happy friday, everyone! we are so excited to introduce you guys to this week’s #featurefriday mama, Pauline. she’s an incredible mom to 13-month-old daughter Greta, all while running an e-commerce business that puts a spotlight on tunisian culture. and now through this weekend, you can shop her amazing designs in person on union street!
We love Soukra! Can you share with our mamas a little bit about your company and your journey to how it all got started?
@shopsoukra is an e-commerce business that celebrates and showcases Tunisian creatives by selling their products on soukra.co. I launched Soukra to shed a spotlight on Tunisia’s burgeoning community of creatives, connect tastemakers with home goods and apparel from Tunisia, and foster mutual understanding.
Tunisia is dear to my heart. My connection to this country on the Mediterranean Sea began in 2005, when I lived there while on a Fulbright studying ancient Roman mosaics. I made lifelong friends and have been returning to Tunisia ever since. In 2010, I launched a business, Fouta Lifestyle, importing and e-retailing the 100% cotton Tunisian fouta. But foutas weren’t enough for me to spotlight Tunisia. So in 2016, I left my full-time job to evolve Fouta Lifestyle into Soukra, expanding into home goods and apparel from Tunisian designers.
Since the Arab spring started in Tunisia in 2011, there has been an entrepreneurial movement, with young designers using methods and materials rooted in Tunisian tradition to create exciting new products. With the help of friends and social media, I reached out to designers and a social entrepreneur to source products, and launched Soukra in November 2017. In addition to selling products, the website features photographs of Tunisia, Arabic script, and a blog dedicated to the people, places and products of Tunisia.
“whether it’s daycare, at-home caretaker, friends or family, support is crucial to running your own business and being a new mom.”
How do you balance running your own business with being a new mom? Any tips to share with our readers?
In the first few months, I would work between playing with and feeding Greta. I’d place her in the bassinet next to my computer and keep an eye on her while I plugged away at my desk. This depends very much on a baby’s temperament. After 5 months, I started with a part-time nanny, and since 8 months, the nanny has been full-time taking care of Greta. Whether it’s daycare, at-home caretaker, friends or family, support is crucial to running your own business and being a new mom.
I also take advantage of when Greta goes to sleep, and my husband is traveling, to work evening hours. Greta goes to bed at 7pm, and I have a window of 2-5 hours to get work done uninterrupted. On top of that, I rarely get emails at that time.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned since becoming a mother?
The experience of giving birth and being a mother is a shared one, but each is very personal and individual. So I’ve learned to share more and listen more.
Being a mother puts life into perspective. Now, I try not to waste energy on minor things. Prior to having a child, I would stress over seemingly big things, which were in reality pretty insignificant. Now, there’s no time (and no energy) to sweat the small stuff.
We know you love to travel for business and pleasure. Any tips on how to manage traveling with a baby?
Traveling has completely changed. I’ve taken a few flights on my own with Greta, and I feel like a pack mule. Since she’s now 13 months, here are a few tips for traveling with a 1-year-old:
I ask for help throughout the journey - at check-in, bag drop off, on the plane. Most people have been friendly and offered an extra hand (or two).
I pack a variety of snacks. Apples, cheerios, cheese cubes. Reaching for these in a bag and eating them keeps her busy.
Since I’m traveling alone, I can’t carry a heavy bag in addition to Greta, so I pack the essentials - one extra set of clothing for Greta, a few diapers, wipes, snacks, and a few toys for her to play with. If I forget something, it’s ok. There’s a solution some how. I ordered a cup of ice for her to play with when I forgot her favorite toy. Again, don’t sweat the small stuff.
What was the most useful item you received on your baby registry?
This wasn’t on our registry, but my childhood friend who has a 2-year-old boy gifted us a few of her favorite things, and this was a winner - The Boppy Newborn Lounger. During the first few months of Greta’s life, she spent a significant amount of time lying in the Boppy, which was on the couch next to us.
When did you start exercising again after having Greta? And what was that journey like for you?
The first thing I did was go to a baby and me yoga class at 5 weeks. It was too soon for me, and I wish I hadn’t rushed into exercising until feeling 100%. After that class, I took a break, and decided to go for walks as my way of exercising and calming my mind. At exactly 2 months, I started taking Dailey Baby with Peri at The Dailey Method Cow Hollow. A bit later, I mixed that up with more rigorous walks (SF hills!). Peri’s at home exercises (also great for when traveling), and Baby Boot Camp.
Can you share with us your morning routine? Any rituals you do to start your day off right?
I am still nursing first thing in the morning and before Greta goes to bed, so right now, I get up when she wakes (she’s my alarm clock) around 7am and change her diaper. I nurse her, and then she plays for about an hour. Twice a week, I prep breakfast and make it last 3 days - steel cut oatmeal or whole wheat buttermilk pancakes. Around 8am, Greta and I eat breakfast together. Then I change her into her daytime outfit, and she plays while I get ready.
A little plug for a product soon to be on Soukra.co founded by three Tunisian sisters - I use l’Odaites Intense Cream in the morning and at night to protect and hydrate my skin. The subtle and sweet smell of Neroli (orange blossom) brings me back to the shores of Tunisia.
Finally, if you could give one gift to all the mothers in the world, what would that be?
Alone time to do their favorite thing uninterrupted, whatever that may be.
big thanks to pauline for these amazing tips and sharing the story behind her business. if shopping’s your ‘alone time’ thing, stop by soukra’s pop up running through this weekend…or you can stroll on in with baby in tow!
soukra on union
1832 Union Street (between Laguna and Octavia Streets)
Friday, March 22: Shopping 10am – 7pm
Saturday, March 23: shopping, Tunisian food, and drinks 10am - 5pm
sunday, march 24: shopping 10am - 5pm, Custom embroidery with Sam of Chain Stitch Embroidery. Free embroidery with purchase.
Keep inspiring, mamas!