Laura Lawaetz – quitting the 9-to-5 to be her own boss
We met up with Laura Lawaetz while she was busy at home planning the launch of her latest project – the children’s clothing brand, Lalaby.
In the cosy kitchen of her home, piles of cashmere sweaters, plaid shirts and cotton dresses cover the dining table, bearing witness to the recent arrival of a new baby. “I’ve thought a lot about my future and my career while on maternity leave,” explains Laura Laewatz, who always loved her job as digital editor at ELLE Denmark, but also considered other possibilities. “At one point, I even thought about becoming a midwife,” she laughs. When Laura became pregnant with her daughter, Lucca, her mother and aunt gave her a bundle of children’s clothing their mother had made for them when they were little girls in the 1950s. To Laura’s surprise, the clothes looked like those you can find in French children’s clothing boutiques; they were classic in design and made from quality materials. “Being able to dress my daughter in clothes that are over 60 years old was both thought provoking and wildly inspiring. And when I had my second child and had to decide what to save, I chose the classic, timeless pieces.”
While on maternity leave with her 8-month-old daughter, Laura discovered she was pregnant again. “There’s just 20 months between me and my brother, and my husband and I have always talked about wanting our children to be close in age. It took a year to get pregnant with Lucca and I remember we got pretty impatient waiting for it to happen. We figured that when I stopped breastfeeding her and got my period again, it would take a while before it happened again.” As it turned out, Laura fell pregnant faster than expected. “My initial thought was to swear blindly. Caspar was over the moon, which helped. Still, I had a lot of concerns about being pregnant again, as well as about being able to be there for my daughter, who was still very small. But I was also nervous about whether or not the pregnancy would go well. It took a scan to confirm to me that it was real. Fortunately, I had a good pregnancy, but it was different the second time around as I had a small child not yet able to walk.”
Laura returned to her job at ELLE for four months before going on maternity for the second time. “I quickly reverted back into my old work routines and was reminded of just how much my identity is defined by my job — and how much I loved my work and my colleagues. When I look back, I can see that work took over. We enlisted the help of my parents, my mother-in-law and a nanny at home, but it dawned on me that there was a price to pay for being away so much. My work meant that I couldn’t spend as much time with Lucca as I would have liked to. It was a real eye opener and I realised that I wanted to do it differently. Had it not been for my second pregnancy, I would’ve carried on as usual. It’s been a blessing to have my children so close together and has meant that I’ve been able to stay at home for the first two and a half years of Lucca’s life.” Laura took 14 months maternity leave with her second son, Willum. “On the one hand, I would like to spend more time with my children and on the other, I would like to give myself the time to make a rational decision about my future. My mind was filled with thoughts on how to combine working life with family life and I came to the point where I wanted to create my own children’s clothing brand. I felt guilty about quitting my job while on a second maternity leave and considered staying on – but for whose sake? I resigned while still on maternity leave. I felt sad to leave after five good years, but it was the right thing to do and my colleagues understood that.”
A new chapter
When Laura started toying with the idea of creating her own children’s label, her aunt was a natural ally. “As a designer, she introduced me to fashion. She took me to fashion shows while I was still at school and has always been my biggest inspiration and role model. She’s really talented and her sense of quality is unique. Together, we began to shape the concept of Lalaby. As I began to research how we could make it a reality, it dawned on me that I was already invested in the idea. I could feel that this was something I really wanted to – had to – do.”
Laura’s dream of creating her own children’s clothing label has now come true. Together with her aunt, she recently launched Lalaby, sustainable children’s clothing in timeless silhouettes made from organic GOTS-certified cotton, wool and cashmere. “I’m really inspired by children’s clothing from the 1950s and the French way of dressing children well every day. However, Lalaby is more Nordic in terms of colours and fit; it should be able to withstand wear in the woods, at nursery and in the playground – but is designed to be passed down from generation to generation.”
A long maternity leave
“I have loved being on maternity leave, which was a fantastic contrast to a busy day at work. It’s been great to just be a mum, slow down and take one day at a time. But it’s also been a challenge to not pack too many activities into each day. I’ve learned that the more you slow down and do things on the kid’s terms, the better they thrive. I love being active socially, but I’ve also become better at saying no.”
Having an Instagram profile to run has allowed Laura much-needed contact with the outside world. “I limited the workload and could easily not post for an entire week if I didn’t feel I had the time or energy for it. But I enjoy social media because I decide what and how much I share. I always try to give my posts a personal element, but it’s very much my professional life that’s reflected on my profile. It’s an aesthetic universe that is super edited and I’m careful about what I share with my followers. Personally, I don’t want to follow profiles about life with kids, but don’t be fooled into thinking that my home is always clean and tidy.”
When Laura discovered she was pregnant with her son, Willum, she and her husband took a weekend trip to Paris. A year later, her parents gave her a trip to Barcelona for her birthday while they looked after the children at home. “To get away for a few nights as a couple has done wonders for our relationship, but I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of some critical looks for travelling without the kids. People are so quick to judge – also indirectly, by saying it’s not something that they could do. I think it stems from insecurity. I recognise that in myself. As a mother, you want to do the “right” thing but often end up judging others for the choices they make. To me, it’s about doing what feels right.”
Text Bea Fagerholt Photo Liv Winther
Adapted and translated into English by Hero Agency
MEET & GREET
Laura Lawaetz, 32, is the mother of Lucca, 3, and Willum, 18 months, and lives with her family in the former fishing village of Skovshoved, north of Copenhagen. She recently left her job as Digital Editor at ELLE Denmark to launch her own children’s clothing brand, Lalaby.