Courtney Arcese, founder of Wild Sundays and Lovebrain Films, shares the inside info on how she's tackling motherhood and two businesses at the same time...
It’s no secret that we’ve been crushing on all the uber fun and cute clothes from Wild Sundays – and after speaking to Courtney Arcese, it’s proud founder (and creative genius), we realised that it was only natural that such a cool brand would come from a cool mum! Not only does Courtney create off-the-scale cool clothes, she’s also the owner and creative director of Lovebrain Films, a video production company with team members based in New York, Los Angeles and Singapore. Although these two businesses are Courtney’s passion, her greatest love belongs to her sweet son, Felix. We recently caught up with Courtney to get the gossip on her life in Singapore, motherhood and how she tackles two awesome businesses at the same time…
Hi Courtney! Tell us what a typical day looks like for you as a mum?
Lots of multi-tasking! Working full time from the studio with my team, which also happens to be the building next door to my home, offers its fair share of rewards and challenges. The biggest perk is no commute and quick access to my work station. But it also means Felix knows just where to find mummy every afternoon – usually when I’m deep into editing or working on future collections for my children’s wear line, Wild Sundays. I do love his visits though and his enthusiasm to see what others on the team are working on makes me smile. I definitely think Felix, who is two years old, believes he comes to work every day too – even if his attention span only lasts for 10 minutes at a time!
What’s the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is being able to wrap up work a little early and take Felix out and about. His favorite fun stop in Singapore? Jurong Bird Park’s Water Playground. Being my own boss definitely has its privileges. Depending on the time of year, I can block out extra mummy-and-Felix time to spend together, and we get a lot of time together during slower work periods. I am grateful for my helper who keeps my kiddo busy during my busy times, but I really cherish those days when it’s just Felix and me, out on adventures around Singapore on a random weekday when most of the world is busy working.
What’s your secret to being a successful working mum? How do you manage your time?
It’s a constant task juggling my time between motherhood and work responsibilities (it’s 10:30pm and I’m working on these answers now – eek!). I still haven’t found the key to success, but for me, it’s all about being as productive as possible during “work hours”. The times when Felix is at nursery school, napping or playgroup. Those times are for serious business, meetings and focus time. No Whatsapp’ing friends, and very limited phone checking. But the times when Felix wants to pop into the office? Well, for those times I remind myself to enjoy a welcomed break: even if I’m on a roll with a project, I try not to brush off these small moments with my son and take a breather during slow season to step away from the computer and find new experiences to share with Felix.
What does being a mum mean to you?
Being a mum means that I have been given this incredible gift to experience a whole new level of love that I hadn’t known before. Yes, it’s also a crazy lesson in patience, understanding and functioning on very little sleep at times, but really, the bigger picture, it’s all about LOVE. Getting the opportunity to have another human being need your love so immensely, as well as being able to receive love so deeply, it’s a gift that is not lost upon me.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without as a mum?
Baby carriers! I love baby carriers! Give me an Ergo, a Boba, a Ring Sling: anything. I love schlepping my kid around while he’s attached to me. Right from the newborn stage until now at toddler age, I love babywearing. Right now, I’ve been doing the back carry with my Ergo 360 and it’s so much fun being stroller-free.
What has being a mum changed about you?
I am a more gentle human being. After living in New York City for almost seven years, it tends to create a tough outer shell when dealing with situations that can be a bit harsh, irritating or downright unfriendly – especially when in transit, like riding the MRT and bumping into everyone who is looking down at their phones (ugh!). After having a child, I have found myself softening up a bit. Smile when you pass by someone on the sidewalk. Wave hello to a neighbour you only casually know. In general, I try to be kinder to people. That is what my son has inspired me to do.
What do you think makes you a cool mum?
Well, I don’t always feel like a cool mom when I’m wearing my Birkenstock sandals and workout clothes while out and about to run errands (yikes, I would have never done that pre-baby!), but appearances aside, I think I’m a cool mum because I am a female business owner that is dedicated to supporting other women and mothers. The first collection prints from Wild Sundays were a collaboration with three female illustrators. Our manufacturer in Bali is a mother-owned and women led clothing factory. I’m all about going the extra mile to source talent and services from other female business owners and entrepreneurs. Women supporting women: that’s what I think is cool. But hey, Birkenstocks aside, I have a bunch of pre-baby photos of me in my 20’s with pastel pink hair, hanging out on rooftops in Brooklyn with friends. So when Felix can start talking in full sentences and calls me uncool, I’ll show him those photos and say, at one time, I really was “cool”.
Do you have any funny stories about being a mum?
I was trying to be funny and let my son, Felix, pretend kiss a little girl when he was about 12 months old. Bad, bad idea. That funny, open mouth “kiss” babies do, well, Felix bumped teeth with the baby girl and a corner of his front tooth completely chipped off. Ugh, it killed me looking at it the first week or two. Now, I’ve gotten use to the chipped tooth and have totally embraced his pirate baby look.
Whats the toughest part about being a mum?
There are many tough things about being a mum, but for me the lack of personal time is difficult. Before the baby, I really enjoyed having quiet time to myself. Surfing the internet. Walking around the mall just to window shop and grab a coffee. Reading a book that isn’t trying to teach me how to raise a “whole-brained” kid. Today alone time is just a thing of the past. There’s always so much going on between work and motherhood, quiet time doesn’t exist right now. I’m just trying to remind myself that life is fleeting and to enjoy these moments because they won’t last forever.
Tell us about your son…what do you love most about him? Does he have any quirks?
Oh my! Where to start? Felix is THE most friendly kid and I absolutely love that about him. I’d say he gives about 50 high fives out each day. Cashier at Cold Storage? High five! Auntie at the gate of Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden? Two high fives for you! Twins in a double stroller riding in the same elevator in the MRT? High five, high five! When he’s not trying to befriend everyone he meets, Felix is at home with his collection of brooms. Yes, brooms. Felix has four brooms, adult and children sized, that he uses multiple times a day. He loves sweeping under the table and using his broom outside to collect fallen leaves. I suppose I should keep track of all these cleaning hours he’s clocking in; he’ll probably request an allowance for all his hard work someday! Also, I’m currently pregnant with another baby boy (16 weeks in! A long way to go!). My acupuncturist was telling me that this new baby is going to be born in the Year of the Pig, so I should be prepared that he will love to eat, sleep and want the good life his whole life! It definitely has piqued my interests and I’m looking to see if it’s true. Stay tuned…