Tabitha Simmons, Sophia Webster & Marion Parke on What It’s Like Being a Working Mom

It’s not easy being a working mother in the fashion industry. Just ask top designers Sophia Webster, Tabitha Simmons and Marion Parke.

The trio assembled for a special “In Her Shoes” panel, hosted by Bloomingdale’s fashion director Erica Russo, at the retailer’s New York flagship on Thursday night. There, the women talked all things shoes. Beforehand, FN caught up with Webster, Simmons and Parke to discuss what it’s like being a mom in this industry.

bloomingdales, in her shoes, tabitha simmons, sophia webster
(L-R): Tabitha Simmons, Sophia Webster and Marion Parke at Bloomingdale’s In Her Shoes panel.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Bloomingdale's

Footwear News: How do you remain focused on both work and family life? What’s the strategy to this balancing act?

Tabitha Simmons: “You have to be super-organized when you’re trying to balance it because you always have to carve out time for your children or when you’re traveling make sure it’s not too much or you’re not gone for a long period of time. If they are really young, you have to take them with you. Try and make it work.”

Sophia Webster: “Whatever you’re doing, if it’s a factory visit or you’re spending time with the kids, you have to focus on what you’re doing [in that moment], otherwise you’re conflicted. If I’m away for work I try not to think about the children at home. I just focus on that and put everything into that and vice versa. If not, you’ll be at work wishing you were at home or you’ll be at home answering emails. Try and separate the two.”

Marion Parke: “Women are expected to do a lot, especially when you have families. It’s not easy. There are times when I have balance and other times when I don’t. There’s always time when you’re traveling and you think you should be home or at home thinking you should be traveling. It’s just part of being a working mom.”

FN: Does your family life ever overlap into work?

TS: “I started to really involve them. I’ll bring them to events. Sometimes I’ll show them the collection and ask them to pick their favorite shoe. The older ones are two teenage boys, so that tends to be really difficult. But involve them. Especially when they are older so they understand when you’re going away what you’re doing.”

MP: “I started to explain to my son that everything in the world is designed. Getting my kids to learn that there are other jobs outside of being a lawyer or dentist. There are jobs where creativity comes into the world and that’s a nice way to involve them, too.”

FN: Have your kids inspired your collections in any way?

SW: “I have three girls and my 5 year old is very opinionated in what she likes and doesn’t like. We do a mini collection, so I’m definitely inspired by her. Her social life is crazy. Once they start school every weekend there’s a party so I get to see and try them on her. She’s wear-trialing things for me, saying, ‘No mommy, this would be better with velcro. Different things like that. And with one of our main styles, when you put your feet together it makes a butterfly. That started because she was putting her shoes on the wrong way. I told her when you put them on you know you got them on the right foot because it makes a butterfly.”

MP: “My kids. They motivate me. I want to be successful and do a good job for them.”

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