November 9


How Lela Rose is a Sublime Example of Persistence

By Mimi MacLean

November 9, 2020

How Lela Rose is a Sublime Example of Persistence Image
New York City based American fashion designer Lela Rose

Lela Rose, Founder of the Lela Rose

What is the number one attribute that makes a successful entrepreneur? This week on the Badass CEO Podcast, fashion designer, Lela Rose, explains how persistence has been the key to her success. Tune in to learn how to turn no’s into yes’s and build the business you’ve always dreamed of.

Find Lela Rose and Lela Rose



Welcoming Lela Rose

Lela Rose with dog
Lela Rose, American Fashion Designer

Mimi: I’m excited today to have Lela Rose. She’s a New York City based American fashion designer, widely regarded for her elegant and sophisticated aesthetic. Today her collection includes unique designer dresses, coats, jackets, tops, skirts, pants, sweaters, clutches and jewelry. Lela’s quality of design and personal flair has caught the attention of fashion editors stylish and high profile celebrities around the world. You may have seen Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway, Sofia Vergara, Chrissy Teigen, and many other female celebrities wearing her brand. Lela has a Bridal Collection that is sold worldwide in specialty stores and bridal boutiques.

In addition to her successful fashion design career, Lela is a published author. She released her first book in 2015. Thank you so much for coming on today. I’m super excited to hear your story. You know, I knew about you through Michelle. But then also, I heard you speak at the Beautycounter, our national convention, and you were just very inspiring. I love listening to your story and the advice you gave as entrepreneur women.

Lela: So many connections!

Mimi: I would love for us to start out with like how you got started, like when you graduated from college? Were you already in fashion? or What was your past?

Lela: I was a terrible student. I love telling people that I was truly a terrible student. And I graduated third in my class in high school from the bottom. So people are always like, really unlike, yep. not lying, not exaggerating.

Mimi: Well you can become president united states, right, you can press the United States as a C student.

Finding Creative Spirit – Sculpting and Sewing

Curved ceiling ribs
Photographer: Erik Eastman | Source: Unsplash

Lela Rose: You can be anything but who knows what. Anyway, I was a terrible student. But I was always creative. So I knew that I was going to do something creative. I knew that that’s what I wanted to do. So I went to the University of Colorado and basically majored in sculpture and painting, I was a fine arts major. But I basically went skiing and to parties for four years and had the greatest time.

During that, I had decided I wanted to learn how to sew, basically, because I wanted to make myself something that I’d kind of dreamed up and didn’t know how to sew and got my mother to teach me when I was home for Christmas one time. She says it was the worst experience worse than childbirth was teaching me how to sew. Because I was extremely stubborn, and like, I’m not fixing that. But I just kind of got this bug because I loved sculpture. I loved making things with my hands.

This was just another form of being able to make things and I just kind of got this idea that I was going to start this business making these one of the kind vest made of scarves from the 40s and 50s. I love kind of saying this because now I’m like that, that sounds un-chic. Some of these things do come back to haunt me.

Finding Entrepreneurial Spirit – Fashion and Design

Lela Rose Fashion with flowers
Photographer: Thomas William | Source: Unsplash

But I started going around to vintage stores around the country and collecting these. One of the kind scarves and all of my buttons were made out of Monopoly game pieces. I started making these like in my sorority house on the floor in my room and started selling them to stores around the country like I started selling them to a store in Boulder Colorado, which is where I was in school and then in Dallas, which is where I’m from and then it Fred Segal in LA and like you know, it was a total one man show but I was just thought this is the coolest thing and I had always grown up kind of being entrepreneurial.

I just got this fashion bug, and it was like, well, I’m going to be a fashion designer. I’m going to move to New York, and go to Parsons, and really learn fashion design, which is what I did, and then worked for a few designers. Not for nearly long enough. I’ve always said, I’ve always said I should have stayed working for other people, and learning mistakes on their dime as opposed to mine. But I did, you know, and we’ve worked for probably five years for other people, and then went off and started my own business. And that was 1998.

