Sarah-Jane Kurtini grew up in England and moved to Bondi, Sydney in 2009 with her husband, Jason and new baby girl, Bella to live by the beach where they were soon joined by new arrival Patrick. Sarah-Jane co-founded Tinybeans in Sydney and last year, she and her family moved to New York to help the business grow on the other side of the world. Tinybeans is a Modern Family Album App for parents to capture and privately share their children’s life stories. It’s available for free in the App Store or Google Play. Sarah-Jane shares her thoughts and stories with us including why her daughter is her role model and how to tackle the demand for perfection in motherhood.
“I think changing the expectations of fathers will have a huge impact on this culture. I’d like some of the debates that have often been focused on mothers to be focused on parents. How can we create more flexible working arrangements for PARENTS? How can PARENTS juggle family and work?” – Sarah Jane Kurtini
What makes you a Beyond Mom?
Finding a way to live and work in different countries whilst making sure our kids are happy and confident makes me feel like a Beyond Mom.
The other day, my daughter told me she was proud of me for having my own business. The first few years of Tinybeans were a lot of work and no income and it was an exciting but hard time. After our IPO in Sydney last year we moved to New York for Tinybeans, which was a huge leap of faith for us all, and her words made everything feel worthwhile.
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a mom?
Having a family has expanded our sense of adventure. Moving around makes you realize what really makes a home, and for me it is the four of us. Wherever we go and whatever do, we do it together and that knowledge has given us lots of freedom.
Also, my to-do-list has definitely expanded along with an appreciation for my own parents and all the opportunities they gave me and my sister. My own mum died before I had kids and I never got the chance to ask her so much stuff that only occurred to me when it was too late. I’ve started keeping a record of random thoughts and memories in Tinybeans to share with my kids. I want them to know things like what I thought the day I found out I was pregnant and my favorite song when I was 13.
Do you have a Beyond dream that you are pursing?
Making Tinybeans a household name in the U.S. over the next two years is top of my to do list! Tinybeans does an amazing job at keeping families connected. We hear every day how easy it helps families stay connected, how much grandparents love it and how much it means to them. I want to spread that joy far and wide.
What relationships and activities help you stay connected to yourself?
We love the adventure of moving to a new country but being far from family and friends is hard. My sister and I are super close, and I miss being in the same time zone. It’s even harder now that she’s just become a mum herself and I want to hop on a plane most weeks to hang out with her and my new nephew.
One activity that has remained a constant in my life for 20 years is Kundalini Yoga. I stumbled across it by accident when I first moved to London and it had such a calming and grounding impact on my life. So much so, that when I don’t go for a week, my husband starts dropping hints that I need to! There’s a beautiful studio in Park Slope that I found when we moved to New York and it’s an oasis of calm in this crazy city.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live by?
For years it has been “Be kind. Be patient. Be tough” but recently I’ve added a new one: “Be more like Bella.” My screensaver at work is a picture of Bella when she was 4 and insisted on going to her friend’s fairy party as Buzz Lightyear. Jason and I were nervous that she’d be teased and packed up her fairy outfit for her to change into if she felt uncomfortable. We should have had more faith in kids being awesome, and when we picked her up she was Buzz in a cloud of pink playing pass-the-parcel and no-one batted an eyelid.
Now she’s 10 and she has such a strong sense of herself and what she is comfortable with and doesn’t waste a second worrying about what others think of her. Pursuing your dreams can really expose you to other people’s thoughts and insecurities and I’d be lying if I said they hadn’t affected me at some points no matter how hard I tried not to let it. Taking inspiration from your daughter to overcome your own insecurities is a pretty weird feeling but I am so proud of how she’s growing up and we are growing together.
What causes and topics are you most passionate about right now?
I’m really mindful of making sure both my son and my daughter grow up as free as possible from damaging gender stereotypes. In the last 10 years Jason and I have both taken a turn at working full-time, part-time and being a stay at home parent. I hope Bella and Patrick think we’ve got the balance right most of the time and, by seeing us try to get the 50/50 parenting right, we’ve set them free from some of those stereotypes if they become parents.
How do you think we can change our culture from one in which a woman is expected to be a “perfect mother” to one in which she is encouraged to discover and explore her evolving self?
I do struggle being asked frequently who is looking after my kids when I’m at work. I don’t think anyone has ever asked my co-founders Stephen and Eddie the same question about working full-time. I immediately go through an exhausting mental exercise in my head where I feel guilty for not being home more, then remind myself that the kids are being cared for full-time by their other parent and tell myself I am doing a great job of providing for them. All in the space of about 2 seconds. It’s exhausting!
I think changing the expectations of fathers will have a huge impact on this culture. I’d like some of the debates that have often been focused on mothers to be focused on parents. How can we create more flexible working arrangements for PARENTS? How can PARENTS juggle family and work?
Placing all these expectations of perfection and juggling on mothers has the very real consequence of making us feel like it our responsibility to balance it all.
Favorite go-to’s for:
Beyond Food (what do you cook & where do you go locally?)
We cook at home a lot, so my recommendation would have to be our Ooni pizza oven. My husband also used to run a cocktail-making business back in Bondi, so we don’t have to go far for drinks with friends either.
Beyond Content (Books & Podcasts)
The How I Built This podcasts with Guy Raz are so inspiring. I love the authentic founder stories from brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia. They really help you to be true to your values and stick at it through thick and thin.
I’m not much of a shopper and like to be able to get ready in 5 minutes so my style is pretty black and basic, but I try to brighten my day up with shoes, jewelry and lipstick which I find much easier to buy online!
Recent hits are my lumo yellow Birkenstocks and Sportsgirl red lipstick which I get shipped over from Oz.