Playdate 15 | Lauri Levenfeld at Japanese Tea Garden

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Hey friends, I’m back with another playdate! This time I got to hang with Lauri Levenfeld of The Moms Project, and her 5 year old daughter, Harley Grey. They took us to sketching at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park – what a neat playdate idea! I first met Lauri when she featured me on her site (and recently on Lovemade), a project where she’s dedicated to featuring entrepreneurial moms. It was such an honor for me! We kept in touch since and it’s been so great to watch Lauri grow TMP – one inspiring mom at a time!

I love Lauri’s energy! She’s always so positive and so open to new ideas. I also love her style sense – daring but all sleek at the same time – a look I find hard to pull off as a mom but Lauri does it perfectly well. When I found out that Lauri has a 5 year old daughter, I knew we had to get together for a playdate. Hayden loves hanging out with girls slightly older than her so I knew right away our girls had to meet. Harley was full of energy! She had this gifted theatrical personality that kept Hayden laughing the whole time – it was such a blast to watch! Harley’s energy was a total reflection of Lauri. It really was incredible to see how a mom’s outlook can shape her child’s personality.

Let’s check out how Lauri handles this thing called motherhood…

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Why is Japanese Tea Garden special to you and Harley?

When we come to the Tea Gardens, we are immediately transported from daily life. It is calming and meditative for us with no connection to the outside world- a fantasy trip for two. We come here to sit and talk about life, escape, to experience nature and sketch.

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What inspired you to start The Moms Project? And why is this important to you?

The Moms Project started as an opportunity to get back to my documentary roots, tell inspirational stories about women, and incorporate my love of fashion and fashion photography, while dabbling in my other love of writing. But mostly, it is about my desire to be a part of an amazing network of women who share, inspire, resource, challenge, and support one another as moms and businesswomen. On October 15th, we will be launching The Project, which will help fund women on their entrepreneurial path.

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Where do you find inspiration for your personal style? And work?

My favorite thing to do is to spend an hour sifting through international fashion magazines at a newsstand to see what is on trend or happening next season. And I am always watching the streets for someone unique and inspiring. Travel is a big inspiration for my life and work. I just got back from Tokyo and after spending a day at Cat Alley in Harajuku-I cried myself silly at the thought of leaving (I could live there!). I was so enamored with the Japanese fashion and their playful sense of style, expression, and humor. It was inspiring on all levels. Harley does this for me as well, as she has no rules for how she dresses and because of this her artistry shines.

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On Lauri: Gilroy Top, Elizabeth and James / Jeans, Mother  / Handbag, Katja Tamara O’Brien / Nails, G at Topcoat

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Vida Cuff, Elizabeth and James / “Harley” Necklace, Haute Bride

How did you know you were ready to be a mom? Or is there such a thing?

Oh, I would definitely not say I knew I was ready. I don’t think I knew I was ready until Harley was 2! But I knew that I loved children and wanted a child and when Harley came into this world, there was nothing more special. The bond I have with my child and husband is like none other.

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Booties, Lola Cruz

Most challenging part of being a mom? Most Rewarding?

The most challenging part of being a mom is the juggle. I try to find the humor in it for the most part, but it can also be stressful and crazy. I am dedicated mostly and always to my daughter and husband. But there’s also always a drive to do something for myself, to nurture and honor these goals. When you have a passion for what you do, it is amazing and very distracting. Being an artist is not just my job, but art is who I am. Therefore, I try to incorporate it into my family life as much as possible, so I am not so driven and consumed by my work (when I am having family time). Harley and I have a lot of fun being creative.

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Where do you shop for Harley’s clothes? 

Harley is so much fun to shop for as she is a true fashionista. The girl changes 3-4 times a day and this is with a school uniform. We love Kitson Kids, Lifesize Kids by Ron Robinson, Les Tout Petit (best leggings and fringe dresses around!) and in town- I love Bubble for everything girly and fun!

For yourself?

For me, my die-hard brands are Alexander Wang, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Isabel Marant, Alice & Olivia, JBrand, Mother Jeans, Rag&Bone, and Helmut Lang (for blazers!). Because I am a mom/photographer and always on the move, my uniform is a great top, fun detailed jeans and a cool leather jacket or blazer. I love a sleek, minimal look with a bit of rocker and bling. Ok, a lot of bling!

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What’s your typical day like?

