The Transition from Working Woman to Working Mom
MEET MAMMA + MERCHANDISER
LAUREN BAPTISTA | OWNER + FOUNDER
My name is Lauren Baptista but most people call me Lo. I live in Fort Worth, Texas with my husband, Luiz, and my little one year old, Moses, and our two basset hound mixes, Eloise and Linus! I grew up right outside of Fort Worth and always thought I would travel the world. I ended up going to TCU for my undergrad and met Luiz. Luiz is from Portugal and his life was spent traveling the world from country to country. So, instead of getting to travel around the world … I just married someone who already had. In 2012 I adopted our pup Eloise, graduated from college, started my first job, bought a house and got married. We have really planted our roots here in Fort Worth and hope to continue to!
How did you get into your current job and how did it turn into a career?
I actually have 2 jobs, plus, a new venture into Young Living oils as of 2 weeks ago! My everyday job is at a retail store called Climate here in Fort Worth. I had just graduated from TCU with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and was on the hunt for my first “big girl” job. I had always worked retail throughout college and thought I would want to continue on with the company I had been working for. When I didn’t get the merchandising position that I thought I would, it was a blow to the gut and confidence. But, I can see now why I didn’t! The Lord brought my current boss into the picture about a week later. He was opening a new retail store and needed a manager. After a second interview over chips & salsa, I got the job! I knew literally nothing about managing a retail store. The only thing I knew was that I now had a degree in the fashion world and that I loved clothes and people. I had so much say in the store early on. The owner even asked for my input in decor and it really started to feel like it was my own little lovechild. After a lot of up’s and down’s my first… probably two years… I felt like I was finally getting the hang of it. (Never fully because let’s be honest… we’re all kind of fakin’ it til we make it.) After my 3rd year at the store, I was pregnant with Moses! By this point I had a lot of roles at Climate - operations, buying, merchandising, social media, etc. The owner was incredibly gracious in working with me and figuring out the best route to go as far as being a mama/manager. After having Moses I took a 3 month maternity leave (which happened to be over the busiest retail time of the year - Christmas. Oops!!!) and then came back in January part time to do the operational, buying & social media. I’m now just running those things to my best ability part time at the store while getting to bring Moses with me.
Our other venture is small but existent (and so fun) photography business! When we were dating we both talked about our interest in photography. We ended up shooting weddings separately during this course of time and came to the grand conclusion that we should be doing this together! We started our business in 2011 and named it Lion Heart Image. It started off as a hobby that we both dabbled in here and there. After a couple of years of dating, then marriage, we kept consistently getting weddings! It’s hard for me to think of our photography business as a career because it’s always felt like an extension of our love for it. Never a job. But we are currently still shooting around 6-8 weddings a year (which includes engagement and bridal shoots). So I guess we could call it a part-part-time career! Ha!
The Young Living oils business is so new and fresh. I haven’t even really began to wrap my mind around it. My friend Tricia introduced me to oils about 3 years ago and we’ve used them everyday since. I have never been a huge fan of taking medicine or going to the doctor, so this was a more affordable way to take care of my body and not have to do those things! Plus, the oils smell so good… most of the time! It also has been a great way to aid Moses’ health without having to put a lot of chemicals into his body. So fast forward to 2 weeks ago and Tricia approached me about really pursuing an income from the company. I was really, really hesitant at first but wanted to do the boot camp she recommended to learn more about the process and the system. I’m currently in the middle of the boot camp and I can honestly say the Lord is opening some doors and I’m really excited to see where He takes it!
Before you had Moses, what did the day to day of your work life look like?
B.M. (Before Moses) life seemed to move a lot slower! I was at the shop 40+ hours a week. One of those days always being a Saturday. It was really rare for me to get a Saturdays off and when I did we typically had a wedding to shoot that day. My life basically revolved around work. Not in a bad way - just naturally! When I was up at the store I felt like I was a plate spinner that you’d see in a circus. The first two years of establishing our store and my role in it was hard. Lots and lots of growing pains. I learned how to manage staff (in a loving, relational way), buying, social media presence, time management and customer relation. Everyday was really different and I liked that! I got to talk to new customers and invest in their lives. I was able to stretch my creative side with switching up the layout of the store or taking photos of product to post on our social media platforms. I loved creating new projects that we could do to improve the store. On the Lion Heart end of the spectrum, I handled all of our brides. Met with the couples to really get to know their story, sent all the paperwork to ensure our tracks were covered and would make sure the product was delivered in a way that represented our brand well! Luckily Luiz is an editing wizard so he took care of that part!
When you found out you were pregnant, did you know you wanted to continue working after you had him? What did that decision process look like?
When I found out I was pregnant I knew we couldn’t afford for me to quit working but I also knew we couldn’t afford to put Moses’ in daycare. Nor did I really want to put him in daycare. I have always struggled with this. I have always thought of myself as a working mama but things really changed for me whenever he was born. Mom guilt is real and it comes quickly after having your first baby! (More on that down below.) Or at least it did for me. I really processed with Luiz what working would look like for our family. We discussed our finances and what was/wasn’t realistic for us. After praying a lot about what road I was supposed to walk down, the Lord really paved the way for me. My boss was immediately gracious in discussing his desires to keep me at the store and what his expectations of my role would look like. He has been in the retail business for 20 years and he raised his 3 kids while owning his other store in town. If anything, he was able to really relate and reason with me because he had already walked down this path. It was actually his suggestion to bring Moses with me! (LIKE WHAT?!) I was shocked that he was so on board with that idea.
