Juli Daoust Baker was already a successful business owner before she became a mom. Together with her husband, John Baker, they combined their vision and notable gusto and opened Mjolk (that’s Swedish for milk and it also reflects the couple’s design ethos that’s just as pure, simple and sensual). The store began as a shop specializing in Scandinavian and Japanese accessories and since its opening in 2009, it has evolved into a complete lifestyle shop and gallery including pieces from Hans Wegner, Naoto Fukasawa and Børge Mogensen. Juli admits having two children while building a burgeoning business has been tough, however her partnership with John—at work and play—is what’s helping them enjoy more time with their children.
I’m in the thick of it. Both of my kids are under 5-years old and as many parents of young children can attest to, it is a challenge and a huge life adjustment. Part of it is that there is no maternity leave when one owns their own business. When Elodie was born, I focused on her but that doesn’t mean work stopped so my husband had to take on more. I had children later in my 30s so I had all this time to do things before and then we had a baby and everything came to a halt. It just stops and I had a hard time with that transition.
It was frustrating because I couldn’t simply “Enjoy this time with baby” because I couldn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to. It was hard for me to relax and just be in the moment because there were things that needed to be done for the business that only I could do. It wasn’t until I had Howell that I was able to let go of “getting stuff done.” My husband took on 90 per cent so I could be 90 per cent with the kids.
We are fortunate that we have the flexibility to create a lifestyle that works for us. Our major goal right now is trying to share all the responsibilities in a more equal way, where I get a few hours to work while John takes the kids to the park. It needn’t be all or nothing for either of us. Admittedly though, I still get stressed out and can’t wait to get back to the store and he certainly gets overburdened when I am not available.
We live above the store so the transition between work and home is quite simple. John is home by 4pm so we can prep dinner and have it together as a family by 5pm. We have a nanny three days a week but that time “off” fills up fast. I’m doing drop-offs and pick-ups (our daughter just started attending full day school), family errands, scheduling my own appointments and catching up on work.
“We are fortunate that we have the flexibility to create a lifestyle that works for us. Our major goal right now is trying to share all the responsibilities in a more equal way.”
It can feel crazy but we’re lucky; we’re both present in our kids’ lives and even when it’s a nanny day, we see them on the way out to the park and when they come home. It’s in these moments during a busy day that we can make sure to get a hug and kiss from them. I’m really happy we get to spend that much time together as exhausting as it can sometimes be.
I’m choosing to be with the kids since they’re only going to be little for so long. I was recently debating the age old question of whether it’s possible to have it all and I realized that I do have it all, it’s just not possible to have it all at one time. Right now my work suffers a bit, but thankfully we have wonderful support staff in the shop and the grandparents are also eager to help out when we need them. My mom watches the kids when we have exhibition openings and John’s parents take the kids for a mini holiday so that we can have time to focus.
At this point of my life, I’m making more time in my schedule to go to the park and watch them grow and once Howell is old enough to be at school, I’ll have my career and my job waiting for me. I’m looking forward to getting back to a more balanced lifestyle but today the kids are my focus.
HOME TOUR Mid-Century, modern & family-friendly
STRESS FREE LIVING
Juli understands furniture is meant for living and doesn’t stress over any inevitable marks. “There are water stains on our pale leather couch and chairs but over time the marks will mellow out.” In the meantime she simply wipes with a damp cloth to hydrate the leather. Børge Morgensen 3-seater sofa, Alvar Aalto stool/side table and shelving designed by Studio Junction, who designed Juli and John’s entire home.
AGAINST THE WALL
“The purple painting is a funny story, as it was originally hanging in Børge Mogensen’s home. He is one of our design heros and we won it at an auction. It’s a mid-century piece by artist Albert Mertz. The wall hung credenza was made by our architects Studio Junction specifically for our home and is now available at the shop due to demand.” Coffee table, Brasilia by Claesson Koivisto Rune for Swedese.
DINE & DASH
There’s a misconception that designer furniture means serious upkeep. Take for example this Børge Mogensen for Fredericia Furnture kitchen table and seating. Made of soap-treated (vs polyurethane-treated or lacquered) wood, we didn’t see a ring or a scratch. Juli’s had it for over 4 years and simply wipes away berry and food stains with an eco-friendly dish soap and water.
NATURAL BORN FINISHES
“Our home is filled with natural materials because although they age and patina, they do so best, showing the life lived, which is very important to us. We used white oak for the wood components and soapstone for the counter. The backsplash above the stove was custom made by porcelain artist Renaud Sauvé. The brass containers are by Oji Masanori. For the most part, you can see that we really do live with all the objects we sell in the shop.”
The kids’ stuffies get cosy on a George Nakashima Woodworking Bench. If you look really close you’ll also see teeth marks that Howell and Elodie made while they were teething. “I think of every chip or mark as a memory or story that I’ll never forget,” says Juli.
Howell peaks into their urban herb garden that’s at home on the second floor outdoor space. For family meals, Juli frequents her local organic grocer, The Sweet Potato.
The family created an outdoor space that blends seamlessly with the top floor living room and kitchen so Howell and Elodie can enjoy the outdoors without having to go far.
The kids’ kitchen was chosen with the same attention to craftsmanship and details. Made of solid cherry wood with walnut and birch accents, find it at nest.ca.
FINDING THE RIGHT KEYS
Juli says John loves collecting. “It’s a hobby that helps him destress but we’ve agreed he has to sell most of what he finds.” Except for this mid-century Horning & Møeller pianette he sourced from Copenhagen. It’s small scale and simplicity makes it a perfect fit for their home while satisfying his other hobby – music.
Modern Danish design meets environmentally friendly heat thanks to this Morsø cast iron wood burning pedestal stove.
We wish we could say we included this pic because it shows off Juli’s wide plank Douglas Fir floors sourced from B.C., but we just couldn’t resist showing Howell at play.
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
“John is very good at giving me gifts. He likes the thrill of the hunt and he always has a 100% success rate because we have the same taste.” Left and centre, vintage pendant necklaces by Finnish designer and sculptor Tapio Wirkkala; right, leather pendant necklace is m.a+ by Maurizio Amadei that was brought home from Tokyo.
Polaroids of John and Juli when they first met find a permanent place on the living room shelves among the couple’s design tomes.
About her personal style, Juli confesses she’s not into jeans and prefers mid-length dresses and skirts so she can move with ease throughout her day. She supports local designers and shops and her favourites include Fawn, Ewanika and Hoibo, where she bought this utilitarian cross body bag that she uses everyday.
What Elodie wears: An Elsa princess dress and this pink jupe from grandma. What Juli wants her to wear more often: A chic print import she picked up during her last trip to Sweden.
The Mjolk Volumes are a much-loved project. Juli and John began their success story with their design blog, Kitka.ca, before opening their shop and continue to share their vision within these pages filled with studio tours, designer interviews and photography. Juli’s looking forward to spending more time on the blog and the books as soon as Howell starts school.