Diane Bald stayed the course for over 40 years nurturing the Roots brand with her husband, Michael Budman, and their business partners and best friends, Don and Denyse Green. Last year the company sold a majority stake and now she’s getting a chance to take a breather and think about what’s next. Naturally, she has something up her sleeve (however she’s staying mum about it) but what she is willing to talk about are the lessons she’s learned as a working mom who helped build a success story while bringing up her children, Matthew and Alex.
HOW TO BE A MOMBOSS WHO IS EQUAL PARTS MOM & BOSS
Give yourself a break. “Raising kids, having a career, a husband and being a woman is a juggling act! I am a perfectionist by nature but learned quickly that I had to let go of that concept quite early in the game. This enabled me to handle more situations with ease. Everything does get done in the end and life usually unfolds as it should. Woman are amazing multi-taskers and that is a gift that gets you through many tight situations. Of course, I had days when everything came crashing down—forgotten lunches, late pickups, no food in the fridge, missed appointments and meetings. However, I think it was good for the kids to see that these were challenging times for me and that everyone had to pitch in to make it all run smoothly.”
The right time is quality time. “Our family always had dinner together to end each day, with no phones or television. This gave us a chance to hear what was going on in each other’s lives and hear what the kids had to say. We always encouraged the kids to voice their opinions and ideas. Michael drove the kids to school and I picked them up, along with various car pools, which was a great time to hear what was happening with them and their friends. Weekends were devoted to our kids; we seldom made adult plans. There were hockey practices and time spent up north at our cabin, which was sacred time away from electricity, TV and electronics. It was a place to be one with nature and have imaginative play. Michael put equal time into the kids’ interests and attended every hockey game and tennis match. Childhood is a fleeting moment and we felt it was very important to be present for those formative years. Time is the most valuable asset with kids. You can never replace that!”
Success equals hard work—and play. “We worked hard and our kids saw that we always worked hard. And I’m grateful and proud and even surprised that they’ve inherited our work ethic in their own careers. We were always conscious to reward our hard work with experiences and travel instead of accumulating stuff. I never wanted them to be show-y or be entitled. There was nothing we loved more then to travel as a family. Travelling is the best way to expand a child’s world and learn about and see different cultures. I think it taught them about humility, appreciation and gratitude.”
Feed inspiration when it strikes. “As an architect and even as a student, I had to always find a quiet place to lie down and visualize a three- dimensional space whenever I was designing. Some people draw immediately but I always liked to walk through a space in my head then I’d take it to the drawing board. Day to day I find inspiration in everything around me. I just got back from hiking in the Indian Canyon Reserve near Palm Springs, and I saw the whole colour palette for the next season. The mountain side was filled with golden wheat that was the most beautiful pale yellow and there were these tiny, little, two-toned desert roses which we’ll be using next spring in our bag collection. I find the more open and tuned you are to your surroundings, then you will always be rewarded with inspiration.”
Invest in long term relationships. “Michael and I have been working together for over 40 years and for that entire time we’ve been friends and business partners with the Greens. How did we make it work? We didn’t step on each other’s toes because we discovered our individual strengths and let them shine. Everybody did what they did best. After working together for 44 years our families are closer than ever. The kids are like brothers and sisters and truly care about each other. And the four of us created and crafted an amazing company together that will always keep us connected because it’s authentically based on how we lived our lives. It’s almost like giving birth to a child, watching it grow and then sending it off on its way. Together, we literally gave the brand roots and wings, no pun intended. We’ve really been fortunate to have found this chosen family to enjoy every part of our lives with.”
Love your squad. “After becoming a mom, there’s a sisterhood of friends that you need to draw from to make sense of it all. After I had Matthew, Denyse was a mentor to me. She already had kids and was very inspirational. She taught me about home births, homeopathy and all the ins and outs of motherhood. My sisters were also there for me, as well as were many of my closest friends. It takes a village to raise a child and it was the sisterhood of girlfriends that I constantly turned to. In turn, I have passed my experience onto younger mothers who are starting families and the woman I work with. I like to empower my team to be the best they possibly can be as well as help them to achieve their best work/life balance. In the end it’s all about being positive, inspirational and a team player!”
ROOM TOUR A timeless home office full of memories
Her home office possesses hallmarks of the Roots brand which is organic to her own personal taste: Classic, comfortable and so easy to live in.
A map above her desk represents the DNA of the Roots lifestyle and its lifelong ode to their family time in Algonquin Park (where Michael and Don spent their childhoods at Camp Tamakwa).
This vintage Jean Perzel table globe is a find that she bought in Paris while she lived and worked there with Michael before they had their children.
The room’s neutral palette of white, black and wood gives visual wiggle room to add pops of art and colour like the Higgins handcrafted rondeley glass “curtain” in the window and Douglas Coupland bullseye coffee table that the artist designed in collaboration with Roots.A trained architect, Diane lines her walls with vintage rulers. “I got this yellow slide rule in Los Angeles 15 years ago on Abbott Kinney Boulevard in an antique store. I just loved the scale of it.” And you’ll notice she kept a lot of her home’s vintage details. “When we moved in, I tried to imagine what the original architect would’ve envisioned so I could restore and recreate it.”
“This painting is a portrait of my late mother. She is the reason we are in our home as she found it for us. I love looking at her above my desk.”
Diane and Michael have an adjoining door that connects both their offices.
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
Her it-bag is from Roots, naturally. Diane is heavily involved in the design and production of the brand’s leather goods (in fact, she’s often in the Toronto-based leather factory) and knows they are built for the long run. “I’ve had this one for at least five years.”
While she lived in Paris during the mid-80s, Diane had the opportunity to work closely with French interior and product designer, Andrée Putman, who gifted her with this glass heart. “I was there with her while she was designing the Morgan Hotel. She taught me about the timelessness of mixing eras together in one room.”
She served up Greenhouse juices during our visit, a go-to drink since its founders include Don and Denyse’s children. “I’m so proud of them. I feel like they’re my own kids and I’m happy for their success.” P.S. We’re all fans of The Greenhouse Cookbook, a tome of healthy recipes that include their cult-favourite juices.
This necklace is a keepsake that belonged to her mother (take a close look at her family photo and you’ll see her mom wearing it) who embraced defining her own personal style.
She’s not too fussy about her skincare routine. She pretty much likes anything in travel size since she’s often logging air miles. Right now she’s into BioEffect skincare, especially the EGF Eye Mask Treatment after a long flight. There’s also the BioEffect EGF Day Serum, 30 Day Treatment and Serum. And like other moms that we’ve featured, she’s hooked on Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Primer.
“We’ve had this Saarinen dining set since the 70’s. It was one of the first things we bought to celebrate our success back then. We haven’t really collected too many things over the years though. We’re much more into experiences and travel.”
Her style must-have is her namesake Diane jacket (see a similar one here), a moto design that’s modern, streamlined and timeless, qualities that she seeks in her closet and for her home.
She’s held onto a collection of kids-size Roots jackets that Alex and Matthew wore when they were little. “I’ll never be able to let these go.”