Train Mom Chat With CEO of Styloko.com

by Sara

Shannon Edwards, CEO of styloko.com

Shannon Edwards, CEO of styloko.com

Being a busy working mom in New York City is just that… BUSY, and shopping for myself is just a luxury that I wish I had more time for. How many of you can relate? But then I heard about styloko.com, a new fashion site that basically does the shopping for you — kind of like an online personal shopper.  It organizes my favorite brands, gives me the 411 on trends (and sales) and lets me “shop the cover” from the top fashion magazines – a great “crash course” on style!  We had the pleasure of talking to Shannon Edwards, the CEO of Styloko.com, for a Train Mom Chat (#TMC) about how she balances fashion, work and two preschoolers.

1. Who is/was your working mom role model and why?

I like to think that every mother is a working mother and some of us just also have second jobs. While having an occupation might allow you (and require you) to bring on outside support, the truth is that the job of being a mother is universal in its requirements. So for me inspiration comes from all the women I know as a composite. I’m constantly looking for tips, tricks, ways of being for women in all stages of their life; from those who work with kids; and even from those who don’t have children. I’m fascinated by anyone who has found happiness and fulfillment in their lives and are able to nurture those around them. I even sometimes find myself mentally taking notes when watching movies or television…I’ll admit I have even found myself thinking on the odd occasion ‘What would Alicia Florrick do!’ (The Good Wife).

2. For the busy mom who wants to feel fashionable but doesn’t have time to shop, what are three tips to help them feel like they’re in-the-know?

Shopping can become a luxury that you don’t have the time to enjoy when you are being pulled in every direction. I’ve been quite single-minded in my professional quest to help solve for this issue. At Styloko we are working to find solutions to reduce the noise and get women to the products they want and need with tools such as visual recognition technology. The three things that I often use to feel fashionable and contemporary without making myself crazy:

  1. Know what suits you. Make a list of the shapes and styles that look best – and feel best – and stick with them. The same with color. Don’t be distracted by a brand you love or a color that is pretty. Once you have that list of your personal profile it makes shopping easier.
  2. Know your go-tos. I have certain brands that tick the box in every which way for me. I know that whatever they come out with next will be fresh, fashionable and make me look and feel good.
  3. Find your trusted sources. There are so many blogs, news sites, shopping sites out there. Take the time to find those that represent your aesthetic well and who you can trust for tips and advice. Then sign up for their email. I also email articles and ideas to myself. It’s a great way to scrapbook ideas. And you can review again when commuting or when you have a moment of silence.

3. What are your favorite closet essentials for a working mom? Both work-wear and mom-wear?

I’ve recently taken a strategic look at my wardrobe and spent some time thinking about what I wear to work, socially and at home. If you take the time to really put to paper what it is that you go back to time and again, you can then take about 50% of what’s in your closet to a charity shop! When I’m off duty I’m often exercising and for many years I’ve worn workout related attire, so I’m very excited about how it has advanced over the years to be a celebrated and accepted wardrobe staple. It’s actually where I have a little fun with color; and there is no harm in stocking up. While on the work front I have certain rules that eliminate all distraction for me: I only wear the colors that I enjoy and suit me. For me it’s roughly blue, grey, black. Boring? Maybe, but it makes shopping so easy. And as I mentioned above, I also have certain shapes that I wear. In both cases – at work and with the kids – comfort is king. And comfort no longer means dowdy or unfashionable. I like soft, synthetic materials that also wash easily (no more dry cleaning for me) and flattering pieces with a bit of stretch. I once read that the most successful innovators and creative geniuses wear the same thing day in and out because it reduces the stress and wasted time in making decisions. Something to take to heart.

4. What are the biggest shopping mistakes most women make?

They get distracted by bright, shiny, pretty things. Period. I once bought a lavender, patent, super shiny Versace bag in Rome. There was sun, there was wine. Considering nothing (I mean nothing) about that bag screamed ‘me’, it was the ultimate shopping mistake.

5. What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you about being successful in work and in life? And what would you want to share with young women entering the workplace today?

Take it day by day. And never give up. I live by those two mantras each day. Every drama, every upset, every mountain to climb looks a bit less daunting when you consider how much of it you can tackle in small bites. And you can’t give up. No one ultimately ‘has it all’, everyone struggles, but you need to be tenacious and believe that you can do anything.

