Michelle LeBlanc is that friend you want in the next dressing room or, better yet, sitting outside your closet every morning! “Nope,” she would shake her head politely and stylishly. “Not yoga pants again.” Browse her online shop for just a second or two, and it’s clear that her aesthetic is based on ease and good lines that will connect all the dots in your days, no matter where you may land. There’s a reason it’s called Pretty Mommy, Friends! Now let’s see how she’s prettily living with kids, shall we? Enjoy!
Q: Tell us all about the stylish family who lives here!
A: I live here with my husband Chris, music critic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and our two daughters. Lila is four and Louisa just turned one in April, so we are knee deep in the highs and lows of raising two little ones. I also run a busy online boutique out of our house so I’m constantly trying to navigate between functioning as a stay-at-home mom and work-at-home mom. Between dress-up sessions, shipping packages, princess pirate escapades, answering emails, and keeping everything sisterly, there is a lot of living and working happening here on any given day!
Q: Where do you make your home? Will you tell us the story of how it came to be yours?
A: We moved to Minneapolis 11 years ago from Austin, Texas and bought this little 1920s cottage in the city. The location is pretty fantastic; right along a creek and scenic hike and bike trails, plus close to a lake…it is Minnesota, after all! When we found the house, we were newly engaged and I had no intention of living somewhere so cold for very long, so we definitely treated it as a temporary situation.
Fast forward a decade and two kids later. The house is a tight squeeze, the closet space at a premium, and the basement full, but we keep reconfiguring it to make it work. (Although having all of my husband’s music collection relegated to the basement is probably not his idea of “making it work!”) I love our neighborhood and would love to add on at some point in the near future, but I’m always holding on to the hope that we will end up back in Austin someday.
Q: What’s your favorite feature in your home? What makes you the happiest about it? Also, what are you dying to change?
A: When I was pregnant with Louisa, we converted our upstairs guest room/catchall loft space into our bedroom and office. My friend and amazing interior designer Nadia Haddad designed it and is the one space in the house that feels fully realized. She turned it from a crazy hoarders-style mess into a little sanctuary. I love waking up to a clutter-free room, my favorite painting, and light streaming through a stained glass piece by David Scheid.
Now I just need her to work her magic on the rest of the house! I’m dying to redo the living and dining room, but am trying to make more thoughtful purchases that I really love instead of rushing through the process. This is so hard for this instant gratification loving shopper!
Q: You curate such a gorgeous shop! Tell us about it! How did it begin, and how do you choose who and what to stock?
A: Thank you! Pretty Mommy actually started its life as a blog. I had been a stay-at-home mom for about a year and a half and had really lost my fashion mojo so I randomly decided to start writing about it one day as a kind of kick in the pants. I already had owned an online consignment business and worked in boutiques as a buyer and manager for most of my twenties, so adding a shopping component seemed like a natural extension. The shop grew from there and has really flourished, although now with two littles and running the store I don’t really have time to blog anymore!
As for deciding what to carry, it’s really as simple as choosing things that I love. The nice thing about online retail is that your audience is so far reaching. I never have to think “What do people in Minneapolis want to buy?” which is pretty liberating as a buyer. I think my niche is finding small, independent designers with some sort of handmade or hand-crafted element…but still really fashion forward. And I am a big fan of supporting women who make things in the USA and personally have a hand in the construction.
Q: Do you have a separate area in your home that serves as your warehouse? How do you keep the goodies from curious little girls?
A: The office has some great, super organized closet spaces that house most of the inventory, and there are always lots of boxes coming and going. The girls don’t spend a lot of time there, but Lila loves to play dress up with the jewelry! Sometimes my assistant has to recover pieces from the toy room, but I’m pretty vigilant about making sure that they are gentle with everything.
Q: What’s your basic philosophy on living with kids?
A: Don’t sweat the small stuff, try to embrace the season you are in, and know that it all races by so quickly that even those hard stages will be over in the blink of an eye! We don’t own anything too precious and neither girl is very rambunctious by nature, so things usually stay in one piece. I think letting them have the run of the place but teaching them to take care of things works for us! As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or the house, I like to give them room to explore and create.
Q: How important is style in your daily life? Does it motivate you? And where do you find your best inspiration?
A: Style is probably way more motivating and important than it should be! There are certainly many, many days I spend in my pajamas, but I definitely function better when I am put together and surrounded by pretty things. I’m convinced that my daughters listen to me more when I don’t looked like I just rolled out of bed! Plus it’s just fun creating a little different persona and look every day. It’s an easy creative outlet.
There is kind of an overload of inspiration to be found these days, no? I could spend way too much time combing through Pinterest and street style blogs, so I’m working on letting other people (like you!) find it for me. Joslyn of Simple Lovely can do no wrong in my eyes; her taste and style is always spot on, plus she’s just all-around awesome. The Glow always knocks me out and gives me new girls to crush on. I can always count on my real life and incredibly talented friend, Emily, to come for an afternoon and somehow arrange my home so that it looks far more interesting than it did before she arrived!
I’m completely enamored with that group of LA ladies that all blog, hang out, and create amazing things: Heather Taylor, Joanna Williams, Jeana Sohn, Simone LeBlanc, Jennifer of Ermie, Beatrice Valenzuela, and all the rest.
Oh, and Instagram! I’m always finding the best things over there…
Q: If you could give other moms your top tips on finding style in the everyday, what would they be?
A: Take a shower, paint your fingernails red, get out of those sweats at least a couple of days a week, light a candle, buy a plant, and keep something bubbly in the fridge…even if it is just sparkling water!
Three things that make me feel more glamorous? Blush, first! Always blush! I like Josie Maran’s cheek stains, free of yucky chemicals and give you that flushed look. There’s also Rodin’s Olio Lusso at night, which is admittedly totally spendy but I don’t really use any other potions or creams and it smells really amazing. And then an interesting complex perfume; right now I’m rotating between Noble and a mix of Poppy Rouge and Burning Barbershop.
Q: Describe your perfect moment of every day when you feel like you’ve got it right.
A: Oh, man! Probably when everyone is finally asleep and I’m vegged out on the couch watching Mad Men!
Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…
A: I wish I had known that I needed more space and time to settle into life with two kids. Go easy on yourselves, mamas!
Very true, Michelle. Go easy on yourself, mamas! We’re all doing the best we can, aren’t we? Perfect reminder as the summer begins! Thank you, Pretty Mommy!
Friends, how do you find style in the everyday mom moments? I’d love to hear your own techniques and tricks!
Photos by Paul Owen of Owen Photo.