After 10 years at an ad agency, then running brand at a start up, with an MBA at Stanford squeezed in between, Neha Ruch decided to pause her career trajectory to create space in her life to focus on family. One year after having her son Bodie and embracing being a full-time mother, Neha started her lifestyle site Mother Untitled. The site features fun, comforting and candid conversations for women who are transitioning into their version of balance in womanhood and motherhood. Her goal is to create a space that recognizes that women can choose to prioritize motherhood and family and stay creative, connected and relevant during this time in their lives. Neha shares plenty of her favorite brands that help her pull off her stylish look and balanced lifestyle plus how motherhood has helped feel stronger about her decisions.
What makes you a Beyond Mom?
Honestly, right now, I don’t crave distance from my primary identity as a mother. When I started my lifestyle site, Mother Untitled, it was at the one year mark of having a child and embracing mostly being a full-time mother.
After ten years in advertising and an MBA from Stanford, I felt the raised eyebrows at my decision to opt out of full-time work, but I got so much comfort and joy from my clear head space, the novelty of watching a baby grow every day, and the free and creative conversations I got to have in the community with other women in this grey area between ambition and motherhood.
I didn’t mean to unlock a media opportunity, but I truly wanted to commit myself to a storyline that shifted the perception of the ambitious woman who chooses to prioritize motherhood and explore this time of transition. In growing MU over this past year, I’ve felt more connected and energized than I did in any role prior. It has forced me to learn again. It has challenged me to listen to feedback better. It has gotten me back to writing. And it has given me a wealth of relationships and insight that makes my experience with motherhood that much richer.
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a Mom?
I’m far less concerned with what other people think. That was never the case prior. Now, I own the decisions I make for myself and on behalf of Bodie (my son) because I trust they’re the right thing for our family. Maybe with a clear highest priority, I’m subsequently more clear and confident in my choices and capacity.
I’ve been most surprised by how much my respect and admiration for other women has deepened. I can’t figure out if we simply need each other more or it’s a deeper appreciation for our unique experiences, but I find myself more able and wanting to celebrate other women and what works for them.
Related to that, I’ve grown comfortable in vulnerability and my ability to express what I need and want for myself and my family. I’m much more willing to admit that I don’t have it all figured it out. I think you need a bit of that when you write because otherwise, you’d just be annoying. I also think motherhood is so humbling and intense that it warrants an honesty which you can bring friends into.
Can you share a collaboration/success story with another woman; what helped the collaboration become successful?
Before I had Bodie, I ran brand for a company called Zola, which if you’ve gotten married in recent years you may have registered on. During that time, I got to meet fun people in the wedding industry, one of whom was Jess Levin (a new mother as of this past June). We met at Buvette for coffee, and we quickly clicked on our taste, our life stage and more profoundly, our beliefs about women in work and what made powerful brands. We did a very pretty photo shoot for our respective companies, and we stayed in close touch. When I left my role at Zola to start consulting (planning and wanting for flexibility), her company, Carats & Cake became my first client.
Over the course of two, going on three years, working in some capacity together, we have supported each other’s respective businesses, interests, and personal lives. Jess hired me back five months after having Bodie when I felt ready. We were both clear about our limits and expectations of each other but also were able to acknowledge when the other was strong where we were weak. Now, she’s one of Mother Untitled’s biggest champions, and I continue to advise Carats & Cake when she needs but mostly we’ve grown a deeply respectful and collaborative friendship.
What relationships help you stay connected to yourself?
Feeling connected to my husband is my main priority. He and I were introduced by our families, met through our respective work and dated long-distance through travel, so still being able to talk through and experience those things together feeds so much more than just our marriage.
The women I’ve met and befriended in my building, baby and toddler classes (Dionne Kamara and Ramblin’ Dan), Madison Square Park’s playground or at the Soho House on the two days a week that I allocate to work, have been hugely supportive. The conversations and camaraderie about our changing identities, marriages, and kids make me feel part of something special. Equally, I’m lucky to have several close friends who I grew up with, went to college or business school with, that I will do girls nights or weekends away with where we get to have extra glasses of wine and gossip and vent.
I would be remiss not to mention one of the most powerful relationships I have – with our nanny, V, who cares for Bodie two days and one evening a week. She is calm and intuitive and loves Bodie, and it lets me not think twice when I leave the house. That time away from the day to day of mothering allows me to enjoy and appreciate him that much more for the remainder of our days.
Do you have a ‘Beyond’ dream that you are pursuing?
I always wanted to be a mother – it’s what I said I wanted to be when I grew up. I consider raising Bodie to be the greatest privilege of my life. Second to that, I wanted to be a writer. I couldn’t have predicted I’d be a mom blogger but as much as it took me a minute to get comfortable with that, I’m in awe when I get notes from women far away saying that words I wrote made them feel better about choices they’ve made or situations they’re in. I spent ten years of my life prior building brands and studying emotions, and to get to build my own and combine it with writing is something I think about as I fall asleep.
What wellness activity can you not live without? What is one thing you do daily that balances you?
I wanted to write that I drink a cup of hot water and do a morning stretch to set my intention for each day but I’m worried my husband will burst out laughing and call me out publicly that that happens maybe once a week. More regularly, I write. Not just for the blog, but often privately on a little password-protected document on my computer. The private one is where all the good stuff lives – where I unpack the random overthinking pathways of my brain and sort it all out so I can carry on a bit more calmly. Weekly, I’ll pop to Cleo Spa around the corner for a 20-minute chair massage with Kay – she’s a god send. Does that count?
How does style influence the way you stay feeling ‘Beyond’? Who is currently your favorite designer?
I’ve always subscribed to “look the way you want to feel, not the way you feel.” Never more so than in the first year of motherhood. Funnily, I’ve been most apt to invest in sleep and loungewear. Because I spent the early months cocooned at home, I found that wearing elegant or fun pieces helped me feel feminine and creative. A cute sleep shirt made ordinary moments a bit more Instagram friendly, and me feel confident embracing my new day to day. On lazy days with Bodie, I live in pieces from Recliner, Eberjey or Bandier.
Favorite Spots that Embody The Beyond Mom:
Beyond Cocktails and/or Food:
Funnily, I was most committed to working out when I was pregnant – I was lucky enough to get to do yoga with Laura Tulumbas Juell, founder of Twisted Trunk Yoga, and I was a regular at Core Pilates, especially the pre-natal classes with Kelli Cruz. Before pregnancy, I swore by Core Fusion at Exhale. Currently, I talk a lot about getting back into a rhythm but the jury is still out as to when that will happen so carrying a 30-pound toddler around will have to do.
I live in some combination of Equipment or Vince tops and Citizens of Humanity or Rag & Bone jeans. I’m a big fan of Clare V and Sezane for a high quality and (more) affordable edit. I’m pretty exclusively an online shopper unless I’m popping into Zara or Space Kiddets in my neighborhood for baby things and then will duck across the street to Club Monaco or Madewell for girly basics.