Made in New York: Nine Naturals

With Baby #2 on the way, Grace Lee is finally test-driving her healthy skincare line from the pregnant perspective.

Made in New York: Nine Naturals

If you’re growing a baby in that body of yours, we don’t blame you for wanting to read the fine print on all the stuff you’re putting on to that body. And we also don’t blame you for being a little terrified after you do it. Sadly, there’s all sorts of harmful chemicals and toxins in so many of our beauty and skincare products, sometimes even those claiming to be “natural.”

Grace Lee, the founder of Nine Naturals, felt the same way when she was pregnant. And so she founded Nine Naturals, a healthy skincare line that’s totally safe for pregnancy and nursing. Made from 100% plant-based ingredients, Nine Naturals is free from the toxic biggies like sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, DEA, and artificial preservatives. Even the fragrance is all-natural--and designed to help ease pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue.


With baby #2 on the way, Grace is finally getting to test drive her own line from the pregnant perspective. We recently sat down with the NYC mama in her Tribeca offices to find out about her favorite beauty brands, the entrepreneurial mom she most admires, and how she balances business and babies.

Tell us about how and why you launched Nine Naturals.

When my friends and I were looking for safe beauty products to use during pregnancy, we kept running into two problems: 1) most products that claimed to be natural still contained harmful ingredients and 2) many natural products simply didn’t perform well; the shampoos didn’t lather well and the body products didn’t do much for their skin. When I developed Nine Naturals, I focused on using natural, pure ingredients safe for pregnancy while maintaining a high standard for beauty and performance.

What products did you launch with and what other products have you added along the way?

We launched Nine Naturals with 5 products to start - shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, body wash and belly butter. It was important for us to create a line that would be easy replacements for the products women were using everyday to help them reduce their environmental toxin exposures. Since then we've added other popular products such as a natural deodorant and sunscreen as well as body cream and lip balm. To-date we offer the most diverse haircare and bodycare offerings to pregnant women in the market.

What are some beauty brands you personally love?

I was recently introduced to a line of 7-free nail polishes from Trust Fund Beauty, founded by Samara Granofsky, who was inspired to start the line when her mother had cancer. Trust Fund Beauty has a great array of colors and the polishes are super long-lasting (hard to find in 7-free polishes!). Best of all, they are free from parabens, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, xylene, camphor, formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin. The women in our company love the line so much we started selling them on our website!

How do you think becoming a mom has enhanced you as a business woman?

Becoming a mom has made every minute of my day increasingly valuable. My efficiency at work has probably increased ten-fold since I don't have the flexibility for it to spillover too much outside of the office when I'm home.

How have you been feeling during your pregnancy and how is it different than the first one?

It's harder when you have one child already! There's much less rest time, which was especially difficult in the first trimester when I was exhausted and sick. Pregnancy is a time when you simply can't ignore your body signals; you have to take good care of yourself. With all that I'm juggling already, this second pregnancy has forced me to focus on the most important priorities in my life for the time being. I've had to delegate a lot more to my team and say no to work and social engagements just to stay sane and healthy!

Who are some entrepreneurial moms you admire or want to emulate?

Dana Rubenstein, the co-founder of Dapple, has been a wonderful friend and mentor to me. She and her co-founder, Tamar, each have 4 kids (!) and have simultaneously created an incredible, safe, natural brand for families.

What’s on your list of “to-dos” for Nine Naturals the next year?

We just launched into Destination Maternity stores nationwide and will be expanding our distribution into additional retailers later this year. We want to continue to make our products more accessible to women who want safer products for pregnancy and beyond.

Is there such a thing as balance? What do you do that’s just for you?

I don't really believe in balance. I am always making sacrifices and hard choices as a full-time working mother in both my personal and professional life. Finding time for myself is difficult but also important so that I can be a better, healthier person for my family and in my work. I work out with a trainer twice a week and I've been seeing an acupuncturist once a week during my pregnancy. On weekends, I have a babysitter who comes for a few hours so that I can spend quality time with my husband -- it's a luxury that I'm very thankful for.

Walk us through a typical day of work and kid. What’s your schedule like?

Mornings are the craziest for me. I wake up at 6am to get a head start on emails and mentally prepare for the day. Between 7am-9am getting my daughter and myself fed, dressed and out the door to school/work is a bit insane. Then I'm in the office for the rest of the day. I've made a very conscious decision to not blur lines between work and home. I'm in the office with my team everyday. It's a rare day that I work from home.

I get home from work around 6:30pm. I play with Charlotte, catch up on her day and then put her down to sleep. Bedtime is a sacred ritual between the two of us. I try as much as possible not to miss it. Once she's asleep, I do any work I haven't had a chance to finish up and spend precious alone time with my husband!

When I'm home with Charlotte in the mornings and evenings, I try to be as present as possible for her. There are times when work life will spill into my home life and vice versa, but it's much easier for me to isolate my work and family time when possible.

This post was brought to you by Newton, a brand new crib mattress made to give your baby a safer, healthier sleep. Tune into WRNY tomorrow to learn more about this innovative crib mattress, and sign up here to start earning perks!

Photography by Lindsay May of Classic Kids.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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