Emily, you’ve always been a wordsmith - with a BA in English Lit, an MFA in writing, and a long career in editorial most recently as Editor-In-Chief at Savannah Magazine. What does writing mean to you, and how do you make it a part of your day-to-day life now that it’s not your full-time profession?
My close friends will attest that I’m a prolific texter, but as for more serious writing, I built some writerly moments into Cub that I’m really proud of. Our Mom Friends series digs deeper than the average clickbait brand editorial, and there’s a reason for that — I want to know how other women do this thing! I’m endlessly inspired by what women take on and how they articulate (in ways loud and quiet, large and small) what’s most important to them. A branded interview series is a more polite way of asking than, say, peppering a stranger with questions at a cocktail party…not that I’m above that approach.
What have been some of the most exciting or gratifying creative projects you’ve taken on in your career?
In my twenties, I produced a series of short documentaries about artists and designers, which meant I was traveling around the world with a skeleton crew, asking important, accomplished people big questions and pretending to know what their answers meant. In my early thirties, I got my dream job: editor-in-chief at a magazine. The funny thing about dream jobs, though, is that in the end, they’re still just jobs. For me, this foray into entrepreneurship — with a deep connection to my family — has brought every phase of my life and career together in a way that feels powerful and new.
How has your relationship to work changed since becoming a mom, and how do you expect it will continue to evolve once your second child comes along?
As a writer who has never found writing particularly easy, and as a total Scorpio with not-great boundaries surrounding work, I might be well primed for start-up life — after Hank was born, I actually asked to go back to work early. Then the pandemic shut everything down, and a few months later I left my job as a magazine editor and focused on Cub. Personal and astrological predispositions aside, any mom or entrepreneur knows the tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep things moving, no matter how effortless we make it look and sound. I tend to go the other way: motherhood is full of effort, and it probably always will be. Cub has proved to be the same. I still take my laptop to bed and reach for my phone first thing in the morning, all the things you’re not supposed to do — but everything stops, at least for a while, when my son comes through the door from daycare. That hopeful, curious little face asking for a guggle (I hope he never figures out it’s pronounced “snuggle”) is no match for whatever’s on my desk, end of story. Now that Phoebe is here, Hank immediately asks to see his baby when he gets home. I’m only a few weeks into two-kid life, but watching Hank and Phoebe seek each other out for comfort is without a doubt the biggest love I’ve ever felt.
What has most surprised you about being a parent?
I’ve been most surprised by how absolutely mine these two people feel. I’m very literal, so I never quite accepted the fact of the baby as a person until they were here, but both times I experienced a strong and fast sense of recognition: oh, it’s you. It helps that my kids were born sleepy and mellow, but I’m also surprised by how little I care about strict schedules, meal plans and polished outfits. Sometimes dinner is French fries, bedtime is 9:45 and the pajama shirt makes an appearance at school the next day. Everything’s going to be just fine.
What are some of the moments when you feel like you really shine as a parent? Why do you think those times bring that out of you?
I don’t think anyone would describe me as laid back, but I have a pretty solid grip on the fact that kids are people, too. Their needs, their moods, their tastes and shifting whims, the things they’re proud to show you and the little secrets they whisper to themselves — it’s not my job to shape or scrutinize any of that. It’s my job to make and keep a place for my kids to be whoever they are, whatever that means and however it changes.
Do you think there is a dirty little secret of parenting or being a mother that no one tells you before you’ve had a child?
First of all, no one knows what they’re doing. Secondly, the first year of parenthood can be brutal on a relationship. So much newness on so little sleep is a bit of a perfect storm for eye-rolling, name-calling and taking harsh tones. I’m thankful someone did tell me this before I had Hank — at least I knew it was coming, and clearly we’re crazy enough about our kid and each other to do this a second time. These are early days, but so far, the second round is easier.
You’re about to launch a new brand for moms and babies; can you tell us about the brand and what compelled you to take this leap?
We’re about to launch Cub, the everyday baby wrap designed with new moms in mind. I built Cub because in my earliest days of motherhood, when I was recovering from a c-section and learning how to be a mom, I needed a way to move around that took care of both me and my baby. I tried countless baby wraps and carriers, and none of them were good enough. I wanted something simple (new moms don’t have time to watch YouTube tutorials, or wait for a second set of hands), and I didn’t think it was too much to ask for it to feel and look great. Once women try Cub, they get it, but here’s my elevator pitch anyway: think about how it feels to pull on your favorite yoga pants and head out for your day — you feel supported, together and ready. Now imagine that layer of protection and comfort is holding your baby and freeing your hands. Oh, and it takes 10 seconds to put on and another 20 to get the baby in, it’s made from recycled plastic bottles, it feels super luxe and looks chic. No brainer, right?
What has been the hardest part about getting to this point in the business launch?
We planned to launch in summer 2021, then found that the time frame of the safety testing process made our intended launch date unrealistic. I tend to be delusionally confident that things will work out the way I want them to, and this interlude was a serious check to my momentum and my ego. In the end, the extra 10 months was exactly what we needed to get our bearings, renew our gratitude and bring a great product to market in a safe and responsible way. I also had another baby, which reminded me why we’re doing this, and who we’re doing it for.
What do you hope this business will afford you, in terms of psychic, intellectual and financial benefits?
I hope Cub will afford my family the freedom to spend more time together, and the headroom to give back in the ways that matter most to us.
Who has been your greatest source of support to date? Where do you expect to draw support from as the business advances?
Working with your spouse is weird and wild, but my husband has been incredibly supportive of Cub, and of me, as we built this together. He’s an attorney, and I never could have navigated the safety testing and regulatory process without him. He’s also much more pragmatic than I am, which is always a benefit to creative and branding work, where everything can get so elliptical. Beyond the business side of things, from the moment our first samples came back and he saw the difference this wrap made for me and my experience with early motherhood, he was all in. The other audience I’ve felt tremendously supported by is my friends and the community of moms who were kind enough, and brave enough, to try a new product and share honest feedback with me. The number and range of things moms do in a day to support their families, inside of systems not designed to support them, truly blows my mind. We’re all trying so hard. Cub is for the moms.