Natalie Alcala not only can be found wearing a super cool jacket and kickin' the coolest tennis shoes you have ever seen while toting a toddler, she also started Fashion Mamas—an exclusive, members-only group for creative women that hosts events, get-togethers and career panels. To find out how she pulls it all together, both sartorially and professionally, I sat down with her and asked her to spill her secrets.
What inspired you to start Fashion Mamas?
When my son was born, I was looking for a community that understood the juggle (and struggle!) of balancing motherhood with a demanding career, specifically in the fashion industry. (At the time, I was the senior editor at Racked LA.) I had so many fashion friends who were new, cool moms and started referring to them as "Fashion Mamas." The term quickly caught on, so I knew I had something. I bought the FashionMamas.com domain and created all the social media accounts (as any good millennial would do), unsure of what would happen next but open to the universe to guide me.
In December 2014, when my son was just three months old, I hosted a brunch in Los Angeles for the first ten Fashion Mamas members where I treated them to gifting and bites—we discussed business and motherhood. I truly wanted to reward and connect these badass women who were leading the industry with a baby on their hips and I was so excited to find more like-minded muses around the world to join us. Fast-forward to today and we have 350 members worldwide! Our sisterhood is organically growing at rapid speed and I couldn't be happier.
I love listening to the inspirational panels that FM has. Can you share more about what type of events does FM has for their members?
Our members-only events range from intimate experiences like our #MamasMakingIt panel, private movie screenings, gift-filled playdates, kid-friendly fitness sessions and mamas' nights out. We also host large-scale activations open to the public, including our popular Kids Fashion Fair and pop-up shops. These events also highlight our members' brands and feature special members-only perks, including discounts.
What does it take to be a member of FM?
First and foremost, applicants should work in the fashion industry or touch the industry in some way. Many creative careers meet that requirement. For instance, although we have direct-fashion titles in the group (models, designers, editors, stylists), we also have girls in entertainment (actresses, TV hosts, red carpet reporters) and even a stylish caterer or two who are known for entertaining the fashion set. Although it's not required to know someone in the group (it's always fun to discover a new girl outside of our existing connections), member-referred applicants absolutely receive priority review. All of our girls also have a strong brand identity and understanding of the power of social media.
What are the benefits of being a member of FM?
Our members enjoy monthly members-only events, exclusive gifting from stylish brands, access to our secret Facebook group where they can engage with hundreds of our members, access to our experts directory to help them take their businesses to the next level and access to our rewards portal where there are tons of online and in-store deals just for our girls. All new members also receive our exclusive FM welcome box that features our branded swag and partner gifts.
You are very connected to the Fashion World: How is fashion a part of your daily life as a mother?
Fashion is a major part of my daily life. When it comes to dressing my son, I absolutely love putting together his pint-sized outfits. There's something so adorable about minis dressed like tiny adults. He is my little fashion muse, and I can tell that he loves it. He gives himself the cutest little smile in the mirror when he's digging his look. Definitely my son!
I hear mothers talk about how their children dress better than themselves and that their only wardrobe piece is black yoga pants. What is your advice for mothers who might struggle to keep their connection with the fashion world once they have children?
My style didn't change when I became a mother—I still love wearing black and short dresses. I never lost my identity in this process and I think that's an important lesson to teach my son: Regardless of the changes and judgment around you, you should always remain true to yourself. And if yoga pants are all you feel comfortable in, take baby steps by incorporating that piece into a dope athleisure look. Pair those yoga pants with a muscle tee, a bomber jacket and some fresh Air Force Ones, and you're good to go, mama.
What three pieces should every mom own?
Definitely some swaggy sneakers so you can feel comfortable but cool while running errands/picking kids up from school (I love a classic Nike Cortez or Adidas Superstar), an investment moto jacket that you'll wear forever and a sassy black dress that will be your go-to for evenings or when you just need to dance in front of the mirror after a challenging day.
As Fashion Mamas take over LA, NY and SF, where do you see FM in the next 5 years?
We have major plans for the future that I'm not at liberty to reveal just yet but what I can say is that FM's chapters and programming will definitely be expanding in a major way over the next few years. It will all be a very thoughtful process to ensure our community's quality is never compromised. The FM movement is upon us and this is only the beginning.