Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here.
My background is Greek and English/Irish. I grew up in San Diego and spent my summers from the time I was nine months to seventeen years old in Greece with family. I studied at the University of Arizona, Milanâ€™s Universita Cattolica and UCLA. During an extended time in Italy, I was exposed to both international design and architecture and pursued a career in Interior Design. I have always had a European sensibility and outlook, it is in my blood. I landed in Los Angeles in 2006 and now call it home. My daughter Valentina was born in 2015 and and with her birth my heart softened, my eyes opened, and I discovered several new passions and interests within me. My girlfriend and now business partner in Au liquid gold, Araceli, and I delivered our first borns around the same time. Durning that time she lived in Morocco and we would share a beer over the phone while we reviewed our days and exchanged all the new mama stories, funny moments, and our concerns and questions. We looked forward to our evening beer ritual as our daily treat and noticed that it would help with our milk supply and nursing. That is when the idea of Au liquid gold was born. We have spent the last two years working on our passion project and hope to help mamas everywhere feed their babies with the milk their bodies magnificently make while celebrating motherhood. I am passionatley dedicated to my family, giving my daughter the world, and living a full life.
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
Ari aka baby daddy 44 going on 20
Valentina Grace, my soulmate, 2.5 years
How did you choose your kids names?
Well, it’s not the best story, but…I remember hearing Selma Hayek had a daughter and named her Valentina. I was 25 at the time, years before I was married and/or pregnant. It was a name that really resonated with me as strong and feminine, two qualities I would hope for my daughter to have one day. When I was pregnant my husband and I made a list of names we both liked. His favorite name was Noa and mine was Valentina…very different!! We decided to wait until our little munchkin was born to name her. The morning after my delivery we looked at her and my husband’s first reaction was that “she is Valentina”. The origin of her name is Roman/Latin meaning healthy and strong. And that just about sums her up, very healthy, and always strong, at times frighteningly so!
Lala Land, West of the 405.
Mama Bear, Interior designer (a strong love for all design) and Co-Founder of Au liquid gold.
What’s on your manifest board?
My manifest board is endless and I add to it daily!! Personal growth is very important to me, I am constantly dissecting my feelings and reactions to people/situations and my surroundings with the goal of knowing myself better and growing as a woman, as a human. There is so much of the world I still want to see, South America and India being very high on my list. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and once we launch Au liquid gold in the US we want to take it abroad and grow the brand. I also have other company ideas I’d like to work on, but for now Au is my focus. My husband and I talk about leaving LA on a sabbatical, we fell in love with Bali and the locals on a recent trip. Maybe go be an expat in Bali for an extended period of time? I love the idea of this as I want to expose my daughter to other cultures and languages. I want her to truly understand how vast this world is and that her potential and reach is endless.
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
Mornings in bed eating breakfast, which usually ends up all over my bedding, while watching cartoons or reading a book, depending on V’s mood. Love a beach day, weekend hike and nap, early evening pool time session, and dance parties. V is recently into baking cookies with me so we do that often. She loves watching them bake and I save her from the oven and killing herself most of the time, standard toddler joys. Also, always love dinnertime and V pointing to our glasses and saying “daddy, wine and mommy beer” she loves making toasts us and saying “salud!”
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
Valentina likes to say “Bbaaalentina (her pronunciation of Valentina) DO IT.” Her way of saying back off and let me try. Her V’s sound like B’s because she is bilingual and speaks Spanish.
The first time V said “frog” it sounded like “f*&#!” and I was worried that she had overheard me in the car talking to myself and cursing moronic LA drivers (98% of whom are texting and driving). Once I realized it was “frog” it was my favorite word and couldn’t get enough of hearing her say it.
V calls my boobs “chi-chi’s!” She breastfed until she was one and we have a very open house with nudity, I don’t want her to have any complexes and would like for her to feel free and open. With this comfort being instilled at home, V will grab me and say ” mommy chi-chis!!” and laugh whenever she pleases. I love it and will be the sad the day it ends.
We recently went through the potty training process and let’s just say my daughter is not shy about where she goes potty. She will drop her underwear and pop a squat anywhere!! We are working on it, but there have been a few embarrassing moments with poop and strangers in public places!
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
I dreamt of being a successful business woman boss (that’s what my mama is), having a family, being in love with life, and being happy. Life as a wife, mama, and business woman feels very different than what I imagined as a teenager. As a 35 year old woman (not sure how that happened so fast!!) I dream of savoring every moment in every minute, hour, and day of my life. I have a newfound appreciation for time and making the most of mine with my family and loved ones. I am working on just being happy and accepting that happiness comes from life’s highs, but also overcoming it’s lows.
What are some things you really believe in?
