Mother’s Day is a little over two weeks away and if you are like any of us in the office, you are hard pressed to find a gift suitable for Mom. Flowers seem trite, the Mother’s Day brunch overdone and a bottle of perfume may get you demoted from your “favorite child” status. Stuck in a rut, we reached out to Simone LeBlanc, one of the most trusted resource for specialty gifting to get her opinion on Mother’s Day. As the originator of the current trend of reinvented gift boxes, Simone has created bespoke gifts and her specialty curated gift boxes for a wide range of philanthropists, celebrities, and industry leaders since forming her company in 2011. Drawing on her artistic background, Simone creates refined gifts with emotional resonance. A recently mother herself to baby daughter Lillian, we invited Simone to give her unique perspective on gifting, design and what is important about being a Mom.
When people have children, some find their aesthetic changes? White sofas get covered, sharp edges get bumpers and so forth. As a new mother, what is the thing you found that changed most about your home décor?
I’ve moved more towards simplicity. I’ve always tended to lean this way, but since having Lillian, I have really pared down in every way imaginable, from winnowing down to just my go-to wardrobe staples to the items and decor in my home. There is, of course, a very pragmatic reason for this — you simply have less things to put away and less things to clean! But there is also the more abstract element — by simplifying I believe you make more room for special moments. You create space for the beautiful things that add value and enrich your life. Also, we live in such a time of over-stimulation that I really value the idea of creating a respite from it all (for Lillian and for my husband and I, too!).
What is your favorite room in your home to find a little respite during your day?
My design studio. There are definitely the ebbs and flows of keeping such an active space tidy amidst all of the design that we do (it’s my in-home satellite space to our production studio), but ultimately this is my space to escape to and find the space to create, re-energize, and re-center.
I designed the space to have plenty of natural light and breezy, open windows, to be surrounded by nature and greenery, and to inspire flow and effortless movement. I really always had a vision of a space that feels like this—that’s really all about flow—a quiet space to let the ideas through and new inspirations find their way to me amidst the noise. Also, the studio for me speaks to the idea of the ritual of a space—as important as it is for Lillian to have her own room to play and grow, it’s important for each of us to have that as well. The design studio is this for me.
Is there an heirloom or family keepsake you envision giving to your child(ren) when they move into their own place?
Something that I’ve been doing since Lillian was born is journaling memories and moments of different things—small little bits, like when she ate her first avocado, and big ones, too, like first steps taken. I love that one day she’ll see this record of these magical moments, all of it in my own handwriting. I’d love to give it to her one day when she’ll really love and appreciate it as a special thing.
I also have an antique sewing box that belonged to my great great aunt. She brought it from France to New Orleans, and used it in the 20s. It is a very beautiful object and I hope one day Lillian will keep some of her most prized things in this.
Many say the gift of time is the most important thing a new Mom can have. How important is it for you as a new mother to take time for yourself?
Taking time for myself is so essential! As Lillian grows, that idea has really evolved and transformed for me. When I was pregnant, I thought to myself “of course I’ll make time for myself! I’ll be the same as before!” But going through the pregnancy, it’s amazing how things change… Even being able to wrap my head around the concept of “me time” that first year was just so challenging—now that she’s 18 months, things have settled in a different way. I have come to see how truly important it is to find this time. That’s because the “me time” is as much for Lillian, and my family, as it is for me! The mom I want Lillian to know as an overarching theme is present, happy, grounded and peaceful. I can only be those things if I take time for myself. Of course, the reality of my particular brand of “me time” is that it’s very scheduled relaxation, but I have to say, it makes you indulge and appreciate it more.
Why is tea so important to your “self ritual”?
I love that tea is such a simple, instant ritual of very intentional and mindful slow living and self care—The simple act of brewing tea instantly creates a quiet mood and evokes a feeling of nourishment and simple pleasure. I also love the idea that tea can be seasonal and that you can choose a tea that feels right for the season—a cozy chai for the autumn, a bright mint for the spring, whatever it is for you!—that incorporates the natural scents and ingredients associated with a particular time. I also love that teas have origin stories—there is a feeling of place, of an age-old history, and of imagination associated with teas that I like to feel inspired by.
Then of course there are all of the accoutrements associated with a tea service—whether a traditional Japanese tea ceremony or an English high tea in the garden. I love everything about it, from the tools down to the texture of the tea blend itself to the honey. Every time I brew a cup I find myself wanting to pause to take a picture so I can keep that memory of that sweet moment.