When it comes to motherhood, we all have so much to learn from each other by sharing our stories. As soon as I moved up to the Bay Area, Katie Hintz Zambrano, the doyenne of SF fashion ladies, welcomed me into this community that I've been so privileged to be a part of—full of support and love. So when  asked to interview me for @mothermag, I was so excited to share my journey with both Katie and the Mother community, of which I've loved being a part. During the interview, I get super personal. I discuss the death of my own mother when my son Luca was just 3 months old, how motherhood is an ever-evolving work in progress, and how I'm trying to tame my ego during this hectic phase of my life and career. It's real, and I'm so beyond excited to share my story and what I've learned along the way. Plus, there are some pretty adorable pics of Luca & Mia—it's amazing what bribing kids with candy can do! ⁠Click through to read the entire interview on their site—and enjoy a sneak peek below.

xo Ariel

"I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter Mia and my son Luca was 2 when we moved from LA to the Bay Area. Our LA house sold at our first open house, (and since I was very pregnant) the pressure was on to find a new home.  We found this lovely Victorian and made an offer without ever visiting it in person! It was pretty stressful. We had a 45 day escrow in LA and a 25 day escrow up here and they closed within the same week. The universe was really looking out for us.  We had a long list of "wishes" but at the top was good public schools and a great outdoor space. Our backyard is what sold us on the house. I can stand at the kitchen sink and watch the kids play. Luca loves riding his bike around the yard and little Mia scoots after him. When it gets colder we make s'mores in the fireplace. It’s super great."

"As much as I aspire towards minimalism, I love surrounding myself with things that make me smile and treasures I collect. I feel like my personality comes through – happy, playful, bright, a little bit tailored but nothing too precious. I love to travel and I have trinkets I’ve picked up along the way that I’ve incorporated into the house – a giant room diffuser from Coqui Coqui in Tulum, a porcelain happy Buddha from Beijing, art from Tokyo, beautiful pottery from Paris, throw pillows from New York."

"I love having one boy and one girl and didn't have a preference the first time around. When I found out I was pregnant with Mia, I actually freaked out. I wanted another boy.  Having a girl meant that I’d only ever get to be the ‘mother’ and I’d never get to be the ‘daughter’ anymore in a mother-daughter relationship. In a sad and selfish way, I wanted someone to coddle me, nurture me, and tend to me in a way that only my own mom could.  The emotions got all tangled inside of me. But now that I’m on the other side of it, I love having a daughter. I see so much of my mom in Mia. All the best of her - her sense of humor, her personality, her confidence. It’s truly a beautiful full circle."

"Luca turned 5 last week and loves learning about different animals, building things, climbing, and puzzles. My husband is a civil engineer and Luca gets his spatial reasoning and logistical brain from him.  But he also loves bright colorful things. He points out pretty flowers and patterns so he gets an appreciation for design from me. Mia is 2 and is a typical second child. She hit all her milestones early (walking, talking, potty training) but I think it was all an attempt to keep up with her big brother.  She’s forever walking around and collecting things and carrying them with her (rocks, hair clips, pistachios). She particularly loves putting them in her ‘purse’ (I wonder where she gets her love of accessories?). Without any prodding from us, she’s obsessed with babies and loves pushing them around in her little stroller. I always knew I wanted to be a mother."

"Seeing my kids romp together is pretty rad. They are at a fun age where they are able to make each other belly laugh.  Knowing that I put people on this planet and that I will guide them to be good, strong, funny, brave, gentle, and emotional is also pretty great. It’s all I could ask for."

As for the decor, "Luckily the house was move in ready and we’ved lived in it ‘as-is’ for 2 years. Currently we’re in the midst of redoing the kids bathroom upstairs that they share. We have plans to do a light kitchen face lift (just countertops and backsplash) hopefully next year. In a dream world I’d build a freestanding office/studio space in the back yard, but, one thing at a time."

"We live in a deeply scary time and I have a heightened sense of awareness of the world we are leaving for our children.  We no longer live in a climate where we can sit quietly. Passivity is complicity in my book."

"Recognize you have a voice. Use it. Loudly. As a conscious consumer, I know I want to spend my money with brands that have values that align with mine.  I know some peers who own businesses who are afraid to speak up about politics for fear that it might affect their bottom line. To them I say - it’s a luxury to stay silent and not everyone can afford that luxury. My name is on the door and I want my brand to stand for the values that matter to me. This company is deeply personal and I feel a moral obligation to speak up about causes and policies that are important to me. If that doesn’t align with a customer, then I am fine with that too."

"I’m trying to juggle my 2020 work load so I can have a little more downtime. The last few years have been extra crunchy and I’m starting to see the light.  I want to be mindful of what projects I take on so I don’t run myself down. That’s not good for anyone."

"I want my children to navigate their world with empathy. I want them to be kind, not because I force them to, but because they understand what it feels like when someone is nice to them. When they get upset because someone isn’t sharing, I say “how does that make you feel” to direct their attention to the importance of kindness. I want them to eat all the food on their plate not because I tell them to, but because they are in touch with their bodies. I try to give my kids the tools to feel independent and empowered. I don’t ever say, “Good job” rather I say “Look at you! You did it!” It’s a subtle semantic shift but it goes a long way towards them feeling self-actualized.  They are accomplishing something for themselves, not because they are seeking my validation."

Plus, if you’re in San Francisco this weekend, on December 15th you can meet Ariel in person and shop some of AGJ’s best offerings when she pops-up at our holiday-themed MOTHER Market, going down at Fort Mason Center on Sunday, December 15th, 2019, 10am-5pm.

Photos by Jen Siska

Styling by Mikhael Romain

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