When Celine and Oksana, two European-born Brooklynites met they realized they had two main things in common- they loved clothes and have kids. Now they are the founders of Allette, an effortlessly chic clothing company for women in the breastfeeding journey. And in case you were wondering, the name is a play on the French word for breastfeeding “allaiter”. Their approach from the very beginning has been to design and make clothes they actually want to wear – and then figure out how to stylishly and conveniently include nursing access. The result is cute tops and dresses that are comfortable, pretty and flattering on a real (“just had a baby”) woman’s body. Every item is made locally in Brooklyn in small quantities with high quality easy-to-care-for fabrics and can be easily dressed up or down so they’re versatile too. These Beyond Moms share with us how they are living their dream and why being a mother has given them a new perspective on life.
What makes you a Beyond Mom?
Celine: I think every mom is a Beyond Mom in her own way! For me, it’s about being present and committed to all of the important aspects of my life; my family and friends, my business, Allette, my community and my personal growth and development objectives. Founding Allette is at the root of all of this. We wanted to create a line of chic clothing that nursing women can actually get excited about and that supports them on their breastfeeding journeys. We also wanted to have more control and flexibility over our lives and schedules in order to be there for the things that matter to us. For me, this means being able to attend a school trip, a midday yoga class or an empowering networking event without everything else falling apart.
Oksana: I always knew I wanted to be a mom but I also knew that mom would only be one of my sides. I am also a woman, a wife, and an individual. And each of these other sides comes with its perks and responsibilities. I am lucky that my business let’s me express myself on many different levels. They say every mom has a skill set she be a CEO – I am testing that theory!
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a Mom?
Celine: My heart, my patience, my resilience. I never imagined being so committed to someone (or two little guys in my case). I love loving them unconditionally and freely. I’ve definitely become more patient too. I’ve learned to compromise more and really listen. And of course, I am constantly surprising myself with my ability to take things as they come. Kid poops in the bath while I’m on a conference call and sauteing green beans; I’ve got it covered. Motherhood forces us to be very creative at times!
Oksana: Becoming a mom gave me a completely new perspective on life. I have discovered the importance of “every day” and how the little things you do every day contribute to the big picture and to what my kids are going to grow up to be. It makes you much more conscious about the decisions and choices you make every day. Not all of those decisions will be hits, and that’s when you have to know how to let go – another invaluable mother’s skill I’ve picked up along the way.
Can you share a collaboration/success story with another woman; what helped the collaboration become successful?
Celine: I think the biggest collaboration I’ve done with another woman is with my business partner, Oksana! A business partnership is not always straightforward and is often trickier than a marriage. But I think we’ve learned to navigate it well and have built something that isn’t just successful but that we’re very proud of. Allette is the result of our collective effort, commitment and passion.
Oksana: At Allette, we collaborate with other women professionals all the time. I can proudly say that we can contribute most of what we’ve achieved so far to the successful collaborations with female pattern makers, female run factories, female bloggers and the list goes on. Our customers are women, so every time a mom is happy with her purchase it’s a success story for me!
What relationships help you stay connected to yourself?
Celine: My kids really ground me. Kids have a knack for simplifying things and getting to the root of what’s important. My two boys (6 & 4) constantly amaze me. And I always fall back on how important they are versus anything else in my life that may be causing anxiety or stress. My husband is also someone I count on to discuss the things that matter. He helps me see different points of view without judgment. He really does know me better than I know myself (just don’t tell him!).
Oksana: My close family and my best friend have always been my core. Over the years, I feel like my husband and I are becoming two sides of one brain, in a sense that we complement each other so well that we can tackle anything together. I also love the way he looks at me. I call my best friend my partner in crime. I feel so at ease with her. We can also talk all the girly talk we want any time we want!
Do you have a ‘Beyond’ dream that you are pursuing?
Celine: I’m living the dream! Seriously though, I feel very lucky to be doing what I love. My ultimate dream is to be completely present for every moment of my life. It’s a work in progress for sure. Some days are harder than others, but I always try to think positively and live each moment fully and appreciatively while letting go of what’s not important.
