What is a typical day like for you as a mom and a designer? How do you balance your time?
My days are very full! We all wake up at around 6:30 in the morning and gather around the breakfast table – it’s one of my favorite times of the day as all the children are so sweet and fun and babbling on – sitting in our laps and chatting. Then it’s off to work en route dropping one or the other of the children at school. I really enjoy this one on one time with Asher or Soren. When you have a big family these moments are precious. My days at work are varied to the extreme – depending on where we are in the collections we could be in fittings all day, or sometimes I will be sketching and researching, or planning for and executing our photo and video shoots. On many days I jump between all these areas. Being a mother has made me so much more efficient – every moment at work or with the kids is maximized to its fullest. In the evenings I like to come home and read to or play with the kids, and we all love a good pre-bedtime dance party! Then it’s off to bed for the kids and time for my husband and I to catch up over dinner and a glass of wine.
What do you enjoy doing with your kids?
I grew up in the midst of New York City on a very busy street, but I now love to get out into the country with my children. Running around outside looking at flowers and leaves and bugs, playing tag and ball, enjoying the fresh air whatever the season. We go to Montauk in the summertime and I love our days at the beach. My eldest son is learning to surf and we spend loads of time collecting shells together and making bonfires in the evenings. Conversely, I love taking my kids to the amazing array of cultural experiences New York offers, whether its seeing the knights at the Met or the Cloisters, or lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant. They super enjoy new experiences and flavors and I love to encourage this. And then just watching a movie at home piled onto the couch together and eating freshly made popcorn, the children really make every simple pleasure so fun.
Many of your designs have become staples in women’s closets. For those of us who are expecting, what would you say are the wardrobe essentials? What was your personal day to day look?
It’s amazing how many of my favorites I was able to work into my pregnancy looks. Draped sweaters and jackets, cotton peasant tops or delicate silk blouses layered over long skinny tanks were a favorite. With my last pregnancy I was due in June and was able to wear lots of flowing maxi dresses with cropped jackets and blazers. I also loved wearing high heels throughout my pregnancies – definitely helps with the proportions.
What was your beauty routine during your pregnancies? Did you have any favorite products to use on the face and body?
Clarins has a body oil with geranium leaf that I loved to use, I was really attuned to natural products and scents in all my pregnancies. A dear friend of mine is starting a range of face and body products called Chloris & Flora made with natural oils and flower essences and she made me a lavender and rose oil that I lived for. But mostly just a very simple regimen – pregnancy comes with its own natural beautification!
What was your fitness routine during and after your pregnancies?
Really my routine consisted of breastfeeding and running after my other kids! And not worrying about it too much. It takes time for your body to find its way back to its pre-pregnancy self. I also have done quite a bit of yoga and running both during and between my pregnancies so I think just keeping up what you normally do and not feeling too precious about your body when pregnant helps.
Can you share any tips for when traveling with children? What are some flight/travel essentials for you and the little ones?
I think it’s really important to know that kids will be kids, and to not expect that they will be perfectly behaved and quiet and sort of embrace the madness. Also lots of snacks! Have avoided many a meltdown with a well timed offer of raisins or veggie booty. I also think its helpful to bring lots of quiet little toys and books that you can pull out in moments of boredom. And with my older two, iPads are invaluable! I try and limit screen time generally but it sure is helpful in a long flight. Mostly just be willing to bend the rules a bit and try and enjoy yourselves. Kids love to travel and can be the most inspiring of little guides.
As a mom, what are your go to spots in NY to de-stress?
I love to go to a spa near my studio in Soho called Haven – there is a masseuse there who gives the most heavenly of massages and I can manage to sneak over between meetings. Otherwise I tend to unwind over a nice dinner with my husband and friends – current favorites include Estella downtown and then there are some great spots in Brooklyn where I live like Glasserie and my friend’s restaurants Roman’s and Reynard.
What are your favorite children’s wear brands?
I would say my number one favorite is Bonpoint for sweet frocks and rompers, but there are also a lot of knitwear brands that I love like Mor Mor Nu and Misha + Puff who are making beautiful things that look like they were knitted especially for your little one. For the boys, I like Crewcuts and Flora and Henri basics and then mix it up with some Stella McCartney kids for fun graphics.
Last but nor least, what do you love most about being a mom?
Ah its so hard to quantify a favorite – there are so many things – what they have taught me about myself, the way their little hands feel in mine, their jokes and silliness, the way they all flock to the door to greet me when I come home, but maybe most of all the deep sense of connectedness and responsibility that they have given me, and of gratitude for this family that my husband and I have created and the love these little people have for each other and us for them.
Photographed by Ethan James Green
For more information on Ulla’s designs, visit www.ullajohnson.com
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