6. Do you have any secrets to share on how to master the work/life balance?

Keeping life balanced is keeping a sense of humor about it all and giving life your best effort. Keep yourself healthy and be good to those around you. And don’t sweat the small stuff. It doesn’t matter if you can’t make it to something at school or be at a friend’s wedding or a million other places that are impossible to stretch yourself across, what does matter is that you are present (so put down that smart phone).

7. What inspires you to get out of bed everyday, go to work and do what you do?

My daughters. I work because I have to and I enjoy it. But I’m also working in the technology space and want a world where women are equally represented in this industry. It’s only going to happen if we don’t give up — because girls need role models and trailblazers so they can believe in themselves.

Shannon Edwards is a London-based writer, entrepreneur, online shopping expert who is currently the CEO of ‘fashion discovery’ site styloko.com She’s been in the consumer internet space for more than a decade, having worked at brands such as Netflix, eBay and ShopStyle. She has appeared on a number television programs around the world including the BBC, CNN, CNBC and ABC’s The View to provide fashion insight and expertise. Shannon is a mom of two preschoolers and takes it one day at a time.

Our Hearts Go Out to the Victims of the Westchester Train Accident

By Sara

Dear Train Moms and Dads,

A week ago today, the unthinkable happened to a mom and dads coming home from work, when a commuter train in Westchester, NY hit a car. Five people died, including a mom just like us, and dads just like our husbands.

That train is my usual train home from work, but on that night I worked later and took the next train, right behind it. For those of you who remember the 1998 movie, “Sliding Doors,” with Gwyneth Paltrow, about a woman whose life is forever changed based on which train she gets on — well this was reality for many people that day. That one sliding train door forever changed the lives of so many people and their families.

We are all just train moms and dads trying to go to work and come home to see our kids. It is crushing to think of this not happening for those innocent people who lost their lives that day. It is painful to think of the families left behind who have to face this dreadful nightmare and forever ask themselves, why didn’t their dad get on a different train car, or why didn’t their mom stop her car at the crossing.

“Why” is a tough word to live with.

On behalf of 2 Moms On a Train, we want to send our heartfelt condolences to all the families who lost loved ones and our thoughts go out to all the train moms and dads out there who ride the trains everyday, but now with a heavier heart.

Easy As Pie Paleo Apple Crumble

By Sara

For all you paleo, or gluten-free Train Moms, I am excited to share with you an amazing and extremely easy dessert recipe that I came up with that my whole family can’t get enough of — and it is MORE than a dessert, it is also great for breakfast or a mid-day snack.  My kids (and husband) keep asking me for more and I am starting to feel like I work at an apple pealing factory, but given the fact that it is sugar-free, paleo, gluten-free and 100 percent delicious, I just can’t say no. Plus it is SUPER easy!

Time:

Preparation: 15-20 min

Cooking time: 2 hours

 

Ingredients:  

5-6 Granny Smith apples (peeled)

Yellow raisins  1/2 cup

Pecan pieces 1 1/2 cup

Almond flour 1 cup

Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon

Butter 3 Tbsp

Coconut oil 4 Tbsp

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peal and slice the apples thinly and place in a Pyrex dish, until dish is filled close to the top.  You might need more apples depending on the size of your dish. Sprinkle the raisins amongst the apples and mix it up slightly so the raisins fall between the apples.  Melt the butter and coconut oil together.  Once melted, take off the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add in the vanilla extract, pecans and almond flour.  Mix together and then scoop it over the apples so that you cover the surface.  Place in oven in middle rack for 60 minutes, turn the oven down to 25o degrees for the remaining hour.   Dish is ready when the topping is browned and the apples are soft and slightly bubbling around the edges.   Depending on your oven you might need to keep it in at 250 degrees for another 30 minutes.

 

pie 1 copy pie 2 copy pie 3 copy

How To Eat it:

Eat it warm….pie 4 copy

eat for breakfast with a scoop of greek yogurt (for the non-Paleo eater)

eat it for a snack

eat it for dessert

 

 

 

 

Hope you enjoy it.  I would love to hear what you think @trainmoms.

