Any parent knows, motherhood is a full time job. So whether you are taking on a second role as a CEO, artist, freelancer, or stick to being the big boss at home, we want to hear how the highs, the lows, the balancing act, and even those less-than-instagram worthy moments. This week we get to know fellow mama & Laguna Beach-based Artist Jo Allen. Read about her career shift from moss scientist to artist and her biggest mom-trepreneur tip.
1) We love your designs! How would you describe your style?
Thank you so much. Playful, sophisticated, cerebral.
2) Where do you get your inspiration from?
From everywhere! I adore literature, science/nature, music, film, art, spirituality and fashion. I think that my curiosity and visual/sensory memory creates a well of emotions I can pull from at anytime.
3) What are the best things about being an artist/mother?
Flexibility of schedule, working from my home studio, and creating something that they can hold when they are back from the day. Giving them an appreciation for the inner world of thoughts and feelings.
4) What are the most challenging?
That I do not have the freedom to just keep working - that has limited the size and scope of the art that I want to create. I wonder what it would be like to just stay in a dream-state for days instead of hours.
5) You almost became a Bryologist (a moss scientist). That is quite unique, what led you there?
When I was working at UCLA's Climate Change lab I was very intrigued with how moss has such incredible regenerative abilities, resilience, and is found everywhere. I hypothesized that it could be used as an indicator of air quality over time. Ironically I recently read some Bryology reports addressing that same issue!
6) We have Irish seamoss as an ingredient in some of our products, which actually is not a moss as I’m sure you know, but has a soothing effect on mucous membranes in the body. What is your favorite moss and why?
I can't remember anymore unfortunately. It's been 14 years since I wrote my thesis paper and I can't find it! I have to say that I just love all moss (there are over 10,000 species!) Besides their incredible nature, they make the world a more beautiful place and carpet the world in fairy tale greens.
7) What are some of your favorite activities to do with your kids?
We love to exploring nature whether its on hikes or at museums. We get very up close and personal with flora and fauna! We also love pretending to be animals, playing dress-up, and reading. I am really proud of their love for nature/science and their vivid imagination.
8) Do your girls join you in your artistic ventures or are they passionate about other things?
Yes, the girls love to draw! We have a huge drawer of all kinds of art materials. We are running out of room just storing all their art because teach piece tells a story about their favorite colors, animals, and how they are feeling at a particular moment. I need to remember to date them!
9) Did you take time off after having each of your girls? Why or why not?
I did. I had a sustainability advising agency with my best friend from grad school and I remember her calling me every few months to see if I was ready to go back to work. I wasn't! I was so overwhelmed with love for them and felt like I needed to focus all of my attention on taking care of them. My girls are 22 months apart too, so for about 3 or 4 years I was 100% focused on them. Now I realize that I should have given myself quality time as those years were pretty challenging.
10) What surprised you most about motherhood?
I always thought that I knew who I was, but I feel like I am the most truest version of Jo Situ Allen now. I couldn't have gotten here without becoming a mother. I feel such gratitude everyday for my family.
11) Best motherhood advice you’ve received?
I didn't take this advice at the beginning, but I was told all the time to get help and take care of myself during the first couple years (but they were too cute and too needy!) Now I have a good balance and that, in return, has created a strong foundation for my family and career.
12) What advice would you give new working/entrepreneurial moms?
Take care of yourself. Take time for yourself. Be patient with yourself. Do things that make you happy - dream big!