"I needed and wanted more flexibility in my schedule so that I could continue to work and still be there for my family."

Julianna Shaw is the CEO and Co-Founder of ZoLi. This married mother of two is a strong advocate for the environment and she has made sustainability part of the company’s core values. In fact, her inability to find safe products for her first child led her from a career in executive management and product marketing to launching ZoLi in 2008. Today, her company has expanded from safe, innovative products for babies and children to items for everyday life.

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WISH YOU COULD OFFER YOUR FORMER EXPECTANT SELF?

Take everything in stride. Nothing is as bad as it seems.

WHAT WAS YOUR PRIMARY MOTIVATION FOR DECIDING TO RETURN (OR NOT) TO WORK? HOW EARLY DID YOU TELL YOUR EMPLOYER?

I always knew I would return to work, but it wasn’t until after my second that I knew I needed and wanted more flexibility in my schedule so that I could continue to work and still be there for my family.

IF YOU BREASTFED, WAS THERE A PLACE FOR YOU TO PUMP THAT MET YOUR NEEDS AND WAS CONDUCIVE TO YOUR SUCCESS?

It was not easy to pump when I returned to work after my first. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a place to pump but more the back-to-back meetings and the inability to duck out of the meetings to pump. I was only able to do it for about a month before it become impossible.

HOW MUCH LEAVE DID YOU TAKE, AND HOW COMFORTABLE WERE YOU TAKING IT?

After my first, I only took the minimum maternity/family leave allowed. I didn’t want to take anymore because I felt pressured to get back. However, with my second, I didn’t want to face that same type of pressure so I decided to take a longer leave. During that time, was when I decided to change my path and started my own business.

HOW EASY WAS IT TO PUT A CHILDCARE ARRANGEMENT TOGETHER AND DID IT WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY?

Finding childcare for my first was not easy. Being that it was my first, I tended to be more hyper-vigilant and scrutinized everything. It was a miracle that I finally found someone and was able to return to work. Fortunately after two years of in-home care, we found a wonderful daycare with the most amazing, nurturing director and staff.

WHEN DID THE “NEW NORMAL” SET IN FOR YOU?

My “new” normal didn’t quite set in until about 4 months after being back at work. But things are always changing so there is a “new” normal being set almost every week.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE GOING BACK TO WORK?

My biggest challenge going back to work was knowing that my daughter was being well-cared for when I wasn’t there and also knowing that I was missing a lot of firsts – first time she rolled over, first time she sat up, first word ….

WHO WAS YOUR BIGGEST SOURCE OF SUPPORT IN RETURNING TO WORK? 

My family, friends, and nanny were the biggest support. Having a nanny that empathized with what I was going through was a tremendous help. She would take photos and give me detailed updates daily. That was what got me through the day. Having family and friends around who were able to pitch in was also what saved me. It really does take a village.

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