Knowing when to actually go it alone

Mimi: Right? So you think you should have done it longer? That’s always a question. I like to ask people like, Can people do it right off the bat, like I was saying, looking back, do you know, me work for somebody, and you just went right into your own brand. But now you think it should have been?

Lela Rose: Well, I mean, I did work for people. But I didn’t stay long enough. I always thought, Well, I’m going to go start my own company. And I definitely look back and think, wow, I really should have stayed working for people longer, because I would have learned more and had more opportunities to learn. You learn so much when you’re doing something on your own. But, you know, I would have been at a better starting point had I waited longer.

That’s definitely something I’d look back on and think, Hmm, I should have definitely done that. But at the same time, you know, some people, and I’m probably one of them. I don’t know if I’m one of them or not, but I think sometimes people have an idea. They’re like, well, I can do this. The longer you wait, the less you’ll do it. Sometimes it’s a double-edged sword.

Starting Your Own Business – Ups and Downs

Lela Rose fashion sketches

Mimi: Yeah, exactly. What did you find being the hardest part about starting the business?

Lela: Well, I was a one man show with the exception of I had one sample hand helping me sew everything, but I was doing all of the pattern work. I was the presser everything and sending that shoe. So with me today, we used to go get three slices of pizza and split them between the two of us. And that was our lunch every day. I mean, it was hilarious.

But you know, it was extremely difficult, but also very gratifying and fun. I was cold calling all the stores. I was making half the clothing. I wasn’t actually selling it. But I was doing all the pattern work all the fits. And I look back and I cannot believe anyone bought anything from us. I was doing our accounts receivable, which was a total disaster. I will tell you that. I think I had four accounts, my very first season that bought the collection. I think three of them stiffed me on payment.

Mimi: Oh, no! That’s awful!

Lela: Yeah, it’s kind of what happens. And I think I had read plenty about that. But you know, of course thought, well, that won’t happen to me. And then of course it did.

Identifying that first big break

Mimi: What was your first big break? Like what would you say, Okay, this is gonna work like we’re on the right path.

Lela: Well, Neiman Marcus actually picked up the collection, my second season in business. And I at the time was like, I’ve arrived, I’ve made it we’re selling to Neiman Marcus, this is incredible. And once again, you know, that double edged sword kind of comes out to, you know, reveal itself. That was probably a mistake. Yeah, yeah. Because, you know, at this point, it was so me and one seller, and then I kind of added on a part time pattern maker. But I didn’t know enough. I didn’t know enough about what was our fit.

Our quality was wildly inconsistent when I was trying to patch everything together. And it’s very difficult to sell on a larger stage where your competition is, you know, I mean, this is also 20 years ago. It’s your competition. They’re large, established brands, and here you are being wildly inconsistent and not really a great vendor partner. And, you know, I think Lehman carried it for probably about four more seasons, and then dropped it because it was so wildly inconsistent. By that point, I have built up more of a business and have more clients, I was able to get more people but it took me a long time to get back into me and to get me kind of trapped up again with what we could do because they’ve been burned by it.

Mimi: Right, but I mean that was impressive.

Connections matter

Lela: Yeah. It was great. And then I would say the other big break we had was when the Bush daughters wore Lela for their father’s first inauguration for George W. Bush.

Mimi: How did you do that? Is that through your Texas connection?

Lela: Yeah, they have been longtime family friends. And, you know, today, we still dress both Jenna and Barbara for tons of things. They’re both close friends of mine and, you know, just huge supporters. And it was, it was very nice of them to do that, because that was, you know, it was definitely kind of a nod to a connection and Texas roots, but it really helped be a starting point to have other people know about the brand. And no, we weren’t really a brand at the time. But yeah, you know, I’m saying

Mimi: The visibility. Yeah. So I don’t know if you know this about me, I used to be a buyer at Bloomingdale’s. So I know the world of department stores. So that’s why when you brought up Neiman Marcus, I was like, okay, first of all, the fact that you got in and your second season is amazing, because you get bombarded all day long with vendors, you know especially for fashion – just the game that you have to play with them.

