Featured Designing Moms

Meet Designing Mom: Wendy Dailey

by Cat on March 18, 2014

Wendy Daily is one inspiring mama… Her organization boldly and creatively helps confront one of the most heartwrenching dilemmas of women in third world countries: human trafficking. And her balance of raising a family while running iSanctuary will inspire you…



I’m the proud mom of a seven-month-old and a seven-year-old. My first born is actually the
company I helped found over seven years ago–International Sanctuary (iSanctuary). This
once fledgling organization, founded to help empower girls and women rescued from human
trafficking, is fast becoming well recognized for its fashionable and affordable, handmade
jewelry, as well as its innovative business model in truly making real changes in the lives of
survivors. Today we have served over 300 young girls and women rescued from human
trafficking in the U.S. and India. My second child is seven-month-old Tatum Grace and she is
literally growing up right alongside my “first born” and blossoming into a beautiful, spirited little girl. I can’t imagine my life without both labors of love that, at one point in life, never seemed possible.


What it’s like to juggle motherhood and your inspiring organization?

Seven month old, Tatum, my trooper, rolls with life in spite of how much I’ve been told
that “Babies thrive on structure.” Our lives don’t have the luxury of taking naps at 10am
and 2pm every day. If a meeting is scheduled, I simply strap her to the front of me in
her carrier and off we go to a coffee shop to meet our next “Client.” I’ve had to trade
taking notes on my iPhone for mental notes while I do the mommy dance back and
forth– patting her bum, stroking her nose, hoping she’ll stay appeased while intently
hanging on every word of my esteemed colleague at hand, not wanting to miss a beat! It
helps that my business partner Stephanie is her biggest fan and doesn’t mind assuming
the “Auntie” role more often than not. Or that any volunteer who walks in the office is
eager to swipe her out of my hands allowing me a few precious moments to finish up a
proposal or answer a phone call or two. As busy as it gets juggling my baby and this
cause, I can’t see doing it any other way.


Best part of your day? Most challenging?

The most challenging is the best part of my day. The most challenging is trying to do
both. I want to be an amazing mother, I want to be an amazing leader and the best part,
is I get to do both. When I’m with my baby, I’m 100%. When I’m working, I’m 100%.
Though it’s challenging, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How did iSanctuary get started and what inspired the founders?

Little did I know what I was getting myself into seven years ago. Stephanie Pollaro was living
in Mumbai, India working with girls ages 12-19, rescued from forced commercial sex slavery,
all because of an article she read in Marie Claire highlighting human trafficking. Reading it,
she knew her life had changed forever. Over the course of the next several months, she sold
everything and moved to India to work with girls rescued from sex trafficking. She taught them
the skill of jewelry making as a means of generating income and needed someone to sell the

Having had experience in Cambodia and seeing trafficking first hand and the atrocity that
destroyed these young girls, I felt compelled by the cause and was eager to do my part.
With only a background as an elementary school teacher, I had plenty to learn in leading an
international non-profit business. Seeing the transformation in the girls and women we’ve
served, knowing there are more girls and women that need hope, dignity, and a chance at a
new life is what keeps me going.

What is a typical day in your life?

Every day is different and everyday is challenging. This simple phrase–“We’re doin’ it!” has
become my “Dailey” mantra. When Tatum was only two months old and I stumbled down the
stairs with her in one arm, my laptop and purse in the other, it just popped in my head–“We’re
doin’ it!” When I drop off an order at a retail account, with her in one arm and a bag of product
in the other, I look down at her and remind myself, “We’re doin’ it!” As everyone is distracted by
the darling, beautiful baby (I may be just a bit biased) they don’t seem to notice the mom with
beads of sweat building under her lip, awkwardly hitching baby on one hip, while juggling pieces of jewelry over the counter. As I walked out the door, a sigh of relief is released after I’ve single-handedly taken an order and managed not to drop my child! “Mission accomplished!” I say to her as I click her into her car seat while she looks up at me and babbles.


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I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be hosting the GapKids Back to Cool Event happening August 17-24 at select Gaps around the US. If you’re like me and doing a lot of back to school shopping, then snag a pair of Gapkids 1969 premium jeans at a participating Gap this weekend or next and they’ll customize them with one of my illustrations! I’ll be dropping by with Zilla to get his at the Corte Madera Gap…hope to see you!

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Featured Designing Mom Elisabeth of 11 Stories  provides couples and families with a most creative service…capturing their stories into a book that can be passed through generations. She has combined her background in research, interviewing and academia into something she is passionate about and can connect on an intimate level with her clients. Read on about what inspired her to create 11 Stories
What inspired you to create 11stories?

I first started recording life stories with my father.  My dad has always been generous with sharing stories of his life growing up in a small town in the South.  And in all honesty, when we were younger, my brother and I used to roll our eyes as our dad would launch into another story.  But we recognized that his stories held valuable life lessons, and as he approached his 75th birthday, we realized that we didn’t want to lose the details of his experiences.  So we sat with him for several hours, and just asked him to start at the beginning.

I compiled his stories into a book and shared it with our family, and the response was amazing.  I soon had friends asking to take a peek at the book, asking if I could do this for their families.

You have a Master’s degree from Harvard and a PhD from UC Berkeley–what brought you from the world of academia to storytelling?

At the time of my father’s book, I was on the faculty at U.C. Berkeley.  My research was what we call “qualitative,” meaning that I used interviews to conduct research, much like a journalist.  So I already had over a decade of experience conducting interviews and writing books.  And while I was enjoying a successful career in academia, I had lost my passion for the work and I knew I needed to make a change.