 

 

Train Mom Chat with Digital Organizer, Lilli Weisz of Simplified

By Sara

We might be at the point into 2015 where we are done saying Happy New Year, but we are certainly not ready to give up starting our New Year’s Resolutions. So let’s tackle one of my top things to accomplish this year — getting “digitally organized.” You are probably asking yourself, what does that mean and how does this apply to me?  Think about the thousands of emails you have in your inbox, the hundreds of photos sitting in your iphone, and the constant conversations you have with your husband about what’s on the calendar for the week and why you didn’t know that your husband had a business dinner the night of the school play.  This my fellow Train Moms, is why we need to commit to being “digitally organized” in 2015.

For this week’s Train Mom Chat (#TMC), we turned to Lilli Weisz, a working mom, organizational guru, and founder of Simplified, a company that trains individuals, small businesses, schools and non-profit organizations to be digitally organized and productive.

What are three things every busy mom can do to keep digitally sane?

1. Have only ONE place where you keep a to-do list. pad of paper, Reminders, Evernote– the app isn’t as important as the fact that it isn’t scattered in various locations. Collecting your commitments in one place means you only have to look in one place to know what is on your plate.
2. Backup Backup Backup. Use an external hard drive as well as a cloud backup service to back up all of your important digital data. Set them to be automatic so that you don’t need to remember to do it.
3. Archive old emails. Keep your inbox current. All that email clutter makes it impossible to find and focus on the important emails.

Work emails and personal emails… So many to read! Any advice to help organize emails so we don’t forget to respond and know when to delete?

1. Prevention is key! If you find yourself receiving a lot of emails you don’t read (newsletters, Facebook or LinkedIn notifications, etc), it’s time for you to get on the unsubscribe train. Having so much clutter in your inbox, makes it difficult to find and focus on the emails that really matter. When you see an email that you want to unsubscribe from, just do it right away. The 10 seconds it will take you to unsubscribe will pay off exponentially in the amount of time you will save in the future. You can also do a search for the word “unsubscribe” in your inbox— that way you can find a whole bunch of newsletters at once.

2. Turn emails into actions. Email is best as a method of communication. Treat your email inbox like you treat the post mailbox at the end of driveway: it’s a stopping place for information, it is not a place to store information. Some people use their email inbox as a task management system, but it is not an ideal way of knowing what tasks you have at hand. After reading an email, step back and say, “what is the next action(s) I need to take regarding this matter?” Then write that action on a separate to-do list, outside of your email inbox. For example, your sister emails you about a fabulous restaurant she went to for a birthday party. That reminds you that your daughter’s 4th birthday is coming up and you need to plan for it. You write on your to-do list: “Call fabulous restaurant to find out costs for bday party.” You then archive the email. By archiving, you can still access the email, but you do not need to look at it every day.

What apps do you recommend every busy mom should have on their phone and why?

1. Evernote is my external brain! I can’t imagine living without it. Our brains are not designed to be storage facilities, they are designed to create and problem-solve. What technology has given us —by having a computer in our pocket at all times— is an opportunity to store every random bit of information that gets thrown at us throughout the day into one safe place. And that’s Evernote. No more post-it notes!
2. Fantastical is a brilliant calendar app.
3. CloudMagic is what I use to check email.
4. Dropbox is fabulous for looking at documents and for backing up photos.
5. Downcast is perfect for listening to podcasts and audiobooks in the car (warning: very addictive!).
6. 1Password is an essential tool for safely storing your passwords.
7. Drafts is great for quickly capturing text and sending it nearly anywhere.
8. Songza is where you go when the kids are out of the house and you want to dance around the kitchen to 80’s pop hits.

As moms we all have so many photos on our phones, what can we do with all of them? Any suggestions?

Most importantly: have a plan and stick with it. There are different strategies depending on your computer’s platform (Mac or PC), your comfort with cloud storage, the number of photos and videos you take, and how much you care whether your photos are lost, among other factors. Some key things to ask yourself:

1. If my phone was lost or stolen, do I have a secure backup of these photos elsewhere? If yes, is that place being backed up too?
2. If your photos are being automatically backed up elsewhere, how are you ensuring that it is happening? Is it backing up only over wifi? Are videos as well as photos being backed up?

My current personal system: As an Apple user, I take photos and videos with my iPhone. They are then automatically backed up to Dropbox. Once a month, I move them from Dropbox to iPhoto on my computer. My computer (including those photos) is backed up to a cloud service (CrashPlan) as well as an external hard drive.

Apple is about to release their new Photos app, so this could all change for Apple users— hopefully for the better!

