LIZZIE & KATHRYN FORTUNATO
Founders, Lizzie Fortunato

Your work is done - how do you spend your “me” time, when you get it?

L: I can think of nothing better than being alone with a book. Reading has always been my escape (I love historical fiction and autobiographies!), and silence plus a good book sounds like it will be golden.  

K: I still barely find “me” time because I work too much! Lizzie Fortunato (the accessories company I founded 12 years ago with my twin sister Lizzie has been baby #1 to date). With that said, I love reading before bed to let my mind escape from the day. I am a big proponent of a weekend tub - soaking and reading The New Yorker. You can’t easily write an email from the bathtub!

What is the thing you bought in the last three months that you have most enjoyed? (In any product category) 

L: I bought Ilia Beauty's True Skin Serum Foundation which I've loved (and needed!) because my pregnancy skin is blotchy and red! I also bought bedsheets from Linoto, which I'm super excited about.  

K: I have been loving the bright red pop of this Stine Goya dress I bought from Hampden Clothing. It is cheerful and works with a pregnant stomach even though I bought to wear it post-maternity. And of course, my Frances Hart Drawstring Poplin Dress has been a lifesaver this spring, it makes me feel pretty! 

What is the quality you’re most hopeful you’ll have as a mother? 

L: I'm excited to find out! One of the qualities I most like in my own mother is how organized she is without being OCD. She's scheduled, yet loves an adventure... I hope that I can run a family AND a small business (while still being a good wife), and do so with some level of chill. I never want to not have fun at the expense of keeping it all together. 

K: I am not sure yet. But I truly hope it is patience and compassion.

What’s the other career you’d most like to try out, given a second professional life?

L: Hmm, I can't imagine not doing something creative... It would be incredible to be a fine artist.

K: Politics, or at the very least making policy that matters.

Is there anything that quarantine forced you to change that you would like to - or will - maintain post quarantine? 

L: I spent a lot of time with my parents in the beautiful area where I grew up (on the Delaware / Pennsylvania border). Being home made me realize how much I missed it and I'll definitely be making an effort to return more frequently. 

K: More work from home!

What are the nicest things your partner does for you, and you for them? 

L: He cleans the kitchen. I put away his clothes! 

K: He cooks me a home-cooked, amazing meal almost every night. I give him space to keep his own routine - working out after work, taking time to himself.

How important is routine to you? What parts of your routine are sacrosanct? 

L: I'm not always the greatest at maintaining a routine (when I'm designing I'm a night owl and then my mornings are shot), but I think with a kid it will become very important. Especially with regard to my workday... I'm one of those people who could stay at my desk for hours. When I start a project I dive in and it's hard to pull myself away but I'll be setting hours for the office and trying (very hard!) to stick to them. Oh, also my morning coffee at my kitchen counter reading news and emails is pretty non-negotiable! (At least I say that now!)  

K: I think routine is very important, it keeps me sane. That is the one thing I miss about a morning subway commute - the routine of getting your coffee, reading on the subway, and just decompressing before the day begins is actually really great.

What are your professional goals and how do you go about achieving them? 

L: I really want to grow a sustainable business and lead a happy and equitable workplace. With everything going on in the world, I have reflected frequently on why I do what I do and how I can do it better. I love my team and want to create a space where people feel treated fairly and where they are happy and fulfilled. With regard to the product we create: I aspire to make things that are not transient. I want to put care into the goods that we put out into the world -- this means taking the time to foster great relationships with our manufacturers and ensure that those behind the scenes of our product are also treated well and doing what they love. I'd personally always prefer to purchase fewer, better things and I want to create pieces that are "better"! 

K: To sustain a company that we’re proud of in terms of our product mix, supply chains, store distribution, and most importantly our team culture. Lizzie and I have worked to stay very focused and to not grow too fast. We’ve passed up investors and decided to remain self-funded (which means slower growth) but at the benefit of getting to call the shots and really define and steer our mission as a company producing luxury handmade projects in an intentional way. 

What are the things that make your home personal to you and your family? 

L: Well I am definitely a magpie. I love collecting; I love shopping with artisans and going to flea markets and picking up pieces of art or ceramics or textiles when I travel. I really like my "things" (I'm not exactly a minimalist), and while sometimes I feel like I should cleanse, ultimately all these little things spark joy for me!

K: Lots of finds from our travels! We travel a ton for inspiration, sourcing, trunk shows, etc. (or at least we did pre-COVID), and collecting pieces from our travels is a really meaningful process for Lizzie and me. We have a big array of textiles in our respective homes. We share these pieces on our website via Fortune Finds. Some of my favorite finds include our Moroccan Rugs, Mexican baskets (that I use to store everything at home - towels, sneakers, baby toys, etc.), and these sweet bowls Lizzie hand-carried home from France. 

How important is community to you, and how do you go about building and nurturing it for your family? 

L: Community is very important and something that's been difficult to maintain during this Pandemic. I am so fortunate to have a twin sister so I always have a "built-in" community by virtue of having her close but having groups of friends and also work peers that I can bounce ideas off of and reflect with are really so important to me. I imagine this will continue to be tremendously important with kids! 

K: Lizzie and I care deeply about community - especially as it pertains to our business. We created a series of bi-annual dinners “Creative Women’s Dinners” several years ago to create and grow a community of creative and entrepreneurial women from around the world. The dinners became an incredible and organic way to exchange ideas and build relationships. Since COVID, we’ve taken this concept online with “Creative Women’s Coffees” where we interview some of the female founders, designers, journalists, etc. we most admire and share those conversations with our audience. Building and nurturing a professional and personal network of friends, mentors, etc. is incredibly important - it’s inspiring and creates an invaluable support system.

What maternity style or clothing item could you not find this time around that you most wish FH would create?

L: Hmm, FH has really got most everything covered... I've been wearing a ton of sarong since it's gotten hot so I love the idea of some kind of adjustable wrap skirt. They're just so easy!  

K: Hmm…a cute bathing suit or bikini!

Shop The Look: Drawstring Poplin Dress and Ribbed Knit Sweater, Ribbed Knit Skirt