Say hello to the ever-stylish, super cool and fabulously organised mama, Jasmine Smith.
This month’s That Mama, Jasmine Smith, is as stylish and fun as mamas come. She runs the successful fashion blog, Dress Me Blog Me, has just launched Raven + Rose, her own lingerie line, has a full schedule working as an image consultant, and has recently taken on the role of in-house stylist for Mayarya, a store that carries unique maternity wear for fashion-forward moms-to-be. And she does all this on top of being a very hands-on mom to her pride and joy, daughter Isabella Zia. And great news for all the Sassy Mamas out there- Jasmine is a mama that we don’t have to just admire from afar, but will be joining Sassy Mama as regular contributor with her own style column where she will dish on how to look stylish and chic even while toting around a bun in the oven or chasing a little one around all day. We sit down with her and find out and her secrets to how she manages to keep everything running smoothly all while looking so damn good all the time.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a woman of MANY fashionable projects (lingerie designer, blogger, personal shopper, stylist). I’m a mama to my little moon-faced child who is my most cherished project of all. And, I’m a lover of black coffee, triangle bras and leather.
How did you come to your career in fashion?
I grew up in the most incredible homemade clothes. My mum dressed me in stylish ensembles she’d created from when I was born right through till high school (at which point I took full control of the sewing machine). Making my own clothes was something that I did because that was the norm in my family. I used to sew hair scrunchies in Primary School and sell them in the playground along side hand beaded necklaces that I’d spent my pocket money on creating. The Fashion Industry for me as an adult was simply an extension of the life I’d already been living.
You are a former personal shopper, stylist and fashion blogger. How did one thing lead to another?
The movement through these careers was simply organic. A combined Visual Arts/Fashion Apparel Degree lead me to the world of styling fashion editorials, music video clips, catwalks and campaigns. I worked exclusively with the seasonal trends for all of these, dressing various body shapes and slowly started to interpret what I knew to match a more ‘real’ audience – hence the beginnings of personal shopping. Blogging was the last thing I introduced into my workflow. I brought my blog into play so my personal shopping clientele had a platform they could visit for inspiration and to get a solid feel for what was happening in the fashion industry that surrounded them.
Where do you find inspiration for styling?
With the influx of social media platforms, I now hit these for inspiration in terms of who’s wearing what and how and where.
I used to own literally HUNDREDS of magazines, but now I simply scroll through the hundreds of stylish people I follow on Instagram.
How would you describe your style?
Black, white and minimalist with inserts of boyish elements. Rips in my denim, studs on my brogues, leather wherever it can be worn and simple jewellery.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
RAVEN + ROSE – My lingerie brand is the project that tops all the others. It combines my childhood love of designing and sewing with my formal training of pattern making and garment construction. My knowledge of the female form and what works for it style wise comes into play, as does my visual representations of a brand’s message to its target audience via Social Media. RAVEN + ROSE is the ultimate culmination of a lifelong love of fashion.
What do you love most about your job?
My job is FULL of creative, inspirational and interesting people which make for the best conversations! It’s a job that involves many a collaboration with others, bringing to light different skills (like a photographer’s unique way of lighting a model’s face). It is also a job that is full of beautiful self-expression (like when a personal shopping client finds a LBD that is so completely THEM!) My work also allows me to bring my little lady to client meetings, designer launches and fashion shoots – this freedom to be with her and be a working mama is just incredible.
What about your job could you do without?
The primadonnas. They are always the people that demand the most, but deserve the least.
Your favourite mama outfit?
My ‘Guess’ leather leggings, white ‘GRANA’ long-sleeved silk shirt (I know these are normal mama no-no’s – I have a great dry cleaner!), my ‘RAVEN + ROSE’ black bra underneath for a little edge, flat black ankle boots by ‘All Saints’ and my H&M black wide brimmed hat.
Wedding rings, ‘Dinh Van’ pinky ring and ‘Larsson & Jennings’ silver watch in terms of accessorising. My ‘Rebecca Minkoff’ backpack/baby bag. That’s ME as a mama!
Oh, did I say red lipstick? I’m always armed with a divine red lippy!
How do you like to ‘style’ Isabella?
Isabella Zia at 10-months old dresses how I dress. Until she can dress herself, I rule her wardrobe! So, predictably, she has a wardrobe full of neutral colours that we combine with pop’s of bright colour to accessorise.
It will be interesting to see her personal flare for fashion when she get’s older! She might be a fashion rebel and wear a uniform of black T’s and blue jeans like her Dad – I’m prepared for either orientation!
Fashion item you can’t live without?
My black leather jacket.
How were you able to incorporate your style into your pregnancy?
