Christine Serdjenian Yearwood is the founder and CEO of UP-STAND. UP-STAND is a purpose driven company aimed to make public spaces and transportation safer for pregnant women. Through the creation and sales of their awareness products (such as pins that say “expecting mom”) UP-STAND is committed to being an agent of change for pregnant women nationwide. Beyond Mom Christine shares her story and how becoming a mother helped her live in the present moment. Christine is also offering a special code “BEYONDMOM” for 25% off UP-STAND products– check out these products and let’s support her movement!
1. What makes you a Beyond Mom?
Parenting has come naturally to me, but I found the initial personal adjustment to motherhood to be quite traumatic. I went from being a former athlete with three degrees, a full time job, and a busy social life to an out of shape new mother on a year’s maternity leave feeling extremely lonely and unsure of myself. I have really had to figure out and work on building the life I want to have as a mother – creating my own business, building an additional network of mama friends, finding new ways to get into shape and organize my time, and planning ahead to make sure I see old friends and spend one-on-one time with my husband. I think women in the Beyond Mom community are honest about these types of experiences and the effort that it takes to be in a healthy place as a mother.
2. What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a Mom?
I really live in the present moment. I put my phone away, and I notice things I never would have before. I take the time to look at ant hills and the sky with my daughter, I let her walk even though I know it will take half an hour longer to get somewhere, and if she wants to stop at the playground then we do, since there is almost never any rush anymore. I realize how fleeting and fragile we all are in a way I never did, and I try to appreciate the things I feel blessed with without fearing they’ll be gone tomorrow. Since becoming a mom, I understand devoting my time and body and mind to something in a way I could never have imagined, and I do think that’s saying something coming from a former Division I athlete who earned two degrees from Ivy League institutions – those things took dedication and perseverance, but parenting is a commitment that you make, every second of every day and night, for life. And I think I always appreciated my parents and respected parents in general, but now I really see them in a way I never did before.
3. Can you share a collaboration/success story with another woman; what helped the collaboration become successful?
There are so many! I’ve found women to be extremely collaborative in business.
Kathryn Moos, founder and CEO at VROU, has been a friend of mine since we played soccer and lived together at Brown University. I trust her completely, and have been fortunate to have her as a consistent mentor and champion of my work. She gives me advice, speaks candidly about her own trials and errors, and connects me with other women who are supportive of the UP-STAND movement; I have her to thank for introducing me to Randi!
Nicole Panettieri, owner of The Brass Owl, the first brick and mortar store that stocked our products, has also been amazing. She’s a huge supporter of local artisans and entrepreneurs, and I definitely speak for all of the women in my Mompreneurs of Queens group when I say how much we all respect her as a person as well as her success as a businesswoman.
And Christine Gibson, of Queens Knits, has been so generous in connecting me with other entrepreneurs and publications in Queens and Manhattan. We actually just partnered to put out a collection of knitted cozies featuring the UP-STAND logo that I’m really loving because it gives people another way to spread the word and increase brand awareness while they’re out and about, in any season.
So far, I’ve mostly been on the receiving end of these relationships, but I hope that our collaboration will bring them some success in the future as well.
4. What relationships help you stay connected to yourself?
My husband. My parents and siblings, my extended family and my husband’s family, and the friends I’ve had forever. My daughter, because I really think I’m my best self when we are together. My mama friends are vital to maintaining my sanity. And my relationship with myself has been one I’ve realized is really important over the last year…I swear I’m not always last on this list, either!
5. Do you have a ‘Beyond’ dream that you are pursuing? If so, please share…
Turning UP-STAND into a nationwide, recognizable movement so that our pregnancy awareness items will quickly and easily connect pregnant women and their supporters in public spaces and on transportation. I’m so passionate about making sure that pregnant women have safe experiences because it also impacts fetal health as well as family finances. Many women experience stability and circulation issues, as well as motion sickness, during pregnancy, but continue to work up until their due date. I know what it’s like to work pre, during, and post-pregnancy, and to make decisions about family and work to try to make it all fit together in the best way possible. I really want this movement to have a positive impact on the quality of life of pregnant women and their families, and I hope to put all of the things that have led me to this point in life together to successfully do so.
6. What wellness activity can you not live without? What is one thing you do daily that balances you?
I try to do some type of physical activity each day, and I make sure that I give thanks every night.
7. How does style influence the way you stay feeling ‘Beyond’? Who is currently your favorite designer?
It’s definitely important to feel good about how you present yourself to the world. I struggled to find clothes that I thought were flattering for a while, but my favorites now are Cynthia Rowley tops and Gap jeans.
Favorite Spots that Embody The Beyond Mom: (include some local and general favorites)
Beyond Cocktails and/or Food:
Soccer at East 6th Street, or at the field at the Brooklyn Bridge Park since it also has a gorgeous view. Playing on a full field is no joke for me these days!
Beyond Moms, Christine is looking to develop more relationships with doulas/doula organizations, OBGYNs/OBGYN offices, and pediatricians/pediatric offices, as maternal and fetal health is also of their utmost concern – if anyone is interested in developing a partnership in which they buy UP-STAND products at a wholesale (deeply discounted) price to then give or resell to their clients, please contact Christine at email@example.com.