They have all these clawbacks, and they get to return and like, it’s actually when people get in I’m like, always, like, that’s exciting, but actually is going to end up costing you more money. You’re not gonna make any money off of it because of the games that they play. They want the money for advertising and stuff like that. I don’t know if they were doing that for you.

The Cost of Doing Business – Then and Now

Clothing Rack
Photographer: Lauren Fleischmann | Source: Unsplash

Lela: Oh, yeah, they did. But to tell you the truth, it’s gotten much worse over the last 10-15 years than it was 20 years ago. Basically, I think after 2008 that’s when all of the major RGV agreements and Co Op advertising. I mean, first of all, if there wasn’t the internet back then we didn’t have e commerce. So you didn’t have all of this. It was like, are you in the book or not? And they weren’t charging the same? It wasn’t the same game back then that it has been for? I would say, really? Since 2008. That was kind of a game changer.

And then of course, E-com. It’s been a huge game changer both positive and has, you know, its pitfalls. People ask me this. And I think it shocks them when I tell them return rate on e-com are enormous for fashion. I think on our own e comm site, we run at a 53% return rate, and that’s below industry standard. That’s crazy. Is it because it doesn’t fit them when they show up. Are they wearing it and then returning it what why is that?

Shopping online and brick and mortar stores

I think people sit in their house sometimes, you know, it’s the same funny story about like, having a glass of wine. And by the way, like most department store, like in the luxury sector, their return rates are in the 70s. And I think people now just they sit there and they’re like, oh, let me get a four and a six and see which one fits me and then I’m going to return this and you know what? It didn’t look exactly like it does in the picture. Oh, just send it back. It’s just it’s gargantuan and I think that that’s been a huge game changer in fashion both positive and negative. But that is certainly not what we see in stores.

Mimi: Are most of your sales online or in stores?

Lela: I would say we’re more brick and mortar than online. Although we have a very large e commerce business with our retail partners meaning like Net A Porter and and and and modus operandi, we’ve got a large econ business and even within our own site, but our business still, we have a very large kind of brick and mortar presence, not meaning our own stores we only have one freestanding store. But within all the Neiman’s that we sell to with all the Sacks that we sell to the Nordstrom there’s something about just sitting online and not having that social interaction that I think there’s something really missing from shopping in that and I don’t want to be that way only.

Mimi: You must be very happy though that you don’t have more than one store at this point. But I was going to ask you that like Why don’t you more store but looking at it, you’re like, thank God, I don’t have more stores because that’s a huge overhead.

Meeting the needs of consumers

Lela: That’s a huge overhead. And I don’t know how honest people are being but no one is buying anything in the designer space right now. I mean, you have nowhere to go. The events that you used to be going to which were maybe a wedding have turned into micro weddings with between 20 and 50 people. You’re not going to any luncheons, you do not have a social calendar filled with events anymore. And so it has really been like a turning off of the spigot for ready to wear, and it’s tough.

But you know, interestingly enough, so we launched a new business called Pearl by Lela Rose. It’s a new division that’s part of our brand. And it was partially inspired by Gregg Renfrew and Beautycounter. Because when I was talking with her with this whole kind of forgoing retail not being in brick and mortar in those ways and partnering with kind of women around the country, I was like, wow, this is, you know, a pretty interesting concept, because you’re still getting that social interaction.

Shopping is kind of back to being fun, which is what it was when I was in my early 20s. It was like you would meet at Bergdorf, their Barney’s and have lunch and go shopping. And that’s really, I think, missing out of the retail world today. But in speaking with Gregg how she was sitting at Beautycounter, I was kind of like, Huh, we don’t have the same levels. But Beautycounter does.

New business models

But what we do have is Pearl, we launched basically with handpicking stylists around the country. And those stylists sell to their friends, sometimes they’ll do a pop-up location, or they’ll do it out of their homes, or they’ll do it in the gallery. We do events kind of around the country. We always match it to a cocktail, we make napkins that literally match the collection. And it’s a really fun way of shopping. And it’s a much more kind of affordable luxury casual collection.

