Alba wears the Chalk NYC Marlon Star Print Dress
Ever wish that you could design petite sized versions of clothing you would want to wear for your own kids? Thats exactly what Colleen Crivello did when she launched her kids line, Chalk NYC. With a long history of working in the women’s fashion industry, Crivello was inspired by her own daughter and muse Alba, now 4. Crivello shares with The Hive her tips on running a successful business, raising her daughter with a strong foundation and her conscious effort to value herself. “I think sometimes we forget how important it is to take care of ourselves, especially when we are caring for kids, husbands, homes, jobs and everything else that comes before us.”
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style… ‘less is more’. I mix a lot of vintage with contemporary pieces and I spend on shoes. I think you can have a simple outfit and a killer pair of shoes that elevates the whole look. I love to mix masculine and feminine, cool, comfortable and play with subtle sexy…an exposed shoulder or an open back. But ultimately, the most important thing…if I feel good, than I look good…it’s pretty simple.
What was the impetus for starting CHALK NYC?
I’ve been working in women’s fashion as a designer for years (and still do) but after having a little girl I wanted to bring what I do for the women’s market into kidswear… great fabrics, cool designs and made in the US. It all happened fairly quickly, I talked about it one day and started designing the next. Then Barneys got onboard and took it exclusively for the first couple seasons. Now we are also carried at other great retailers such as Fred Segal and Saks and have a number of very cool collaborations coming out. Little by little it’s all coming together.
What has been your career highlight so far?
The excitement of being part of Paris Fashion Week when I worked for Jeremy Scott.
Having CHaLK featured in the NY Times Sunday Style Section.
Cold calling Barneys and having them take me on exclusively as a launch partner the following day.
How old was your daughter when you started the brand?
She was 2 and has been my muse, model, assistant, brand ambassador and the face of CHaLK ever since.
How would you define the brand aesthetic? How would you describe your customer?
The brand is fun, refined, a little luxe, yet still mostly washable and easy to wear. Our customer is savvy and stylish, she is looking for unique pieces to dress her mini-me.
As a busy working mom, what is your best advice for other working moms trying to strike that balance between work and family? What is your biggest challenge?
Oh boy, this is a tough one which I’m constantly trying to master. I think time and being present in the moment are the biggest challenges I face. What I try to focus on is that weekends are for family and to be present in the moment. I’m making an effort to give a 100% to the task at hand rather than spreading myself thin over multiple efforts at once and feeling bad about it. For example, when working, work and when at home, be at home and enjoy that. All easily said yet not always easily achieved.
As a mom which age do you think has been most challenging in terms of finding enough time & energy to balance everything?
I think there are always new challenges and what requires my time now is so different than a few years ago. Looking back I remember thinking how difficult it was when she was a newborn especially because I had no idea what to expect. I was so tired then and literally ALWAYS on call with the breastfeeding, I couldn’t muster an educated thought and simply felt like it would never end. But as most of you know…it did end and now that she can dress herself my challenge is being more conscious and mindful about how I am raising my daughter, the positive values that I am instilling and the encouragement I give her.
What does your typical day look like? Schedule-wise.
Each day is somewhat different…I start my day at 6am and spend 15 min each morning focusing on what I am grateful for and setting a positive intention for the day. Between 6:30 and 8:30 the routine begins, coffee, breakfast, emails, getting Alba dressed, lunch made, instagram posts, showers and then we’re off to school. I generally have a meeting or 2 a day and a conference call. My day to day is spent either directing CHaLK, meeting with clients or collaborating with partners and other projects that I am working on. Some days are spent selecting fabrics with vendors, reworking graphics for newsletters, reviewing prototypes and others are spent developing new brand concepts and inspiration boards. I also have to answer a lot of boring emails. I try to workout at least 3 days a week, be it pilates or soul cycle. I make an effort to go out for drinks or dinner at least once if not twice a week and usually do one thing for myself such as nails, hair, facial, meditation class…something that is just for me. On nights that I’m home, after dinner, we get Alba ready for bed and read books together. Afterwards, I usually have a glass of wine with my husband and we chat a little or watch a movie and head to bed. The craziest part to me is the speed at which time is flying, I finally get what my parents have been saying all these years.
What do you do to carve out time for yourself? Meditation / Exercise / Nights out with girlfriends, etc?
I have just started meditation here in the city at a beginner’s class (I’m definitely a beginner). Time with my girlfriends is SUPER important to me. I have amazing friends, both old and new. I love people and growing friendships. Exercise is also crucial and usually once a week I will either get my nails, hair or a facial done.
How do you balance your time between work, your child and nurturing yourself?
