In Conversation with Carley Schweet, founder of Hello Postpartum

Isn’t it funny how we’re so often confronted with those “full circle” moments?

That’s how I felt when I was catching up with Carley Schweet over Zoom the other week. She was one of the first full time hires on my team at Club Monaco (remember when I worked in corporate fashion?), and we met when we were in our early and mid-twenties. So pretty much a lifetime ago. Especially in our new COVID version of time.

Little did I know, as I was hiring and training and we worked side-by-side, that we had a beautiful role reversal coming our way, and we’d be having these conversations more than a decade down the line.

Today, Carley is a self-care author and writer at Carley Schweet and the founder of Hello Postpartum. She became an entrepreneur after leaving Club Monaco, way back before it felt like a pervasive, strategic, and acceptable career choice for many. Carley tread this entrepreneurial path long before I did, and has built a wildly successful business around her passion for redefining what self-care really means for mothers. Through her digital business, her You Time podcast, and her writing that’s been featured everywhere from Bustle to MindBodyGreen, she works incredibly hard to inspire women to fill the gaps in their self-care practices with confidence and sustainability. In her own words, when she’s not writing, she’s probably trying to take a nap somewhere. Word. 

I’m so excited to share Carley’s experience and knowledge, and whether you are a mother or not, want children or not, there is so very much wisdom to glean from her sharing. While not a mother myself, I have continually found there to be a striking lack of information and of thoughtful sharing in the space of motherhood that actually deals with the mother herself. And when you layer on women’s identities beyond motherhood, as business owners, as friends, as partners, as independent beings… there is so very much that is not being talked about openly. Carley speaks to this from firsthand knowledge, as she became a mother and realized how little support there is out there when one is postpartum. 

In our interview, we’re talking about everything from Carley’s entrepreneurial journey to self care and wellness to motherhood to how it has, in turn, influenced her whole self. The full circle moment, as I mentioned before, comes for me as marvel at how I am now in a place to look up to and learn from this amazing woman, all these years after we first met next to a sample closet. 

I think it’s so special that we worked in the corporate fashion world together, and followed paths to entrepreneurship in our own unique ways. I’d love to dig into what your journey towards becoming an entrepreneur looked like, how you made the leap, and how you built your business.

I totally agree! We’ve spent so many countless hours working side-by-side, and it feels like an eternity ago in a lot of ways. When it comes to my journey as an entrepreneur, I’d be lying if I said I had it all figured out. I’ll never forget when my brother asked to see my business plan, and I responded, “What business plan? I just want to help people feel better. Isn’t that enough?” In retrospect, probably not the most responsible response, but here we are! Thankfully, my now-husband promised to cover my half of the rent if things didn’t work out for me.

The leap into entrepreneurship felt sudden yet long overdue. I worked on my side-hustle for almost a year before fully committing to my work back in late 2015. Over the last five years, my business has grown and shifted in ways I could never have imagined. I think that’s part of the “secret” of finding success in entrepreneurship: being open to change and continually evaluating what’s working and, more importantly, not working.

Your original namesake business is centered around self care, wellness, empowering ourselves through boundary setting, and nourishing ourselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually. What does wellness mean to you, and how has your idea of self care evolved over the past few years as it has become such a pervasive concept in our culture (and on our Instagram feeds)? 

Ahhh such a great question! First and foremost, I believe that wellness for oneself should be continuously evolving and holistically-based. It’s not “Eat kale salads every day but at the same time neglect to share what’s on your mind,” but rather, “I’ll choose to see my life as moment-by-moment where I have agency and can choose this or that. If I choose this, I know I can always come back and choose that another time.” If that makes any sense, I think it’s essential to view wellness as big-picture as possible and work to cast aside any restrictive beliefs. And to always remember that your emotions are not too big and your needs always matter.

When it comes to self-care, the idea of a face mask making your worries disappear is so overplayed and unrealistic. I’m on a mission to redefine how self-care is portrayed in our society so people can access the tools they genuinely need for change. Self-care isn’t just about bubble baths and jade rolling; it’s about learning how to set boundaries, express emotions, and communicate what’s on our minds. Unlike self-soothing, self-care isn’t always comfortable or pleasant, but it is still worth it in the end.