Pearl has a different end-user than Lela does. And it’s sold in a completely different way. And it’s just been very interesting to be able to look at both businesses. And what can we learn from Pearl to implement into Lela the collection? And what can we take from Lela to put into Pearl. So it’s not like a traditional direct to consumer model. That’s been really interesting. I kind of got off on a tangent there.

Mimi: So is that considered a direct retail part of a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or no?

Lela: It’s not MLM because we don’t have multi-levels of sale.

Mimi: But you are paying them as far as a percentage for the different stylists around the country?

Lela: Right. But it’s not an MLM because we don’t, there aren’t different levels of sellers, we might pick one person for an area, and that’s our person.

Mimi: Got it. Well, that’s interesting.

Diversity works

Lela: It is interesting. And it’s really been, it’s been the shining star through all of this. Number one, I think that the price point is much more accessible. And it’s also just a much more casual collection, like tons of cute cotton tops and date night tops, and great kind of cotton dresses and cute sweaters and fun jackets, things that have become more difficult to sell in the legal world, because it’s so about adapt.

Mimi: Right? That’s great. That’s great that you’ve transitioned, you had that after you got into Neiman Marcus, when you first started. At what point did you need financing to get you to the next level right away?

Lela: No, my parents have given me a loan to help me get like my orders for Neiman’s. And by that I mean, I was always extremely scrappy. So I used that loan to be able to buy the fabrics. It was a not a huge loan. And I’ve paid it back over time. But I mean, it took quite some time had it had been through a bank, it would have been way more painful.

Retaining full ownership of the business

But we remained very, we still are today, we’re a much smaller organization than people think that we are. Because we’re very scrappy. And we just figure out how to take whatever we’ve made and reinvested into the business and a smart way where we just have never, we never did advertising. We never did. marketing campaigns. We still don’t today, like we spend very little money on those things. We have just been very scrappy about reinvesting into the business. So I never hit a point where I needed to bring in an investor.

Mimi: That’s amazing. So you’re pretty much 100%. Owner at this point, you don’t have any other owners. That’s great.

Lela Rose: There are positives and negatives to all of that. Sometimes I think that when you do have a financial partner, you do have the freedom to maybe grow more quickly, invest in things that could be a great choice. I think I always felt, and I’ve had investors kind of approach me over the years. I always felt like I don’t really know what the right thing to do is so I’d actually rather just not take the money and just keep doing what we’re doing and figure it out. Right now, it’s been a tough time. I would say our most recent investor has been the PPP. Yeah, you know, I mean, not really investor. I’m kidding when I say that.

Lela Rose’s Source of Inspiration to Write her Book

Outdoor champagne in the evening
Photographer: Dave Lastovskiy | Source: Unsplash

Mimi: Oh my gosh. So we, I noticed that in 2015, you wrote a book. Can you talk about that? And like, What inspired you to do that in that process?

Lela: Yeah, I have always loved entertaining. I love to cook. I love to have people over. I love everything…

Mimi: Are you from the south? And that’s one reason why I wish I was born in the south, because I would probably be a better entertainer.

Lela: I don’t know, you know, and the way I entertain like, I don’t just think about the food. And it’s one silo and what I’m serving as a drink, and who’s coming and I’m like, matching my drink to my dress my dress to my table, naming my food, funny names that go along with it. Like, I just think about things in terms of entertaining and a very 360 degree angle of that. And my friends, were always like, Oh, my gosh, how do you do this? Can I get a recipe for that? How do you do that? And I was like, well, maybe I’ll just do a book.

Honestly, it was so much fun to do, because it’s also just kind of quirky and kooky. And it’s exactly how we do our fashion shows, which, you know, in the beginning, we were kind of doing I call them lightbox runway, where you invite everyone they sit in these little seats, you’re watching models kind of stomp out not smiling. And it’s like in this white box, and I was like, This is not fun. Our clothes are all about like going somewhere. Why aren’t we throwing the party but you’d be wearing these clothes to?

