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That Mama: Tara Lai of Avec Amour Lingerie Boutique

This week’s That Mama is super-mum Tara Lai, founder of one of Sassy Mama’s fave lingerie shops, Avec Amour – which we love even more because it conveniently has two Nude Waxing treatment rooms too!

As a mum of two to 3-year old Miya and 1 year-old Kaison (officially sporting the world’s cutest mohawk!), we pick Tara’s brains on her top organisational tips and tricks, her favourite kid-friendly places… and naturally get her to recommend some lovely lingerie for us too!

Where you do buy your clothes? How do you stay stylish as a mum?
On a day-to-day basis, I have to admit that I am not so stylish! I work a lot from home so it’s simple jeans and t-shirts. However I do love to get all dolled up when I can. Before kids I used to dress up all the time and now I feel sorry for neglecting a lot of my pretty heels. So whenever I do head out, I glam it up a little extra.

I don’t shop so much in Hong Kong, I guess I’m always buzzing around town running errands. But when I go back to Melbourne, that’s when I have my annual big shopping splurge. The styles are so unique, the brands are not available in Asia and it’s affordable. My last trip was just over Christmas and I fell in love with the retail shops Gorman, Luella and Marcs.

How do you save time?
I’m not the best at time management so I put everything into my Blackberry calendar to remind me of all the appointments I have, from work meetings to nail appointments, to picking up some milk on the way home.

What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Lists!! I have a serious case of pregnancy brain where I just forget things so easily. I make to-do lists, grocery shopping lists, gift lists, and things I need to talk to my staff lists. One really handy one I have is my travel-packing list which I’ve input into Excel so I can print it every time we travel. The kids just have so many items, it’s so easy to cross it out once it’s packed.

The other tip I would recommend is using coloured Ziploc bags for clothes when packing for multiple people, the ones where you can vacuum out the air to reduce the space it takes in the luggage. I use pink for my daughter, blue is for my son, orange is for me and clear is for my husband.

Another great item is the travel bra bag, which we sell at Avec Amour. This keeps my padded bras safe from bending out of shape. The travel panty bag is also great when travelling as it separates the clean panties from the not-so-clean ones.

What is your beauty must-have product?
Lip balm, I can’t live without it. I also love black gel eyeliners, it’s so defining, easy to apply and lasts!

How do you stay sane?
To keep sane I just need some time away from home. It could be 30 minutes in the gym, lunch with friends or some quick retail/beauty therapy. I also try and have date night once a week with my husband.

Favourite activity with the kids in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is a little lacking with kid-friendly places compared to other cities but we always make it work with play-dates with friends, or movie nights at home. If we head out, we take the kids to the Peak, Stanley or Playtown. If it’s just my daughter, I love taking her out for coffee or shopping (unfortunately my son hates stepping into any sort of store).

Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Hong Kong?
Dan Ryans is great for kids and they love getting the balloons. Jaspas in Happy Valley is nice and relaxing and keeps the kids occupied with crayons while you eat.

What are your top shops for children’s clothing?
I do a lot of children shopping in Melbourne actually, they have adorable clothes at Gumboots and Cotton On for Kids; even K-mart is fantastic and cheap.

In HK, I really like Chateau de Sable, which is from France and is surprisingly very reasonably priced. I also buy a lot of basic items from H&M, where you can’t go wrong and is so convenient.

As a frequent visitor to Singapore, have you got any top tips on food and activities for any families going on a city break there?
I lived in Singapore before moving to Hong Kong and it’s such a friendly place. We love eating around Robertson Quay, Chijmes and Esplanade where we can sit outside and the kids can just run around the open space. The local food in Singapore is amazing so we have to get our fix of Chicken Rice, Ban Mian [egg noodle soup], Bak Kut Teh [pork rib soup] and Char Kuey Teow [stir-fried rice noodles] at the local hawker centres too.

We like to bring them to Jacob Ballas Children Garden at the Botanical Gardens where they have so many things for them to play with such as waterspouts and playgrounds.

What inspired you to start Avec Amour and how did you get the (brilliant!) idea to include the waxing rooms too?
I’ve always been fascinated with lingerie – the beauty, the touch, the construction – so it just seemed natural to start this business, especially since there was a lack in Hong Kong. Furthermore, Brazilian Waxing has become a huge trend that it just made sense to collaborate with Nude Waxing. There has been great feedback from customers, and especially with Valentine’s Day coming up, you can get all your needs in one place.

How did you choose which lingerie brands to sell at Avec Amour? Which brands and types of lingerie would you recommend to mums that want comfort but still feel sexy?
I chose lingerie brands that I believe have the style and quality that is lacking in the Hong Kong market. It is easy to buy lingerie in Australia, UK and France so why not bring them to Asia?

Just because I’m a mum and wear casual clothes most days, I can still feel great about myself just by knowing what I’m wearing underneath. I think mums who are home a lot should adopt this thought. It really makes a difference to your mood and rest of the day.

Try Mimi Holiday or Maison Close for a little silk and lace, or if you want a more practical item, Natalie Begg has comfortable silk bras with cotton lining.

Do you have any tips for fellow mom-trepeneurs?
Don’t complicate your business with too many things that will take up a lot of time. If you do, then hire someone to help you.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Be happy and relax around your kids (instead of stressed and frantic), and they will also be happy and relaxed.

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