Since becoming a mom last year (!!) you’ve begun building a brand new business as well, Hello Postpartum, which speaks to new mothers and their experiences and challenges. I’d love to hear more about what moved you to start this business, and how and why you are speaking to new mothers like yourself. 

Believe it or not, the average mother has only one to two postpartum visits after birth regardless of whether you had a vaginal or cesarean delivery. That means I was sent home with 20 staples in my abdomen and no plan for how to recover from the experience, physically or mentally. 

In pregnancy, you can expect up to 12 or so appointments, all usually centered on checking and tracking the baby’s health and growth. Postpartum is solely up to the mother to prepare, plan, organize, and recover if she doesn’t have access to a postpartum midwife or doula.

When I was about three days postpartum, I was recovering from a c-section, learning how to breastfeed, and experiencing a hormonal crash that no one warned me would come. I’d spend hours scouring the internet for trusted resources about the postpartum period, only to find random articles scattered around the web or get sucked into taking advice from strangers on a chat board. Once I emerged from my early postpartum days, I realized how little trusted and accessible information new mothers truly had. So, I set out to build that myself.

Motherhood is endlessly fascinating to me, and I’d love to explore the impact that this new identity has had on you, especially as an entrepreneur. How do these identities interact and intersect? What has the process looked like for you of adapting to a new reality with your business now that you’re a mother, too?

Motherhood is hard. It’s really hard. It’s endlessly rewarding, but it’s also the most significant challenge I’ve ever been up against. No one can prepare you for this role, and the learning curves are continually changing as my son grows and develops. It’s like you finally get the hang of motherhood, and then he’s off and running (literally), and there’s a whole new challenge to learn and understand. I guess, in a way, that’s kind of like entrepreneurship, too. The requirement to think on your feet, learn as you go, and keep an open mind can apply to both being a mother and owning a business. Oh, and to accept that nothing will ever go as planned.

When it comes to working as an entrepreneur and being a new mother, it’s been hard at times. There’s a lot of mom guilt, but also a lot of “What else could I be accomplishing right now if I didn’t have to go put him down for a nap?”. Neither mindset is a permanent state for me, and I know that it’s time to reach out and ask for support when I find myself with those thoughts.

One final thing: don’t forget that it’s okay to speak up and share how you’re feeling. Your emotions are valid and essential, and communicating them is a very important – and often overlooked – part of caring for yourself. Also, you’re worthy of caring for your needs, no matter what’s left pending on your to-do list or how overwhelmed you feel.

Can we talk about the incredibly pervasive idea (some would say myth)  of “doing it all”? You’re a wife, you’re a mother, you’re a business owner, you’re a human being, you moved across the country and have been actively building a life on the west coast. What would you tell women who are feeling the pressure of this idea that they need to do it all, and in this age of the IG highlight reel, need to pull it off with perfection and ease? 

I think it’s critical to remember that social media isn’t real. It’s curated, it’s hand-picked, and created with the intent to engage others. I believe that what we see on social media is changing, thankfully, and becoming more approachable and vulnerable. I try my best to keep my social media as realistic as possible. I don’t use filters on my face, and I show up, take breaks, and share what’s on my mind. 

Ultimately, there’s no reward for “doing it all.” If you’re taking cues on how to live your life through a stranger on the internet, I highly encourage you to pause and take a moment to think about what you’re really after. Since becoming a mother, I have to do this regularly. There’s a lot of pressure to “figure it out” and “do all the things to be a good mother,” but I’m trying my best not to buy into it. 

How can all of us, even those of us who are not mothers ourselves, better understand and support the women in our lives who are mothers?

This is such a beautiful question. I think it’s essential for those who are not mothers to remember that your friends with little ones still need you. They might not call back right away, or they might forget to respond to a text message or two, but they still value you, perhaps now more than ever before. Remember that they’re learning an entirely new way of life right now, and a simple “You’re doing great, can I drop off some dinner?” can have a significant impact on their week. 

Oh, and don’t forget to ask how they’re doing before asking how the baby is doing. 

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