Linking food and fashion

We started just doing these, like really fun shows. And some of them were patterned on dinner parties that I’ve had like one we called it a Tribeca takeover we invited everyone to this random little park in Tribeca and didn’t tell them at all what we were doing. And they’re all everyone’s kind of standing around, our buyers and editors are standing around, like what’s going on here. And all of a sudden, from around the corner, a 20 piece, marching band, and 16 models and I start coming down the street to Beyonce’s Crazy in Love. And we had passed out parasol walls and handkerchiefs. And like little baggies of food and brown bag cocktails.

Everyone literally started dancing through the streets of Tribeca, marching along to this fabulous band. And then we ended up in front of our apartment, I was like, Okay, everyone bye that was the shadow.

We love doing these funny, kind of, always with music, always with food and cocktail. And they’re just fun. Like when you come to a show of ours they’re just, I mean, I think that our editors and buyers are always like, “I have no idea what Lela Rose is going to do.” But I know I’m going to get food and drink. And I know it’s going to be fun. And I just think it’s so much about entertaining, what we do and where our clothes are going. And I think that’s exactly where the book came out of. And these are all about my passions and the things that I love to do.

Tips for writing a book

Mimi: Right? Was it hard to process like for anybody who wants to write a book? Do you have any tips?

Lela: Yeah, get ready for a ton of work. It is so much more work? I think then I ever thought it was going to be.

Mimi: Did you self publish it? Or did you have a

Lela: I did it with Risley Publishing. And it was great and a ton of fun. But it is a ton of work. And it’s so much crap. And I kind of thought well, I can just throw my regular parties and just do it that way. No, that is not how it works. I mean, I quickly figured out like two events in. And I was like, No, I have to stage every single thing of the book and no longer can it be real. And it’s just it’s a lot of organization, especially the kind of book I did, which is as much pictures as it is words. And you’re really trying to illustrate your ideas visually. And it’s a ton of work.

The value of authoring a book

Mimi: Yeah. And sometimes I’ve heard that they don’t make the money. It’s more for just the passion or love of the project.

Lela: I don’t think really make money, at least I would not say ours was a moneymaker. I think it was more about brand building. And it’s a great marketing tool to kind of illustrate what do you do, and, you know, be something that can live on. I mean, we still I’m actually working on another book right now that we’re in total infancy stages. So I’m not even sure what’s going to happen here. But and exactly how it’s going to end up being laid out. Because I haven’t even started it. But, you know, we’ve been talking about the book, people are constantly asking me about the book. I’m like, Wow, my daughter looks like she’s eight in the book. And she’s now 13. Well, that’s exactly it was six years ago. Yeah. It’s funny how long they live on.

Perspectives on Starting in the Fashion Industry

Inverse sculpture Color-2
Photographer: Jr Korpa | Source: Unsplash

Mimi: Yeah, exactly. And they get different takes, depending on you know, now, like different PR, now, people might be home or, you know, wanting to have their dinner parties or spend more time on the attention of the table. What What advice would you give to anybody who wants to start in the fashion industry? I mean, is it a saturated market? Or is it short lived? And you only last a little longer stick to 15 minutes of fame? Like, what advice? Can you give somebody who wants to go into the fashion industry?

Lela: I mean, so much has changed since I started. And when I started my company, there was kind of a template that you somewhat tried to follow, because that’s how fashion companies would grow and build. And now it is just changed. So much. I mean, there is so much to take in between, where is retail going? Should you be straight up direct to consumer? What does that mean? Does that mean completely online? There’s so many changing dynamics that are going on in the fashion industry. I’m not even sure what I would tell people today, because I feel like I only know from my own point of view, and all of the changes that are happening.

Finding your passion

There’s somewhat, I mean, they’re overwhelming, even for me, who’s been in business for 21-22 years now. I would just say, I’m talking to someone yesterday. And I was like, figure out, what are you passionate about? And how do you turn that into something? And how do you communicate that? And the one thing I would say, the main reason why I’m still in business today, and it is not been easy. And people are always like that you’re so established is, you know, got to be an am like, you have no idea how much we have to like, scrape, and scrap and fight for every dollar that we bring in and every sale and you are never guaranteed anything and you really a lot. And I think I think people can really see that now.

