Our latest That Mama is Fé Valvekens – founder of A Day with Fé, a versatile clothing line that effortlessly blends day wear and yoga wear in a style that’s both super-stylish and super-comfortable. In addition to her clothing line and yoga practice, Fé is kept busy by her other full-time job, as mama to Tejas, Pia and baby Antigone! Here, she tells us how she manages her perfectionist traits, what inspired her to become a mamapreneur here in Hong Kong, and just why a healthy lifestyle is so important to the whole family.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Having routines help me save time! Two tips I have learned to improve my schedule: focus 100% on one task at a time, and the mantra “done is better than perfect”. As a perfectionist, the latter is helping me to let go of the time-consuming details and to only focus on what matters.
I wish I had more time for…
Playing the piano, or a yoga/scuba-diving retreat like the ones organised by Play Retreats.
I always feel saner after….
My yoga or piano practice!
Favourite activity with the kids in Hong Kong?
We love hanging out by the swimming pool and outdoor play at the Police Museum playground, or on Bowen Road.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Hong Kong?
When the weather is good, we enjoy going to the Peak Lookout because of its charming terrace, plus the staff there are adorable with the children.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
Singapore offers space and multiple activities that my children enjoy, not to mention all the attractions on Sentosa Island.
Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
My two elder children attend swimming lessons every Sunday. My 4-year-old son can now swim without any help, which is an additional motivation for me to jump in the water with my younger daughter!
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
We have committed to celebrating our wedding anniversary on a monthly basis. It worked quite well so far, because my husband travels frequently for business. It’s also an additional opportunity for us just to stay connected.
Favourite date-night restaurants?
Once in a while we dine at Otto e Mezzo because it reminds us of our honeymoon in Tuscany and The China Club where we have fond memories of our civil wedding ceremony.
What inspired you to launch A Day with Fé?
My hectic lifestyle as a mama and yogi in Hong Kong inspired me to create a versatile and elegant line enabling me to juggle multiple activities during the day with the children, attend yoga… and feel like I’m not wearing athletic gear all day!
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
Before having children, I worked in management consulting in Paris, Geneva and Hong Kong for 7 years. Then I decided to take a one-year sabbatical after my first child was born and realised that the frequent travelling and long working hours was not convenient. I had this “ah-ha!” moment during a yoga class and after my second child was born, I launched A Day With Fé.
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
Climbing up the career ladder in a large corporation in search for success and achievement was how I used to define work. Having children broadened my view. Having a fulfilling job still motivates me but now it needs to be meaningful. That is why I decided to combine my passion for yoga, the freedom and flexibility of being self-employed to create A Day With Fé.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Hong Kong?
The book “Ladies who Launch in Hong Kong” was very inspiring, and I agree with one of the passages that says that Hong Kong is probably one of the best places to start a business. Women have domestic help; exposure to many communities within Hong Kong and registering a business is a piece of cake. So why not try, there is really nothing to lose!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Parenting is a constant learning process with children who grow older, and there are so many books and views out there about how to be perfect parents. My advice? Relax and trust your instincts.
Give us your essential advice that might never occur to other women.
The physical and mental health of a mother is the key to reaching harmony at home. I used to put my wellbeing at the bottom of my priority list and noticed that it affected my children’s behaviour and my relationship with my husband. It might sound selfish but when I decided to take care of myself by doing yoga several times a week and eating healthy nutritious meals instead of skipping them to gain time, the entire household benefited from this.
How do you find the time to balance your yoga practice with running a business, being a mama and everyday life?
It’s not about finding time, but making choices. Starting a new business gives me flexibility and freedom to take care of my young children and yoga keeps me sane.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Answering the never-ending questions like “why does Jupiter have so many moons?” I eventually reply “parce que c’est comme ça!” meaning “because that is life”!
Although, of course I am still surprised when my children use the same answer when I ask them “why did you grab your brother’s toy?”…!
My most humbling mama moment was…
When I gave birth at 35 weeks to my first daughter in Tokyo while I was visiting my husband. My weekend trip ended up being a 21-day journey in Tokyo because my newborn had to stay in neonatal intensive care unit.
What’s your favourite family ritual?
Bedtime rituals are one of my favourites. I love ending the day in a warm and loving atmosphere.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
My to-do list, and sometimes solutions to problems I have encountered during the day.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
The children had a balanced day between school and playtime – I find that outdoor activities are best.
Even when my children have families of their own, I’ll still…
Be learning about motherhood (and grandmotherhood!). It’s a lovely and rewarding journey!
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
A healthy lifestyle.
My favourite moment of the day is…
The mornings, when the children come to our bedroom and say “Bonjour Maman! Bonjour Papa!”