Much like babes, we go gaga for pretty, shiny things. And so it was when we laid eyes on The Last Line from jewelry designer Shelley Sanders. We’re talking gorg investment pieces (minus the standard industry markup) that are both sophisticated and fun.
Though Sanders loves designing a good arm candy (see: perfect rainbow tennis bracelets), she says she’s “first and forever, a mama.” Find out how the busy mom of three has successfully added a fourth child (her business!) into the mix.
Your age: 36
Your kids: Arrow (5), Howl (almost 4), Goldie (7 ½ months!)
The place you call home: Beverly Hills, California
What do you love most about your job?
The jewelry, from start to finish; I genuinely love to create. Before launching The Last Line in July, I had been working in the industry but always designing for someone else from celebrity jewelry brands and high-end jewelry houses. I like being able to create (almost) whatever I want, especially coming from a job with lots of rules. With my own line, I have rules but I get to do things that I always dreamed of.
What do you like, not so much?
For me, launching The Last Line quickly became much more than just designing — it meant managing a business, which is a challenge in its own right. It’s been a sharp learning curve: launching a website, hiring people, building a brand; oh, and employee handbooks! There are pros and cons to every job — that’s no secret, but balancing the cons that can come with owning your own business can be a lot.
What were your first five jobs?
Technically, my first job was a waitress! Then there was a stint in a vintage clothing store. Around nineteen my career in jewelry began — I was a salesperson in a small store in Colorado during summer break. After college, I worked for a jewelry licensing company as designer. From there, I became the head designer and creative director for dozens of celebrity jewelry brands and high-end jewelry houses, working with everything from costume jewelry and gold, to diamonds and precious stones.
How did you make the jump from working for others to working for yourself?
It was a long time coming, but in the end I just ripped off the bandaid. I knew for a while I was ready, but it is scary to leave something I had done for such a long time. It’s a big decision. I’ve lost a lot of freedom, but gained a lot and I’m so happy I did it.
Did you or your partner get a maternity/paternity leave following the birth of your children? How did you handle those first few months?
I had zero maternity leave. By the time I had my kids I was working for myself. Actually, I vividly remember stopping at FedEx en route to the hospital with my second son. The balance of both was (and is!) difficult. I worked from home for my first two children and I was able to be around. Now, I’m back to the office with my littlest at home, but she’s in excellent hands and I’ve been known to sneak home to see her when I need a fix.
What’s been the most surprising thing about childcare?
Sharing your space is difficult; bringing someone into your house is a big deal. When you’re hiring someone to be a caretaker, they’re filling the role that you and your partner would fill, so they have to be more than just a good caretaker!
In what ways is your work/life the same since having kids? And in what ways is it different?
I would be lying if I said my sleep schedule has not been jeopardized, but truthfully I wouldn’t change it. I feel so lucky to be doing both “jobs”— I love my family and I love my career. I think it’s safe to say The Last Line qualifies as my fourth child!
While I haven’t figured out the perfect balance, I try very hard to be present and to lead my home with love and enjoy all that I do, whether that’s working late on a photoshoot or driving early morning carpool. Since having children, it’s a lot harder to stay late. The idea of work hours gets gray; you can’t be selfish anymore and the balance of it all is difficult. I often leave to be home in time for the kids: do dinner and put them to bed, and then pick back up where I left off. Truthfully, you have to be able to go with the flow. It’s often a triage situation and we figure it out.
What are the things you look forward to after a long day or week of work?
After a long day of work, I first look forward to saying hi to my kids. With that comes the daily download from their unique points of view — which is always fun — and then jammies, stories, and bed. Those moments are the most cherished. If it’s a great day, I may add in a glass of wine … and if I can get in bed by nine, it’s the dream.
What’s your best advice to a new mom freaking out about the end of her maternity leave?
Don’t waste your energy worrying, especially as a new mom. There are so many things you freak out about, but in the end, trust me, it will be okay. If you’re going back to work, choose someone you love and trust [to help].
Let’s keep it 100. No one can really do it all. What do you do less of to make it work for you and your family?
I do less cooking, if we’re being honest. Less worrying about myself, more focus on the family. Now it feels more regular to skip a workout here and there or stretch my color a few weeks more because of schedules; but you still have to do something (even one thing) that you like to do.
One thing you didn’t know before having kids that you wish you had known:
Overthinking is pointless. Being a parent is not easy but it is not rocket science. Be intuitive, love them, take care of them, and just be there.
What do you hope is different about the workplace when your kids are running the world?
To be honest, I’m excited for my kids. There are a lot more career opportunities now than there were for me, and especially more than there were for my parents. I hope that my children are open to the opportunities that come their way and take chances — and of course, follow their heart. I can’t really begin to imagine what they’ll do, but I’m excited to see.
Shop Shelley Sanders M+A picks this season!