I’ve known Nicole Novick, the founder of fine-jewelry label Garland Collection, for years, so when it came time to nail down who I’d want weighing in on what it’s truly like being a young working mom—she was first on my list.
A former fashion editor, Nicole built her eight-year-old company herself, and in just a few years, we’ve seen her jewelry written up in the New York Times and on the covers and pages of Elle, Vogue, Teen Vogue, and InStyle. And, oh yeah—she welcomed twin boys (!!!), Crosby and Sawyer, four years after launching her brand.
Here, the New York–based designer and mother is refreshingly candid about everything from her actual birthing experience to that one thing people don’t tell you about post-pregnancy.
StyleCaster: Did you work before having kids? How long afterward did you go back?
Nicole Novick: Garland Collection was already a few years old when I had the boys, and I was also still freelancing as a writer for magazines and websites. I returned from the hospital with deadlines to meet and orders to fill. Unfortunately, I did not have a plan in place that would allow Garland Collection to run smoothly if I was not taking on the brunt of responsibilities.
Going right back full steam is the one thing that I regret from that time and, while I could never remove myself from my business completely, if I were to have another child, I would do a much better job delegating so that my children could be my focus at such a precious time. My babies were just fine, but I can’t get that time back.
Has your sense of style changed since having kids? How?
I wouldn’t say my sense of style has changed, but I used to wear platforms or heels every day, and I’m now a big collector of chic daytime flats.
Any pieces you’d never wear now that you used to?
I recently came across pictures of myself on the beach prebabes in a teeny string bikini, which has long since been retired. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have reveled in that bod a bit more! Ironically, despite my new penchant for one-pieces, the stretch marks and even scars that I now keep covered have felt like little sacrifice for my two healthy babies. When I’m playing in the sand with my laughing and carefree boys, my wayward abs are the last things on my mind.
What’s surprised you the most about motherhood?
The extent to which your priorities shift. See bikini body above!
What’s the one thing nobody ever tells you about actually giving birth?
For me it was the postbirth night sweats. It’s remotely possible that one will spend the month after giving birth waking up soaked in their own sweat—to the point of wringing out one’s clothes and sheets. In fairness, I’ve heard that this does not happen to everyone … but still!
What do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Breakfast is an English muffin with butter and a shameful half pot of black coffee. I rarely eat a proper lunch, so it’s usually an apple between meetings or cashews, more coffee and an apple at my desk while I work. My husband’s peeve is the banana peels and fruit cores that he finds littered in our cars from my daily on-the-go “meals”—you’d think I’m a zoo animal.
If I pick the boys up from school, I’ll eat sliced avocado, cheese, and veggies with hummus while they’re having their snack in the late afternoon. As for dinner, during the week I try to avoid meat and pasta. I would happily eat steak and spaghetti Bolognese for every meal, but this routine has helped me to enjoy them in moderation without feeling deprived. I love to cook, so I’ll make hearty vegetable or bean soups, various spaghetti squash dishes, or I’ll put together salads loaded with feta, nuts, quinoa, and raisins when I’m in a rush. On the weekends I eat like I’m on death row.
What brands did you wear most while pregnant?
I was not one of those sexy pregnant women that could get out of wearing maternity clothes, yet I outgrew designer [pieces] by the beginning of my second trimester. My stomach was measured at twelve weeks, and it was the average size of a woman’s at five months. The one staple I could still rely on were my beloved Nation Ltd. T-shirts. The oversized ones paired with leggings, a sleek Dries blazer and heeled Costume National or Prada boots became my event uniform.
For day, I ordered a ton of easy dresses from the ASOS maternity line and picked up oversized solid boyfriend sweaters and wide-legged jeans from Gap Maternity. Basically, I kept my pregnancy wardrobe simple and economical and then piled on jewelry.
What’s the one piece of advice you give friends expecting their first baby?
Take care of yourself and your relationship with your significant other. Work if you want to work, get dressed up and have regular date nights, find a way to go to the gym or have your nails done without the guilt of leaving baby behind. Balance is the key to everyone’s happiness. It’s a trickle-down theory.
Did you get an epidural? Why or why not?
We were living in Los Angeles and my water broke at 7:30 in the morning. Our families were in New York and, as soon as they heard that “their babies” were coming made a mad dash to JFK with my 91-year-old grandmother in tow. We already knew that I’d need a C-section, as “Baby A” was breech and blocking “Baby B,” so my wonderful OB agreed to monitor me throughout the day, deciding that if it was safe to hold off delivery until our loved ones were present then we could do so.
Our families arrived at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles at 10 p.m., and I was wheeled into delivery right after. By that point, I had long since requested and received an epidural following my first minor contraction, which was no more than a cramp. I love my family, but I know my limits and fourteen and a half hours of labor without one was just not happening. Also, it should be said that, if offered, I will never turn down drugs when I know there are doctors and heart paddles present.
What three beauty products did you swear by while pregnant?
I’d never been so itchy in my life, and a nurse recommended using Aveeno moisturizer and it saved me from madness. My skin changed dramatically while I was pregnant, and I became much more sensitive to the sun. I used any sunscreen available, but I’d now rely on Beautycounter’s sun sticks. They are pocket sized, easy to apply, and safe for mom and baby. I’m forever addicted to classic cherry Chapstick, but at that time, I could have used an intervention.
Any time-saving beauty tricks you rely on now?
I don’t even own a hair dryer, so I’m generally low maintenance. But, because I’m always showing jewelry—and often on Instagram for the world to see—I want my nails to look nice despite my lack of time and patience to sit for weekly manicures. Instead, I get gel manicures every three weeks to make my bright-red polish last.
What’s your idea of the ultimate indulgence?
Drinking a glass of champagne in my upgraded first-class seat next to my husband with a pile of magazines and books on the tray table that I may or may not read because they are next to my sleep mask. We could literally be going anywhere. Italy would be a bonus.
Any secrets to getting kids to bed?
Routine. Our bedtime routine has only been slightly modified since they were born. They get a bath, jammies, then books. I think the pattern is so ingrained that my boys don’t realize they can fight it. Please don’t tell them.
What books or websites did you read when you first became a mom?
I try to stay away from a lot of material on the Internet that may be ill-informed, as well as books that are too preachy or judgmental. The one book that I found enlightening and relatable to my own maternal tendencies was Bringing up Bebe, writer Pamela Druckerman’s memoir about raising her kids as an expat in Paris and discovering the “wisdom of French parenting.”
What do you do on the weekends to keep your kids entertained?
We play outside as much as possible. Our kids are sport junkies. so if they have a ball and a bat, club, racket, or stick, they are happy campers. They also garden with me or we do projects around the house—kids love to be helpers. When it’s just too cold to be playing outside, we’ll bake together, go out to eat, visit museums, or take drives. We’re big road-trippers.
What time do you wake up, and what time are you in bed?
My boys are my alarm clock. They climb into bed with us and I’ll doze for a few, but I’m usually up by 7:15. I try to get into bed by 11 every night and I’ll read or watch TV until I fall asleep, hopefully by midnight.