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Left-Jill Koziol Right-Liz Tenety
You thought you knew what momlife was all about, but then came baby and, girl, were you in for a big surprise. Between juggling their own careers and family lives, co-founders Liz Tenety and Jill Koziol of Motherly are there to help you anticipate all the amazing, incredulous, and WTF to come. Their startup (which they manage from opposite coasts) provides a supportive, non-intimidating digital space for moms, with a newsletter further personalized to your particular situation (stay at home, full time, part time).
We talk to Liz and Jill about overcoming workplace challenges as new moms and thoughts on why our corporate cultures need to catch up. (And when it comes to Motherly, they practice what they preach.) Get the inspiration to kick ass in your own life, thanks to these modern day Wonder Women.
Liz Tenety, 32
Jill Koziol, 36
Tell us about what you do at Motherly:
L: I’m the content-lead half of the cofounding team at Motherly—meaning I help all our content creators develop videos, articles, and classes to inspire our generation of mothers.
J: I lead all business operations, partnerships, and product. Like many start-ups I’m a “jack-of-all-trades”. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. The excitement and energy around every day at Motherly is my version of perfection.
What do you love most about your job?
J: Reading the daily emails we receive unsolicited from our readers thanking us for creating Motherly. I get goosebumps reading them, seeing how our vision is coming alive. Motherly is empowering women around the world to redefine motherhood for themselves. I personally respond to each email and share them with our entire team. It’s humbling and inspiring every day.
What do you like least?
J: Pushing ALL the buttons! Start-up life isn’t glamorous. I heard once that there’s nothing like ten years of hard work to look like an overnight success, and that feels so right.
How did you end up at Motherly?
L: I spent the first 10 years of my career in a variety of roles at The Washington Post, but kept feeling a pull to more innovative business models pioneered by new digital ventures. I had a lightbulb moment about moving into the digital motherhood space, but it was only when I partnered with Jill did I see how Motherly could take off as a business!
J: I answered the phone! Liz called me with the idea for Motherly, simply asking for a little advice after some friends pointed her in my direction. The timing wasn’t perfect on my end, but the idea was and I knew that with Liz’s creative superpowers and my execution superpowers, we could do it! A lot of the magic in Motherly is how well we complement and respect each other. Together, we’ve got this!
Did you ever contemplate staying home after your kids were born?
L: I really internalized the idea that is pushed upon women that says they “can’t have it all,” so I assumed that I would just have to dial back my career. But once I adjusted to momlife after my first child was born (and honestly, it took a good year), I discovered that I was the same ambitious, driven person—just with a child.
Frankly, I think it’s unfair that our society tells women they can’t “have it all”—and I do find it unjust that men aren’t encouraged to consider how their career choices would impact their family lives as well. I’m convinced that we’re the generation that is trailblazing a more equitable path forward—with more flexible work for women and men, highly-involved fathers, and ambitious, educated women forming families. Now we just need our public policy and corporate cultures to catch up to our reality.
J: YES! One of the best pieces of advice I was given while pregnant was to NOT decide anything about going back to work before having the baby, but rather to give myself the freedom to decide later what I wanted. Motherhood changed me—I think it changes us all—and I think it’s important to give yourself “permission” to change.
After my three months of maternity leave I went back to work full-time for only a month before shifting to a part-time, remote position. That’s what worked best for my family until two years ago when Liz and I started Motherly. It’s one of the reasons we are so committed to creating a next-gen company culture for TeamMotherly. We are building a place where parents can thrive both professionally and personally. All of our team works remotely with flexible co-working hours that allows parents to be at preschool pick-up and drop-off and make it to doctors appointments and recitals. When empowered and appreciated, you won’t find a more efficient and creative teammate than a parent.
What’s your best advice to a new mom coming towards the end of her maternity leave?
J: Take some time for yourself. Self-care is not selfish. Really. It’s been a life changing few weeks or months and you are a warrior mama. You deserve some time to pamper yourself, even if it’s just for an hour massage or a mani-pedi. Take the time to do something that makes you feel like you: strong, capable, calm. Do that before the end of your maternity leave and then schedule it again for 1-2 weeks later. Put it on the calendar! Oh, and either prep some quick dinners that you can freeze or splurge on a meal delivery service for the first week back at work.
L: No matter what you choose to do or need to do regarding work, you ARE an amazing mother. I truly believe that our country is at a tipping point in how we treat new parents and their babies—and that paid leave and company cultures that better support new families are on the verge of transforming the workplace. Give yourself a pat on the back for being a pioneer. It’s not easy to do it without those structures, but I believe we’re closer than ever.
What’s been the most surprising thing about childcare?
L: How much better work is when you have adequate childcare. A few years ago, I was essentially working a full-time job (three part-time jobs) with only part-time childcare. But as my family grew and my career became even more demanding, investing in full-time childcare became an incredible sanity-saver. If you’re going to be away from your kids, it’s essential you feel happy with your childcare situation—and that it frees you to succeed at work. Making sure I have great childcare that covers my full work schedule is essential.
J: Working through childcare challenges is what taught me that mother’s instinct is a real thing and that I can always trust it. You don’t have to have a “reason” that someone isn’t right to care for your child. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. And, sometimes the best person “on paper” isn’t the best person for your family.
One thing you didn’t know before having kids that you wish you had known:
L: That I’d feel a kinship with men and boys of all ages and stripes after having sons. After having two boys, I feel like part of me identifies with the unique challenges and obligations that men have in a whole new way. We’re all in this together.
J: How much I’d love my girls. It’s not possible to really know this before but I wish I'd had some way of understanding that once I had children I’d forever feel like a part of my heart was out in the world separate from my body. They are my world and I’m awed and inspired by them every day. I’m a much better person for having become their mother.
What do you hope is different about the workplace when your kids are calling the shots?
J: I hope that companies like Motherly lead the way on how to create a workplace that helps parents thrive, that celebrates their role as parents, and helps them optimize and integrate their work and family life in a way that feels authentic and manageable. I hope as a country that we've figured out paternal leave is essential and as beneficial to corporations as it is for families.I also hope that the pay gap for women, and especially mothers, is closed for good. We’re better than this, America—we can do better for our children.
L: I hope that both men and women are accommodated in their desire for flexibility, and that we become a much more results-oriented work culture rather than one obsessed with how many hours people are sitting at their desk each day. More hours does not equal more output, and helping working parents hone their superpowers in an efficient way is better for everyone.
Liz’s favorite Monica + Andy pieces
I love the new layette boxes—I would have loved to have gotten one as a gift!
I also love the summer themed onesies, so sweet! It really reminds me of the innocence of childhood.
I’m a huge fan of the big muslin blankets‚ would love to rock one in blue stripe
Jill’s favorite Monica + Andy pieces
The hospital cuddle box in Flock Together is pretty much perfection. It’s EXACTLY what I would have wanted to receive in the hospital and is quickly becoming my go-to gift.
The Chambray Dress is girly and sweet, and my five year old’s new favorite dress because the empire waist makes it perfect for twirling.
My three-year-old is totally enamored with unicorns at the moment so anything in the Little Magic print is a hit, including the adorable bicycle shorts .
The Prima Bellarina Dress is a dream with the soft tulle skirt — my daughter was so full of joy when I told her it was for her!
The Black Dress is no ordinary little girl dress. It’s glamorous and sophisticated while also playful and sweet — perfect for when my girls want to dress “just like mommy”.
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