Mom We Love: Helen Yu Kuo

Impromptu dancing in dressing rooms, fierce Wonder Woman moves, art gallery field trips, drool-worthy foodstagrams and serious outfit inspiration, the Instagram feed of San Francisco’s Helen Yu Kuo is filled with all the things we wish we were doing. And sometimes are. We discovered Helen and her adorable mini-me Marni and instantly fell for the duo, along with her outfits punctuated with the three M’s: Maryam, Martiniano and Mari. She also happens to love the #startuplife so we couldn’t help but feel like we should be friends IRL. Luckily, she was still willing to share with us her thoughts on motherhood, style and everything in between.



TELL US ALL ABOUT YOU. Hi, my name is Helen. I was born in NYC but moved to California when I was five years old and have lived here ever since. I currently live in San Francisco with my husband Mike and 3.5-year-old daughter Marni.

I’ve always worked in tech marketing and have been lucky to experience startups that resulted in successful acquisitions or IPOs. I love my current company Atlassian, makers of team collaboration software including JIRA. You may have heard Jessica Alba say at Dreamforce “I don’t know how to code but I can put in a JIRA ticket.” Well, that’s one of the company products.

I also have a fashion blog ( but lately, I’ve been spending most of my spare time on Instagram where I post pictures of my daughter, food or fashion and sometimes all together.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? Tomboy chic with a hint of fun.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGNER? My favorite designer is Phoebe Philo. Celine can do no wrong. But lately, I’ve also been obsessed with Demna Gvasalia. He’s killing it at Balenciaga!

WHAT’S YOUR DAY-TO-DAY GO-TO OUTFIT? You can most likely find me wearing jeans, a blazer or trench, sunnies, Martiniano or Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes and a good beanie (if needed) paired with my favorite Celine bag at the moment.


WHAT’S THE BEST STYLE ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? From my mom: “Invest in timeless pieces. Splurge on a really amazing item instead of a bunch of trendy pieces. Because that one item will last forever.”

TELL US ABOUT MARNI. Marni, my almost 4-year-old daughter and an only child like myself, is truly a blessing in my life. She has such a charming spirit and her happiness is contagious. The best way to get a sense of her character is to explore #marniisms and #whatmarnisangtoday on my Instagram. I hope her singing videos bring you as much joy as they do for me.

HAS SHE STARTED DEVELOPING HER OWN SENSE OF STYLE? Yes! She is much more vocal about what she wants to wear these days. It’s pretty much dresses – especially “the Elsa dress” on repeat – all worn with her favorite Adidas sneakers.

In fact, her sense of style is so on-point that I now find myself asking for her opinion on which shoes go better with my outfit and I have to say her answers are usually my first choice too!


BEST THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? There isn’t one best thing about being a mom. Here are a few:

  • Exploring and seeing the world in her eyes
  • Inspiring me to be the best version of myself
  • Hugs and endless singing and dancing 🙂

HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY? One of the main reasons I joined Atlassian was the company culture – it’s second to none. There’s even a value called “built with heart and balance” where the company really respects work-life balance.


WHAT STYLE ADVICE WILL YOU GIVE MARNI AS SHE GROWS UP? Be true to yourself. Wear what makes you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin.


Follow along with Helen and Marni for endless outfit inspo and a healthy dose of silly @hyu915.

Mom We Love: Jennifer Hagler of A Merry Mishap

Jennifer Hagler, the woman behind A Merry Mishaphas a magic touch. Her passion and eye for interior design, especially decor with a Scandinavian perspective, shines through her blog and right into her own lifestyle. Jennifer has created a home base that is the perfect combination of simple, sparse and modern, yet still filled with that cozy feeling. Situated in the city of Star, Idaho where she lives with her husband Jeremiah and their two kids, Jennifer is a freelance stylist, full-time mom and nightly blogger. She obviously has her hands full, but lucky for us she took some time to share her thoughts on motherhood, style and mastering the balance of imbalance.


Jennifer Hagler A Merry Mishap

TELL US ALL ABOUT YOU. I was born and raised in Idaho but my heart is mostly in Europe, which I think comes as no surprise to anyone who has read my blog. It’s not our favorite place but now with two kids of my own we are glad to be near family, so for the time being Idaho will be our home for a bit longer.

Besides writing for my blog I also work part time as a freelance stylist, which I usually share on the site or on my Instagram. Being a mom though is my real primary work, at least until the kids are older.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? My style has become a bit more masculine lately. I also crave simplicity so I rarely wear patterns and usually stick to a neutral palette or black and grey to beige and ivory, although I’ve found myself collecting a lot of blue and khaki green as well. Typically I’m drawn to modern things but also pieces are demure and maybe elegant. Of course I still have plenty of days when athleisure becomes my look of choice!