Being persistent – Lela Rose’s #1 attribute

But I am persistent. Always have them. And when I want something, I will not stop. I am just like, nope. Okay, I heard that now. I’m going to figure out how to turn that into a yes. And I’ll be back. And I have just always been that way. And I think you know, that’s both positive and a negative.

Mimi: Yeah, exactly. You have to have that if you want to be successful, because there’s gonna be a lot of no’s along the way.

Lela: I still get no’s.

Mimi: So do you think that’s the number one attribute for an entrepreneur to be successful is to be like persistent.

Lela: That has been the number one attribute for me. Now, I think there’s so many different ways to start a business now. And there’s so the barriers to entry to start businesses is so much lower than when I started. I mean, you know, you’ve got so many different ways to kind of communicate what you do and market yourself and get out there. And are you data driven? I mean, there’s just so many things that I think people can seize upon. I would say for me, starting at the time that I did and where I am in my career, persistence was the number one attribute.

Mimi: Mm hmm. I agree with that. I also liked how you spoke about Beautycounter. You talked about being nice, you know, saying how it’s really important to be nice in the office and treat everybody well.

Committed, caring culture

Lela: Well, you know, what that I will tell you is another thing that I think has really served my company well, is that I have some fantastic people that I work with. They’re amazing. And they’ve been with me for a long time. I mean, so it means that I really have people that are committed and passionate and love what they do. And I think part of the reason why people say if we have a very nice atmosphere, it’s welcoming or smiling, I mean, I am not trying to sugarcoat that there are not problems and there are not frustrations because there are for sure.

When you buy something from us, or when you walk into a store, or when you meet one of our sales people, or when you’re doing anything with us, it’s going to be with a smile. And we’re there to make sure that you have a great time and you feel good about yourself. That’s just part of our mission of what we do is figure out how to make women look their best. So they feel their best. And part of that is, we just do it with a smile. And we are Yes, people. And we are like all nice in my office.

Mimi: How did you create that culture? Did you come out and say that at your weekly meetings? Or did you have it written somewhere on the wall? Like, how do you create the culture you want to create?

Attracting nice people

Lela: I wish I could say that that’s how it was done. No, I think I’ve just always gravitated towards nice people. And people that smile and don’t have airs about them. And we’ve never been considered the cool company. We’re always like, the nice company. We’re the people that are going to give you pretty, happy, and with a smile. And you know, is that always cool? No, frankly, it’s not. And I think for a long time, people were like, Well, yeah, they’re really nice. And it’s pretty, it wasn’t edgy. We’ve never been edgy. And none of our people have ever been edgy. I never had a mandate. But anyone not nice. Just never really survives in our office.

Mimi: That speaks a lot to you.

Lela: Well, I don’t know, I think people always contributed to that. But we’re just, we’re nice. And I have always said to our sales people like that they get it anyway. I mean, they’re like, they walk in with big smiles. And everyone’s kind of like enthusiastic and happy. And I think that’s also what our clothes are. We’re just happy.

Mimi: Yeah, that’s great. I wish the whole world was this nice.

Lela: No, I mean, trust me I’m as down as the next person and on the election countdown. I mean, it’s tough right now.

Being a Mom and Entrepreneur

Lela Rose - shopping with bik e
Lela Rose Does It All

Mimi: Being a mom, and trying to juggle it all from birthday parties to dinner, to running a company to your kids to you name it, right? The Halloween costume that we’re supposed to somehow put together a Halloween even though it’s we’re in the middle of COVID? How do you do it? Like? Do you have a morning routine? Do you have a system that kind of keeps your life in order, any tips? Because I think entrepreneurs or moms are trying to do it all. like everyone’s always looking for some advice that that’s working for the people who are doing very well.

Lela: Well, I don’t know that I would put myself in that category of doing very well. But what I would say is, I have always had help with my kids. And I am not going to tell you that I don’t and that I do it all. And I absolutely focus on the things that I enjoy doing. And don’t do ones that I don’t. Because I am much happier to spend quality time rather than a quantity amount of time. And like the things that I don’t want to do, I wouldn’t be good at and I wasn’t going to be happy about it. And I was going to do it begrudgingly. So because I was working all the time and always have been, there’s always been a lot of guilt, like, should you have all this help. I don’t really think that that guilt should exist.

