Growing up, Ivy Hillman knew she was destined for New York. She moved here for the same reason lots of us do: a hunger for creativity, new people and independence — the sense that as she puts it, “I always knew there was something ‘more.’
But even in her 20s, Ivy’s version of “more” was never the up-til-dawn party scene that draws in many new city-dwellers. A self-described homebody, Ivy never caved to the pressure to be “on” 24-7, preferring a night in with a cup of tea, a good movie and her chihuahua to toasting on rooftop bars all night. And if conventional wisdom tells you that you’ll never meet your soul mate by leaving the function early, Ivy proved that wrong. Now in her 30s, Ivy balances a busy career as an account executive with a husband, a 1-year-old son who’s the “light of her life,” and her labor-of-love blog Dear Ivy. And she’s happier than ever.
We spoke with Ivy about how she found fulfillment in her 30s, how she keeps her busy life in balance and the need to create your own definition of success. Turns out, amazing things can happen when you drop the FOMO and follow your own path to happy.
STYLECASTER: Being mom to a one year-old is only one of your demanding jobs — tell us about your role as an account executive.
Ivy Hillman: I can honestly say I feel like I’ve never “worked” a day in my life since I enjoy what I do! I work closely with brands to create meaningful campaigns in the digital space. Being an account executive allows you to wear many hats — I work on editorial series, with influencers and on events. It’s about finding the most meaningful way to reach consumers in an impactful way, and anytime we can do that with humor or a tug to the heartstrings, I’m in my element.
SC: Many women with demanding careers struggle with whether to marry and have children — how did you decide it was right for you?
IH: For me, I knew it was important to be in a career I enjoyed and find my stride before building a family. It’s not like that for everyone, but I’m Type A and needed to have my ducks in a row before having the emotional bandwidth and time to take on another human. I knew having a family was a non-negotiable for me, and there wasn’t really anything that was going to keep me from building my family. So I never saw work as a deterrent — in fact, I viewed my career as the means to having a better life balance so I could be a better mother. When I’m creatively challenged and have an outlet, I’m a better version of myself. Happy mom = good mom, and that happiness looks different for everyone.
SC: Has having a family changed your social life a ton?
IH: Honestly, I’ve always been a homebody so it hasn’t been a huge change. I always felt pressure in my 20s to be out in large packs of friends, but I never caved to that. I only did things that brought me joy — even if it wasn’t the norm. I always felt I wasn’t going to find someone or create a family, and it’s simply not true. The secret is to only engage in activities you love, and everything else will fall into place while you’re enjoying your life. I adopted a 12-week-old chihuahua at 24 years old so I could always have someone to snuggle with on a Saturday at 9 p.m. My friends still laugh at me — “I have to walk my dog” was my excuse to get out of any activity I didn’t enjoy!
SC: OK, now I have to ask — what’s your sign? Because I’m a Cancer and the whole homebody thing resonates with me, big-time.
IH: I’m a Taurus, and I truly believe astrology plays a big role in your life’s path!! I am a true homebody — I prefer a hot cup of tea on my couch and watching a great film on a Friday night over all else. I always joked that I can’t wait until I’m older, so spending my Saturday mornings watering my plants and fluffing my bed pillows is socially acceptable. When I first met my husband he secretly loved this about me so he could join in. This still rings true with our now 1-year-old son — cooking dinner in the house and eating on our roof is our Friday night dream.
SC: So once you decided to start your family, what challenges did you expect to encounter in becoming a working mom?
IH: Honestly, having a child was the one thing I’ve experienced that I never felt truly prepared for and had zero expectations on how I would feel. When Austin was born, I enjoyed every minute on maternity leave, and when it was time to go back to the office, I felt like I had a strong community at work so it wasn’t a harsh transition. It’s a constant balance finding time for yourself, your family, and your career. The key is to make sure each of those pieces feel good. It didn’t matter what other moms were doing – I kept my horse blinders on and used how I felt as my guide.
SC: How do you personally define fulfillment?
IH: It’s ultimately a feeling. That nagging feeling of “MORE MORE MORE” just subsides. You stop looking outside yourself or at others, and you are just so grateful for it all. If I ever steer away from this feeling, I practice more gratitude and always remember a quote from one of my mentors, Terri Cole “Do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t.”
SC: Big question — Are you happier now in your thirties than in your twenties?
IH: Amazing question! Honestly I used to dream every night for what I have now, and didn’t live in the moment or appreciate my twenties at ALL. I laugh at those nights. If I had known where I’d end up now, I would have enjoyed those days with a bit more ease and not worried so much.
SC: What’s your life motto?
IH: Always be grateful for what you have in your life and never ever compare — you’re comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides.
This post is sponsored by DOVE® Chocolate.