Every mom holds her own magic - that arsenal of must have products and best kept secrets which allow her to get through the day and on occasion make motherhood look like a breeze. Each week, we'll use YOYA's 20 Questions to unlock the vault and provide a sneak peek into the essentials of our favorite moms.
This week the spotlight's on Johanna Almstead. After 10 years and several amazing jobs in the fashion industry, including running global PR for Kate Spade New York and working for brands like Prada, Coach, and Ralph Lauren, Johanna decided to step out on her own - in two ways! She is the co-founder of J.MATER, which began as a chic diaper bag company and is now in the process of a major expansion into all things new mom related. She is also the founder of Johanna Almstead Consulting, helping start-ups hone their messaging and creative strategies to set them on a path for success.
YOYA founder Cristina Villegas met Johanna back in 1995 during their first days at FIT. They have been like sisters ever since, and consider their bond like true family. Johanna is the mom of two young girls and is continuously trying to find new ways to support other mothers and entrepreneurs. She is passionate about design, motherhood and philanthropy, and is about to embark on a crazy house renovation in Northern Westchester. Enjoy learning more about Johanna below!
Neighborhood: I recently moved out of NYC to Northern Westchester, so I have gone from city girl to country girl and I love it.
Work Industry: I am the co-founder of J.MATER, which is a brand of elevated essentials for moms and a community of moms who tell it like it is. I also have my own Brand Creative and Communications Consulting firm.
My Crew (Kids/Ages): Tilia will be 5 in September and Saige is 2.5.
Morning Routine: I usually am woken up by two little people standing next to my bed tapping me and asking for something and it is usually much earlier than I want it to be. Then I try to eat something small and have coffee right away, so that I can start to wrap my head around what the day looks like. I took a lot of time off this summer to just be with my kids, so we had very leisurely mornings, which was so nice, but I am now ready for the back to school structure of things again. If it is a really good day, then I get to meditate before anyone wakes me up, which helps me not feel so frazzled during the day.
Go-to Outfit: In the summer, I wear dresses by Apiece Apart, Isabel Marant, and Doen with Birkenstocks or other sandals. In the fall it is really good jeans by Khaite and a button down or cashmere sweater with good boots, loafers or cute sneakers. Since I own my own businesses and am a mom, I am lucky that I don’t really have to wear heels very often anymore ;)
Guilty Pleasure: Watching the “Grand Hotel” on Netflix - I know, so embarrassing but I can’t stop!!!
Currently Reading: “Staying Healthy With the Seasons” and 5 Day Weekend. I wish I was reading something more high-minded for pleasure, but unfortunately, I haven’t figured out making time for that yet. Maybe I should stop watching Netflix???
Favorite Instagram Account(s) to Follow: I love following my friends because now that we all have kids and crazy lives, I can still feel connected and can see what they are up to, how much their kids are growing, etc. For inspiration, I love @simplicitycity, @janebirkindaily and since I am about to embark on a crazy house renovation I have been following a ton of design, architecture and interiors accounts like @vincentvanduysen and @lagomhome
Home Decor Style: Because my work often involves lots of color and pattern and design and making quick decisions around the visuals of things, I need my home to be simple and serene. I am really feeling Modern Scandinavian farmhouse vibes right now, mixed with beautiful treasures from my travels around the world. I am known for carrying home giant vessels - vases, pots, etc. from crazy foreign lands. I once carried a huge hand-made water jug on the plane with me home from Afghanistan. It is bigger than a small child!!!
Favorite Destination: St. Barth’s is one of my favorite places in the world - the food, the people, the beaches - it all makes me automatically decompress and feel inspired and happy. My dream is to buy a little place there and fix it up. It is my happy place.
Travel Essential: Water! And really good face oils. And earplugs!
Hidden Gem: (restaurant, shopping, etc) There is a French restaurant by my new house called Vox - they have a lovely patio and a huge back yard and we can sit and have a beautiful dinner, drink wine and visit with friends while the kids run around and play and we all watch the sunset over the rolling hills behind the property. It is pretty magical.
Describe Your Kids' Style: Tilia has kind of a surfer girl/ rocker vibe. I love Rylee and Cru, Bonton ,Tocoto Vintage and Mini Rodini. She loves rock and roll t-shirts and cool sneakers. I like buying classic sneakers- like Stan Smith’s or New Balance, rather than traditional “kid” sneakers. They make everything look much cooler. Saige is still figuring out her style- she wears lots of her sister’s hand me downs, so she is inheriting a bit of the cool tomboy vibe too. But for special occasions, they both love beautiful dresses too. I have ones that I have kept since Tilia was a baby that they both still love- from Ilovegorgeous, Bonpoint, CdeC, and Morley. In the summer- they both wear tons of cotton dresses and sandals- just like mama.
Favorite Kids Brand: Molo, Louise Misha, Zara
Go-to Gift (new baby, bday party, etc): I love buying beautiful books as gifts. I feel like you can never have too many books for kids. For baby gifts, I love giving Album Di Famiglia's super luxurious cashmere-esque rompers from Yoya.
Mom Hack / Gadget / (or) App: My iPhone. Everything I need in one place!
Essential Snack on the Go: Cheese and Fruit
Favorite Rainy Day Activity: My kids are finally getting old enough that we can go to a movie together. We also love the Met and the Museum of Natural History. Or now that we have moved to the country, we will go for a nice long drive and explore the Hudson Valley. And if my schedule allows it, sometimes we just call it a “Jammy Day” and stay home all day in our pj’s and do art and cooking projects. I also weirdly love hosting play dates. Nothing makes me happier than a house full of kids running around and enjoying our home.
For more of Johanna's favorites, follow along at @joalmstead