Braving the Elements

Being a dad in NYC requires passion, innovation… and lots of coffee. Jon Feldman of Stumptown shows us how it’s done.

Braving the Elements

Fatherhood is not for the faint of heart, especially in New York City. There’s no shortage of challenges: small spaces, big expenses and lots of subway stairs, just to name a few. But for those willing to brave the elements to raise a family here, the reward is immeasurable--where better to bring up baby than in a city overflowing with passion and creativity?

Over the next few weeks, we’re collaborating with our friends at Bugaboo to showcase some NYC dads who embody that passion and creativity, alongside a stroller that’s equally as innovative: the Bugaboo by Diesel. The only thing that could possibly make this stroller cooler is these guys pushing it...with their totally adorable kids inside.


First up: Jon Feldman of Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

If you’re a new parent, coffee is probably one of the staples in your diet. And as general manager and director of operations for the eastern region of Stumptown, Jon Feldman just might be fueling your very long days (and nights). A Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who’s managed some of NYC’s most buzz-worthy restaurants, Jon’s now overseeing every world-class bean that makes it into every flavorful cup of Stumptown coffee in New York (and half of the U.S. for that matter), all while raising 8-month-old Eli alongside his wife in South Slope, Brooklyn.

We recently stopped into Stumptown’s Red Hook roastery to see the artisanal roasting process firsthand, and chatted with Jon about coffee, fatherhood and the city he calls home.

What do you love about raising kids in NYC?

The variety of places we can see and experience, and also the variety of people Eli can meet. There’s something special about raising my kid in’s a place I dreamed of living my whole life.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was really into cooking and food, but I never thought I’d be into coffee. The one thing I always knew I wanted to do was live in NYC. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, I was obsessed with New York.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing?

I went to boarding school in Montana and we did a lot of work around the farm. I helped create an organic garden, and cooked a lot--I was fascinated by ingredients. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be in the food business. I worked my way up in the restaurant world, and then I joined Stumptown four years ago. We have a mission at Stumptown to deliver some of the best coffees in the world, and to create a special experience for our customers at retail and wholesale. There’s a lot of ex-restaurant folks like me here, so hospitality is something we all bring to work. There’s a real element of family and team, and the culture at Stumptown is the glue to that.

What are some things you hope to teach your little one about your craft?

The biggest thing I want to teach Eli over his lifetime is less about what I do specifically at Stumptown and more about not being afraid to follow you heart. There’s a blueprint to being successful: identify what you love, find the people who are doing it the best, and be with them. Absorb and learn.

What surprised you most about becoming a dad?

Before I became a dad, I spent a lot of time thinking about all the what-if’s of being a parent. When you think too much about the big picture, it can be paralyzing. I’ve been surprised by how in-the-moment I feel when I’m with Eli, and how natural fatherhood feels.

How has becoming a dad impacted your work and creativity?

It’s mellowed me out, in a funny way. When you have a lot of balls in the air, it’s easy to get stressed out. Eli has really helped me not to sweat the small stuff. He makes the small things seem smaller, and he’s given us a lot of perspective. Now there’s this life that I’m in charge of, so I’m seeing everything through the lens of: Is this really important? Does it really matter? I love my job and my wife is wonderful, but Eli adds so much joy to everything.

What’s your best strategy for achieving a family/work balance?

I’ve had to be very aggressive with regards to finding that balance. As soon as one takes over, it’s easy to lose control of the other. I’m lucky to have flexibility at Stumptown if needed, and we’re very fortunate to have a great nanny, but truthfully, the balance has all just come naturally, and so far it’s all just worked out. My wife, Leslie, and I committed to folding Eli into our world, and it seems to be working. It feels good to me, even though I know that can change day to day.

How has your style changed since becoming a parent?

If I was at all vain, I’m even less so now. My style is still my style, but I put less importance on constantly changing things up or adding things to my wardrobe.

What everyday things have made you realize that being a parent involves bravery?

I think the fact that Leslie and I have decided to live in NYC is pretty brave. It takes bravery to live here! It also takes bravery to trust your gut and run your household the way you want to run it. It’s easy to get off track and follow the masses. And it definitely takes bravery to leave Eli every day and go into my own world at work. There’s this element of trusting the universe a little bit that has gotten us through this parenting experience so far.

Photography by Justin Borucki.

This post was brought to you by Bugaboo.

This year many of us have a tighter budget than usual given (looks around) everything that has happened. Coupled with the uncertainty of what Halloween might look like, many of us are reluctant to spend money on brand new costumes that our kids will outgrow by next year. I get it. But I also know that many, like me, love Halloween so much. I thought about skipping the celebration this year, but that just feels like too big of a disappointment in an already disappointing year.

That's why I started looking into alternative costumes—something my kids will be able to wear once the clock hits November, and maybe even hand down to siblings and cousins in the coming years. At the same time, I'm not a DIY person, so I wanted outfits that didn't require any sewing or hot glue. Last year I attempted using one to build my son's Care Bear costume, and of course, I burnt my hand.

So with some creativity (and the brainpower of my colleagues), we came up with these costumes that are both fun and practical, made with items that your children will be able to (and want to!) wear year around:

Keep reading Show less

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

Keep reading Show less