WHO DO YOU TURN TO FOR INTERIORS INSPIRATION? I can’t say there is any one person or one source I turn to for interior inspiration. I keep some of my favorite blogs in my blog reader as well as a healthy stack of interior design magazines and books around me. Instagram is also a great way to discover new-to-me interior designers.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER YOUR LOVE FOR INTERIORS? Probably about the time my son was born, seven years ago. I was homebound and the interior of our house became very familiar and very important to me. I was curious about what other homes looked like and my passion for interiors and design really blossomed from my desire to change my own surroundings.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ROOM IN YOUR HOME? My husband, two kids and I live in a smallish house so I change things up quite often. Sometimes I like the living room best since it opens to the kitchen and dining room, but when my bedrooms is clean and free from toy debris, I love being in my room. I love being in my room even more with my husband because it means both kids are in bed and we can talk or laugh about our day together. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR KIDS. My son is 7 and my daughter is 2. I’m really enjoying where they are now, my oldest is mature enough to have some thoughtful conversations and likes to wow me with facts about our solar system. He hopes to be an astronaut one day and discover new planets, which I think would be pretty great.

Elin, my daughter, is very kind and loving. She just loves to love, daily showering me with the some sincere compliments and she has such great manners. I’m glad she’s still small enough to hold in my arms but I wish she would stop growing up so quickly.screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-2-18-01-pm

HAVE THEY STARTED DEVELOPING THEIR OWN SENSE OF STYLE? Other than having a strong preference for black and wanting to be comfortable, my son doesn’t care too much. He mostly lets me dress him and when he dresses himself he only cares about throwing something on fast, regardless of how pieces look together. Elin on the other hand prefers dresses, especially with pockets, to most other types of clothing. She likes very feminine details but isn’t too opinionated yet. I dress her in a lot of softer colors, creams and soft browns and occasional rose pink because she has such a strong affinity for the color.

With both of the kids but particularly my daughter, I look for clothes that are not distracting because I want them to wear the clothing, not the other way around. Children generally are beautiful all on their own so I want to dress them in a way that compliments, not distracts.


BEST THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? When your children overcome an obstacle, or learn a new ability or show kindness to others, there’s not a better feeling in the world. It’s a whole lot of work and sometimes you put yourself on the back burner for their sake, but when they succeed you succeed. For me this sort of intense joy experienced through some else’s victory has been unique to motherhood, and makes all the other moments of struggle worth it!

HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY? It’s really an imbalance act of working and raising a family because some days one needs you more than the other. As a general rule I try to give my family priority but I also have to put my foot down and carve out time for other ventures, not just because it’s work but because it’s something I personally feel good about doing. As a woman and certainly as a mom, we must have something that we love to do because it simply makes us feel good. Otherwise it’s too easy to throw yourself entirely into the needs of the family members and neglect your own ambitions.

HAS BEING A MOM CHANGED YOUR OWN SENSE OF STYLE? Definitely! Before kids I wore uncomfortable shoes, tight and at times uncomfortable clothes, things purely for their aesthetic quality that were hyper trendy. Now I think very practically about longevity, washability, how well a piece will hold up to being tugged at and wiped against all day. Not that a mom can’t also feel sexy or trendy but I have a very different purpose for dressing now, which I’m totally ok with.

WHAT STYLE ADVICE WILL YOU GIVE YOUR KIDS AS THEY GROW UP? I’m sure I will tell them firstly that it is essential their style be authentic and a reflection of who they are and not to let themselves be too pressured to look or create a specific look. Hopefully they will also be thoughtful consumers as well and will think about an item’s quality and story. I hope they fill their lives with purposeful items and think carefully about what they surround themselves with. And then also to have fun with it and experiment!


Follow Jennifer for endless minimalist inspo at @amerrymishap.

Mom We Love: Melissa Sonico

We’ve shared our love for this multi-hyphenate Los Angeleno before, so we were so excited to have the chance to finally sit down with her to talk about all things style, motherhood and everything in between. Melissa Sonico does it all: a writer, professor, jewelry designer, fashion and lifestyle blogger, wife, mother, and a constant source of style inspiration. She’s just as supportive of indie boutiques and emerging designers as we are, so you’ll often find her (and her son) wearing labels of a ton of mutual friends. Here, she shares her best style advice, her new go-to outfits, and the best things about being a new mom.


TELL US ABOUT YOU. My name is Melissa and I just turned 34. I live in Southern California with my husband Johnny and son Harrison who is turning one on the 16th. I am a fiction writer (I write short fiction), writing professor, fashion and lifestyle blogger, and jewelry designer, all of which takes up a lot of time. I also love to read, go for walks with my boys, and watch everything from Silicon Valley to Stranger Things– lately it’s been Elmo or Beatles videos though because of Harrison! Music is a big thing in our house too. We’re trying to pass that love on to Harrison for sure. Harry Nilsson, Belle & Sebastian, some hip hop– everything.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? My personal style revolves mostly around things I can get away with wearing while still giving easy nursing access to Harrison, which isn’t as difficult as I thought. I wear mostly classic pieces like a tee and jeans or a loose linen blouse that Harrison can fit under comfortably. Comfort and style is easy when your pieces are versatile like that. Minimal, neutral tones with a pop of color here and there.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGNER? Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. I’m a huge fan of Lauren Winter. Everything she makes fits so well and is super flattering while still being comfortable. Black Crane, of course. Objects Without Meaning. For shoes, St. Agni.