I literally put everything in my calendar so that it is all worked out ahead of time and then I do my very best to stick to it. I think by putting it in the schedule it becomes actionable and as important as say a meeting or deadline.
I recently read, ‘How to be Parisian, Wherever You Are’, (it’s a super fast and fun read). I find it hysterical that the one aphorism that stuck with me throughout the entire book was this little gem:
‘Always be fuckable: when standing in line at the bakery on a Sunday morning, buying champagne in the middle of the night, or even picking the kids up from school. You never know.’
I love this and I try to live by this! I think sometimes we forget how important it is to take care of ourselves, especially when we are caring for kids, husbands, homes, jobs and everything else that comes before us. I think that if you look good, then you feel good and when you feel good, amazing things happen! So yes, I will relay the words of Caroline de Maigret… ‘Always be fuckable’.
As you live in NY, what are some of your favorite things to do with your daughter? Any favorite spots?
Well as a native Angeleno, I still find some of the things we have here in the city a bit odd, like indoor playgrounds and snow for that matter. So needless to say in the winter I’m less of an indoor playground girl and more of a brunch at Soho House with friends while the kids watch a movie in the theater room type.
In the Spring, when the weather is nice we take photos everywhere and NY is so amazing for this…we stroll down the street, pop in shops, sit for croissants and stop for photo-ops. We love to have picnics in the park and Alba is obsessed with taking cabs (she thinks this is the greatest adventure along with the subway…she is already able to hail a cab…such a city kid) and lastly we play dress up together in my closet, she gives great sartorial advice.
What are some of your specific gadgets, organizational tools or aids that help maintain a stress-free work/family balance?
Ummm stress-free…I haven’t found that app.
All jokes aside, I try to implement two tools…one is I create a schedule on Sunday for the whole week. Everything goes on there for both work and personal (meetings, playdates, workouts, etc). This was a big turning point for me, it allows me to be where I need to be and focus without having constant racing thoughts about what else needs to get done. Second thing and this comes from my Chinese medicine doctor, SMILE even if you don’t want to…force yourself in a good mood and you will feel relaxed, grateful, positive, stress free and ready to face any situation. (still working on this one).
Chalk NYC Charlie Star Studded Leather Jacket
If any, what changes did you make to your work hours/life in order to create more time with your daughter?
I get up early…this is unnatural for me but I force myself to do it as it seems like the “adult” thing to do. Now that it has become routine I truly relish the quiet morning time to think, have my coffee and work so that by the time my daughter is awake I am free to spend an hour with her in the morning.
The other big alteration is not staying out till all hours of the night anymore…it’s just not as much fun when you know you will be hurting in the morning when the kid alarm goes off.
We also spend a fair amount of time as a family out at our beach house in the North Fork where summers are spent tending the garden and winters cooking and snuggling by the fire.
North West wearing Chalk NYC Stretch Leather Pants
To what do you attribute your strong work ethic? What do you hope your children learn from watching you work & run your business?
My father has always been an entrepreneur in real estate/ development in LA and I was brought up to believe that I could do anything. I also have a strange desire to take on every project that I find compelling and somehow manage to juggle them all. I function well with a lot on my plate. I hope that Alba will learn that she can do anything she wants in this world, really anything. It is such an amazing time in history for strong women…we have the possibility to have a woman president and more women than men won medals in the last Olympics. I have faith that she will grow to be a healthy, confident, genuine and successful person both in love and life and that I will be able to guide her in every way possible. I want to give my daughter a foundation, a strong family, a sense of security and I want to give her freedom, the ability to be herself and follow her dreams.
With less time to get ready in the morning, what is your go-to look in order to look chic and put together for a full day and possible evening events?
I will always fill the time I have…if I have an hour, than it takes me an hour, and if I have 30 minutes, then that it how long it takes. Most of that is shower time and getting dressed…my closet generally looks like a bomb went off in the morning. I’ve always admired those people in the movies that set out one outfit the night before and then proceed to wear exactly that the next day…it would never happen for me. Face time is short and sweet, a little tinted moisturizer, mascara and bronzer, done. My hair, I wash every 3rd day and I never brush it, so I get out of the shower, run my fingers through and then leave it as is.
What are your wardrobe essentials? Do you have a daily uniform?
Winter uniform is a great sweater, something furry, leather pants and cool sneakers with the awesome hat. Summer is an easy dress, flat sandals and a leather motorcycle jacket.
What is the most valuable thing motherhood has taught you?
Love, all consuming unconditional love that I could never have imagined, patience and to be present in the moment. Kids are incredible inspiration for being present, they have nowhere to be except where they are at that very moment.
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