I don’t think anything can sum up the crazy busy life of a working mom more than accepting a dream job offer while pregnant. And that’s exactly what Kate Foster, Vice President of Marketing and E-commerce for NYDJ, did two years ago. Now her daughter Ryan is toddling around playgroups while Kate is strategizing next steps for the fastest growing jeans company in U.S. department stores. (If you don’t know why NYDJ jeans are so fab yet, read Skinny Jeans And All.) Prior to NYDJ, Kate has held key positions at Victoria’s Secret, Ann Taylor and Juicy Couture. Bottom line: Kate is a supermom. Here’s how she makes it all happen and look fabulous—in jeans, of course.
Pretty Impressed: Basically, you started this job and got pregnant.
Kate Foster: Actually, I was already pregnant when I started the job.
PI: Wow. That’s a tricky situation. How was that?
Kate: I met with my now-boss, the Chairman and CEO of NYDJ, when I was just coming out of my first trimester so I wasn’t showing, but we really hit it off. We clicked and he offered me the job so I had to say, “By the way, I’m expecting.” His response was, “No problem.” While of course you can’t discriminate against a pregnant lady, his response was so instantaneous and genuine that I felt it would be a good match and that he understood where my priorities were—that I’m no less committed to this job, but I also had outside commitments of parallel importance!
PI: Did it really turn out to be as accepted as you thought it was going to be?
Kate: It’s pretty much what I thought and even better than many alternatives, but every job comes with it’s share of stress. I think stress is what you make of it. There are external forces that can make you feel stressed, but it’s up to you, internally, to determine how you’ll manage all the different forces that are tugging at you.
PI: Are you in the office five days a week?
Kate: No. I spend four days in the office, then I use Friday to keep my world moving. I spend time with Ryan during the first half of the day, hitting the diner for pancakes or taking her to a class. During nap time, I catch up on work, and then our babysitter comes in the afternoon so I can run errands, whether it’s dry cleaning, groceries, or personal stuff like hair or mani/pedi. That way, we get to spend the whole weekend together as a family without having a ton of chores getting in the way. For me, this alternative work week keeps me sane, but I fully acknowledge that it doesn’t suit every office and every employee. Because I manage a team of agencies who are spread out across the country, it’s less imperative that I’m tied to my desk and I can still get everything accomplished remotely. The culture of NYDJ is not all about face time, which I think is really outdated. I’m fortunate to have found an entrepreneurial environment that supports how I envisioned accomplishing my family goals and my career goals at the same time.
PI: How should someone negotiate a more flexible in-office schedule with their boss?
Kate: I think it’s like anything, you have to ask. We’ve seen so many different studies and people talking about the fact that women have trouble speaking up to ask for what they want, whether it’s a raise or some sort of flexible arrangement. So I think it’s really about having the courage to open up the dialogue, but knowing also that it may not work. Each office is different. Each job is different. Each person’s management style is different.
PI: Has becoming a mom changed the way you work?
Kate: Motherhood has unearthed this latent prioritization gene that never was fully realized before. Before I had a child, I channeled all of my energies into work. I tended to seek perfection so everything on my list was important. Now that I have less hours in the day, I’ve learned to prioritize differently. From a business perspective, I focus on the few that will deliver the many—the few items that will give me the biggest results. I think it’s great because before I was pregnant I probably created more work for myself and for others!
PI: Right, in trying to be perfect.
Kate: Perfection is completely overrated. I think perfection is a mythical idea, like unicorns. It’s not something you’ll find happiness in. I’d like to strive for really great, for the best you can do, but perfection? It’s just not going to happen, so I’ll stop trying.
PI: How do you make jeans look work appropriate?
Kate: My work wardrobe is pretty consistent. Of course, Jeans by NYDJ. I love the Alina Legging, $110, because it’s the perfect length and very versatile. I’ll wear it with a flowy top or silk oxford because they’re easy and effortless but still polished. My favorite brands are ALC, Vince and Equipment. Then, a statement jacket completes the look…my favorites are Helmut Lang, like this Cowl Front Jacket, $380, and Rag & Bone. Finally, a great heel helps dress up the denim look. I make a pilgrimage to either Barneys or Saks each season to get a fresh update for my work “uniform.” These Givenchy Leather Pumps, $595, are on my wish list!
PI: Let’s say Ryan was up all night, throwing up, horrible fever, but you had that big meeting the next morning. How do you pull it together?
Kate: I don’t have a great solution for that, but good makeup helps. I recently treated myself to a whole makeup bag makeover. It was such a mood lifter! I splurged on Tom Ford Beauty—the Traceless Stick Foundation, $78, Cheek Color, $56, and Bronzing Powder, $95. I love! They are great for when I need a “full-coverage” day. When I need less coverage, I’m a fan of Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, $43. Other than that, my daily must is L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara, $8.
PI: What about weekends?
Kate: This summer, I’m all about the white jeans. The NYDJ Alisha, $104, has the perfect ankle length and can look polished at a beach club but is comfortable and easy when I’m chasing Ryan at the playground. They’re not super low rise so bending down to pick up your kids isn’t a peep show. I also like Calypso flowy tops like this Sofia Cut-out Strap Linen Tank, $125, and their dresses. And I just stay in flats all weekend, like these J. Crew Leather Capri Sandals $49.50.