WHAT’S YOUR DAY-TO-DAY GO-TO OUTFIT? Right now it’s my logo tee from Older Brother, high-waisted jeans, and my Caron Callahan jacket or some variation of that, with some mules or clogs. Simple and classic.

WHAT’S THE BEST STYLE ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? Best advice: comfort above everything else. Not just the feel of the clothing but whether I feel comfortable going out in them.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR HARRISON. He is a doll. Every day, I still can’t get over the fact that Johnny and I made this little tiny being, and he’s perfect. He’s frustrating and demanding, and he’s got a temper but he’s also goofy, smart, and charming– and so sweet. His favorite things to do are watch Feist and Usher on Sesame Street, and alternate between growling and purring. Oh and bath time is a fave. I could go on and on.


HOW DO YOU APPROACH GETTING DRESSED WITH HIM? The same way I do for myself really. Living in California, we miss out a bit on layering and cute winter clothing, so it’s all about comfort for him. I also like neutral colors for him (just like my own color palette) but with a lot more color and fun prints. He’s a stylish boy, but he can still play and get dirty in his clothes– nothing stuffy.

BEST THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? That immediate love for someone. It’s instantaneous and just keeps growing. I laugh so much with him too. Everything he does is hilarious. I think Johnny and I need to learn not to laugh at everything he does, especially if it’s something he shouldn’t be doing!

HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY? It’s rough, and I’m still learning!

HAS BEING A MOM CHANGED YOUR OWN SENSE OF STYLE OR APPROACH TO FASHION? Oh yeah! I have much less time to get ready, and sometimes I dictate what I’m wearing on a certain day based on whether or not he can have easy access to breastfeeding. But the overall aesthetic is still the same.

WHAT STYLE ADVICE WILL YOU GIVE HARRISON AS HE GROWS UP? Less is more, especially for a guy, in my opinion. Basics are perfect– they’re comfortable, durable, and always in style. A tee, jeans, high-top chucks. That’s kind of universal advice actually!


Photographer: Abigail Halstead

The Holiday Movies We’re Already Watching on Netflix

This is not one of those sponsored posts. Like most people, we just really, reeaaally love Netflix. From Friends  marathons to Stranger Things, we have an enduring obsession and it’s one that is about to spike like crazy because Netflix is already starting to add the best holiday movies to their roster. We know, you already have a ton of things to watch in your queue that you haven’t had time to watch yet this year. But choosing the perfect holiday movie is something that can make or break an evening wrapping presents or getting to know the new in-laws. In eager preparation, we’ve rounded up our top five feel-good movies that will give you the warm fuzzies for the holidays. Isn’t that what this time of year is all about?

FAMILY STONE This movie has it all: drama, romance, family lessons and, most importantly, Diane Keaton. With every character having their own storyline, you get pulled into a mix of emotions contemplating who is your personal protagonist in a movie filled with them. Get ready to laugh, cry then cry again as love triangles burst and family dynamics are tested at an all time high. The perfect holiday flick to watch with your sisters or BFFs.

HOME ALONE Arguably the best Christmas movie of all time. Kevin reminds us that it’s not so bad to be at home for the holidays and not jetting off to France. From the Christmas sweaters, to his hilarious schemes to catch the idiotic burglars, this is slapstick done right by the master that was John Hughes. Watch this one after the family dinner is winding down, with wine and chocolate.

A CHRISTMAS STORY There’s just something so endearing about a dysfunctional family on Christmas. This is a classic from the ’80s, set in the ’40s, that follows the story of Ralphie and his quest to get a BB gun under the tree. Perfect to watch while decorating the tree.

LOVE ACTUALLY Get out the tissues and wine, this one is a roller coaster. The British film turned into an immediate cult classic after its release in 2003. It follows eight different couples as they work through their love lives during the holidays and brings the whole spectrum of emotion from poignant moments to Bill Nighy playing guitar naked. We love everything about this movie.

ELF This one is for the kid in you and perfect for watching with the little ones. Comedy dad Will Ferrell was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised as a elf. Now, as an adult, he can’t help but feel out of place, so he leaves to New York City in search of his real father. Filled with good spirited laughs and an ever-so-charming romance with Zooey Deschanel, this flick is the perfect dose of Yuletide cheer.

So, what are you watching this week?