I simply bought a few of my favourite fashion items in a ‘maternity style’. For example, I invested in some awesome leather looking legging from ‘Mayarya’ which stretched up and over my bump. I bought a cool, white bump-friendly maternity shirt off ASOS and I wore these two things with a black beanie, oversized chain necklace and knee high boots (for example) that I already owned to feel completely like ME… just with a beautiful baby bump.
How do you balance having a successful career and being a mother?
I’ve had to learn how to prioritise – seriously prioritise like a pro! Once I used to find the time to do everything and anything, I’d just make things work! But now, as a working mama, I have had to learn to say ‘No – my time doesn’t allow for that project’.
Isabella Zia is number one on my list of priorities, everything else falls beneath in a lineup that reflects how much of my time they get – and if that list is full, it’s full! I don’t bend on that because breaking that rule would mean less time for my little moon-faced lady, and I won’t allow for that.
Any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Hong Kong?
As a mamapreneur, I get 1/2 the amount of work done in a day now as most my time goes into feeds, nappy changes, playtime etc… and that’s OK… now! But, it wasn’t OK when I first went back to work. I felt guilty for being away from Isabella and guilty for not getting enough work done in comparison to what I used to do. So I’ve had to make peace with that guilt and realise that it has no place in a healthy mindset. The role of a mamapreneur is wildly different from the role I had before giving birth, and it took me months to understand that completely before I felt good about my personal direction as a working mama.
How do you save time? Any organisational tips and tricks?
When I was young, my mum taught me two tricks of the mama-trade that I don’t go a day without doing:
1) Get your clothes ready the night before (and your baby’s clothes too!).
Clothing can get too fussy, take up too much time, and induce a bad mood as opposed to a good mood, if things go wrong! As a mama, learn to take the stress out of situations that could potentially go wrong – like that ‘what do I wear’ moment – and simply lay your clothes out the night before. I swear it saves me 15 minutes each morning! And that’s 15 extra minutes I have with my Isabella Zia.
2) Count Backwards!
If you have a play date or a meeting at 2 pm, work backwards: How much time does it take to get there? How long do you need to get ready, feed the little one, pack your bag etc?… Once you have your numbers, you’ll know the exact time you’ll need to do these things so you’ll always be on time – and again – not wasting it!
What do you do when you need to have some “me time”?
I read. That way I can be anywhere – on my couch, in a taxi, while taking my lunch break – and I can zone into a place that distances me from my surroundings and allows some indulging ‘ME’ time.
Your favourite thing to do with Isabella in Hong Kong?
Anything that allows for time with my BFF’s and their little ones! I’m blessed to be surrounded by friends that have kiddos all around the same age. This means we can all hangout together (in cafes, play dates, while shopping) and catch up all while our little ones play and interact with each other. I don’t have a favourite place – I have favourite people and they make for the most amount of mama/bubba fun!
What do you love most about Hong Kong?
As a mama, my favourite part of Hong Kong is the culture of employing ‘help’. This is something that isn’t done in my home country, New Zealand, so I see it as a privilege I’m lucky to have. My helper allows for me to be a working mama by looking after Isabella Zia when I need. She allows me the luxury of being able to be the most hands on mama I can be as she also looks after the management of my household (meaning I don’t need to do the laundry or dishes). She is an absolute asset to our household and essential to my role as a mama.
The most challenging part of parenting, so far?
Simply taking the time to STOP and listen.
My husband and I, whenever we are faced with anything we are unsure of (this can be a cry, a rash, a non-sleeping kiddo), always take the time to stop first and talk to each other about it before rushing into action. Only then do we act upon the issue at hand. That way, we come to it with our combined opinions and in agreement undertake the best action plan. It’s far from the easiest thing to do when we are faced with a screaming child at the same time. But communication is a strong part of our family ethos and we strive to uphold its importance even in the face of 2 am hollas!
Where do you like to eat in Hong Kong with Isabella?
I’m a BIG fan of 208. They have divine changing rooms for when a nappy needs attention, awesome tiles that keep Isabella Zia occupied as we order and eat, high chairs that mean she can sit at a table or even at the bar with us, and good acoustics which count more when a little one is involved. It’s a fantastic combination of adult and child appropriateness.
Favourite family holiday spot?
We recently went on a rustic surf holiday to Cloud Nine, a surf break on a little Island in the Philippines called Siargao. We stayed at Kermit Surf Camp and couldn’t recommend a better place. It’s not exactly set up for babies, but all we needed was a cot and the surf, and we were set! Holidaying simplistically made for a beautiful get-a-way from the manic city that Hong Kong is.
What are your tips for keeping romance alive when you have such a busy life?
Plan date nights and don’t wear knickers on them.
What’s your idea of a perfect date night?
As long as it ends with a night-cap in the form of a good whisky at Stockton’s then a date night could consist of anything before hand, and I’d be happy.
