Meet the NYC Moms Behind 2019’s Must-have Accessory

Our favorite thing about SALT handbag straps is that they look like giant colorful friendship bracelets – but what else would you expect from two business partners and BFFs? Despite being thick-and-thin partners for life, SALT co-founders Marla Toplitzky and Kacy Lubell never intended on going into business together.

“We were just chatting one day about merging two products we loved – a detachable bag strap and the beautiful woven strap on a Wayúu bag – and were like, “Well, we could make a few samples and see what happens? We went from selling to our friends to a 12,000-person waitlist overnight. It was crazy!”

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Met on Tinder and instantly clicked!#hookyourselfup

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Splashed across the internet as the must-have accessory for busy, stylish moms, detachable SALT handbag straps are up there with No.6 clogs and Kamm pants. The thick, vibrant strap looks like a guitar strap, with hooks you can clip to your favorite handbag… or camera (a fun discovery on the SALT Insta feed). Each strap is hand-woven by local Wayúu artisans in the La Guajira region of northern Colombia. Through their partnership with Nest, a nonprofit that works with a global network of artisans (especially women), SALT is helping Wayúu handworkers grow their businesses, while preserving their traditions, cultures, and beliefs.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Marla and Kacy created the limited-edition PINK Strap, with 50% of the proceeds going to F*ck Cancer. “It’s a cause that’s important to us because it impacts so many people, and [F*ck Cancer] emphasizes prevention and early intervention. That saves people’s lives! As a women-owned and led company, we feel it’s our responsibility to take every chance we can to help,” says Marla.

Of course, both women know exactly what makes moms tick – they have five children between them, all under age 10! The Awesome News asked Marla and Kacy to share the highs and lows of parenting. 

So, how did you come up with the name, SALT?

Marla: We wanted to play on the idea of an accessory that adds dimension, brightness and/or spice to an existing item. As in, just add SALT to your bag for some extra flavor!

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Salt in the City🧂🖤✨

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What’s it like being in business with your best friend?

Kacy: Incredibly fun and funny! For us, even the most boring conference call is hysterical. It’s also incredibly helpful that we don’t have to check our personal lives at the door when we come to work. We can talk and support each other as friends while running the business. We know exactly what each of us is trying to juggle at any given time.

Marla: Often we text until midnight (at least) and share, literally, every idea that pops into our heads. We almost always know what the other is thinking, which comes in handy! We work around each other’s lives and schedules. It feels like a family business.

 

Marla with husband Harlan and kids Annabelle, 7 and Benny, 5.

 

Why did you decide to partner with Nest?

Kacy: We partnered with NEST to ensure that our production is safe, fair and socially responsible for our artisans – and that we help them grow and thrive economically. We’re beyond excited to be taking a trip together to Colombia in November to spend time with the artisans in their communities! We want to truly understand how best to support them.

What is your biggest challenge as a business owner and mom?

Marla: There are not enough hours in the day to do both full-on. You always feel behind in one or the other.

 

Kacy with husband Dan and sons Duke, 9, Beau, 6 and Jack, 3.

 

What’s been your proudest moment as business owners and moms?

Kacy: When our kids spot SALT straps on the streets of New York and beyond. They’ll shout, “LOOK, MOM! A DUKE STRAP!” It’s hard to articulate how good that feels – their pride in us.

 

Six Ways to Look Good & Feel Good About Supporting Cancer Research

 

SALT The PINK Strap: This breathable handwoven strap adds an eclectic touch to your favorite handbag – with 50% of proceeds donated to F*ck Cancer.M.Gemi x F Cancer Women’s Laces: M.Gemi and F*ck Cancer joined forces on a collection of unashamedly bold statement pieces to boost cancer awareness. These Italian-made shoelaces slot effortlessly into your wardrobe – and 100% of your purchase goes to F*ck Cancer.Girlfriend Collective 1 in 8 Tee: In the US alone, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Purchase this unique hand-dyed tee and 100% of proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Vans Breast Cancer Awareness SK8-HI: Vans created its quirky-cool collection with UK charity CoppaFeel!, founded by Kristin Hallenga, who was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer at just 23. The line sends a strong message to young people: Stamp out late detection by educating yourself about your breasts. A portion of proceeds from the collection will benefit CoppaFeel!.Naked Cashmere Puff Love Slippers: For every purchase of these luxuriously soft, pom-topped slippers, Naked Cashmere will donate $25 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

K Kane Chain Letter Neon Bracelet: A fun, bright addition to your arm party, or as a cheery standalone statement, 50% of the purchase price of any pink cord bracelet will be donated to The Pink Agenda 

Ali Bird’s Instagram Life Looks So Damn Gorgeous, We Want Her To Adopt Us

A two-second scan of Ali Bird’s Instagram feed is all it takes to get a sense of the family’s effortless cool factor.