What is the best “family” calendar option to keep track of every meeting, birthday party, dinner and soccer games?

Google Calendar. No question. Within your own Google Account, create a calendar for yourself and for each kid. Each calendar is a different color. You can share entire calendars or just certain events with your partners and care providers. It’s easy to view on the web and in all calendar apps on all devices.

Need help implementing any of these technological lifesavers? Give Lilli a call! As founder of Simplified, Lilli provides digital organization & productivity training for individuals, small businesses, schools and non-profit organizations. She specializes in helping busy people gain greater control of their lives through basic productivity principles and a better understanding of their technological tools. Based out of Nyack, New York, Lilli meets with clients in their homes or offices in the metropolitan NYC area. She also works remotely with clients all over the world via screen sharing. Contact/follow Lilli at lilli@simplified.so and @lilliweisz

Are you a social media mommy?

social-media-488886_640

by Kim

I consider myself to be social media savvy.   In fact I’m pretty sure that’s what it says on my resume…BUT I have to tell you sometimes I truly wish I wasn’t.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine –I mean it’s exhausting!

I mean when did we start having conversations in 140 characters or less. I majored in communications in college, and I LOVE to write; but when I’m on Twitter, I’m reverting to my 16 year-old Valley-Girl self using terms like “OMG UR SO GR8!” (please forgive the Valley-Girl reference, I grew up in the 80’s!)

And those silly Facebook quizzes…let’s be honest I’m married to a great man – do I really need to take a quiz to find out WHO I WAS MARRIED TO IN MY PAST LIFE? And do I really need to know WHAT COLOR MY AURA IS?  I already know my favorite color is Green, so I think it’s safe to assume my aura is green too.

Not to mention being on Facebook makes me feel bad about myself with posts like MISTAKES PARENTS MAKE WHEN FEEDING THEIR KIDS, OR GET ORGANIZED THIS YEAR, DECLUTTER YOUR LIFE. I knew it, the camera on our computer is showing the world just how messy my house really is!  Oh, and don’t forget the pictures.  You know the “perfect” picture of your “beautiful” friend with her “perfect” family on the “beautiful” beaches of insert-Carribean-island-here — which has you questioning “What the h-ll are we doing wrong?! Didn’t she just come back from Aruba?!”

Sometimes I like to tell myself that the reason I stay on top of social media is to keep up with everyone else and to be relevant – to make sure when my kids start to use it, I’ll have an idea of what the h-ll they are doing; which is a good thing, right? (Though truth be told I think I could have gone all my life without ever knowing what Snapchat was, I mean what the h-ll!!!)

Ever have a conversation with a friend who says “Oh, I didn’t see it, I’m not on Facebook;” and after you blurt out the obligatory “OMG, really, you’re not on Facebook?!!” – don’t you have a ping of jealousy?  I DO. Life is easier without social media.

Ok, so your friend might be a little out of the loop, and g-d forbid she actually has to pick up a newspaper (or read one online) to find out what’s going on, instead of getting everything instantaneously in her “newsfeed” (oh the horror!) And she might be deprived of ever knowing which Singer/Diva she is (another Facebook quiz, which by the way, in case you wanted to know I’m Adele ) BUT I can tell you, she might just be a better person than the rest of us; managing to live in the moment and have more real conversations with the people around her.

But let’s face it, social media is here to stay.  What I need to do is stop beating myself up about all the time I spend checking it; and let’s be honest, the two, little men who call me mom don’t care that I’m on my phone using it, they’re too busy fighting over who is going to get mom’s phone first!   (LMAO!)

 

photo credit: pixabay.com

 

Train Mom Chat with President of Equinox, Sarah Robb O’Hagan

By Sara

Welcome back to a new year of work and to kick-starting your New Year’s resolutions. No doubt most of you have “fitness” on your list to accomplish in 2015.  Each year, we make that extra effort to get our lives organized so we have more time to go to the gym.  For me, this seems to be a perpetual goal, and each year I look for people to inspire me to make fitness a priority in my life.   Well, who better than to share with us how to do it, than Sarah Robb O’Hagan, President of Equinox gyms.  Although she introduces herself best on her twitter account (@sarahrobboh), with the title of, “Workout Queen by morning, President of Equinox by day, Wife and Mum of Team Robb O’Hagan by night.”  We invited this work/family/fitness role model to be our first Train Mom Chat (#TMC) of 2015, and talk about how she juggles a demanding career and family, and still makes time for daily exercise.