Education. Loyalty, I am a Leo Lioness through and through. Karma. Being present. Being positive and it manifesting positivity and health in your life. Learning everyday!! Being kind to animals. Giving back. Count your blessings. Exercise and health, I need both for my mind and soul.
Where do your passions lie?
Family, my daughter and husband come before all. My mama, she instilled my dedication and work ethic and always supports me. The women in my life, I would not be who I am without their unconditional love and trust. Travel, health, cooking, music, dancing, learning, languages (I am fascinated by language and love listening to foreigners speak), a good book and the peace in quiet. Flowers and all of natures sweet aromas, I have a strong sense of smell. My runs and yoga, it’s my way to clear and calm my mind. Children and animals, the two most innocent and vulnerable beings and wanting to protect them and give them all a voice and sanctuary. Dinnertime, it’s my favorite time, I love being around a table with people I love and sharing a good meal. Beer/wine/good tequila, mama loves a drink!
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids?
This is a big question and one I have been brutally honest with my husband and the women in my life about. Marriage and having a family has been very different than what I grew up thinking it would be. Being a wife and mama are the hardest jobs a woman can have and require endless work and patience. We got pregnant on our honeymoon, so we didn’t have the chance to really enjoy being newlyweds. Having V has been our biggest blessing and has taken a tole on our relationship. We have had some very dark moments and experienced low lows in the last two plus years. You go from being one others everything, your partners priority before starting a family.
When you introduce a baby to the mix, the baby naturally becomes the focus for both of you and naturally babies are incredibly selfish (babies don’t know any better and selfish is not always a negative), so you can quickly lose your connection with your partner. At the beginning you are both sleep deprived, our bodies as women are healing post growing a baby for ten months and then delivery, and the peace and quiet you had before at home is a distant memory. My husband and I have had to find, and continually working on maintaining our connection separate from being parents. We are mommy and daddy, but first we are wife and husband. Through therapy, acceptance and compromise, getting to know one another on a much deeper level, and sincere love we are working our way back to being “us.”
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard)
To let go, I am constantly trying to control everything around me. I have to have organization, order, and cleanliness around me in order to feel sane at all times. I have found that sometimes it feels really nice to let go and let what will be, be. I can’t control everything or everyone around me.
I’ve learned how to say no. I’m a people-pleaser and it has spread me too thin at times. At the same time and because of this, I have learned it’s ok to say no.
Everyone comes into your life for a reason, some people will be with you from the moment you meet them till the end of your time. Others come and go, but with meeting them and your experiences together they serve a purpose. I have had to let people go over the years that I didn’t feel enriched my life, brought me down, or required to much energy (in an unhealthy way). I’ve learned it’s okay to say goodbye.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
Enjoy school and stay in it as long as possible!!! Put down the baby oil and get out of the sun. Being an adult is not all that great, enjoy the innocence of youth.
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
I don’t like to look at being a mom as challenging, however I acknowledge that V challenges me everyday. I try to use every opportunity to grow and be a better mommy. Patience and slowing down have been the big areas for growth so far. I have to give my daughter 1000% of my attention when I am with her and I remind myself to breath when she tests my patience.
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
I want my daughter to see and experience all of the world. Through language and seeing different cultures you have the opportunity to see how grand the world is. I also want my daughter to see all the beauty and good in the world. While there is a lot of negativity in our world and I am not crazy about the direction we are going in as a society in many ways, there are so many beautiful people trying to bring good and have a positive influence on humanity, our planet, animals, and the future. I want my daughter to know she can make a difference.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
The women in my life, mamas and maidens
Alone time, my time
An adult drink, usually beer or wine
ABOUT DEME/ I am a San Diego native who now calls Los Angeles home. My background is Greek and English/Irish. I studied at the University of Arizona, Milanâ€™s Universita Cattolica and UCLA. During my extended period in Italy, I was exposed to both international design and architecture. Soon after, I pursued a career in Interior Design. After giving birth to my daughter, Valentina Grace in 2015, my focus shifted to spending time with my daughter. My goal is to provide her with a childhood rich in experiences, knowledge, and laughter. Like most other mamas, I am learning as I go on this magnificent and quite humbling journey called motherhood. I try not to be too precious and aim to build my daughter’s strength and confidence by feeding her little soul and mind. I have learned to dress comfortably while at the same time prepared to have everything we are both wearing destroyed. Kids are messy! Where I used to spend 7pm at the office or at Happy Hour, I now cherish the nightly bedtime ritual I share with my daughter. Our nightly routine which consists of bath time, a coconut oil massage, sharing dinner, reading Dr. Seuss, and endless singing, all of which occurs before she allows me to leave her room. Becoming a mama has given me an entirely newfound respect and love for my mama as this job is like no other!