Work It: Tali Magal on Producing a Successful Career with Kids
Chloe, DKNY, Mercedes Benz, Vogue, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and U2—Tali Magal’s client list reads like a who’s who of the fashion, entertainment, and advertising world. By day, this powerhouse producer coordinates major photo, film, and commercial shoots. And by night (and early morning), she soaks up as much quality time as possible with her toddler twin girls and her husband Craig Fleishman, Executive Vice President of Rebecca Minkoff. In such a fashionable, fast-paced household, how do they stay centered and focused on what really matters? Here, Tali shares what surprised her about having twins, her best motherhood advice, and what led her to branch out as her own boss.
Mom to Amalia 'Mali' Belle & Gabriella 'Gigi' Roux (2.5 year-old twins)
The place you call home: Dumbo, Brooklyn
Can you share a brief career synopsis and what led you to found Freebird Productions?
My path to becoming a producer was totally unplanned and organic. During my junior year in college, I lived abroad in Italy. I fell deeply in love with the Italian culture, language, geography and people, and I felt instantly at home there. Upon my return to the U.S., I knew that I wanted three things from my first job: 1) to be creative 2) to speak Italian 3) to travel. These three things pointed me in the direction of fashion. I got my first job producing photo shoots in New York for an Italian magazine. I went on to produce shoots in-house at a photo rep agency, but I always envied the freelance producers and companies that I would hire to travel and run each shoot. So in 2009, I jumped ship and started producing on my own for many of the same photographers I worked for previously. It was a very fortunate way to start out on my own, with a built-in client list and some wind in my sails. I basically haven't stopped since! I’m also a partner in Accompany, an e-commerce site for beautiful products that are either fair-trade, artisan-madel or have a philanthropic component.
Describe your typical day as a working mom:
6:45/7am: Wake up, quickly check emails, and stretch. Wait for the babes to call out (sometimes I just wait by the door and listen to their hilarious toddler twin morning conversations before going in).
7:30-8:00am: Morning playtime with cuddles. The girls help me make coffee. It turns out that our Nespresso machine is one of their favorite 'toys.' It’s great for toddlers because all the lights and buttons and steps you follow. The girls take turns helping me make my morning espresso, and it’s really cute.
8-8:15am: Breakfast time
9am: Our nanny comes and I leave for the office, which is four blocks away from the house (unless I'm on-set or away location shooting that day).
6:30pm: Back home for evening cuddles and bedtime routines. Our neighborhood has had a recent explosion of good food options and restaurants, so I'll typically grab something quick and easy from VHH to go or The Smile to go across the street at Empire Stores for dinner. That way I can spend focused time with the little ones when I get home. We play, and they love to sing and dance and tell us about their day. It’s such a sweet highlight of every day. Then it’s time for books and lullabies and bedtime.
8:30pm (ish): Unless I have an event or dinner planned, it's feet up with a glass of wine and a couch hang with my husband to catch up on the day and have some adult decompression time.
How has becoming a mother changed your approach to work?
I’m much more efficient with how I spend my working hours now. I don't know how (or why) I used to spend so much time working at the office before. I got a lot less done in a lot more time before having babies. Now, I get into the office, take a few minutes to review my wall of all active projects, attack my to-do list, mission through everything and am out the door by 6:30pm, whenever possible.
What has been the most surprising thing about having twins?
How absolutely delicious and satisfying it is. I remember people saying 'What a blessing' when we were pregnant with twins...and I wanted to punch them in the face (I was clearly still in shock). I had no mental image for what a life with two babies at once could look like; I just pictured utter mayhem. But the truth is it really is the coolest thing in the world to witness—these two little people who are deeply connected from birth. It really has been the ultimate blessing. They have a rolling partner for everything they do in life. They nurture each other, love each other, fight and share together. They’re socialized and have a best friend from the moment they arrive (before then even). And having both arms filled with baby love is the best feeling imaginable. It’s heaven.
As the mother of daughters, what one important lesson you hope to teach them about navigating the world today?
We tell them how lucky they are to have a sister, and to make sure to take care of one another. I think that feeling emotionally supported and learning to support your fellow women (and all humans in general) is an important base for understanding the world we live in. I urge them to be aware of their surroundings and to be aware of their community. I of course want them to achieve their goals and be 'smart,' but I want them to be kind and engaged social beings as well. School will teach them basics and 'facts,' but I want them to be aware of all the subtleties around them as well. Most importantly I want them to learn to trust their own instincts and push for what they believe in.
As we all know, it takes a village to raise children. Your girls' village includes their godfathers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, and godmother Athena Calderone of Eyeswoon. What do you hope the girls learn from them?
The girls actually have two godfathers and three godmothers—with twins comes more of everything! Their godparents are all high-achieving people who have done some remarkable things in life. Though the reason they are all close to my heart and why they were picked to be my daughters 'chosen ones' is because they are all warm, loving, wise, exceptional human beings. I hope that the babes learn about love and friendship and community from them. I hope they learn how to laugh and enjoy life from them. And I hope they learn to chase their dreams like their godparents have.
What do you like to do when you get a few hours to yourself?
Yoga, facials, staring into space—anything relaxing. It’s so crazy how rare that alone time is these days. Our days are all filled to the max!
What do you hope is different about work and the workplace when your girls are your age?
I hope that they are able to chase their dreams and feel that they can achieve anything in a fair and equal manner when it is their time.
In ten words or less, give us your best career-related advice:
The world rewards those brave enough to ask and risk. And people notice when you do your best, so bring your A-game!
In ten words or less, give us your best motherhood advice:
These words of wisdom by my incredible 96-year-old grandmother Nika are ones to live by for life (not just for motherhood): 'STAY FLEXIBLE.' The moment you go rigid in either mind or in body is when you get old and get stuck.
Favorite M+A Products this season?
My girls are OBSESSED with their pink and purple tutus, and I am obsessed with their vegan leather Moto jackets! We also still use the amazing M+A swaddles all the time. They were perfect at birth, but also now for summer blankets in the car as well as all-around soft cuddliness in winter. The babes ask for 'tents' over their cribs (I drape them like little canopies) for extra shade. They’re the perfect thickness and softness for all year round, and have the cutest designs. The swaddles are my go-to gift for all new mama friends!