Wonder Woman: Margot Elena

It's been a new year's intention of mine to more actively celebrate the work of women and girls doing incredible, inspiring things! Therefore, I'm starting a Wonder Women series where I'll be sharing the stories of women both locally in Denver and beyond! Since I'm Denver-based and have the privilege of being surrounded by a community of fearless females, I'm starting local...

Meet the amazing Margot Elena! 

Margot Elena

Margot Elena is the creator, founder, and designer of beloved global indie beauty brands Lollia, TokyoMilk, Love & Toast, Library of Flowers, and The Cottage Greenhouse. I'm sure you've seen her beautifully packaged goods in retail shops nationwide...I've been a big fan for awhile now. 

It was a pleasure teaming up with Margot for a giveaway (see my Instagram post) and interviewing her to learn more about how she's sustained and scaled a growing indie beauty company on her own terms, in her own way.

How long have you been in business?  

My mother is a fine artist and teacher, and I have always admired how she answers the question how long did it take you to paint that painting?  She answers, “About 40 hours and 50 years.” So, I can now confidently say, “Over 20 years plus another 20…I started making and selling in third grade and never stopped!"

What was the original inspiration for creating your own company?  

I actually recently found one of my ORIGINAL hand drawn catalogs and this is what I wrote those many years ago, “A very new, very natural, very grassroots company. We are a company of women of all kinds in mind. Our woman is charmed by the mysticism of the every day natural world. Our products are about a lifestyle. We are about enjoying life and stopping to notice all of the beautiful things along the way. Body & Soul.” And wow, hey, young me, I STILL really mean that today. So that’s pretty remarkable! 

How have you done things differently in your industry? How have you been able to listen to your intuition and ignore the naysayers?

When I started there were very, very few independent bath and beauty makers. It is weird to say today, but true, that I am one of the original Mama’s to this whole independent bath and beauty industry. When I started our customers didn’t even know what a shower gel was. I helped to push the boundaries in micro beauty to include perfumes—I truly was one of the first indie houses to bring perfumes out of the mall and into independent stores. 

I suppose that, another great saying from my father, is that I always “kept puttin’ one foot ‘fore the other.” I just had a vision and I realized I could learn nothing if I didn’t at least try. Often what I try works, but equally important are the times when things don’t work—this is where you really get to listen and learn. Those moments inform you how to move forward—they are only obstacles, and obstacles can be surmounted. And as for the naysayers, I just simply didn’t have time to listen because I was already on the path!

How does your dad continue to inspire you?

What was so incredible about my father, among many things, was his ability to paint a colorful picture in words. He was extremely smart, in fact he tested as genius, but he used words to paint a picture rather than to sound pretentious. They were short, clear and concise. Sometimes humorous, and always made you stop and think. He would repeat these words of wisdom and sayings over and over as we grew up so that they are so ingrained that they have almost become reflexive in uncertain situations where you just wish you had your Dad to talk to…but because he left me with these words of wisdom to lean on, its like he’s still always here. When you’re in the company, there probably isn’t a day that goes by that you won’t hear one of my dad’s expressions that will fit the situation perfectly.

What are your thoughts on failure? 

Funny—I’m afraid of a lot of things, but not failure. My father always told me to “just do something,” so overcame the word failure even being in my vocabulary from a very young age. There is no failure, only lessons we can learn from.

Thanks, Margot! 

And stay tuned for more features of fearless females in my monthly Wonder Women series.

xo,
Kimothy Joy

Paris: Quick Favorites

Bonjour!

We took a week long trip to Paris for our babymoon this February. I was 27 weeks along in my pregnancy and really felt it was probably the latest I'd be able to travel (somewhat) comfortably. I'm so glad we made the trip. Although the weather wasn't ideal with lots of rain - Paris will always be Paris and we enjoyed ourselves and our time being unplugged.

I want to share some of my favorite little gems and neighborhoods with you. I've been to Paris about four times now but am by no means an expert Francophile. Yet I am mesmerized by the city history, culture, art, food, architecture and just love digging in, researching, and discovering one-of-a-kind cafes, shops, streets, etc. A lot of you asked, so here's my list of recommendations!

If you have additions to this list, contact me and I can add! Let's share the wealth! P.S. - This doesn't really cover the standard touristy stuff. This is the stuff you have to dig a bit more for. I narrowed my list down to my top favorites so you're not overwhelmed, too! 

Also, had to paint this piece below, inspired by the getaway, which is available for sale in my shop.

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Where to Stay:
Both of these neighborhoods aren't too far from the big attractions. Walkable and near metro stations.

Le Marais - More hustle and bustle, hip, but some of the oldest narrow streets in Paris.
Latin Quarter - Feels more residential, quiet, older, local crowd.

Favorite Breakfast / Brunch:

HolyBelly
BigLove
*or just hop into any cafe/patisserie for a cappuccino, fresh juice and croissant

Food Market:
There are so many of these and some with incredible longevity/history. However, this one was my favorite and near where we stayed in Les Marais. 

Le Marche des Enfants Rouge - The oldest market in Paris - over 400 years old! Go for lunch and eat at the Moroccan stall - Le Traiteur Marocain! Closed Mondays. Covered so go anytime of year.

Shopping:
My favorite neighborhoods to shop in were Le Marais, Montmartre, and Canal Saint-Martin. On Sundays, lots of stores are closed but open in Les Marais area. We learned that the hard way. 

Merci - I'm obsessed with this design concept store located in Le Marais district.
Fleux - Again, this place is a really cool design concept store in Le Marais.
Ofr. -  Eclectic book and art shop. Really rad prints, magazines, etc. here.