A two-second scan of Ali Bird’s Instagram feed (here) is all it takes to get a sense of the family’s effortless cool factor. You’ll see weekly videos of the Director at The Wall Group – who represents the most powerful stylists and hair and makeup artists – hip-hop dancing to Cardi B at the Peridance Capezio Center. In between are shots by (and of) her partner, photographer and director Cass Bird, known for her incredible work in Vogue and with brands like GAP, Nike, and Warby Parker. Of course, their two children, Leo, 11, and Mae, 9, play starring roles, exuding the kind of badass vibes only kids who grow up with creative New Yorker parents can.  

 

We sat down with Ali to talk all things parenting: tackling mornings with a “sleep zombie” and an early bird, striving for emotional transparency always, and bonding over Steve Carell memes. 

What does 7 AM in your house look like?

Coffee and repeating, “Time to get up!” 20 times to [the] kids and Cass. Leo is a night owl and it’s so hard to get him out of bed. He’s not interested in breakfast or getting dressed. I can literally choose anything for him and he’ll wear it because he’s a sleep zombie. Mae is 100% the opposite. She is an early bird – wakes right up, wants breakfast right away, and is very opinionated about her outfits. She’s got a very authentic, specific style and loves getting herself dressed.

Cass BIrd
Leo and Mae. Credit: Cass Bird

 

What does 7 PM in your house look like?

Family episodes of The Office. The humor in The Office is unparalleled – we have so many family jokes about it. It’s really Leo’s favorite and he just gets the humor and weirdness and so do I. We connect on that and are both constantly quoting it to each other, sending each other memes. Cass and Mae are along for the ride.

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End of 2017 watching The Office

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What’s an unexpectedly awesome aspect of parenting? 

Getting to re-parent yourself. I think my parents’ generation was afraid to be seen as not having all the answers, and they often didn’t let us in on their internal lives. For me, it’s healing to be able to actually share feelings, thoughts, ideas and frustrations with my children, at a level that meets them, of course.

Cass BIrd
Credit: Cass Bird/Vogue.com
Cass BIrd
Fam’s all here… for Vogue Magazine! Credit: Cass BIrd/Vogue.com

What’s an unexpectedly NOT awesome aspect of parenting? 

Going from zero to 100 real quick! I don’t know any kids that listen on the first time. Mine certainly don’t. The constant repeating makes me frustrated.

What do you always find time to do with your kids every day, no matter how busy you are?

Connecting to humor, silliness and fun. It’s a way [for us] as parents to be kids again and meet our kids on their level. It relieves my anxiety and lets me remember not to take everything so seriously. We have a lot of jokes and a lot of family fun.

 

You and Cass work in the fashion and beauty space. What do you hope your children know and take away from watching you both?

That it takes all types to make the world interesting, and that being able to truly express yourself is the most beautiful of all. I think Cass and I strive to bring our authentic selves into every area of our lives.

Check out more stories from power moms we think are awesome here and here

 

Friday Flashback! 7 Awesome Moms Rewind to their Favorite “First Day”

In honor of the first (unofficial) week back at school, we asked seven awesome moms to throw back to a memorable “First Day” moment…

The first week back at school is an exciting, often scary, sometimes meltdown-inducing time for our kids. We asked a few awesome women we know, who also happen to be moms and total bosses in their fields, to share a time in their lives when they were on the cusp of a life-slash-career-altering moment, and maybe weren’t sure whether things were going to be okay 🤹‍♀️ 

In their own way, these seven women told us that they felt the most confident and badass in outfits that felt the most like “them.” Which is exactly what we’re all about at Rockets of Awesome! Take it away, ladies… 

Alexa Von Tobel, Founder & Managing Partner of Inspired Capital 

“When I dropped out of business school in 2008 to start LearnVest from a couch, there were a lot of unglamorous moments. On the flipside, one of my favorite special outfits was this red dress I wore on my first magazine cover with Forbes in 2014. (Coincidentally, I was pregnant with my first daughter, Toby, at the time!)” 

JENNY FLEISS, CEO and Co-founder of Jetblack & Co-founder of Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway Founders Jenny Fleiss (right) and Jennifer Hyman

“As two women launching a venture [Rent the Runway] that was being covered by The New York Times Technology editors, we knew that a surefire way to embrace our brand while standing out… was to wear outlandish rented dresses and climb on ladders in our warehouse. This image helped launch our success and is a very fun memory for me and my co-founder [Jennifer Hyman]!”

Marnie B. Nussbaum MD FAAD, Dermatology and Aesthetics

“This was my first day opening my own dermatology practice. I wanted to wear something that would represent my personality, and truly feel like me (I love pink and Chanel). I truly believe [you should] wear what brings you joy and confidence!”

Aliza Licht, Founder & President of Leave Your Mark

“File this under: Trying to look like an executive. I was pitching a new client! This look screams boss, no?” 