Hushed tones, reflections of love and life, slightly tipsy lounging in big comfortable chairs and the knowledge you’re about to go home with the father of your baby makes for a sexy end to any evening.
What was it like for you going back to work after having Isabella? Can you tell us about what your career was like pre-baby and how it’s different post baby?
Pre-baby, my working hours could be closely classified as 24/7 hours. My husband and I used to both work our evenings and weekends at the same time, and take them off on the same time, so that we were always in sync with each other. Our working habits were incredibly driven and all-consuming. Post-baby, that time-frame is now wildly different, something which took a while to adjust to.
I started working part-time when Isabella Zia was 3-months old. It was at that point I felt ready to return to work. I allowed my work life to progress slowly into the schedule of a full-time working mama – but I really think that title needs to be the other way around: ‘mama-working’ would better suit my role, as being a mum always comes before work.
There have been days where I’ve had to simply cancel everything and just stay at home with my little lady – but that never goes the other way around.
In saying all that, my career is still moving straight and has a clear direction. I may not have the hours I used to, to dedicate to my career, but I still have the force and focus which continues to fuel it.
What’s the best and worst piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
I’m lucky to have an incredible mum who is nothing but encouraging of me as a new mum. I’ve received out-of-the-blue texts from her which simply say- “You’re doing a great job.”… and that is priceless encouragement – to believe in myself as a mum.
I also have a wonderful mid-wife, pilates teacher and best friend – Sofie Jacobs – who is my sounding board for all things that revolve around my pre/post baby-body as well as Isabella Zia, herself.
The advice that these two women have given me over my time of pregnancy and now being a mama has been a stability I wish for every new mum.
As for bad advice, it came indirectly when someone commented on my shaved head while I was pregnant saying “Ohhhh my husband would never let me do that, I wouldn’t look like a real mother’.
Personally, I don’t think a fashion-choice is a true reflection of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ mum.
Something that no one ever tells you about motherhood?
You love your husband ways that you didn’t even know were possible once he becomes the dada to your child – it’s beautiful and new and incredibly sexy to see him in the light of Fatherhood.
As a mama, I wish I were better at…
Accents. I’m terrible at accents, and I’d really love a good few under my belt for bedtime stories. First on the list of accents to practice is my pirate accent!
What has been your most humbling mama moment?
Expressing. I cried the first time I attached the electric pump – I covered myself with a nursing-shawl and asked my husband to leave the room. Then in exhausted and embarrassed tears, I let go of the notion that breasts were simply sexy (as they had been up until this point of my life) and allowed them to be the functional part of my body that my baby needed. And admittedly I needed to do this if I wanted to go back to work.
I loved breast feeding – but expressing! Ohhhhh expressing brought me down to a level where I had to face the realities of being a working mum and its physical demand.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about…
Work. It’s far more stressful than Isabella Zia! She’s always been an incredible sleeper (thanks to the ‘Tizzy Hall’ sleep routine we started the 2nd week she was home) so it is a rare occasion if she wakes in the night. If I wake on my own it is often because I have too much on my mind in terms of things that need to get done.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
My husband and I stick to the routine!
We wrap Isabella up ‘tight like a cocoon, so in the morning she will wake bright and beautiful like a butterfly’ in her swaddle. We say our ‘thank yous’ to the day (leaves and sunlight and taxi drivers are included in this) while closing the blinds, turn the night light on, then the lullaby music kicks off. We tell Isabella Zia that we love her in loud voices as we kiss her goodnight and close the door.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Waking Isabella Zia up at 7 am, without a doubt! After hours apart it is the most energising way to start the day. This little one is the absolute highlight of my life. I wouldn’t want to begin my day without her scrunchy-nosed smile!
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
The experience of a drug-free, natural vaginal birth.
It empowered me as an individual, and put a lot of previous pain and endurance into REAL perspective. It also allowed for Isabella and I to work together in a way that you’re not often told about. The babies have to do a lot of work during the birthing process also, it’s not just the mum – and working as a pair for the first time was an experience I would never sacrifice.
I always feel saner after…
I have my game face on! Makeup – it always makes me feel like I’m presentable and ready for the world no matter my mood, the time, or my schedule.
I wish I had more time for…
Setting lavish tables for our family dinners. In our house dinner times are formal in the sense that we sit at the table together and talk through the day while we eat. I lack the time to buy beautiful flowers, light candles, lay out all my stunning dinner sets – something I’d like to do more of. I do love a fabulous dinner setting at the end of a long day and the creative conversation that often comes with that.
Even when my baby is grown and has a family of her own, I’ll still…
Call her my moon-faced child, my little Isabella Zia – she will forever be my first born baby girl.
Look for Jasmine’s cool fashion features on Sassy Mama.