Breakfast with Gabrielle
It’s Breakfast time again! This week you’ll want a generous helping. Gabrielle Blair is a New York-based designer, mother of five (OK, so I have a soft spot for that particular trait), and the blogger behind Design Mom, named a Top Motherhood Blog by the Wall Street Journal. If you aren’t familiar with Design Mom, don’t worry — there are at least four of you out there! 😉
CC: Please give us an intro to who you are, what you do, and your family parameters.
GB: I’m Gabrielle Stanley Blair. I was formerly an art director and graphic designer by profession, but just last year my work hours filled up with blogging and kirtsy — I’m loving this second career. My husband and lover is Ben Blair. We have 5 kids: Ralph, Maude, Olive, Oscar, and Betty. They are really good kids. I hope we have more. I also write at Cookie’s Nesting blog.
CC: Your blog is, uhm, insanely popular. What prompted you to start blogging? How did your huge and loyal readership evolve?
GB: Gosh. Thanks! I’m blushing from reading your kind words.
I started blogging a couple of years ago, when my youngest baby was born. I’m prone to some pretty serious post-partum depression, and I knew that being creative helped me manage it. Blogging was a perfect solution. I could do it in my PJs, in the middle of the night. And it was free. If I skipped a day, no one cared. Just the sort of non-commitment a new mother needs.
But I rarely skipped a day, because I LOVED it. And the more consistent a person is with blogging, the more one’s readership tends to grow. Which is what happened with my blog.
CC: In addition to your “day job,” where you must be creative nonstop, do you have “extracurricular” creative pursuits?
GB: For sure. I love when I get any opportunity to flex my graphic design muscles — like making a poster for school or a flyer for church. And creative projects with the kids are pretty much non-stop. We had a great time making gifts for each other during December. I still dream of designing textiles.
CC: You have five kids, a demanding career, a serious blog commitment, and everything that goes with busy urban family life. What are your time-management strategies?
GB: Hmmm. I feel like my schedule, and how I manage, it changes from week to week. Working from home certainly helps keep me flexible. I also put my kids to bed pretty early and take full advantage of the time they are sleeping — those evening hours are some of my most productive.
CC: Where do you do your creative work and blogging?
GB: Computer work happens mostly in my home office. We carved a rough office space in the back of our garage. Non-computer creative work happens at the kitchen table and is often interrupted by meals.
CC: What do you struggle with most?
GB: Keeping my fridge stocked with chocolate milk for more than 48 hours.
CC: How much does guilt factor in your life?
GB: I’ve mostly said goodbye to guilt. But I have found that our home life works most smoothly when I’m home and concentrating on the kids from after-school through bedtime — no computer allowed to me during those hours.
CC: Where do you find inspiration?
GB: I find inspiration pretty much everywhere. Most recently, I was inspired by the holiday windows at Bergdorf’s. I don’t know who does those windows, but I need to find out and send some fan mail. They are unbelievably gorgeous.
CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
GB: Candy. I’m a complete addict. Not really for chocolate, but for straight-up sugar. Pear Jelly Bellys and Life Saver’s Wint-o-Greens are my favorites. I never say no to Swedish Fish or Sour Patch Kids.
CC: What are you reading right now?
GB: Two books: An advance copy of Kathryn Center’s new novel, Everyone Is Beautiful. It’s so good! I’m also deep into In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It is life-changing.
CC: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to be more creative?
GB: Don’t think about it too hard — just do something. When I started my blog, I remember hating that I was using a standard template, because I am a designer for goodness sakes! I should have a really cool custom design, right? But if I’d waited to make the perfect design, I would never have started. I’m two years in and I’m still working on the perfect design. 🙂
CC: Thank you, Gabrielle!
It sounds like you live such a full, rich life. I’m glad to hear that guilt is not really a factor for you. It’s something I’ve been struggling with lately (that, and a perfectionistic steak that’s even making me nuts), so it’s encouraging to know that you can be productive without putting yourself through an emotional wringer.
I love Swedish Fish, too, by the way. When I was little, my mom made me a makeshift fishing pole (dowel rod+string+simple hook), and I would “fish” from the recliner, throwing my line over the back where I couldn’t see anything. My “fish” would wriggle and tug, and I’d have to fight it like a Blue Marlin, until it would suddenly appear in all its Swedish Fishy glory. Fishing with mom is one of my favorite childhood memories.
we have the same milk problem here! 4-6 gallons a week, and only 2 kids in the house drink it! (one is still on mom’s milk)
love the 2 upper photos! so much texture!
you’re another amazing woman who seems to balance it all well. i struggle to do so without a fulltime job. although i’m pretty good about the guilt factor now.
Awesome work – awesome blog! It is very inspiring to hear a woman say “I have FIVE kids – they’re great – I want more!” Because, for as much work as that many children are, it really is mostly about the attitude. Anyway, love your work –
Design Mom is probably my #1 favorite Mom blog if I had to pick just one. Enjoyed reading the interview and glad to hear there is at least one other woman out there who loves candy as much as I do! Watermelon sour patch are one of my favorite indulgences. Also, really love the picture of the bowl. Beautiful colors!