Karolina Kurkova on her back-to-school routine, beauty hacks, and being the “Big Mama” of her household

Credit: Eduardo Rezende
Credit: Eduardo Rezende
Credit: Eduardo Rezende

Speaking with Czech-born supermodel Karolina Kurkova is like slowly sinking into one of those bucket-list European hot springs: refreshing, soothing and a bit of a jolt to the system. How is a woman this famous and stunning this… nice? 

You may know her as a hyper-glam, Fantasy Bra-wearing Victoria’s Secret Angel or from countless magazine covers and campaigns with fashion brands ranging from Bottega Veneta, Chanel and Max Mara to H&M and Mango. But what you may not know is that Karolina is a mom of two boys under age 10, and she’s had a keen interest in natural health and beauty since her teens. 

Her new company, Gryph & IvyRose, makes all-natural health, bath and body products for children that focus on treating “the very common things that kids struggle with, like sleep and mood, immune function, belly aches,” she says. And it’s all wrapped up in simple, beautiful packaging you wouldn’t mind leaving out on the bathroom sink. One of Gryph & IvyRose’s biggest winners with parents is its Probiotic Chocolate Hearts. Made from raw, organic, fair-trade cacao, just one per day feeds kids 3 billion active probiotics for immune support and healthy digestion – and what kid would say no to dessert for breakfast? 

As we chat, mom-to-mom, about the usual struggles – carving out quality time with husband Archie Drury and sons Tobin, 9, and Noah, 3, planning weekly meals, and juggling play dates – it’s easy to forget I’m talking to a fashion-industry legend with a private-island address, and not a regular mom doing her best to make it work. The thing is, she’s both. “When you’re a parent, and especially a working one, it’s a lot about being very organized and being a good planner. You constantly have to plan ahead,” she says. Read on for more of Karolina’s wisdom for working moms – including one brilliant hack for faking a full night’s rest!

Credit: Eduardo Rezende
Credit: Eduardo Rezende

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

I think children teach you so much, and they make you so much more profound, more strong, more interesting, more focused. We don’t often fully understand who we are until we have children, because they’re a reflection of us. It’s good to look at yourself when you parent and think about, well, what am I doing that my child is also doing by copying me? I need to think about how I’m handling the situation before I can ask my children to change. There’s a lot to learn!

Credit: Tami Jill
Karolina and Noah. Credit: Tami Jill Photography

What does one free hour to yourself look like?

I don’t really have so much free time to myself. I mean, my free time is the time to handle the household, maybe organize closets, create a schedule for the family, come up with menu ideas for what we can cook. For me, it’s relaxing, it’s meditative, it’s going back to that feeling of the “Big Mama of the House.” I travel a lot, so even if I leave my husband home with the kids, and even if he has help, I still have to go, okay, so I’m leaving – but is everything on the calendar that they need to know? Do they know when the sports days are, where they need to be and what time? If I’ve organized play dates, who to call, where to be? What are they going to have for dinner so they don’t eat the same thing every night? But what is also important for me, to kind of sustain traveling, working, and keep my sanity, is some type of workout, going for a class or going for a walk with music – doing something physical is very important for keeping me mentally strong and focused.

Just how crazy do the mornings get at your house?

It’s a very, very busy time, because it’s getting ready for school. I’m the one who wakes up early and gets everybody up and ready, makes breakfast, makes coffee for my husband, tea for my kids. I’m calling everyone, “Are you ready? Get ready! Get your shoes on,” being the general of the morning. But if you don’t have the energy and just say “whatever,” nothing gets done!

Credit: Tami Jill Photography
Karolina and Tobin. Credit: Tami Jill Photography

You must have picked up so many working-mom beauty hacks over the years…

I always carry a bright lipstick with me. I think bright red or orange, whatever suits your complexion or what color you like. It gives a pop to your face, it gives you color, a little sensuality. When I’m traveling or if I have a work event and didn’t get to sleep because my little one was awake, I like [to do] a face sheet mask. I call it the little “facial on the go.” That 20 minutes always does wonders without doing that much or breaking your bank. I really like the Sulwhasoo mask which is a ginseng face mask; it’s a Korean brand. Something else I do is meditation. Ideally, I do it two times a day. It relaxes your face, your muscles, releases stress and tension. You have your little mantra and just be by yourself for 20 minutes. You can do it anywhere, that’s what I like.

What’s one ritual you never miss with your kids?

We read books at night with each of the children. Tobin likes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. For Noah, it varies. He loves animals, dinosaurs, and sea world, so we’re looking at a lot of those types of books. A book my oldest loves is The 7 Habits of Happy Kids – and now my little one is almost ready for it. When I’m home, sitting down for a meal together is very important. That’s the way I grew up. It’s such a beautiful bonding time, to talk about your day together.

Credit: Tami Jill Photography
Credit: Tami Jill Photography

Thanks, Karolina! Read more real talk from moms we think are awesome here and here.