Sarah Robb O'Hagan, President of Equniox

Sarah Robb O’Hagan, President of Equinox

1. How do you balance work, family and fitness?

I think for me it all starts with fitness. My fitness is the grounding to my life that makes me more productive and more able to balance all the other things that I have going on. I am fierce about protecting my morning time for my workout. I usually run, take a fitness class, work with a trainer or do Pilates. In each instance it enables me to start the day with time for me. It helps me handle the stresses of the day because I already know I achieved something important before my day even starts.  As it relates to family and work – I think its important to accept that life is really one big blur of both now thanks to the advent of the “mobile life”. So I am very comfortable interchanging from work to family and back again all through the week and weekend depending on all the places I am required to be.  Most importantly I try really hard to “be in the moment” no matter where I am at the time. If I am in a meeting at work I try not to multitask but to give me quality attention to the team and the topic at hand, and if I am with my family they also get me “all in”. I find this helps me fit in more because I am focused on the interactions I am having and the relationships I am developing.

2. What advice do you have for working moms who say, “I don’t have time to work out”?

Well I will tell you that I do hear that a lot. I also had plenty of moms tell me before I had kids that “something was going to have to give” and I’d probably not get so much fitness time any more. But I just don’t buy it. I think it all comes down to your own mental management and your own priorities. I do remember when I had my 3rd child that I suffered from terrible guilt because I had a lot of pressure on me work wise, and 3 kids that were aged 4 and under. And that was a time in my life where I let my fitness go because I felt I wasn’t meeting all of the needs of my family and my team at work. But in actuality I suffered and my contribution to those around me suffered because I just didn’t have the time to myself, and to be my best self. Once I stopped and recommitted to my fitness, I could clearly feel the difference in terms of how I was managing the pressure and delivering what I needed to.

3. To all the train moms out there… If they have 10 min to work out before getting the kids to school what would you recommend they do?

Gosh to be honest I don’t think 10 minutes is enough for a workout! If you only had 10 minutes to spare – actually I would spend it on meditation or diaphragmatic breathing. Something to help calm and center your mind before the stresses of the day.

4. If you had a motto — something that gets you up every morning and gets you going, what would it be and why?

Well I was profoundly influenced by the loss of one of my dearest friends when she passed away to Hodgkins Disease at the age of 33. (www.perkysam.com) She always used to sign her letters off with “Blue Skies Forever” and that is something I have carried forward as a motto that means a lot to me. It was her way of saying that no matter the tough stuff you are dealing with – there are always blue skies to be found behind those clouds. She taught me the critical importance of taking time just to BE and to enjoy the moment… she always said we are Human Beings not Human Doings!  I also never take a day for granted having seen such a talented incredible human being be lost just as she was beginning to realize her enormous potential. Whenever I see Blue Skies I smile and know that there is so much more for me to see and do and BE!

5. Tell us about a mentor or role model you have had in your career and what was the best piece of advice he/she ever gave you?

I was very influenced by my late father who was both a national representative rugby player and a very successful businessman. He always instilled in us that without risk does not come great reward and I am grateful to him for that philosophy that has pulled me forward at every turning point of my career.

Follow Sarah Robb O’Hagan on:
Twitter: @SarahRobbOh
Instagram: @SarahRobbOh
http://www.equinox.com

10 “small things” to be thankful for

By Sara and Kim

It is the time of year that we do a lot of soul searching, reaching out to family and friends, and thinking about what we are most thankful for — and family, health and happiness are sure to top the list. While we totally agree that these are all very important and longterm things to be thankful for, they do not necessarily bring us instant gratification. And sometimes, when you are busy living life and just trying to catch a train, it is that one little thing that can make you smile on the inside. So while you enjoy your weekend of family time, don’t let those special little moments of happiness pass you by without a little nod of thanks.

Here are 10 “small things” that Kim and I are giving a little thanks too this year:

1. Warm coffee in the morning
2. Cozy Pjs
3. Levain NYC chocolate chip cookies
4. Rainbows
5. Google calendar
6. Rosebuds Chapstick
7. Bravo
8. Express trains
9. Spanx
10. Peapod and Fresh Direct

Little things can be inspiring! So share the things that you are thankful for. Share them @trainmoms using #smallthanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Train Moms.

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