Rachel Blumenthal, CEO and Founder of Rockets of Awesome

“I’m in the showroom of my jewelry brand Rachel Leigh – the first business I built – during market week (when we would show the line to buyers). My office was on West 38th Street in the heart of New York’s Garment District. I can’t believe I remember but I’m wearing a Yigal Azrouël dress, and this was definitely my version of a photo shoot back then 🤦‍♀️”

Alex Friedman & Jordana Kier, Founders of LOLA

Alex Friedman
Jordana Kier

Alex: “This is LOLA’s first-ever photo shoot from right when we launched (I’m holding the A from a LOLA balloon set). I remember feeling a little bit of pressure for what to wear, but opted for something that made me feel comfortable, cheery, and like myself.” 

Jordana: “The outfit I wore to LOLA’s first-ever focus group right when we launched. I’m dragging [our] product around in that grocery bag (and now wondering: why did I not bring a tote?).” 

Click here, here and here for more stories of women we think are awesome!

Rachel Zoe’s Very Practical Approach to Dressing Two Very Active Boys

The Rachel Zoe of 2019 is just as ambitious, successful, and caffeinated as she was back in 2008 when her TV show, The Rachel Zoe Project, catapulted her – and by extension, stylists in general – to the same level of fame as the celebrities she dressed.

There are, however, a few differences. She doesn’t have camera crews following her around all day (which, to be honest, is a shame for us because her chaotic life sounds super-entertaining), and there are two more VIPs to dress around her house: her sons Kaius Jagger, five and a half, and Skyler Morrison, eight.

While we could spend all day asking Rachel how to dress to ask for a promotion at work, or what to wear to that wedding where we might bump into our Very-Bad-Ex-Boyfriend-Who-We-Still-Want-To-Think-We’re-Hot, we instead asked her about her most important job: parenting.

What do you wish you could tell your pre-kid self?

I would say my biggest regret, on a conscious level, is that I wish I’d enjoyed my youth. I wish I enjoyed being a child more. I was in such a hurry to grow up. When I was eight, I wanted to be a teenager. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be in the workforce. And then all of sudden you’re an adult and you’re like, “Ugh, things just got so real!”

As a parent, it’s definitely something I’m very aware of – really allowing my children to be children and not letting them get too serious too quickly. I just really want them to be kids.

What does 7 AM in your house look like?

I always say if someone had a camera on from 6 AM until 8 AM, it’s literally an SNL skit. I wake up with two kids on top of my head, basically like puppies. Somehow in the middle of the night, and I have no idea when or at what time, they wander into my room. And then I wake up with one across my body horizontally and one sort of cuddled in front of me. I’m not complaining about it. It’s kind of the best way to wake up. I haven’t set an alarm clock since Skyler was born.

Then I just fly out of bed, start caffeinating, start making breakfast or packing lunches, start to ask them the first 10 times to brush their teeth, get dressed… On top of that, Roger is upstairs getting himself ready so that he can get them to school or camp somewhat on time. There are clothes everywhere. There’s food everywhere. And then I load up the car with backpacks and protein bars and coffee for Roger and water for the kids and then I close the door. I check emails for 10 minutes to make sure there’s nothing, like, urgent-urgent and then I race upstairs and get ready to go to the office. 

Do your kids already have strong opinions about what they want to wear?

With my boys, I lay their clothes out so they don’t have to think about it. I think if I wanted to, and I wanted them to be later for school or camp, I could have them start to do the process of picking it out. But to be honest, at this point it’s better for everybody. It just has to be comfortable for them. With Skyler, this year, he started to only want to wear Nike shoes to school and would ask me if he could wear his sports jersey. I was like, “Can we do Casual Friday?”

But at the end of the day, what I realized is, with two very active boys, the idea is to keep them happy and be somewhat happy with what they look like. I really try and buy things that are incredibly comfortable, but still look really cute so there’s no complaints. The only time Sky will say anything is if it’s in any way itchy or stiff.

What’s an unexpectedly awesome part of parenting?

Everything is a most distant second. They are SO first that it’s crazy. A night at home with my boys, it’s really just such a first choice. There’s nothing even close. I can’t believe it, but I think I kind of always knew it – I just love children. I just love being around children. Any events I do, I’m always like, “Bring kids!” I think they’re so much more interesting. They’re such an uncorrupt, innocent form of life. I think watching children interact and watching them adjust in their everyday lives, I learn from them every single day.

You’ve got one hour to yourself – how do you spend it?

This weekend, Roger took the boys to a Dodger game and I’m like, “Oh my God, what do I do? I have four hours! Do I take a shower? Do I start packing for my trip?” I started making lists! The amount I got accomplished in those four hours would have taken me three full days with my children around. If I happen to get a random hour on a weekend, I swear to you I will literally just sit in a bathrobe on a lounge chair outside and listen to the birds in solitude. And, like, call my sister.

Need a closet refresh? Check out Rachel Zoe’s Box of Style: a one-stop shop (in the form of a box!) for all your fashion needs.