Oksana: My “Beyond” dream is the venture my business partner, Celine, and I started a couple of years ago. It was literally like someone told me “your dream can come true now”, when the idea of starting a fashion brand for nursing women came up at a dinner conversation with Celine. We all want to keep the sense of self when we become moms. Everyday, I can create something that can make other women look beautiful and feel great. I can’t think of a better place to be right now!
What wellness activity can you not live without? What is one thing you do daily that balances you?
Celine: I practice yoga and pilates several times a week. Let’s face it, we’re not getting any younger! And for me, keeping my mind and body as supple and fit as I can is a way of helping me feel confident about things to come. Also, every day, before my kids go to sleep, I have a one-on-one “discussion” with each about their day or what’s on their minds. It’s a powerful way to connect at the end of the day. And I cherish those moments.
Oksana: I am not a morning person by nature, so my morning ritual is very important to me to start a good day. It always starts with my son and my daughter jumping into my bed for a big morning hug. My kids are 4 and 7, which means I can actually enjoy a shower in the morning with (almost) no interruption. I love aromatherapy, it gives me a charge of positive energy in the morning. I use all natural products made with oils to nurture my face and my body. After that, I am ready to take on the world!
How does style influence the way you stay feeling ‘Beyond’? Who is currently your favorite designer?
Celine: Style has always been a huge part of my identity. I don’t think I have one specific ‘look’. Every day is different based on how I feel. Whether I want to look flirty, badass or chic. Of course I love Allette! Despite no longer nursing I still always wear our clothes. The nursing access is just the functional aspect of the design, really they are just cute clothes. Feminine yet cool. And, I’m not gonna lie, I feel pretty proud telling people where they’re from when they ask! I also love a good pair of jeans; R13, Mother or JBrand are some of my go-to’s.
Oksana: I’ve been always drawn to fashion. My first job growing up was modeling. I got introduced to a lot of great designers and beautiful clothes early on. My mom has always been my fashion inspiration, as well. She has a great sense of style and I hope she had passed some of it to me. That’s why one of the reasons I started Allette was to express my personal sense of style and help other women and moms to feel and look beautiful, while wearing my designs. There are so may amazing fashion brands out there, it’s hard to name them all. My recent favorite is Sezane for their effortless feminine luxury.
Favorite Local Spots that Embody The Beyond Mom:
Celine: The playgrounds. Kids are playing happily and you can meet some other pretty amazing moms (and dads) there sometimes. It’s like a neutral zone for parents. Everyone is on the same page, there are no inhibitions. And of course, Prospect Park. Such a treat to live so close to it. We visit it often and always discover something new.
Oksana: My absolute favorite place to work from, when I want a change of scenery, is Cafe Regular in Park Slope. The smell of the best coffee in the area, instrumental jazz in the background and an occasional conversation with another regular from the neighborhood is exactly what I love about it! For a date night or dinner with friends, it’s definitely Olmsted in Prospect Heights. When I can carve out a bit of “me time”, I enjoy a visit to D’mai Spa in Park Slope.
Beyond Cocktails and/or Food:
Celine: Some classic favorite food spots in NYC include Diner, Momofuku and The Spotted Pig. Also Maison Harlem in Harlem; a little piece of France in the city. But I also love discovering a new place, it’s one of the main perks of living here. Just in Brooklyn there are so many new places popping up. It’s hard to keep up but it’s great!
Oksana: I’m more of a wine person, but sometimes a tequila cocktail with a hint of jalapeños could be fun! I grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, so once in a while I really crave the food from my childhood. Mari Vanna is a great spot for the traditional Russian cuisine and Nargis Cafe in Park Slope has the best shish kebabs!
Celine: Yoga and Pilates at my local gym; nothing fancy! And lots of walking. Luckily my kids are walkers (they don’t really have a choice!).
Oksana: I love being active outdoors with my kids. At 4 and 7 they have a lot of energy, so they keep me on my toes! We are lucky to have a place in the countryside to go to on weekends, where we can spend days hiking, swimming, horseback riding, boating or skiing, depending on the season. We all sleep well after long days outdoors.
Celine: Nordstrom (and not just because they carry Allette now!), Net-a-Porter, Shopbop – I’m a huge online shopper. I have certain brands I default to but am always open to discovering new designers.