By Starting Her Kids Brand, This Stay-at-Home Mama Got the Best of Both Worlds
Photos via Amrita McIntyre and Arlene Easterwood Photography
Upon first learning she was pregnant with her first daughter, Bay area based mama Amrita McIntyre knew she wanted to press pause on moving forward in a career and — at least temporarily — be a stay-at-home mom so that she could be present for all of her baby's firsts. And while she treasured those moments, after about a year the Modesto, California native, who previously studied Merchandise Marketing and Business Management at FIDM, felt that something was missing. Eventually, inspired by her eldest daughter's penchant for super girly styles, McIntyre launched kids clothing line (and accompanying blog) Mila James, and though it definitely hasn't been a cake walk, she's navigating how to be as present of a mother as she'd always hoped, and have a business venture she can be proud of — even now that she's added 8-week-old Nova to her brood.
Because we know that so many moms can relate to Amrita's struggle to find a way to be home full time and still have a career, we thought we'd ask her to expand on just how she made the transition as well as the biggest rewards and challenges of being a stay-at-home mama.
How did it first feel to be at home with Mila full time?
Fulfilling yet overwhelming. It was nice to be able to stay at home with my baby while she was still a baby and really get to experience everything firsthand, to bond with her and not miss out on any big moments. I was definitely overwhelmed with all the new things I had to learn all while trying to keep this little human well and happy. It’s not what I was used to, going to work and leaving my work behind me at the end of the day. With having a little one, there’s obviously no off switch there so it was a lot to take in as a new mom, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At what point did you feel like you wanted to do something else for yourself again and how did you determine what it would be that made you fulfilled?
I think it was after my daughter turned one. I was finishing up my time as a breastfeeding mama, and finally started to feel like I was getting my body back for me and not having to share (I know, that sounds selfish, but it was time). I wanted to go back to work but I also wanted to try something on my own. I had all these ideas in my head and I knew I needed an outlet for it. I thought what better time to try than now? I had a reason to stay home and give it a shot and so I did.
How did you start Mila James and what can you tell us about it?
After I decided to go for it, I teamed up with my husband, an Industrial Designer who has always wanted to do fashion design, and we started creating all my ideas. I emptied the funds in my retirement and went for it! Unfortunately, things haven’t gone my way this far, but I am trying to make the best of the situation.
The idea behind Mila James is to make fashion fun for littles. I have a “Have Fun Little One” graphic tee and it’s something I truly believe in. It goes further than just fashion being fun for little ones, so many kids have to grow up quicker than they’d like to for so many reasons and this is just a small reminder to all that little ones deserve to have fun for as long as they can.
Based on your experience, what are the biggest rewards and challenges of being a stay-at-home mom?
I would say both the biggest reward and challenge is always being there for my children. It’s a huge reward to be able to say that I can always be there. I know there are many mothers who would love to be a stay at home mom but financially cannot afford to. But being with my children with little to no breaks can get exhausting. I love my little ones so much, but we all know hearing “Can I have a snack?” all day can take its toll on the mind!
How do you make it all work now, managing motherhood and your new career?
I still haven’t really figured out a set schedule on when I am able to work on my brand. There are a lot of guilty moments of me putting my daughter's favorite TV show on to distract her while I work on my own things. Nap time is also a great time to work! Now that I am a new mom of two, I’m trying to learn how to balance them and my business. I definitely try and explain to my daughter that I’m working on something that’ll hopefully better our future, I know she doesn’t quite understand yet, but all I can do is hope that she’ll appreciate it later.
What advice do you give other SAHM who dream of moving into a career?
Just go for it, you’ll always be exhausted and overwhelmed by your kids, so no time will be the right time.