Katie Hintz-Zambrano, Founder of Mother Magazine
Katie Hintz-Zambrano on building a media company for the modern mother while becoming one herself.
With a bio too long to list (including Good Eggs friend and customer), Katie Hintz-Zambrano is a jill of all trades. Becoming a mother catapulted her into a series of entrepreneurial pursuits focused on connecting and supporting like-minded, creative women on the rollercoaster that is motherhood. In the whirlwind of launching her first conference, I sat down with Katie to chat about the link between motherhood and creativity, building a support network, and what dinnertime looks like for a modern family.
You launched Mother Magazine three years ago to fill a gap in parenting media. What was missing that you wanted to tackle?
I had just had my son, and I realized there was just really no editorial source on the web, or in print, that really addressed a new kind of modern mother. For the first time, more women are having children in their 30s versus in their 20s. The new mom is older, educated, and a little bit more established in who she is personally and in her identity. Parents Magazine, Baby Center, parents.com — the sources that were available lacked what those modern mothers wanted in a site: style content, general lifestyle content, and information about real-life parenting that isn’t just fluff.
We launched Mother three years ago to fill that void, and focus on telling those real-life, messy stories. But at the same time, we want to show the glamour in motherhood with beautiful lifestyle and fashion imagery. It’s a balance we’re always grappling with: do you show or hide the dirty laundry in the corner?
It’s a balance we’re always grappling with: do you show or hide the dirty laundry in the corner?
When real life is reflected back at these mothers, it helps them take the pressure off for a second. So we try to do it as much as we can with that at Mother without making the whole website heaps of dirty laundry (laughs). We know adding another life to the equation can be a disruptive transition, and we want to be a supportive source through it all. I’m glad we’re there to build a community around that transition.
How do you build a community that actually feels supportive, rather than superficial?
After creating Mother, I wanted to bring the community we created online, offline. Activating in real life is how you make a community sustainable. I’ve seen first hand just how life-changing finding a supportive community of women can be — women who support each other’s businesses, goals, and interests, all in overlapping life stages. With that in mind I’m launching a conference for creative mothers at the end of the month called In Good Company.
I’ve seen first hand just how life-changing finding a supportive community of women can be — women who support each other’s businesses, goals, and interests, all in overlapping life stages.
I wanted to create a lifestyle conference to connect like-minded women and expand access to community support for mothers. Plus, I had a desire to bring really meaty, intellectual content into the conference space instead of creating an event just to have it Instagrammed. I want women to really learn something and walk away with more than what they came in with.
I think once you put the “mom” label on things, people somehow automatically think it’s lame. I want to flip that notion on its head with In Good Company, and create an experience filled with creative, inspiring, entrepreneurial women who also happen to be moms. Not everything has to be about the banalities of motherhood. We’re so much more complex than just our kids.
What does your own support network look like?
I had a growing circle of moms around me even before I had Diego, and getting to know these women helped me discover that there’s no typical “mom.” Seeing the way these women dress, how they live, how cool and real they are was really inspiring. Instagram was big too. I would follow women in creative fields who I looked up to and when they got pregnant, I was inspired by how they shifted their narrative to one that was more family-oriented, but were still able to keep their voice and passions at the core.
How did your own narrative and identity shift when you had your child? What did that transition look like for you?
The biggest transition came with my career. Before having Diego, I knew that I wanted to start my own business. At that time, I was busy launching the San Francisco edition of Refinery29. It was very autonomous and I was the only one on the team in San Francisco for a long time. I felt like I was making all the calls on creating this local website, so it almost felt like a step towards solo entrepreneurship. That independence felt really good to me.
Once I had Diego, I immediately knew that I had to go out on my own and build something. That was how Mother was born. I think motherhood changed the course of my career path because it gave me the bravery and the creative spark to launch my own thing. There’s a link between motherhood and creativity, and having a child lit that spark in me and a lot of women I know.
There’s a link between motherhood and creativity, and having a child lit that spark in me and a lot of women I know.
How do you carve out time for personal creativity as a working mother?
For me, unplugging is really important. Especially because I feel like I live in internet land most of the time.
Reading print is one of my creative triggers. I love Cherry Bombe, Porter, Sunset, San Francisco Magazine — there are so many that I consider indulgences. Connecting with other people, having coffee with an interesting person or a girlfriend, is another big one. I’m lucky to have a lot of girlfriends who also have kids, so we’ll meet up with our kids, go to a park or on a hike, and have really refreshing, real conversations. Often exactly what I need in that moment.
And on the other hand, how do you anchor yourself when everything feels like it’s slipping through the cracks?
I think my anchor points revolve around time with Diego. Going to pick him up from school is a big one. It’s this ritual of turning off my phone for an hour or so, and just focusing on where I am and spending time with my son.
I put everything down, and allow myself to detach from the emails, notifications, whatever is dinging on my phone. It’s nice to have open-ended time to go to the playground, and not be on a deadline for a moment. I don’t have Diego enrolled in many extra-curricular activities because I believe it’s really important for him to have open-ended play. I let him determine his afternoons because he definitely can’t do that when he is in school during the day.
On weekends, I’ll go to whichever coffee shop is open the latest and take a few hours for myself to work when no one else is. No one is pinging you with emails or texts on a Saturday night, so I use that time to catch up on work. It sounds super sexy, I know (laughs). But it’s my indulgence: being completely to myself, letting my creativity flow, it just feels really good. It’s a great substitute for the spa days I don’t have time for and really wish I did.
I want to talk a bit about how food fits into your schedule. I know it’s often a pain point for new mothers and I’m curious how you approach dinnertime with your family.
I wish that we had a more consistent dinner routine. There are so many studies that talk about the importance of family dinner and dining together. But I think the truth is that we’re a little bit disorganized, and a pretty relaxed family when it comes to schedule.
With kids, meal time tends to get split up. There’s 4 PM food, like an after-school snack. Then an early or late dinner depending on what our schedule looks like. Honestly, sometimes dinner is a smoothie, but one filled with nutrients and protein and all that good stuff. The good thing is that Diego really likes smoothies. With a picky four-year-old, you get the nutrients in however you can.
But I do wish that we could make dinner more of a sacred time. Right now it’s pretty all over the place for us, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case for a lot of modern families.
Totally. I feel parents are much more willing to admit that and talk openly about the less-than-perfect parts of raising a child these days.
I think there’s this really great movement in modern motherhood that has emerged in the last five years or so: one of anti-perfection and anti-mom shaming. A lot of mothers, especially those in the public eye, feel the pressure to parent perfectly because of how others may perceive their actions. I’m not quoting it directly, but I heard this saying that really stuck with me: there’s no one way to be a perfect mom, or a great mom, but there are a lot of ways to be a good mom. Basically, there’s no achievable way to be a quote-unquote perfect mom. It’s about coming to terms with a certain acceptance: everything isn’t perfect, and Instagram is just a highlight reel.