends many questions about their experiences, and since a lot of them did not announce their pregnancies until week 12, it’s not something they ever mentioned. I think there’s also a lot of pressure around not wanting to “complain” about pregnancy because it’s a gift that, unfortunately, not all women get to experience. All this to say that it took me by surprise: extreme nausea, fatigue, headaches, and a total loss of desire for life and all things that usually made me happy. It lasted over two months, and it was one of the most challenging times of my life, both physically and emotionally.
After going through this dark period, I sought help from a professional so that if similar symptoms surface during post-partum, I know what to do. Prenatal depression is definitely a thing, and I try to talk about it to normalize it every chance I get.
What is your favourite part about being pregnant?
It is simply knowing that I am growing life inside my own body! It’s still such a fascinating concept to me. I thought that once you got pregnant, you would suddenly “get it’ and think it’s normal but, no! I find it even more interesting now. Feeling her little kicks and knowing that she’ll soon be with us, what an incredible gift.
Did you struggle with accepting the body changes that came with pregnancy?
Definitely, I did. I genuinely believe that pregnancy is an exercise in learning how much of our identity and self-worth are tied to the way we look, and it’s the perfect time to heal this part of ourselves before passing it on to the precious life we are creating.
It’s interesting too because as soon as you become pregnant, comments about your body and appearance seem to multiply. For me, even the comments that I would normally perceive as positive became a reminder that people were looking at me and my body during this transition and judging how well it would handle pregnancy. It’s a pretty uncomfortable feeling.
When my mind goes there, I try to distract myself from these thoughts as quickly as I can. I should be thanking my body for allowing me to create life, not worrying about gaining a few extra pounds while doing so.
How do you think motherhood will impact your career?
I think motherhood will force me to organize better and prioritize my work. I’ve been trying to do it all myself for a few years now, and getting pregnant has shown me that letting go to let grow is a powerful thing. I don’t think I would have hired full-time help by now if I wasn’t about to have a baby, so it’s already impacted my business in a big way.
Design-wise, it’s also shown me a whole new world of challenges when it comes to dressing. I’ve recently introduced pieces that work for pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s something I had never thought of before because I did not personally experience it. I’m super excited to make clothing more functional for all stages of life.
Who is your Mother Muse?
It’s everyone and no one at once. Fragments of mothers’ lives I see online or know personally inspire me. I’m trying to approach this new journey without expectations and comparisons, trusting that things will happen the way they should, each learning teaching me something new about myself and this tiny human that chose me as her mom.