Today, I am excited to introduce you to super cool Smarty Mom, Mai-Lis Bahr. We’ve featured her children’s clothing line, Addie and Ella, recently, but today you get the full monty on this awesome mom! She’s smart, creative, determined, giving, fun, and so much more. She puts her all in everything she does and she does all with a smile. For someone who is so busy and gives so much, it’s amazing how laid back Mai-Lis appears. There is just something so refreshing about her. I know this firsthand because I had the pleasure of meeting Mai-Lis through work 11 years ago. She was a great co-worker and made each day more productive, fun and memorable. So, have fun getting to know Mai-Lis today.
Smarty Mom: Mai-Lis Bahr
(a note from Mai-Lis)
Mai-Lis (my-lease) Bahr (My name is often mispronounced so I like to offer up phonetics. And to answer the number one questions in my life: my name is Estonian and Estonia is a Baltic State).
Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: My best friend Chris Bahr for 12.5 years
Children: Carson (10) Addie (8)
Hometown: Saratoga Springs, NY
Years lived in Charlotte: 16
Tell us about how you wound up as the co-owner/designer of Addie and Ella children’s clothing line? When my son Carson was born, he pretty much drooled from three months to three years. I sketched a solution to his soggy outfits and shared with Meghan Hampton (we met in the Pharmaceutical industry). Years later Meghan approached me after her daughter Ella was born and we decided to pursue manufacturing “Lil’ Dribblers”. Our creativity spilled over into other designs and Addie & Ella was born. Meghan and I joke that the company is our child together. You can see “our child” at www.AddieandElla.com.
How long have you been working on Addie and Ella? & tell us about the progression? I founded the company with Meghan in 2009. In the beginning, it certainly was a roller coaster ride. We encountered every issue you can imagine. Eventually the process smoothed out and we sold our first item in 2011 (we had sales in 2010 but due to an issue with a manufacturer, we did not move into production).
Share with us something you’ve learned about yourself from owning your own business? I have learned that no challenge is insurmountable. Addie & Ella has shifted directions numerous times and I have had to learn to shift with it. My mantra has always been, “If other people can do this, then I can too”.
What have you learned about other people? The most shocking lesson was how dishonest and untrustworthy people can be in business. Unfortunately, we ended working with unscrupulous people here in the US and abroad. We definitely were way too trusting in the beginning and quickly learned to clearly define expectations. On the flip side, we learned that there are people out there who want to help and for that we are grateful.
What is the most fun part of your job? Counting inventory, unloading boxes, shipping, discovering thousands of garments that have print errors, debt collecting. Oh wait, you said fun! The fun part would be working with Meghan through it all! I have also really enjoyed the social media aspect of the business. Don’t forget to like us on www.facebook.com/addieandella.
How neat is it seeing your creations all over town and in other cities as well? From the beginning I have always said, “I will feel a great sense of accomplishment when I see a girl wearing an Addie & Ella design!” Thank you to all the moms and little girls who have made my day! The most unexpected Addie & Ella sighting took place within the pages of People Magazine. It was such an honor to see Suri Cruise wearing one of our designs in the celebrity photo section of the magazine. I have to say that was pretty awesome!
Is it true you often take many of the photos for your Addie and Ella website? Tells us about your interest in photography…
I do photograph much of the line myself, but we also have worked with other photographers like Heather Marie Photography and Madison Lane Photography. On my list of “what I want to be when I grow up” is photographer. I love capturing people, nature, and pets. Photography reminds me to slow down and truly notice the world in front of me. I also love to work with Addie. She and I have learned to work together effortlessly; it is a wonderful bonding experience to go out and shoot with her. I am proud of her dedication to her “job” as she refers to the sessions.
How do you balance your life as a wife, mom, and business owner? Any tips for us? Oh gosh, they all spill over into one another all the time. I think communication is the key to keeping all the parts orchestrated. If I have a deadline and the kids need me, I set expectations in regard to my time management. I explain the importance of what I am doing while weaving their needs into my schedule. Let’s just say I work with many interruptions! My husband Chris has been 100% supportive from the beginning, understanding all the demands. I am lucky to have him.
Do you have any other career aspirations? Yes I do! Meghan and I have a bedding item in the hands of the folks at Enventys, where we won a Good House Keeping product search. Fingers crossed that we are able to bring that product to market. But my ultimate lifelong goal has always been to write a book. I love writing and the peace it brings to me.
What is your favorite activity to do with your kids (at home and out and about)? As a family, we love to be physically active, whether it’s hiking, biking, skiing, or bowling. I think it’s important to have an activity that we can do together, one that keeps pulling us back together on a continual basis.
What’s your favorite family restaurant in Charlotte? If you ask Carson, he would say it’s our kitchen. Admittedly, I prefer to cook than to go out. However, we do find ourselves at the Roasting Company on Montford for low key family meals.
What’s your favorite clothing store to shop for yourself? I have never been much of a shopper. But I do appreciate sale racks when I need something!
What do you do when you get a few minutes of “me” time? I go to Y2 yoga! I love love the instructors and the classes there. My thought pattern begins with “how can I fit yoga into my day?” It is so important to take care of you so you can take care of others.
What are your guilty pleasures? Dark chocolate. But honestly, I don’t feel guilt about it. It’s good for me, right?!
What is something you could not live without? My husband, kids, dogs, yoga, and chocolate It’s really that simple but the order might change day to day.
Tell us the about “In the Nic of Time” Benefit you and Meghan Hampton are involved in and how our readers can learn more about this great event. Meghan has been a Smarty mom, so many readers may be familiar with her story. Meghan lost one of her identical twins in 2010 and turned tragedy into something positive. She is the founding chair of “In the Nic of Time” and I am on the committee. It is the only local charity that benefits the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit at Levine Children’s Hospital. This year’s fundraising event will be held on May 30th at the Fillmore. Info and tickets can be found here: http://www.givecarolinas.org/making-news/cottieandcake/. And remember, when you purchase from Addie & Ella, we give a portion of our proceeds to “In the Nic of Time”.
Are you involved with any other charitable organizations or volunteer work? Last summer, I partnered with Elizabeth Sterns to help coordinate the summer reading program at Montclaire Elementary. This is a program I got involved with through Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church. It has been a great experience working with Elizabeth and all of the volunteers. But the absolute highlight was working with the children, helping them with their summer reading goals. My kids also got involved by being reading buddies with the students. Volunteering with Carson and Addie is always an invaluable experience. We can’t wait to be involved again this summer and would love to see Smarty readers assisting students with their summer reading goals.