It’s amazing really (or embarrassing). I live here in the Midwest, I have been in business for almost three years and I just realized that there are some pretty bad-ass mamas just next door. These ladies are driven, passionate and best of all LOCAL. No, not everyone from Nebraska lives on a farm and yes, we have electricity (I have seriously been asked that).
Truth is, there is more to the Midwest than crops and Warren Buffet. There are smart, talented entrepreneurs and I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with a few of these women. Earlier in the week, I had an idea! Why not interview these mamas and get in inside look at their lives and why they do what they do in a new series, Mama Takeover.
Maybe you’ll meet someone new. Maybe you’ll find a new obsession (adorable baby leggings and headbands…yes please)! Maybe you’ll get some inspiration from their humble and courageous stories and take a risk of your own.
Alexis is a veteran mama (she just welcomed her second girl a few months ago) and is balancing a full-time job all while running her passion, Oh So Vera. She makes adorable baby clothes (caution mamas….this may make you want to have another) and I met Alexis through another fellow mama-preneur and owner of Paper Kit, Megan Magsamen. You may recognize Alexis as she was a brand ambassador for BFYB during her pregnancy. Take it away Alexis….
Tell us about YOU. Name, family, business.
Hi! I’m Alexis and I’m the owner/designer behind the children’s clothing brand Oh So Vera! But first and foremost, I’m a wife to my middle school sweetheart, Marcus, and a momma to my two precious peanuts, Elsa (2) and Rosie (3 months). On my maternity leave with Elsa, I started a few very small, simple sewing projects for her. I posted them on Facebook and that grew into a few orders for friends, which grew into a website to manage the orders coming in, and now a wholesale/retail company that’s keeping us busier than we could have ever imagined.
How did you come up with Oh So Vera?
I grew up around sewing as my mom taught me some basics and my grandmother was an amazing seamstress. My great-grandma, Vera, passed down her 1950’s Singer sewing machine to me and that’s what I used for the first several months while launching my new business. Vera was a classy, yet vibrant southern belle who was always dressed a little bit over the top in high fashion. So our children’s clothing/accessories line emulates her style – things that are oh, SO Vera! Bright, colorful, whimsical, bold and sometimes a little over the top!
What is your dream job?
Ideally, I would love for Oh So Vera to be my full time gig – but primarily the creative business side of it. While I love sewing, I’d love to be able to hire out the labor part of the business so I could focus on new ideas, designing, and marketing — my real passions!
What is your guilty pleasure?
I love a good crime drama – whether that’s a series, movie or tv show. I could watch Dateline or 20/20 ALL day. #grandma
Biggest mom guilt confession?
I really wanted to “have it all” when it came to being a wife, mom, friend, career woman and entrepreneur. But I quickly realized that there are only so many hours in the day and I can’t always be 100% focused on all of those things at the same time – anytime I say “Yes” to one area, I’m automatically saying “No, not right now” to the others. I know I’m a happier (and better) working mom, and probably always will be to some degree. But of course, I’ve felt guilt about my decisions – I think that’s a natural mom thing to do! So I’m just following what I know is my plan for us for the time being, and am always open to where new doors will lead!
How do you balance work and play?
We work hard and play hard…with not much in between. When my husband, Marcus, and I come home from work (and of course, our time on the weekends) its family time. Anything related to either of our jobs or Oh So Vera takes a back seat until kids are napping or sleeping. We make this a priority because that’s our quality time with Elsa and Rosie and we want that to be uninterrupted and meaningful for them. It’s worked really well for us to ensure that our kids and each other are our first priority, yet it still affords us time to pursue our goals.
Any fun life hacks you want to share (secret stain remover, how to distract a toddler for more than 2 minutes)?
If you work or have an activity-packed schedule, planning ahead is key! We are now trying to get clothes out, bags packed and plans made a day ahead of time so we aren’t struggling/stressing to get things going when we are in a time crunch! It’s a work in progress, that’s for sure! But if anyone had secret stain remover, please send it my way! Elsa is a HOT MESS when it comes to eating!
What do you wish you would have known then, that you know now?
You don’t have to be perfect to be a great mom. When I had my first, I had everything planned out – what by birth would look like, how long we would breastfeed, what kind of diapers we would use, what kind of food she would eat and when, what our schedule would look like, etc.
I followed those self-imposed “rules” for quite some time but realized I was stressing myself out more than it was worth – and those things didn’t make me a better mom. They made me a crabby, high-strung and stressed mom.
So we had to reevaluate some things and I realized that the mom my kiddos need is a happy one, and if that meant supplementing with formula because I couldn’t pump enough during the day, or using Target diapers because cloth was so much extra work for us, than that was OKAY!
Sometimes you just can’t plan everything — hence, why we have baby number two so close to baby number one! 😉
What’s a picture-perfect day look like for you?
A perfect day for me would include skiing or scuba diving with my husband all morning (two outdoor activities that we love!), some mama pampering at a spa afterwards, doing a fun activity with my kiddos in the afternoon, enjoying a unique meal at a fun restaurant with my family, and unwinding by the fireplace watching movie with Marcus with a glass (or two, or three…) of wine.
I think that encompasses most of my “loves”.
What are some of your go-to beauty products?
Haha, this one may tie into the question below (things I’ve had to sacrifice for the sake of motherhood!) but lately, my go-to products include Flower Bomb body lotion that smells amazing, even if I haven’t had time to shower that day. And my ‘Dervish’ MAC lip pencil is all things amazing.
Plus, a smile and happy face can go a long ways when the rest of me may not look so hot! Ha!!
Where do you love to shop?
I’m a shop small boutique gal or TJ Maxx Maxxinista – not much in between! I like things fancy but can never turn down a good deal.
How do you balance being a mom and a wife or partner?
For me, I really believe relationship with my husband has to come first so we can create an environment where our kids feel safe, secure and can flourish. It takes a lot of intentional effort because it’s very easy to get caught up in everything with the girls.
But we do try to take time for each other – whether that’s date nights, wine/movie nights in while the kids sleep, or just staying up late and chatting about life. It’s not always the easiest balance but it’s so important.
Luckily, he’s my Oh So Vera business partner and OSV is something we can be passionate about and pursue together, which also draws us closer!
What is your least favorite chore to do around the house?
Ummm, anything involving cleaning? Let’s just say that what I lack in cleaning skills, I make up for in sewing!
What is one thing you have had to sacrifice for the sake of motherhood?
See question above — I mean seriously, my current “go-to beauty product” is a cover-up for not showering! Even though it’s hard, I do still try to get done up more often than not, wear clothes that make me feel good, etc, because I do think it’s important to take care of myself.
But let’s just say I’ve mastered the messy bun because, well, my hair is often messy and I have to get ready quick!
What is one question you have for other mamas out there?
What special occasion(s) do you splurge on for baby/kids clothes and why? As a clothing designer, it’s always intriguing to me to understand that from different perspectives!
Huge thanks to Alexis for being the first of many Mama Takeover interviews. If you have any questions for Alexis or want to respond to her question for you, just do so in the comments below. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can check out Oh So Vera via their online store. In person, Paper Kite carries many of their products as well as Pixi Chix, both in Lincoln.