Bar + Nightlife:
I didn't partake much in the nightlife scene but if you go anywhere, get a drink here. Located in Canal Saint-Martin.

Le Comptoir General - African cabinet of curiosities, banana beer, small concerts and movies, delicious cocktails and the best Instagrammable scene. Like...Alicia Keys casually performs here. Very low-key, NBD.

Lunch:

Kunitoraya - I have been to this Japanese Udon noodle spot again and again. There's always a line. I recommend it for lunch. Great for a cold day spent walking around and you want a hot, soupy dish!

Dinner:

Les Enfants Rouge - Call and make a reservation. Traditional, formal French dinner yet Japanese chef inspired.
Derrière - From the creators of Sketch and Momo in London, an apartment style restaurant with traditional + inventive food. Try the beef bourguignon, creamy foie gras terrine, salads...

Touristy stuff:

Louvre - Spend at least 2-3 hours here. Get tickets in advance to skip line.
Museo de Orsay - Favorite museum for Impressionist paintings galore. Get tickets in advance to skip line.
Saint Chapel - Surround yourself in amazing stain glass. You'll be mesmerized! 
Notre de Dame

Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart) Basilica - Make the pilgrimage to the church atop a hill with stunning views of Paris. Then wander behind it and through the old Montmartre neighborhood - home of Moulin Rouge and other brothels. Lots of shops, cafes near here. Skip the touristy ones and wander further for more low-key ones. Have an Aussie-inspired brunch at the Hardware Société  nearby. 

Linger + Wander here:

Monet's Gardens in Giverny - Take a train ride about 45 min outside of Paris to Monet's garden getaway. There's cafes and shops in the town, too. Go in spring, summer, fall.
Jardin de Luxembourg - I love this garden so much. Bring wine/cheese/bread and just sit. The statues encircling it are of 20 French queens. Go in warmer seasons.
Versailles - Worth it. About 40 min train ride outside Paris. Go in warmer seasons.

Resources:
Don't Be a Tourist in Paris: The Messy Nessy Chic Guide
Airbnb Neighborhood Guides

Happy travels!

xo
Kimothy

My Mother's Blessing

I’m 34 weeks pregnant now - feeling pretty HUGE, tired, yet hopeful. Her frequent hiccups and elbow jabs make me smile throughout the day and I’m in awe of this entire process. 

Before I take a hiatus to delve into this big shift and focus on nurturing this new life - I wanted to share my thoughts on having a Mother’s Blessing. Many of you asked about it after I previously shared. If you're interested in having one or hosting one, I highly recommend it! I encourage you to create a memorable event that marks the transition from woman to mother - one that is personal, intimate and celebrates your family lineage and culture. 

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When I first asked my friends if they were willing to plan a Mother’s Blessing in lieu of a Baby Shower, I wasn’t quite sure what I was wanting or what it would evolve into. I was inspired by the Navajo tradition called a Blessingway which is a sacred pre-birth ceremony and I had also recently attended a Dia de Los Muertos ceremony to honor my relatives. What I did know for sure is that I didn’t want all the material gifts and the stuff to be the focus of our gathering. I wanted to create a reflective, reverent space where I could hear my friends and family’s thoughts on motherhood, openly ask for their support during this transition, and glean every piece of wisdom and insight I could from all these incredible women in one room. 

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And I have to tell you this: having all the women in your life show up in one space, in one room, with open hearts and ready to contribute themselves to you genuinely, purely, vulnerably - it can create something so palpable and ELECTRIC. I really still can’t find accurate words to describe it.

All I know is that we need more of these gatherings everywhere and I hope you get to experience it, too - whether or not it's centered around motherhood.

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My other intention for this gathering was to honor the legacy and lives of the women that have come before me - calling for their wisdom and support to guide me in this journey. I wanted to sit still enough to feel my mom’s presence, her mother’s presence, and my great-grandmother’s presence. At the blessing, their photos were displayed similar to Dia de Los Muertos tradition. My friends found ways to incorporate my heritage in special ways through the food we served - Mexican, Italian, Polish which made everything come full circle for me in celebrating where we’ve come from - generations of families with dreams - generations of tenacious women who lived and mothered the best way they knew how. I will lift them up in gratitude for every single opportunity they afforded me in my life now. And in my daughter’s life. 

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In her poem “Our Grandmothers”, Maya Angelou wrote “I come as one but I stand as ten thousand” which sums up everything for me. We gain courage and conviction from the voices of those who've come before us. 

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The event consisted of small bites, drinks and casual conversation at the beginning, then after about 30-45 minutes we moved into another room where we sat on pillows in a circle, an array of candles and flowers at the center. I had asked each guest via the invite to bring a poem, quote, or memory they wanted to share about motherhood. There was no pressure for each person to share aloud, but everyone did, including my 13 year old niece Kaitlyn, which resulted in full on water work tears for the majority of the time! Everyone shared such sincere, raw stories of their own mothers or those who mothered them - all while acknowledging that motherhood is never perfect - it is messy, tumultuous and a different experience for everyone. My dear friend Frances spoke powerfully about a greater divine mother's love that is available to each and everyone of us - one that can provide us solace during the imperfect, trying moments.

Thank you to my beautiful friends and family who joined me in an occasion I will never forget.

Other details of the event:

  • Small votive candles with Mother Mary were handed out. Each guest was encouraged to light their candle when they receive news that I'm in labor. 
  • Journal where each guest wrote small love note, left their poem or words of advice or whatever token they wanted to impart.
  • Flower crowns were made for me and each of the family members in attendance.

Florals and event design created by Frances of Prema Style.
Photography by Holly Hursley.
Invitations illustrated by May Engelstad of PocoPost.

Other resources on Mother's Blessings:
(book) The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou.

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