Laura Keogh had a Darren Star-produced lifestyle. She began her career in fashion and beauty PR in New York handling clients like Smashbox Cosmetics, Bare Escentuals and Paco Rabanne. Then, falling in love with a local boy from the 6ix brought her to Toronto where she landed her perfect gig at FASHION Magazine as its beauty director. Almost 10 years flew by at the title meeting celebrities like Celine Dion, Cate Blanchett and Mariah Carey and being the editor-in-chief of FASHION 18 (a now defunct teen style magazine) while also contributing to Wedding Bells with her extensive beauty know-how. Then she had her daughter Scarlett, now 10-years old, and to her surprise, her vision of working motherhood took a turn she didn’t expect.
“I quit within 6 months after going back to work. It was agonizing for me because my career was something I wanted to do since I was a kid. It was my dream job. I worked hard and long to get there and I was always aware of how lucky I was. To walk away from it all was really difficult. I’ll never forget the day I decided to make a change. I finally admitted to my husband that I felt like I should leave my job. I wondered, does it makes sense for us? I asked him, ‘Do I really walk away from this?’ and he looked at me and said, ‘Look at what you are walking towards.’ After he said that, I knew my next adventure had to be with Scarlett.
Before motherhood, I had this image of who I was in my head; then I had a baby and I realized I was completely wrong. I actually negotiated going back to work part-time only half-way into my maternity leave. I believed I needed a full-on career to be fulfilled as a mother. Then, when I went back to work, I couldn’t even sit at my desk. All I wanted to do was be around my family and be with Scarlett. Slowly I understood that my career in beauty had run it’s course, not only because of motherhood but also because I needed to make a change.
When you work that hard for so long, you’re always nose to the grindstone. I was just trying to get through my day, that week and the week after that. It was hard for me to gain perspective and ask, ‘am I still happy, excited and creative?’ Having a baby finally made me pick my head up, look around and realize I wasn’t happy.
Laura’s Kid-Friendly Dessert That’s Easier Than Pie: Fresh Strawberry Crostada
I was still lunatic about being a full-time mom and freelancer though. I got right into it and tackled it like a job. I made a schedule of activities with Scarlett and met this whole new world of people that I bonded with because our children play together. Eventually though, I craved being around creative people. I still stayed on as an editor-at-large at FASHION and contributed features but I outgrew that too. If I was invited to a media event or launch, I would turn it down. And I would write stories, but it would take me longer than usual. But I still struggled with the notion of not being attached to something bigger than me, especially the beauty industry since I had been in it for 17-years. I knew I needed to move forward but I wasn’t sure what my next step would be.
Luckily, Ceri — who worked with me at FASHION Magazine — came to a similar headspace. She had her children and wanted a professional change too. Ceri and I had our daughters at the same time. We tackled motherhood like journalism; researching and investigating everything from sleep habits to healthy food and then we’d swap the information back and forth. Food had become a big deal because we were no longer feeding ourselves but feeding these little people too. We found ourselves constantly talking about how hard it was to make healthy meals for our family and started sharing recipes as well. We figured we weren’t the only parents who wanted the same information. That’s when my creativity found an outlet again. It went into food and, when Scarlett was three we launched Sweet Potato Chronicles.
It was all an easy and natural progression. I’d been making food with Scarlett since she was little but juggling my desire to be with her and make SPC into something real and exciting was hard at first. I would feel guilty if I chose the blog over her and I had a hard time making boundaries for myself between work and family. It’s been a slow process for me to get a routine. Now when she’s is at school, I am on SPC as much as I can, but Scarlett comes home for lunch. I made that choice and I’m committed to that hour in the middle of the day before I go back to work until she finishes school. I know one of my strengths is being present with her. I’m happy to put down the phone and spend time crafting and I’m lucky I have a life that allows me to do that. And best of all, my work involves Scarlett. She’s as much as a partner to this as Ceri and her kids and we’re so happy to be accomplishing all this together.”
In 2013 Laura and Ceri’s new baby, How To Feed A Family: The Sweet Potato Chronicles Cookbook, was born. Proving to be the recipe book that every mom totally needed, this year they’ve come out with The School Year Survival Cookbook, a book chock full of meal ideas that’ll have you easily whipping up healthy meals for the fam.
Laura’s best memories growing up was oceanside near her hometown of Connecticut. After moving to Toronto, she missed the seaside vibes of her childhood and found her own little corner with an expansive lakeside view that reminds her of the sea. “I couldn’t move to a small lake. I really needed to see something so much bigger and awesome to look at when I wake up in the morning.”
Even on a cloudy day, Georgian Bay plays hosts to Laura’s instinct to make any one who visits feel at home.
A cosy bunkie sleeps three with a lakeside view and the ripple of the lake’s waves.
Shells from the family’s travels and stones from the cottage’s lakeside landscape are all the decor this mom needs.
Her daughter’s favourite perch.
Laura always keeps paints and brushes on hand so every guest of every age can mark their visit.
Laura invested in a seaside palette of red, white and blue and antique pieces she brought from across the border.
The entrance way is a lovely mash-up of everything that’s close to her heart: Her family, her countries (now and then) and her travels.