It didn’t hurt that I was having a wonderful response to my initial Life and Couple Stories – 11stories was really grown through word of mouth, as friends requested books for wedding and birthday presents.

I started 11stories the same year my daughter was born, and in many ways the business has been like my second child.  Now that Embley is almost five years old, I’ve settled in to a good balance of work and family life, but there were definitely some struggles in the “toddler” years!  And she loves books herself and thinks it’s pretty fabulous that her mom makes books!

Where did the name “11stories” come from?

Eleven has always been a great number for me – it’s my birthday and my anniversary.  And as the Couple Stories became the signature focus of the business, I loved the symbolism of the number 11, as two ones coming together – still individuals, but stronger together.

Is there any story in particular that you’ve heard that stands out in your mind?

I know it’s a cliché, but I truly believe that everyone has an interesting story to share.  And no joke, there is a point in every interview where I get goose bumps or tear up (I’m a bit of a softie!)

One of the first Couple Stories I did was for an anniversary book – a true Romeo and Juliet tale.  The couple came from two very different backgrounds and religions, and their parents strongly disapproved of their relationship.  They dated in secret for years before finally getting the courage to “come out” to their families.  They were celebrating five years of marriage when we did the book, and more importantly, they were celebrating their courage and their persistence.  (the happy ending is that their families totally came around and were thrilled with the marriage!)

 What’s an interesting observation you’ve made about people through the process of interviewing them?

Many of my clients come to me through a gift – their friends and family give them a Couple Story or Life Story book to celebrate a wedding or significant birthday.  So they often start the interview telling me, “oh gosh, I don’t have anything to say.”  But within ten minutes, we are settled in to an incredible tale of romance, drama, and comedy.  We all have so much to share, it’s just all too rare that someone takes the time to ask the questions and to listen.

And there is a surprising theme of closet space that has come up in nearly every Couple Story – when I ask “what would you change about your partner,” there is inevitably a discussion about the closet.  They love each other at the core and wouldn’t change anything significant, but they’d like more room for their shoes!


What’s so important about keeping the tradition of storytelling alive?

Such a great question – I think the hardest thing for me to hear when I tell folks what I do is, “oh, I wish I had done that for my parents, grandparents, etc.”  We often realize how important those stories are once it’s too late.

I see the benefit of recording stories for both the storyteller and the readers.  The storytellers get the luxury of reflecting on their life and their relationship.  They get that rare opportunity to giggle again at the funny times, to reflect on the hard times, and ultimately to learn something.  With couples especially, they always leave saying they learned something new about their sweetie, and they are reminded of why they fell in love.  I joke that recording a Couple Story is a cheaper version of therapy, and a lot more fun!

And the readers often hear untold stories and gain a different perspective on the storyteller’s experiences.  It’s especially fun for adult children to hear their parents’ stories – to hear about their adventures before they had kids, and to see connections in their experiences across generations.


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Emerald Inspired

by Cat on July 10, 2013

Am I biased to say that fellow Designing Mom and friend Erika of Delphine Press has the quintessential emerald pantone pick in her custom invite collection?


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Designing Mom Mallika of Mikifoto is a photographer specializing in one of the most patient creative careers out there: children and youth portraiture. I had my son’s first portraits done by fellow colleague Beth Hurley and it was worth every penny… She exuded a warmth and calm that soothed her subject (my cranky Zilla who was still nursing a cold) like a charm. It seems Mallika possesses every bit that charm. Read on to hear about what inspires her and some of her tips for capturing shots of your own little ones…

How did you get involved with photography?

Like many photographers, I started taking pictures when I had my own kids.  I have three boys aged 10, 8 and 3.  For years, we never lived near our extended family so I took photos that were story telling of their funny personalities.  I wanted my far away relatives to really know who my sons were.  Soon, I was photographing friends and neighbors and my style caught on.  Next thing I knew, I had my own business and entered a whole new creative world.

In a world filled with photoshop and editing programs, what inspired you to pursue a more natural approach to photography?

To me, children are most amazing in their natural state.  Big curious eyes, a full lip pout, a wide toothy grin…they don’t need to be overly processed.  Even when they are messy, they are so beautiful.  It’s best to keep it simple.  They are kids afterall!

What are some of your go-to tips for photographing children?

Get ready to move, sing and play!  Ask questions. Dance. Sing a song with crazy made up lyrics. Laugh really loud.  Do jumping jacks.  Even potty language can go a long way.  Try saying, “Boogers” really loud and you’ll be sure to see a grin.

How do you manage your work and motherhood?

It’s a balancing act! What has helped me a ton is to learn to embrace the chaos. With three boys at home and a full set of enrichment/sport activities, the week definitely gets crazy.  I try to set boundaries but when you work from home, it’s tough.  I have learned that taking on less clients per month works better for me. I can service those clients really well while also allowing for more flexibility and time with my own kids.  It’s still a struggle but I remind myself that I love what I do and life doen’t have to be picture perfect 🙂

We love the feeling of spontaneity in your photographs! How do you capture those little moments?

For some reason, kids tend to really like me. I consider this a special gift.  Maybe it’s because I am tiny and really animated 🙂  But they warm up to me quickly and feel really comfortable.  I think their openness is the key to capturing natural and real moments.  We connect. I let them run and scream.  I ask them thoughtful questions.  I encourage them to have fun with their family.  Everyone is having a good time.

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