[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here are so many wonderful people that I get to meet through VRAI Magazine and through these digital pages, I’m excited to be able to share their unique stories. Today, I’m pleased to introduce the beautiful Dafina Smith, one of the co-founders and voices behind the stylish Glamorous Modern Moms blog. Here’s her story.
Danny: Hi Dafina. Thanks so much for taking time to sit down with me and sharing your story. Let’s get started with an easy question — tell me about Glamorous Modern Moms.
Dafina: Glamorous Modern Moms is a motherhood and lifestyle blog that chronicles my life as a twin mom in NYC and my younger sister Lysandra, who lives in Miami. We are ten years apart and we write about how we address the challenges of motherhood, marriage and looking and feeling good. We are a helpful and entertaining source for all women, all with a touch or modernity and glamour. [line]
Danny: What I love is that you both bring different perspectives to life coming from two very different, dynamic cities and because of the age difference. How did the blog get started?
Dafina: The blog started when my sister and I were pregnant at the same time. At the time we were living in two different countries and both experienced high pressure relocations right after having our children. I had a high risk twin pregnancy which had me on bed rest and my kids were in the NICU for over a month. So the blog was originally a way for us to stay in touch with each other. We were so close growing up, so some of the early posts are raw and honest about what was really going on in our lives that we just didn’t have time to share with one another. I had a very rough entry into motherhood and I look back at some of those posts and they were my source of therapy at the time.
Today our content is still a reflection of our conversations combined with a strong editorial direction and vision that we execute on a monthly basis. [line]
Danny: Tell me more about you and your sister – sounds like a great dynamic for a blog site.
Dafina: Lysandra and I are very, very close but very different. She became a mom at 25, her husband is in the music industry and he travels all over the world working with artists like Gwen Stefani and huge artists in the UK and Japan. She wears blue nail polish with tribal inspired designs and changes her hair almost weekly. She’s a true Glamorous mom in heels at the grocery store and spins at Flywheel every Sunday. So she writes a lot about fashion, fitness and beauty in a way that is more helpful. She grew up in Jamaica and has a very traditional voice and perspective on motherhood.
I became a mom at 35 and I consider myself to be more of the modern part of Glamorous Modern Moms. My husband is an attorney who is more conservative and we live a very modern, urban lifestyle in NYC, where tech and new startups are very much a part of my day-to-day as a mother.
I’m a mom of twins so I have a very different perspective on motherhood. I take a very scheduled and rigid approach to parenthood complete with a Google document on each of their schedules. I am always looking for very modern solutions to everyday obstacles like meal planning and grocery shopping and so I review my experiences, share my travels and my knowledge to promote financial savviness.[line]
Danny: Since you are both Moms, is your site targeted only at other Moms out there?
Dafina: A lot of our content is through the lens of a mother but not specifically for mothers.
One of our most popular posts is on DIY Nails Tips and Tricks. You don’t need kids to learn from that post, but we approach it from the angle that as a mother of young kids it’s hard to find time to sneak away to get your nails done and doing it yourself allows you to eliminate that expense from your beauty budget. [line]
Danny: So how has it been running the site when you two are in different locations? I can relate since the majority of the VRAI Magazine team is scattered around the country and abroad. At least you two are in the same time zone. 🙂
Dafina: It is a challenge running the blog from two different states because we don’t get to collaborate visually on any of our creative projects. Our phone meetings are frequently interrupted by crying children but we have set standards or ‘rules’ if you must, to keep us both organized and on the same page.
I wish that we could have more photography together, photography that showcases what we do on a daily basis and that shows people the type of relationship we have. The good thing is that we do get to see each several times a year and we get to share two different realities of motherhood with the contrast of Miami to NYC. [line]
Danny: Let’s get back to you — tell me more about you, where you were raised and life in NYC with your family.
Dafina: I was born in NYC and lived here for several years before being raised in the Midwest. I tell people I grew up in Minneapolis and skip over the part about living in Omaha, Nebraska. People instantly think you are a small town country girl when you mention you are from any city other than Chicago in the Midwest. I love being from the Midwest though, it instilled a hard work ethic, a sense of humility and an earnestness in me that I have used to excel in various aspects of my professional and personal life.
Before I started Glamorous Modern Moms, I worked within my family’s business, launched the e-commerce division of Sunny’s Hair & Wigs and the flagship boutique in Atlanta, GA. I’m an alumna of Georgetown University and my dirty little secret is that I dropped out of USC Law School in Los Angeles, CA after one year!