Prioritize your activities around what you like/love to do

Don’t have the guilt, figure out how to do the things that you want to do, and offload the other stuff and outsource that. The stuff that you don’t want to do. Don’t force yourself to do it. Because you think that’s what everyone else is doing. Just don’t do it. Just gonna be happy at it. And you’re not going to be good at it. People are always like, how did you cook all these dinners and do all this stuff and like, you don’t realize I only do the things that I love to do. Like, I don’t do any of the other stuff.

Pre COVID days, but you know, we had three people over for dinner last night. And everyone’s like, Well, what about the dishes? I was like nope my housekeeper’s coming in in the morning. She’s gonna do them all. Like, I don’t want to go do all the dishes after dinner party. I’m now Yeah, I’m lucky enough to have that help. But that’s just part of how I’ve set up my life. And part of what people think is having it all. I don’t think I have to do it all. I don’t want to do the bad parts. The things that I don’t like doing. I don’t want to do those and I’m not going to feel guilty about not doing them. It’s worth it to me to pay to get someone else to do those. So I get to do the parts that I do enjoy.

Mimi: Exactly. No, I feel the same way I think with like cooking for me I find cooking really stressful. I like cooking for myself. I like cooking, when people like my food, but if I make dinner and I sit down and then you know, between the five kids, someone doesn’t like it, they all have comments, and you’re like, wait, why did I just spend two hours between shopping and making this dinner when I could have been working or I could have been working out or I could have been doing something else? I’m like, This is crazy. Why am I doing this and it would get me so mad. And then I would feel guilty about it.

So now I’ll do it once or twice a week. But I’m not making dinner every night a week we all take like my husband’s a great cooks. So he does it a couple nights, my daughter do it or, or my nanny helps me.

Having the right people who can help

Lela: I personally have always loved cooking. It’s something that is relaxing for me. And it’s a creative outlet. So I come home from work and I instantly am starting to cook but I pre planned my meals. My housekeeper is at the grocery store getting all of my groceries. I’m not doing the stuff that I don’t want to do. And I don’t want to clean it up. Honestly.

Mimi: It’s like an hour that you could be spending with your your kid doing something your daughter doing something. Do you Are you a morning person? Do you wake up early?

Lela: I am not much of a sleeper just because I’m a terrible sleeper. But no, I don’t love to get up early and stay up way too late. But I do like to get up before I go to the office and kind of prep, whatever I’m planning on doing for dinner that night or not that I do all the prep, but I just I’ve been cooking for so long.

As I make dinners so often that I kind of know exactly what I need to do. And I like to get a lot of that done. So it’s not super stressful when I get home. And also part of that is because my housekeeper is there during the day. So I know if I make a mess in the kitchen, she’s cleaning it up. And I don’t have to worry about it after dinner. A lot of them still completely about what do I want to do.

And you know, it’s hard to cook in a messy kitchen. And that’s why I’m like, Okay, I’m going to make a lot of mess in the morning. And then my housekeeper can clean that up while I’m at work. And then I come home and everything’s ready. And there’s way less to even look at. So I hate for people to I do love to cook. And I know that that’s something that really stresses a lot of women out and mothers and they they feel this need to like be this somewhat 50s housewife while they’re working full time and all of these things. And that’s not necessary. It’s something that I really enjoy. But I am the worst mother when it comes to homework, keeping up with what is going on in school. My husband does all of that.

We have only so much capacity

I told you I was third in my class from the bottom. No one should be asking me for homework. I’m terrible. I couldn’t get through fourth grade math like no, you’re on your own. Or if you need help, go ask dad. I outsource the stuff that I don’t want to do. And I don’t really feel guilty about it. I think I used to when I was younger. And you know, you’re kind of starting out and you’re like, Oh my gosh, should I be doing this? Should I be doing that all these other mothers know exactly what’s going on? Be like, I don’t know her teacher’s name. I don’t know.

