The great family and career balancing act was fully on display Thursday when five women from the worlds of retail, beauty, fashion, politics and entertainment were honored at the Outstanding Mother Awards.
The event, which took place at The Pierre hotel, was attended by nearly 600 people and raised more than $750,000 — both records. The proceeds benefit the Save the Children’s U.S. Programs.
Vera Wang, Mindy Grossman, Laurence C. Leeds Jr., Abbey Doneger, Morris Goldfarb and Diane von Furstenberg chief executive officer Sandra Campos were among those in attendance. Wang, a previous honoree, was there to support one of this year’s honorees, Michelle Gass, chief executive officer of Kohl’s Corp., which carries the Simply Vera Vera Wang collection.
On a separate note and despite the fact that the CFDA looks to cut back on the number of fashion shows, Wang told WWD she plans to have a fashion show in September, if she can get a good time slot, after sitting it out for two years. It’s her 30th anniversary in business.
Jennifer Garner was unable to attend the Mother’s Day event because her oldest daughter was starring in a school play. She was awarded the Champion for Children award for her work the last 10 years for Save the Children, and described via video her work in underserved communities. She said her own mother grew up in poverty and saw education as a way to blaze one’s own path.
Joanna Coles, executive producer of “The Bold Type” and author of “Love Rules” once again served as mistress of ceremonies and amused the crowd with an update about her teenage son, who recently threw an unsupervised party at their apartment, where the teenagers were unruly and the neighbors complained. Her son ended up leaving the party while his friends remained behind. “What distressed me is he didn’t even have the follow-through to stick with his own party,” quipped Coles.
Kohl’s Gass spoke about how her two teenage children couldn’t be more different. Her 19-year-old daughter, who’s in college, texts her daily wishing her a great day at work, hopes that she “slays” all her meetings and talks about how she’s channeling her mom with her hairstyle. When she texts her son about how his school day went, he’ll text her back “fine” or if she’s traveling, he’ll respond with four words: “My week was good,” with a smiley face.
She believes three characteristics that make outstanding mothers are being empathetic, resilient and courageous. She feels the attributes that define outstanding mothers also make outstanding leaders.
Jill Scalamandre, president of Bare Minerals, read a letter to her daughter, Allegra Clark, who was in the audience. Describing how they came from a long line of strong women, Scalamandre said her grandmother taught her about the importance of balancing family and passionate work, and her own mother taught her to be independent and pursue a career. Soon after her daughter was born, she lost her mother to breast cancer, and she had no one to teach her how to be a mother. “But I found my strength in you. I am sorry that I didn’t cook you home-cooked meals, but I promise you you were better off,” she said. She said she may have missed some of her daughter’s concerts and plays (“thank you Jennifer Garner,”), but said her daughter taught her to be more tolerant. “You’re my best product launch,” she said.
Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island, the first woman and mother to serve in that position, spoke about her top legislative policy which is to provide universal public pre-K in the state of Rhode Island, “Every child deserves that opportunity, and I am going to make that happen,” she said.
Finally, designer Rebecca Minkoff recalled when she came to the realization that she wanted to have kids while her parents were still alive to enjoy them and decided to “fast-track” her family. “We are on a clock, this is not romantic,” she recalled her husband saying.
When she was pregnant with her first son, she said she texted her husband, who was sitting right next to her, how miserable, uncomfortable and fat she was becoming. “You begged me to do this,” he replied. But after she had her baby, she felt this “soul-encompassing love,” and decided at that very minute to take being a mom very seriously. “This is a relationship that only gets better with age,” said Minkoff, about her three children. “They are our future.”