Meet inspiring mom, Ali Hynek! Wife, Mother, founder of the popular loomed bag company, Nena & Co + a glimpse into life with triplets! We are always so intrigued + moved by other working mamas and know first hand how hard it can be to do what you love + raise a family at the same time. Ali Hynek is as beautiful on the inside is she is on the outside and we couldn’t be more honored to share a little bit of her story with you all!
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU!
I was raised in San Diego and I love the 90’s! I grew up in a super diverse family and a super diverse city. My mom is from Guatemala and grew up in very humble beginnings and my dad is a local Utahan that comes from a BIG family. We had cousins living with us growing up and my mom’s mother lived with us my whole life. I didn’t get married until I was in my early 30’s and so Jeremy and I decided we wanted to start our own family right away. But life had a different plan for us. We had fertility issues that we dealt with for about 3 years and then we finally got pregnant with our three babies! I guess three is our lucky number! We have identical girls, Penelope and Alejandra, and a fraternal son, Ethan. The best thing that came out of those trying years of fertility treatments was that I was able to focus my energy on starting and building Nena & Co. I think it has been a double edged sword during those years. On one hand it distracted me from negative thoughts of possibly never having children but on the other hand, it was so stressful at times that I have to wonder if the stress caused more infertility problems. I’ll never know.
WHAT IS LIFE LIKE WITH TRIPLETS?
We live a completely different life now that Sweet PEA is around. Jeremy and I are avid travelers and took advantage of our time together while it was just he and I. Now we spend our days snuggling babies and figuring out how to be mom and dad. We lead a fast pace life before the kids were here and we both agree that we never thought life could get more busy than what it already was…enter three babies. As much as I love Nena & Co., all I really want to do is love on my babies all day long and maybe fit in a short workout here and there. On the other side of that, I get a lot of satisfaction out of Nena & Co. It is truly such a great creative outlet for me and I’m able to work from home everyday. Getting the babies on a schedule was not only crucial for their well being but mine as well! It has allowed me to care for them while they are awake and know that I have very specific times during the day to answer emails and take meetings. I turned my office at Nena & Co. into a nursery so that when I need to go in to work I can bring the babies with me!
WHAT FIRST INSPIRED YOU TO START NENA & CO.?
My family heritage is what inspired me to start my company. I am half Guatemalan and maybe its because I don’t look like I’m Guatemalan that I have been SO drawn towards that side of my heritage. I love everything about that part of me. Guatemala is so rich with culture and talent that goes under paid and under recognized that I felt a strong desire to work with people and give them the opportunities they deserve with my own creative take on it.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE PARTS ABOUT YOUR JOB?
My favorite part of my job is sourcing in Guatemala! Before the babies were here it was a family affair to head down to Guatemala with Jeremy and my parents. It’s true what they say about working with family, it’s hard but it has also been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve been able to have with my husband and parents. On top of that, you can’t help but love the people of Guatemala. We’ve been able to reconnect with long lost family over there that love meeting their “American cousins”. We always visit my mom’s aunt and cousins while we are there and do things like visit the graves of family I never had the opportunity to meet. It’s been a way for me to connect more with a side of my that could have been lost forever. I have to say that one of my MOST favorite things is when my Abuelita (my mom’s mom) comes and we all go dancing with her sister which is their favorite thing!
HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK LIFE + FAMILY LIFE?
I don’t have work and family life balanced. But what I try and do is keep the babies on a solid schedule which helps me stay on a schedule as well. Right now they are sleeping about 18 hours a day so it’s easier to find time to work. I work from home as much as possible and take meetings here when it works but sometimes when I have to go into work during a time that the babies are awake, I will take one or more of them with me to the office. Having a baby with me makes me not feel as guilty and it even gives me a special one on one time with that baby.
AFTER A LONG BUSY WEEK WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND?
I have to say I have a husband that works really hard to be at home with us as much as possible and one of my favorite things he does is 1) gets up at night if one of the babies needs something and 2) on the weekends he’ll sometimes just get all the babies fed when they wake up and he lets me sleep in. Who knew getting a little extra sleep as a gift would make you tear up! So I guess you could say just having Jeremy at home is what helps me unwind. Plus we plan a Saturday night date night each week! We try and do something more interesting than dinner and a movie so that we can engage with each other more. For example we did the zip line at Sundance, horseback ridding another time or a concert with some friends! Its has been so crucial for us to get out and be alone.
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN + MOTHERS?
I think the best advice I can give is don’t compare yourself to others. Its great to have goals and role models but live your own life. Make your own story the most important one and learn to be happy with the world you have created.
TELL US HOW NENA & CO. SUPPORTS GUATEMALAN WOMEN?
We have worked with hundreds of weavers that are mostly women but men too. Just like women who have children here in the US, we all look for ways to make money while still being able to watch and care for our children at home. We try and do just that for the women we work with in Guatemala. Not only that, if they are working directly for Nena & Co., we are committed to paying fair prices and at times will even tell a weaver we don’t feel that the price they are quoting us will actually cover their costs. We try and educate them on how to value the work they do so they are actually able to make money. Some people complain about the price of Nena bags but the truth is, we pay fair prices to our weavers and bag makers and if a person isn’t interested in how a product is made i.e. quality or how the makers are being treated, than there are other companies out there that they can purchase from that produce lower quality items for much less money. We could do the same but choose to invest in the people we have working for us and with us in Guatemala. That is part of our mission. We even offer scholarships to the children of our bag makers! We are invested in their future!