I think I’ll always work… but then again my ways aren’t the Lord’s ways! I’ve been doing a lot of self digging these last couple of months. Trying to figure out what my passion(s) are. (Thanks Young Living bootcamp!) What my dreams are, the realistic aspect of them and how I can achieve them. It’s a lot to think about. And at times incredibly overwhelming to even tap into. But through these things I am learning that I’ve let my role in my career really define who I am and my worth. Which is not where my worth is found. So! Will I be a stay at home mom full time one day? Not sure at this point. But if I am, my worth and identity aren’t found in that label. Will I continue to be a working mom? Not sure about this one either. I need to remember wherever I am spending my time, doesn’t define me either.
What does your day to day work life look like now that you have a family?
Each morning really looks the same. Luiz is a huge contributor to our morning routine. He typically feeds Moses’ breakfast while I finish getting ready for work. Which is really sweet for me knowing that his dad is taking time in the morning to really build a foundation and relationship with him while allowing me some time to become presentable! Luiz most likely is instilling manners, scripture or worship songs during their time together. Moses and I will head to work and leave around his second nap time to head home.
Everyday still looks different at the store! I now only work M-F which in the retail world is a dream come true. I didn’t realize why people hyped up the whole T.G.I.F. bit but now I totally get it. I try not to talk about how much I look forward to the weekend with my employees because they’re hustling hard during that time. During my time there, I really focus on the buying. I now take care of all departments - mens, womens, kids, shoes, accessories and so forth. I travel to different markets to look at new lines & to see collections of current lines. Moses was able to travel with me to those when he was smaller but now I enlist my tribe to swoop in and help watch him the days I am needing to go to market. The store feels like my lovechild even though I’m hardly on the floor. I’m always looking for ways to improve it. Whether that is bringing in a new line that I think will do well or remerchandising the store. I have to be incredibly flexible with having Moses’ at the store with me. Especially when I book meetings or appointments. It’s harder then I thought it would be. I want to make sure that I am loving him well as his mama and that I am doing justice to the store as an employee. Moses’ is really loved by my staff here and they’ve been such a huge help in just snatching him up from the backroom to love on him so I can squeeze in a couple of uninterrupted minutes. I’m learning to really lighten up on my own expectations of what I can do. It has been hard for me to go from being able to accomplish so many things in a day to maybe getting 1 or 2 tasks knocked off my list.
As far as Lion Heart goes, when we have a wedding booked on a weekend, we will have Luizs’ sister babysit for us! We are always asking for help from our close friends to help out when we have smaller shoots planned as well. (It takes a village!) Sometimes Luiz or myself will go solo to the shoot if it is a senior or family and doesn’t need the both of us there. All of the editing and emails get done during Moses’ nap time or after bedtime now. We’ve spent many nights burning the midnight oil to meet our deadline!
What challenges have you had to overcoming in striving toward a work / life balance?
I feel as though there was a lot of strategy that had to take place when I started back at work. I have to really utilize my hours well. It helps that I have always been a planner because now I truly have to plan out when I will run errands, clean the house and even go to the park/play with Moses. Our days tend to rush by so Luiz made us a family plan about a month ago. We really wanted to focus on protecting our time together as a family. “Protect this house” as he likes to call it. We try to be really intentional in the days/times that we have together. We try not to book more than 3 things per week night. Saturday mornings are for family time and outings. (If we don’t have a wedding that is!)
I really feel like I had to lighten up on myself. Give myself more grace. I had to grasp that Moses is a human with his own likes and dislikes too! For some reason I really expected every day to look the same. He’d sleep when it was nap time, he’d eat his meal during mealtime and would play in his respective play area without fussing. That idea was shattered pretty quickly whenever I realized that his brain is growing and absorbing so much of what’s around him! Everything is new for him. Of course he’s curious! Of course he likes a certain food over another! It was such a hard concept for me to grasp. I had to change my mindset that even though yesterday looked a certain way, today or tomorrow may look completely different. That was hard for me! I’m such a creature of habit and love to be in control of situations… so, having Luiz to really walk me through that was so helpful! I have learned to take that approach into my workplace as well. Even though I was able to accomplish x,y, and z yesterday… doesn’t mean that I’ll be able to do that today or tomorrow. Grace upon grace upon grace.
If you could give one word of advice to working women what would it be?
We are in this together! Trust your gut! Everyday is a new day! Wow. So many. These are things I have to repeatedly tell myself! Also, lean hard into the Lord because he knows your heart and knows what you need. He also knows your babies’ hearts better than us mamas do!
I know the question only asked for one word of advice, but I just want to address mom guilt! It’s real. The second Moses’ was born the little lies of incompetency started to flood in my mind. There is no right or right wrong to love your baby! (Except if you’re not meeting their basic needs, obvi.) BUT I think it’s important to remember what works for your family and for you as a mama, may not work for other families or is best for other families and that’s okay! If you’re loving your babies the way you best know how, trust that and go with it! We are all in this together. (Cue High School Musical!)
What’s your favorite thing in your fridge right now?
My favorite thing in our fridge is a bottle of Panda Express sweet chili sauce! HA! I love this stuff on white rice. Or pickles. I have too many forms of pickles.