Family Affair: Leslie + Risa of Big City Moms
Your world undoubtedly changes when you gain mom-to-be status. You’re overwhelmed with joy — and just plain overwhelmed! Cue sisters Leslie Venokur and Risa Goldberg.
The cofounders of Big City Moms, a social network for new and expectant mothers, started their company in 2004 when social media was in its infancy. Translation: stopping moms on the street and inviting them to meetups. Since then, the company has flourished into an online community with events in major cities across the country.
These sage sisters share how it all began and what they’ve learned about that work/life balance we all crave.
Mom to Sami (age 8) and Max (age 4)
Current Home: NYC and Westhampton
Mom to Harrison and Cooper (10) and Hallie (13)
Current Home: Brookville, NY
Tell us a little bit about your day job:
L: We create fun events and content to make becoming a new parent easier. Every day is definitely different as we both have our hands in every aspect of the business. Some days we work with clients on creative ways to educate our audience on their product/services, other days we are being interviewed on live TV discussing the latest and greatest in baby gear.
Being that no two days are the same, our job definitely keeps us on our toes!
How did you end up doing this for a career?
L: It kind of fell in our laps! After Risa’s daughter Hallie was born, Risa was looking for an outlet to meet like-minded moms. Moms who work in the corporate world and wanted to still be socially active with their babies. We began hosting themed dinners for working moms, new mom lunches and holiday parties. At the same time, we also worked with companies who wanted to get their products and services in front of that very targeted audience. Flash forward a few years, both Risa and I left our corporate jobs and our (at the time) informal get togethers with a few moms turned into a full time business!
You're sisters. Were you two close growing up? Did you ever think you would be working together as adults?
L: We were always very close growing up. Family time was super important to our parents – so it was inevitable that we would wind up doing something together as we “grew up.' When we were children, we used to pretend that we had a candy store in our playroom, Risa would organize the candy and I would “sell” it…Who knew all these years later that we would create an event and marketing company?? While we aren’t selling candy….we are still making people happy!
Did you ever contemplate staying home after your kids were born?
L: No! HA! And I’m not ashamed to admit that! We both love our children and want to be there for every milestone….and we still can, due to our flexible schedules. Working makes us better moms. Our children love the fact that we have careers and are goal oriented, they love to come to our events and see what we do. We think it’s important for them to see us in a different role other than “mom.'
You've been doing Big City Moms since 2004. How has technology changed your business?
R: Social Media has changed our business…for the better! In the infancy of our business, we used to walk the streets with flyers and distribute them to every expectant or new mom that we came across…It was fun as we had that personal connection to the community – but we were restricted to our neighborhood. Thanks to social media – one click and we can interact the world!
What’s your best advice to a new mom coming towards the end of her maternity leave?
L + R: Enjoy the quiet time with your baby. Your maternity leave will be the only time that you can spend this uninterrupted time with them and not have any other responsibility. Be sure to do adventurous things with them. Go on a quick vacation, dine out at restaurants AND go on a date night (or two) with your partner. Once you are back at work your schedule shifts a bit. It’s different. Not in a bad way…but more in a harried way, a new schedule with something so amazing to look forward to at the end of the work day. Just enjoy your leave and remember you ARE a good mom!
Let’s be honest. No one can really do it all. What do you do less of to make it work for you and your family?
L: My home isn’t as “junk free” as I wish it were! I am so busy traveling and running from work to my kids’ activities that the mail and junk just seems to pile up! I would rather play with my kids when I’m home than clean up the “stuff” that accumulates.
R: I guess a lot of “me time.” Most of my free time is organizing my kids’ schedules, helping them with homework, taking them to after school activities and just spending time with my family. I may not have much time to focus on me, but I enjoy being there for my family.
One thing you didn’t know before having kids that you wish you had known.
L: I wish I listened to people when they said “enjoy this stage as it goes by so quickly”. It’s so true. I remember when Sami and Max were younger, stressing about both my kids not sleeping through the night as if it was the biggest thing ever! At that time it was…but now that they are older there are so many other “things” to focus on (i.e. I can’t drag them out of bed in the morning now!)
Do you think it’s easier or harder to be a parent in 2017 versus when you were growing up?
L + R: I actually think both! There are definitely pressures that us moms put on ourselves to make sure that our kids are exceeding, as well as parents having to be the perfect parent. Social media definitely plays a big role. I wish everyone can see what’s beyond the frames of the photos everyone posts…or the bribing that goes into taking that perfect photo…or how many lessons and tutors kids have had to get all those awards.
At the same time, parents have all the resources at their fingertips. It’s so easy to ask for help these days. I think that we are really lucky to be parents now. Support is just a click away! And for us working moms – Facetime is a lifesaver! Can’t make it home for bedtime, no problem – we can read a bedtime story over the phone!
Favorite M+A products this season?
L: I love the Little Slugger Tee for Max – it’s totally his personality!
My go to gift is the Muslin Always Blanket – there are so many cute patterns to fit everyone’s style.
Hello Baby Pant – they are so comfy – I wish you made them in my size!
The Layette Cuddle boxes are the ultimate gift for any new baby.