SANDRA, MILA (5 YEARS), PACO (2 YEARS) & NAÏS, MÄRA (1 MONTH)
Let me introduce you to the two creators of ILADO Paris maternity jewelry. The pregnancy bell necklace, or "Harmony Ball" is a traditional Mayan pendant. When gently rolled, it emits a calming, harmonious, crystalline sound known as the "llamador de angeles" (call of angels). The pregnancy necklace is worn by expectant mothers as a good luck charm. After birth, newborns are soothed and calmed by the familiar melody of the harmony ball.
Girls, would you briefly introduce yourselves?
I'm 34 years old. I was born in the Southwest of France. I spent part of my childhood in Africa with my three brothers, then studied in London and Madrid before settling in Paris with my boyfriend. I worked for seven years at L'Oréal. When my daughter was born, I decided to quit my job as marketing director to launch ILADO. Today I am a fulfilled young mother (Mila is five and Paco is two), and a passionate entrepreneur!
I'm 26 years old and I was also born in the Southwest of France. My mother is French and my father is Thai Chinese. I lived in Asia for a few years before returning to France when I was five years old. Early in life I developed a strong interest in crafts, and after studying visual arts, spatial design and finally jewelry-making I had the good luck to meet Sandra in May 2017. Since then, I've been part of the great ILADO adventure, and I'm proud to be its designer. I'm also proud to be the young mother of Mära, my little one-month-old girl.
Can you tell us about the ILADO adventure?
During my first pregnancy I discovered the maternity bell necklace tradition. I was moved by the beauty and magic of the necklace. The soft chiming connected me with the baby growing inside of me. I didn't really like the aesthetic of the Harmony Balls on the market at the time. That's what made me want to create my own line of maternity jewelry to help modern mothers discover the benefits of the maternity necklace.
For me the ILADO adventure began in May 2017 when I became a professional jeweler. I met Sandra after I had obtained my diploma. I had already known about pregnancy balls for a few years. In fact, I had a special fondness for this ethnic necklace and I actually wore one even though I wasn't pregnant. I'd never imagined that one day I would develop and design maternity jewelry. I took it as a challenge: how could I bring a breath of fresh air to ILADO and this symbolic ethnic necklace?
Sandra, how did you choose the name?
ILADO is the name of an African peninsula where I spent my vacations as a child. It's a place that symbolizes freedom, discovery and adventure, the same spirit I felt when I decided to launch my own brand!
Naïs, who is the ILADO woman?
The ILADO woman is a woman who embraces her pregnancy. She is proud of her round belly and her body. She takes care of herself. She's modern, unpretentious, and cool. A little flirtatious, but not too much.
You two are partners in this adventure. Who does what?
I take care of the marketing and commercial side of ILADO, including its international growth, and Naïs is in charge of the artistic direction and designing our collections. We work well as a duo because we're very complementary!
Sandra, how have you managed to balance motherhood and being an entrepreneur so far?
After working in a company for seven years, I realize just how luxurious it is to have a flexible work schedule! I don't have to ask permission to take a day off, whether it's to take care of my children or just for a change of scenery and a little time for myself when I feel I need it. Being able to choose my own work location – right near my house, the daycare and the school – also means I can avoid taking public transit, which really saves me time and energy! The downside is that it's hard to draw the line between work and home life. Sometimes it's difficult to disconnect: to stop checking Instagram and emails in the evenings, and to keep from talking to my husband non-stop about ILADO all weekend long.
Naïs, how has it worked for you?
Even before I got pregnant, my dream was to find an exciting career that would also let me spend time with my children: that "luxury" that Sandra mentioned. Thanks to our shared vision of motherhood, I was able to have a calm, peaceful pregnancy, and I'll approach my life as a mother and entrepreneur in the same way.
When the alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do first?
My little Paco wakes up at 6:30am every morning, so I don't need an alarm clock. I start the day reading about the adventures of Little Brown Bear and Tchoupi [laughs].
I'm still on maternity leave. My alarm clock is 52cm long and still rings twice a night.
Sandra, what, in one word, is maternity for you?
Naïs, throughout your pregnancy you wore adorable outfits that showed off your belly. Is it important to you to stay feminine?
Very important! To me, it was essential to keep taking care of myself. But everyone's pregnancy is different. Mine went very smoothly, I didn't have any pain. It's a lot easier to take care of yourself when you're not tired or sick. I loved being pregnant, I was very happy inside.
What was your beauty routine before and after?
It didn't change. A good face cleansing and skin care regime, with natural cosmetics and light makeup.
Your top favorite brands?
Eve&Rose care products for expectant and new mothers, and Magnus Makes Three handmade accessories for baby.
Sandra, what does it mean to "be a good mother"?
Trust yourself and listen to your heart! I think that the perfect mother doesn't exist. We need to let go of that ideal and simply try to do our best.
Naïs, will you tell us your maternity necklace story?
I started wearing my Harmony Ball at the beginning of my pregnancy. I knew it wouldn't have an effect on the baby yet, but it was my good luck charm and my way of making this happy occasion real. I still wear one, even now that my daughter is born, because its symbolism is a part of me.
Sandra, what basic values to you want to instill in your children?
Self-confidence, respect for others, and the enjoyment of simple daily pleasures.
What helps you de-stress?
Yoga, meditation, or watching a good TV show with my husband!
Your favorite places for:
A dinner for two:
l’Avant Comptoir du marché in Saint Germain
Girls' night out:
Le Purdey - a fabulously original cocktail bar!
My hair stylist, Stephan Black in Toulouse. I only go twice a year, so when I'm there I have everything done.
Naïs, where do you get your inspiration?
Mostly from nature. I love organic shapes and materials.
Sandra, where do you see ILADO five years from now?
I hope that the maternity necklace will become the traditional jewelry for mothers around the world, and why not also share other pregnancy rituals inspired by our travels?
What can we wish for the two of you for the future?
Love, love and more love!