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Matrescence: Mika, you’re a mama of two and founder of MOLOCO with a background in the fashion industry. Can you expand on your experience in fashion, and what elements of motherhood influenced you to start MOLOCO?
Mika Oakes: Yes! I have an almost 9-year-old and an almost 2-year-old. My love for fashion runs deep, as I’ve always had a passion for personal style, seasonal trends and good old inspiration on the street! My first job was at Jil Sander, and that sort of propelled me into my work in merchandising, design and product development for various companies throughout the years. I took almost a decade hiatus from the fashion industry, while I taught yoga and was a practicing massage therapist (!) - but once I had my son, everything changed and I felt pulled towards creativity once again, but through the lens of motherhood. While I was breastfeeding and pumping back then, I struggled to find a swimsuit that made me feel good in my body. I ended up at Target, sizing up to fit my altered shape, and never quite found anything I felt good in. MOLOCO was born out of the desire to create what I couldn’t find, and it was also created to help ease a new mama’s experience along their breastfeeding and postpartum journeys. The goal was to offer comfortable, supportive and adjustable swimwear, but without compromising style.
What are the main features and materials of MOLOCO swimwear, and how do these features support mamas throughout their pregnancy and postpartum journeys? Who is the “MOLOCO mama”?
Mika: MOLOCO features a hidden, patented nursing panel that will support mamas during pregnancy, throughout their nursing journey, and beyond postpartum days. The tops are made to grow and adjust with a mama’s changing body, and our bottoms are also made to support and provide coverage in all the right places. All of our swimsuits are made with a luxe, sustainable Italian fabric that feels great on the body and is super supportive and durable.
The MOLOCO mama is a woman that understands both functionality and quality of a garment. She understands the value of the unspoken sisterhood that comes with motherhood, and she cares about waste output and how a garment is made.
Looking into the future for MOLOCO, are there any upcoming collections or collaborations you can tell us about?
Mika: We have an exciting collaboration coming up that isn’t finalized yet, but will be soon, and we just partnered with The Dairy Fairy who is now offering our Nora One Piece on their site. From one mama-owned brand to another, this kind of support is huge, and we are all better together!
As the summer season officially begins, what are your favorite summertime activities to do with your family?
Mika: Summer is always a nice change of pace from the daily routine and the morning craziness. I’m not sure things ever feel “not crazy” with kids, but my family and I love spending time on the North Fork (Long Island, NY) every summer. That has become our “place” and allows us to rest and reset before the school year begins again.
What did you discover about yourself when you first became a mother? What have you discovered about yourself today as a mother of two children?
Mika: Becoming a mother for the first time literally rocked my world. I had a pretty hard entry into motherhood, as I had an unplanned c-section with my son and struggled quite a bit with breastfeeding. It definitely took me a while to adjust into my new role ... I have learned and continue to learn patience, how to slow down and appreciate the moments, and what unconditional love really feels like. I have discovered that sometimes when you feel like you have nothing left to give, you have to dig deep to find it - and exactly on the flip side of that coin, I have learned how important it is to practice self care and take time for myself - especially with two! Time away makes me a better mother and better human. Motherhood is the most challenging and rewarding honor of my life.
How do you practice self-care? What rituals have you established for yourself (e.g., reading, journaling, skincare, exercise)?
Mika: Movement is my medicine. I have been a long-time yoga practitioner, and post babies, I discovered and now live for Pilates. I also recently picked up boxing and I am obsessed! For non-movement medicine, I love catching up with friends, time near water on a boat, on the beach or from afar… and sleep! I try to get a good night's sleep as often as I can.