Mimi: Or you’re like in sixth grade. I’ve been with the same class for six years. And I’m like, wait, who’s that mom again?

Lela: Yeah, I’m like, I don’t remember that kid. And she’s like, I’ve been going to school with them since JK, I’m like, Oh, cool. Okay, yeah.

Mimi: And then I just tell myself what’s because you’re number four. I can’t remember for kids, you know, classes and teachers for every every year, you know, I don’t have enough room in my brain for all that.

Lela: Our thing is, we don’t, but do you have to know? You really don’t? Is it gonna screw up your kid? I mean, I don’t know. I guess I’m running that experiment right now.

Mimi: I’m telling myself, I’m creating independent children. Like even my five year old I have them make their own lunch. And people are like you what? I was like, ever since Amazon came around. I’m like, because it used to make their lunch and then it would come home and it wouldn’t even be eaten. And I’m like, What is going on? Like, if you’re not happy with what I’m making? Well, first of all, why am I making it? or What am I doing wrong? And to why am I wasting my time? So how about this, you guys all go on to Amazon as long as it’s healthy. And once it comes in as if I’m okay with it. You guys make your own lunch and every knows. It’s a win-win. they’re happy. I’m happy.

Show up with your talents and strengths

Lela: Right? And you figured out how to do that. I mean, I just think women and I think now it’s actually going to get worse during the pandemic and post pandemic. This you know, everything being on the woman to like, I mean, are you supposed to know everything Think about cleaning and cooking, you’re running a business, you’re doing something you’re working full time, like, what? The right the dynamics have changed. And somehow we still put this pressure on ourselves to know all of the things. I am telling you. I am the crappiest mother probably in the entire school in that. I don’t show up for that stuff. I’ll show up. If she’s got a big part in the play. If not, I’m kind of like, I got a meeting.

Mimi: Yeah, exactly. It’s hard. You can’t be at everything. No, it’s true. And you can’t have the guilt. That’s my problem. I have to go.

Lela: But I’m probably older than you and no are the same age.

Mimi: Because you graduated from your class? I did the math were the same age.

Lela: I was college 91. Mimi: I’m college 93.

Lela: Okay. No, I mean, I just think I really started to just shed that guilt and be like, you know what? These kids, they’re growing up in a different world, and they’re fine. And they’re figuring it out. And I’m not great at all these things. I truly suck at so many things. And you know what, I’ve just decided I’m not doing them. Like that.

Mimi: If they make fun of my cooking or whatever. I just laugh. I’m like, Yeah, you’re right.

Lela: And you can’t feel guilty. I mean, men have gotten away with this stuff for so long, where they cherry pick what they want to do. And I was kind of like, I’m gonna be doing that.

Mimi: No, it’s true, though. And I always feel like I feel badly for like, you know, I’ve seen a couple of friends that passed away. And the dads now racing are like, wait, who’s gonna buy the teacher gifts? Or who’s gonna buy the Halloween costume? Because you know that Dad’s not gonna remember any of that. It’s the details, right? Like, they’re not gonna remember it not to be, you know, generalizing. But, you know what, the teachers may not get the Christmas gift, and the kid may have to go figure out their own costume. Is that the end of the world? No, not at all.

Mimi: No, losing their mother is sad. But yeah, they’re not gonna care about that other stuff.

Lela: Yeah. Oh, and, you know, we’ve put so much pressure on ourselves to have this like perfection. And part of this is social media that just,

Mimi: It’s creating a relationship, right? And studying that, like that time that you’re talking about the quality time if it’s playing a board game with your kid or reading or going for a walk, that’s what’s important.

Lela: Yeah. And it’s figuring out what is that thing that you want to spend your time on and figure out how to offload the rest? Because you don’t feel good about themselves when they’re failing at something. And I’m like, Well, I fail at the PTA. I’m not doing it. You know?

Mimi: Yeah. No, I agree with you. This has been amazing. Well, I thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. This has been great. Lela, thank you so much for coming on today.

Where To Find Lela and More About Her Businesses

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