While style blogs featuring glammed-up fashion editors and adorable 20-somethings in short-shorts abound, it’s rare to find one that showcases that rarest of creatures: the stylish mom. Every time you see a commercial for toilet cleaner featuring a mom in "mom pants" smiling while spritzing her bathroom, it’s one more nail in the coffin of public perception that moms are/should be fashionable.
Enter Violet Gaynor and Kelly Stuart, two friends with a background in fashion who noticed that the moms they bumped into on the job were quite stylish. Yes, it's true! (And it's about time someone noticed.)
Kelly was the photo director for Elle.com, which is where she met Violet. She recently became photo director for Hearst Digital Media, working on Hearst brands as well as Elle.com. Violet majored in costume design and was a fashion assistant at Shape where she did a little bit of everything there from styling to writing. Stints at Viv (an online mag), Lucky’s website and Elle followed. She’s now senior fashion editor at InStyle full time.
Fashionista: Do either one of you have kids? Violet: Nope!
What prompted you to start the site? We’re very close and we work really well together. We loved shooting together when we were both at Elle. We were always on the same page creatively and we missed working together. What we realized really quickly was that there was this whole world out there that we weren’t seeing, or getting any sort of glimpse into. We weren’t seeing all these amazing [women in fashion] portrayed as mothers in addition to what they’re successful at in their careers. It’s fascinating to see how these women incorporate their style into every aspect of their life--from their home to their babies nursery, clothes, and shoes, and how they balance it all.
Where do you find your subjects? It’s been a natural process picking subjects. We do sort of have our wish list and the list that we’ve created from day one [of women who] we either know or would love to include. Some of our subjects have suggested people they think would be good for the site, and they’ve been spot-on in their recommendations.
Do the shoots require much styling? It’s really natural. We go into it and see what the situation is like in terms of where we want to shoot. We stay really true to how someone has already created their home and their aesthetic. We don’t change things around. It’s very much a reflection of their real life. In terms of clothing, it’s all about photographing them in things they feel most comfortable in and things they love. Both mother and child, it’s about their favorite pieces.
Kelly, what is it like shooting children and do you have much experience shooting them? This is my first time entering the world of children’s photography. I wouldn’t use the word “challenge” but shooting children is very different from shooting models [laughs]. By the time the end of the shoot comes, I feel like I’ve done a five hour workout. I’ve been running around the whole time, contorted in all these little positions to get the children at their most perfect angle.
Any funny stories, like kids throwing things at you? It’s worse with the dogs! I’ll be lying on the floor, and the dog will be between my legs or on my pack, and then the mom gets out of the shot to try to get the dog off me and I’m like, “No, the dog’s fine!”
From start to finish, who long does a shoot take? We’re in and out within an hour and ten minutes. It almost feels like a bunch of friends getting together and having a conversation about motherhood. It’s a matter of interspersing these little moments and trying to get across a feeling for each mom, and the process that each woman goes through. In the future we want to be able to link out as much as possible and connect people with brands and connect people with products that they can incorporate into their lives.
Are you hoping to make this a commercial venture? We’ve kept it really clean and unadorned; it’s all about the photos. Like everything else, we’re approaching it in a natural way and seeing what comes of it. We have ideas of how to expand, and ideas of what to add to the site that would make it sort of a larger thing.
Any exciting upcoming subjects? Cynthia Rowley has been on our list from the beginning. She’s been in the fashion industry for so long and she has her hand in so many areas of design, from fashion to home, she’s just really balanced. I’m just so curious to hear how she does everything that she does. We’re also shooting the photographer Zoe Buckman [actor David Schwimmer’s wife.]
Will you ever shoot model moms? It seems like sort of a no-brainer. It’s all about an interesting career. Someone who’s carving their own path as an entrepreneur, or they’re doing something groundbreaking and exciting and they’ve created an interesting career. That certainly includes certain models who are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a model, and we definitely have some on our list that we’d love to include. It would definitely be a great shoot!
*All photos: The Glow