6:30am Wake & quickly answers emails and check social media in bed before the little princess awakes. 6:45am Harley is up, in our bed and we snuggle and watch a fun show before racing to school. 7:00-8:00am Pack lunch, get Harley ready (although I love that she is actually dressing herself now), barely get a brush through my own hair, grab snacks, bags, and go. *We usually rush to get out the door so we can spend a little time at Starbucks talking and playing before we head into our days. I love this mommy&daughter time, plus I need my caffeine! 8:30am On a shoot day, I scramble back home quickly to pick out something more fashionable to wear and on par with the day and my company than my workout clothes. I am dressed and out the door by 9am. 9:30am Arrive at the house of my latest TMP mom or Style Army client to collaborate with team who are in the throws of last minute hair &makeup, wardrobe picks, and location setup. 10:00am Shoot time. 2pm Wrap the day & sprint back home to do editing, client work, phone calls, research on new features, and emails if I can get to them. 4:50pm Pick up Harley and enjoy the sunshine with friends outside school. 5:30pm A little play at home, then homework (yes Kindergarten has homework!), bath, prep dinner with a little “family party” in the mix (compliments of Harley who loves any excuse for a party), dinner, down-time, books and bed for the girl. 8:30pm Greg and I usually hang or I am back to work for the night. 10:30-11pm Lights out. I am beat!

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As one who also features many inspiring moms, what is one (or two) things you find all  moms have in common?

I would say everyone is just trying to lead as normal a life as possible, to have fun, dream big and keep sane in the juggle. It’s a wild ride being an entrepreneur and mom at the same time, but we all wouldn’t change a thing. And most definitely leaning on one another and building that “village” is the key to keeping yourself afloat.

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Your favorite thing to do when you have time alone?

I love to work out and meditate, and read my fashion mags of course. I remember the days pre-kid when I had to wait for most of the month until the next set of magazines arrived. Now a stack of unread magazines and catalogs sits patiently beside my desk waiting for months and months to be read.

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On me: Sweater, Ay Not Dead  / Jeans & Purse, Zara / Shoes, Stubbs & Wootton / Sunglasses, Ray Ban  

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On Harley: Hot pink faux fur vest, fringe top, and leggings, Les Tout Petit

On Hayden: Hat, H&M / Jumpsuit, Gap Kids / Sandals, Pons Avarca / Painted bead necklace, DIY

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Favorite characteristics of your daughter?

Harley is full of life and energy. She is independent, but super loving. And she’s unique in every way. She beats to her own drum and she’s ok with being out there. I love her confidence and courage.

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Secret to following your passion after having a baby?

It’s important to stay in touch with yourself as an individual-your loves and passions. I do feel that Harley benefits and learns so much from me being a passionate artist and a working mom. It shows her a different side to me than me as her mom. And I constantly have to reconnect myself with their world and what is going on, so that I am inspired and interested. It definitely helps to live in an urban city where we are able to walk out our front door to something new and exciting.

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Where do you go for tips/advices for motherhood and parenting?

I am lucky to have all the amazing moms I feature from The Moms Project around to give me their advice and teachings. I also love all my friends who have mommy blogs like Shop Sweet Things where I can resource fabulous info and helpful tid-bits. My mom is also a great listener and full of wisdom to share. It is a funny thing that early on I was never much for the mommy groups and now I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

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Any advice on marriage after kids?

I always laugh at this as Greg and I were together for 7months, married at a year, and we found out we were pregnant on our 1st anniversary. So a year after Harley was born, we woke up and realized it was time to start dating again. We are still enjoying our time together and “our getting to know each other” phase (7 –almost 8 years in). And it definitely helps having more sleep! This is something we did not have the luxury of until a year ago. Let’s just say Harley is an energetic kid-the girl does not sleep. :)

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What advice would you give to a first-time mom?

I would say to take time out with your child and really be with them. My biggest evil is the iPhone. But I have committed myself to doing my best to take it out of the equation when I am with my daughter. That being said, I have a nasty little habit of checking instagram and usually my only escape from my evil is to lock it up downstairs in my office away from us-which is exactly what I do!

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What’s next on your agenda? Work wise? Kids wise?

We are anxiously awaiting the launch of The Project on October 15th. I look forward to helping women realize their entrepreneurial dreams. Kids-wise, we are a happy family of three.

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Many thanks to Lauri and Harley for taking us to the Japanese Tea Garden! Such a treat to have spent an afternoon with them! Be sure to stay tuned with The Moms Project (@themomsproject) as Lauri is launching something special on Oct. 15 to help entrepreneurial women!

xo Jeanne

 Beautiful photography by Ashley Batz