Leader of the Pack: Jacq Tatelman, Founder of STATE Bags
With everything going on in the world these days, it’s important to do your part to make a difference. Our spirit rallied when we spoke with alpha female Jacq Tatelman, co-founder and creative director of STATE Bags, whose company gives back to American children in need with every purchase. The socially conscious enterprise was so genius that another alpha female Beyoncé (you read that right) quickly took notice and partnered up on for a huge bag drop/donation initiative.
Jacq talks about what drives her philanthropic soul, from creating and giving back to society, to the family time she holds dear.
Jacq Tatelman, 37
Mom to: Ayla (5 years), Ozzie (3 years)
The place you call home: Brooklyn
Tell us a little bit about your day job:
Well first, I’m always Mama. It’s my day, night, always and forever job, but when I leave the house and head to work I’m the Creative Director for STATE Bags. STATE is a get one, give one bag company that donates one bag for every one sold to an American child living in situations of need. As Creative Director, my role is to oversee the creative for anything consumer facing including all marketing and campaigns, but the majority of my time is focused on conceptualizing and developing our product.
What do you love most about your job?
I mostly love everything. The give back is definitely at the top of the list, and bag drop events (when we donate) have been some of the best moments or days of my life. Some of my other favorite parts of the job are when new bag samples or new materials that will one day be bags arrive. I love seeing something in a big giant box filled with stacks of fabric cards, and then think of ways to make it a backpack. That’s what makes our line exceptional – the stuff that no one else is doing in this space. It’s also exciting to create cool product for the whole family -- no matter what your family looks like.
What do you like least?
The hardest part of my job is having tough conversations with the team, or when the product comes in and is not the quality we were hoping for.
So how did you end up doing this cool thing for a career?
This is what I was meant to do. There is no question in my mind. I feel all roads in my life have led to me to be in this exact seat I’m in. I always loved materials and color, loved to create and see people wear and enjoy something I made come to life.
We’re curious. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
My dad always tells me I wanted to be a scientist? But as far back as I can remember (and into my adult life) I wanted to own my own clothing store. My mother had a store in the basement of my house when I was a kid and my dad had a chain of leather stores. I always say I grew up in rack of clothing. I used to roll around my mom's store in diapers and high heels, and as a teenager I thought her store was literally my closet. It’s what I knew and loved – bringing women together and dressing them to feel beautiful!
Running STATE has to be a 24/7 job. How did you handle the first few months after giving birth? Did you take any maternity leave?
I didn’t really take any time off for either child. After Ayla was born, I had a meeting in my living room the day after I got home from the hospital. Then a week later I pumped 6 ounces of breast milk in the car on the way to the office and was so frazzled I never attached the bottle. RIP to my favorite Celine bag. When Ozzie was born it was the same day Beyoncé's team dropped the press release about our collaboration, so needless to say, I didn’t take too much time there either.
Did you ever contemplate staying home after they were born?
I give tons and tons of credit to the women who stay home with their children; it’s the hardest job. It’s just not me. I never felt that I would be the best mother I could be if I was with my children all day. Stimulating my brain and creativity the way I do at STATE keeps me energized and excited to come home.
Having kids is a game changer. In what ways has your life changed since having children?
I honestly can’t think of any way my life is the same since having kids. Your babes change the way you see everything. When I’m in the office I’m present and truly in it, but I find the days are so much shorter because you can't just stay late.
What’s your best advice to a new mom coming towards the end of her maternity leave?
I would say just take it one day at a time. Don’t be hard on yourself, allow your body and mind the time to feel the emotions. Also, lean on your mom friends – that crew of other women you choose to let in will be your greatest asset.
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?
I don’t cook anymore during the week. I used to constantly beat myself up about it, too. I felt bad for my husband and my kids, but everyone is doing just fine!
Do you have any traditions or routines that you try to stick to as a family?
Scot and I are very routine. We pretty much live life like it’s Groundhog Day. Every morning when I’m cracking eggs (making breakfast) I think to myself, “Wow, this again.” I think our kids love the security that comes with that. In the same breath though, we love to get out of town and explore the world together. We take long road trips where we sing, play old school back-of-the-station wagon games, and just chat. It’s great family time and I love the idea that together we’re making memories and traditions.
One thing you didn’t know before having kids that you wish you had known:
Everyone says being a parent is hard, but you don’t fully get that until you’re a parent. It’s taxing not only on your mind, but your body. Everything changes the day you have your baby and I guess no one really prepares you for the fact that it literally happens overnight. One minute you’re so cute and pregnant, draped in HATCH, and then hours later you’re a mom. It’s life changing… instantly.
Do you think it’s easier or harder to be a parent in 2017 versus when you were growing up?
I think it's harder. I couldn’t and shouldn’t even get into this on this platform. I’m so infuriated with the current political climate. With the state of the world in general. I’m going to quietly and politely end this question riiiiiight here.
What do you hope is different about work and the workplace when your kids are running the world?
I hope that my girl will get the same opportunity to kick ass as my son.
Jacq Tatelman’s favorite M+A products this season. Our Graudaute Cardigan, Spot + Dot Leopard Jacket, Little Darling Knit Top + Bottom, and Chambray Romper.