The original idea behind Couture Musings was to focus on the more personal aspects of the people in our community (with a few style posts mixed in!). What I’ve found to be so remarkable is that the one common thread that seems to consistently pop up every time I interview someone is the importance of family. In my lengthy, and highly enjoyable, conversation with designer Annie Fensterstock, I discovered she is the perfect embodiment of the “family first” approach. I also discovered that regular 9 to 5 hours is a completely foreign concept to Annie, and that she has superhuman powers for surviving on very little sleep!
Couture: Tell me about your kids.
Annie Fensterstock: I have a boy who is three, and two daughters, five and seven. My oldest, Tess, is an aspiring actor, she needs to command the stage! She takes drama, dance and singing so that she can become a triple threat one day! My husband is Columbian and Filipino so she’s a fun, ethnic mix, she’s got a crazy photogenic memory and she is not shy! Her desire to act is 100% from her…honestly, it’s not something I would ever have encouraged but as long as she’s really excited about doing it, I’ll support her. The second it stops being fun though, she’s done!
Luna, my five year old, is a little figure skater. She also takes drama and was the only five year old in our local JCC’s production of Hairspray last summer, but ice skating is really her thing right now, she’s very athletic and very balanced.
My son Beck is a little Sider-man! He’s such a boy! He ice skates, but not well….we put him in lessons only because he has to be there when his big sister is there so rather than carry him around—because he will run away—we put him on the ice. He says he’s interested in karate, gymnastics, cooking, soccer and hockey!
Couture: And what about your husband? I hear he’s also involved in the business?
AF: He is! Mike runs the business, I design the jewelry. In his “spare time” he produces films and commercials so his production skills are very applicable to our business. As the jewelry business has grown, he’s been producing more commercials than films because it’s a two week commitment on a commercial as opposed to a much longer commitment on a film.
Couture: So tell me about your home/work environment, what’s that all look like?
AF: I work from home. My studio and office are separate from our living area and the kids are very good about not going in those rooms and not touching my stuff but still, the jewelry is everywhere! I have drawings everywhere, and I draw on everything. I have sketches on napkins, grocery lists, all over the place! And my kids make sketches too, so they’ll make sketches next to my sketches. The combination of sketches and jewelry everywhere, nannies and playdates…it’s crazy!
My husband and I stay up late, rarely do we go to sleep before 2am because we’re both night owls. But our mornings are super early! He needs more sleep than I do, I don’t need sleep, but that just means he’s a little more tired and cranky than I am. I get up 15 minutes before he does, make the kids’ lunches and then I wait for him to get up and make the coffee.
Couture: Okay, that’s awesome that he makes the coffee…but you don’t need sleep?!
AF: I don’t, I can survive on very little sleep. My oldest is wired just like me, she’s a total night owl. But in the morning, I have to literally roll her to get her up, she thinks she’s a college kid!
Couture: So you are living, breathing and [not] sleeping your business, how do you get a break from work?
AF: We don’t really work that much on the weekends, we try to make them all about the kids. I have my phone on me all the time if a retailer needs to reach me but for the most part, the weekends are really about the kids. We work all day Monday thru Friday, save for times with the kids—dinner, bedtime, classes etc—so the weekends are our time to hang as a family.
My husband’s brother has three kids, also two girls and a boy about the same age as my kids, and they live very close to us so we see them all the time, we’re all rink rats together! Also, when I was pregnant with Tess, we were living in Brooklyn at the time, four of my best friends were also pregnant. So we spend time with our friends, whose kids are our kids’ friends!
Couture: Wow! It sounds like one big happy clan! How did it all start? Where did you and your husband meet?
AF: We met in high school; we were actually very close friends. We started dating the first week we got to college and dated for two years, and then broke up for a year to “see other people” but we ended up secretly getting back together. I say “secretly” but apparently everyone knew we were back together. Our friends told us to come out of the closet and admit it! We got married in 2000, lived in the West Village, Chelsea, Brooklyn and then full circle back to our home town in Long Island!
Couture: You know, the idea of your life seems hectic, but you appear to be very well balanced, is that just an illusion?!
AF: You know, surrounding myself with family and friends—I also have two brothers, one lives near me and one lives near my parents in North Carolina—really helps keep things in perspective. I love what I do but it’s only part of who I am. Family grounds you, and so does all the singing and dancing that goes on around here!