On a daily basis, Vivianna Blanch examines — no, relishes in — the concept of American beauty.
She’s been a thought-leader in the beauty industry firmament for the past 15 years, and currently she’s an executive in the marketing segment of L’Oreal USA. Her company is making exciting (and much-needed) strides in diversifying consumer products to reflect the changing face of the American woman. And… did we mention she has popped out three baby boys in the past four years?
Talk about #girlboss.
Now, with her sons Dylan (age 4), Holden (age 3) and Clark (6 months), Vivianna’s got an entirely new team to manage, making her the consummate multi-tasker. She’s recently resumed her commute into New York City after her latest maternity leave, and is now in charge of all advertising, digital content, ecommerce and PR for the Multicultural Beauty Division at L’Oreal USA. Take it from Viv — these are exciting times, for sure.
Vivianna Blanch, 37
Occupation: Vice-president of Integrated Consumer Communications for Multi-Cultural Beauty Division at L’Oreal USA
My best mama moments so far:
Well, I have to confess… I secretly like it when they don’t feel so well because all they want to do is cuddle with mommy. My 4-year-old Dylan woke up this morning at 3 am with a bellyache, and I went into his room to take him to the potty, and he just straddled me and we literally went back to bed that way. He’s a big boy now and he goes to school, so I don’t get these moments with him all the time. Even though he was sick, I still love those moments.
Also, I replay the moments when all three of them were born. I can still feel it, smell it, imagine it as if it was yesterday.
My best piece of advice for new moms:
My husband Rich and I have a little quote that we say when our boys are having a tantrum, not listening, or if we feel like they are purposely defying us at our most vulnerable moments (like when we have to catch a train in 20 minutes). The quote is,“Remember, they are not giving you a hard time, they are just having a hard time.” They did not wake up in the morning trying to frustrate us, they are just toddlers! In fact, they are not capable of self-regulation yet and they need us even more in those moments of stress. If you think of those moments this way, it will for sure modify your reaction to their behavior.
The thing that surprised me the most about motherhood is:
How much fun it is! I was warned by so many people about sleepless nights, no social life. Are you kidding me? I have laughed more in the past 4 years than in the past 20. We have so much fun! We tickle, we do “ The Elmo Slide,” we learn through Curious George’s adventures and we eat a lot of cookies How much fun is that?
What’s your favorite piece of clothing and why?
Now that I am a mother of three boys under 5 years old, I look for clothes that are beautiful but also easy to put on in 30 seconds or less. I have a closet full of wrap dresses and at least 10 pairs of black tights.
What’s been the funniest moment so far with your kids?
There are so many. At a recent Yo Gabba Gabba concert, they ended with Biz Markie doing a song for all of the parents. He started to rap his 1989 hit “Just a Friend” which made all the parents go wild! People were dropping babies, jumping up in the air, dancing and rapping. I leapt out of my chair and danced like crazy. I think I scared the kids. They were like “What’s going on with Mommy?” Holden was so scared and jumped out of my arms. I am not sure he fully recovered yet. It was hysterical!
After this latest maternity leave, you’re now back to work full-time. Can you describe your typical workday?
My day is busy! I wake up at 4:45 to work out, get dressed, hop on a train to Manhattan and I am not home till 7 pm for the boys’ bedtime. It was hard to go back to work, but at the same time I was definitely ready, because I missed being at my dynamic and exciting work environment. I missed that component of my life. But yes, it was hard… at that 4-month mark you get used to this new pattern and routine at home, like being there for dinner every night, which I don’t have now.
You grew up with sisters. What have you learned from having three sons?
I do have one brother who is 5 years older, so he was more of a father figure than a play friend. Having three boys has been eye-opening and an education — you’re always on your toes! People ask me how I lost the baby weight and I say I have three boys! You never sit down. It seems like they learn to wrestle and run from the moment they crawl. They have a lot of energy. They literally can just do laps around our house. So getting outside isn’t an “extra” activity we add in — that’s just part of our day! It’s what we have to do.
I’m also learning a lot about Star Wars, which I knew nothing about before my sons. This is embarrassing to admit, but I thought Storm Troopers were good. So I bought this book, “Everything You Need To Know About Star Wars” and hid it behind the couch — and Rich found it!
Really, in general with becoming a mom — whether you have sons or daughters — you learn to be a kid again.
With your busy careers and three kids, how do you and your husband find alone time?
Rich and I have date “days,” particularly on our birthdays and whenever it works with our schedules. We’ll take off work and spend the whole day together. We’ll walk around this cute town near us called Rhinebeck, where we shop, eat breakfast and lunch together. It’s like a mini staycation.
Also, nighttime is sacred for us. We are so lucky — our kids are excellent sleepers and can’t make it past 7:30, so Rich and I get to eat dinner together and catch up. We cook a lot at home together. It’s very therapeutic.
What’s the hardest thing about parenting?
Rich and I try our best to have a positive attitude. It’s easy to play the martyr and complain, and we notice if we’re negative, it’s contagious with our kids.
We don’t like to compete for “who has it worse.” For example, if one of us says, “I’m so tired,” the other will not come back with, “Well, I was up at 4!” The thing is, there will always be moments when one of us is working harder than the other and vice versa. We have to remind each other that we’re in it together, that it’s not a competition. So we’ve made a conscious decision to be positive.
After your third child, you must have post-partum recovery down to a science. How do you deal with the transition, both physically and mentally?
Your body changes so much. It’s easy to get down on yourself. But for me, more than just body issues, it was important to find moments of alone time, whether it’s taking a walk by myself or working out. It’s almost like your mental health is more important than your physical body and appearance. There’s a mindfulness and meditation app I use called Buddhifi, and I swear by it. It’s a visual and talking meditation that helps you clear your mind in a few minutes a day. Also, I practice breathing when I feel nervous or stressed. Actually, our close friend and actor Matthew Stocke, taught me the power of breathing. He has a lot of tricks that he learned in acting school and I have hired Matt to come and work with me and other executives at L’Oreal on executive presence. This was one of his pieces of great advice. Take deep breaths.
I also absolutely recommend Pilates for both pre- and post-baby. It helps you focus on your core and pelvic floor. It’s my primary workout I’ve done for 5 years, and what’s great is that there are apps and YouTube channels that you can use like Pilates Anytime and Pop Pilates. So if you don’t live near a Pilates Studio — you can do it anywhere!
Your career has placed you in the trenches of the beauty industry. What sort of messages would you convey to your boys as they grow up?
This morning I was putting my eye shadow on, and Dylan asked me what it was. “It’s eye shadow.” “Why?” “Well, it makes my eyes pop.” “Pop? What? Why?” What a thing to explain to a 4-year-old! However, I’m a true believer that when I feel beautiful — when my hair is done, when I’ve got my makeup finished, when I have the tools to make myself feel beautiful, I feel more confident, whether it be at work, or in social settings, or with my husband. There are transformative powers of beauty and cosmetics.
What mama product is your favorite?
The Mamachic is a lifesaver. One of the hair stylists at work commented on how put together I look in the morning. He said, “You look like you just stepped off the runway. How do you do it?” I told him, “It’s my Mamachic!” I don’t know how I fed the baby in the morning without it! I usually get dressed, makeup on and everything before I get the baby up. I have such a limited timeframe, I have zero minutes to get ready. With my Mamachic protecting my clothes and my long hair, I don’t worry about getting spitup on me when I feed Clark! And even my 4-year-old requests jelly in the morning and his hands get so sticky. The Mamachic covers everything, it’s the perfect length. And I love the way it feels.