Now I’m raising my twin boys on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with my husband Ryan Smith. He’s a correspondent and legal analyst for ESPN and ABC News, which has him on a plane in the blink of an eye, any given day of the week. In the past year, I’ve been working with Lysandra on Glamorous Modern Moms and co-founded KidClique, (a Class Pass for Kids Classes) for kids under 5, on the UWS.
I live for traveling and always have. My first trip outside the US was to Novosibirsk, Siberia as an exchange student at 13. I lived in South Africa and have traveled to places as exotic as Mauritius and yet I’ve never been to Italy. I do have plans to go to Tuscany and I’m so excited! I love to cook and whenever I give financial advice on Glamorous Modern Moms, it’s written straight from my heart. I truly love to encourage women to have financial independence and literacy.
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Danny: Wow, you are truly a modern, global woman who’s seen and done a lot. How have all your experiences growing up and traveling shaped your style philosophy? With “glamorous” in your blog’s title, you knew the question was coming 🙂
My style has always been described as cougar chic even when I was in my 20’s.Dafina: My style has always been described as “cougar chic” even when I was in my 20’s. I remember as a child walking through Montgomery Ward wishing that I could dress like the women on Falcon Crest and Dynasty and Dallas. I wanted silk blouses, pencil skirts and shoulder pads and no matter what, to this day, I just can’t find it in me to buy a pair of sweat pants. In my 20’s my friends would make fun of me because I did not own any casual clothes. I would retire old outfits I would wear to the club and repurpose them as loungewear or pajamas and that has led me to my current crisis as a mother of twin boys. [line]
Danny: I’ll revisit your statement of “crisis as a mother of twin boys” in a bit, but before I do, where are your favorite places to shop in NYC? Any hidden gems you’d care to share with our readers?
Dafina: Montmarte has great dresses by Yumi Kim, whom I love! They have a nice assortment and it isn’t a big box retailer, so you won’t have the same clothes as everyone else. Their edits are really great!
I also love Rent the Runway Unlimited, which isn’t exclusive to NYC but it is a monthly membership where you get to select 3 items at any given time. You can wear the items once and return them or wear them for weeks and return them when you are done with them. It’s a great discovery platform for new designers but it’s really such a great way to keep your wardrobe fresh without the commitment, especially if you like wearing trendy things. [line]
Danny: Here’s my last question and I’m going to go back and revisit your twin situation. How it has impacted your style?
Dafina: I mentioned before that my style was this self described “cougar chic”, think Lisa Vanderpump. The reality is, on most days I have absolutely nothing to wear. I tout how women should be Glamorous as a mother, yet I completely recognize that it’s almost an oxymoron. I have a wardrobe that is a reflection of a life I no longer have.
With blogging there is a temptation to go into the aspirational ether, in which you aren’t really showcasing your truth but rather a photoshopped and engineered version of it. I have part time help and a husband who is often out of town, so I’m around my twin boys a lot — silk blouses and pencil skirts are great for the occasional blogger event or date night, but it doesn’t make sense at a playground or chasing two boys who are running in opposite directions.
I also have the challenge that I did not “bounce back” to my pre-baby weight body. I don’t love my middle section anymore and many of my casual clothes make me very body conscious. My husband often watches me sink into a small anxiety attack whenever I have a business meeting or need to play the part of the Glamorous Modern Mom and he understands because he is on television and had to overhaul his wardrobe.
We had worked with Francesco Bilotto who came to our home and rearranged a lot of our existing furniture and decor, he helped us to select the right pieces to have our home reflect our true sense of style. My husband worked with a clothing stylist that takes a similar approach and he has retained her for me to use this summer. [line]
Danny: Tell me more about the process with a clothing stylist and how do you feel about this journey?
Dafina: The first step of the process will be to go through my closet and eliminate each and every item that doesn’t work for my current life and give it to women for whom it could open new doors. I often say I’m going to do that but emotionally I hold on to clothes for a fantasy life I lead and not the actual life I wake up to every day. She will then help me assess the best style for my current need and provide a template for my style, so I don’t have to think too much when I shop.
I’m excited and emotional and nervous.
Danny: It sounds like a wonderful opportunity. I can’t wait to learn more about it and see the style transformation when we reconnect. I bet you’ll have some great insight and learnings that all women can use.
For now, thank you so much for your candidness and allowing me and our readers to really get to know the real Dafina Smith. I’m looking forward to great things from you, your sister and your blog!