Catriona Smart is mastering the art of change. Within the last couple of years, she oversaw a complete home renovation and design project while she launched her own agency, Halo PR. This was a significant shift because it meant taking on a business partner, Halla Rafati, after years of being her own boss for her lifestyle blog and events company, Coco & Cowe. She also journeyed through a divorce and is taking her first steps as a single working mom. What has stayed consistent is a commitment to her daughter, 4-year old Harlowe, and a willingness to stay on top of her game which includes meeting the needs of luxe clients like Four Seasons hotels and Remy Martin and driving clicks for her digital footprint that she launched over 9 years ago. It’s not enough to say this mom is pivoting…she’s redesigning her life.
“To be completely candid, becoming a single mom was a hard transition for me. Like so many single moms, I experienced that notable shift of responsibility that can fall on you. Taking on that much extra at home on top of my work, it threw me for a little bit – on top of an incredible amount of emotional pain. I can’t lie and say I do it all on my own though. My mom lives really close to me, which is amazing, and I am fortunate enough to have a nanny. She’s an amazing partner too. We have a mutual respect that’s made getting into a daily groove easier.
I totally feel like I’ve been redesigning my life and part of that is changing my expectations, especially in terms of how much output I can create. Lucky enough, the agency has great clients that’s allowed us to hire staff and lighten the load. I’ve had to learn to delegate though, which is something I haven’t always been comfortable with. This is a steep learning curve for me, but I know it’s necessary to build a stronger team.
I’ve always produced events that I get down and dirty with: I would rather be in sweats hanging lanterns and moving tables to the perfect location than to leave my ideas with someone else to execute while I’m at the hair salon getting ready. Halla, my business partner, is really good at delegation. She’s always worked in a corporate environment and will tell me when to let go and let someone else enjoy the responsibility so that we can focus on the bigger picture—which is where the growth is. Being able to think bigger and push boundaries has ignited a fire in me and unveiled a side of myself I never knew existed.
What I’m also getting used to is working with corporate clients on a different level. All my business relationships have generally been one-on-one and with people that I can vocalize my opinions with. And I’m used to decisions happening quickly. After the first phone call, I could be executing the event as soon as one or two weeks later. Now with the agency, I’m appreciating the need for process, patience and compromise so the business can keep evolving.
What I’m really loving is hearing so many ideas from different people and I want to create a space where the team is eager to share. We used to have one weekly meeting and I soon realized that wasn’t enough to manage the agency and the blog. We meet twice a week now and everyone is welcome to bring new ideas. We’re creating a fun and collaborative environment offline and online. We have a group chat where we can send each other inspiration and articles as it comes to us. That has really helped because inspiration can strike any time of day.
I do live with mom guilt though, which I try to fight because there’s so much going on at the office. I’m the only mom at work and naturally, there’s no understanding of the amount of extra time and effort that goes into raising a child. And I totally get it’s impossible to know or appreciate until you become a parent, but I do struggle with putting my daughter first when work is calling because I feel like I’m prioritizing work less than anyone else. I really think that women take on more than they should. The great thing is that I’ve learned so much and I’ve become a way better person, as a result of having Harlowe in my life. Being a parent has given me a better perspective. Kids have a way of showing you exactly what’s important and what isn’t.
She’s changed my life but not in such a way that I don’t like it. I’ve always been inspired by career-driven women who pursued their interests and I had a great example: My mom worked really hard and completed her Master’s degree while she was working and a mother of three. And I’m not saying being a SAHM isn’t fulfilling. It’s more about how you choose your life. For me, I know I would be miserable if I was a full-time mom. I wouldn’t be the person I need or want to be. But man, there is nothing more impressive than a stay-at-home mother. It’s one of the hardest and under-appreciated jobs in the world.
Luckily, today women have the ability to define their lives without as much judgement as times gone past. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still judgement—especially on social media—but there is a movement for women to live authentically in their best lives. There are positive changes happening that are encouraging us to make the best choices for ourselves and our families.”
HOME TOUR A glam makeover with retro inspiration
“This is the first time I’ve decorated a home to my own personal taste. I like the hits of pink because it makes me happy and of course, it’s my daughter’s favourite colour. The funny thing is I wasn’t this girlie when I was younger.” Desk, Restoration Hardware; pouf seating, Black Rooster; rug, Elte Market.
“The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality and I love entertaining and welcoming people to an event. It also reminds me of my family and heritage in Jamaica. You’ll see them all through the house because it speaks to me on so many levels.”
This Eames-style lounger is just that, an Eames-style lounger. After all, opting for a gorgeous knock-off is a smart and kid-friendly choice.
In the media room, a large sectional from Restoration Hardware is covered in white linen slipcovers, which is kid-friendly too. Just wash and dry if you need to.
Catriona is in no rush to decorate her home. She’s instead, taking the time to find things she loves, like the wallpaper in her bedroom. “It’s from Designer Wall Coverings. They’re the only ones that carry the exact print that’s hung in The Beverley Hills Hotel, one of my favourite places to stay.” Bed, bench and sconces, Elte; side tables, CB2.A seat with serious retro glam attitude is also from Black Rooster. “I feel like [owner] Nina Ber-Donkor takes in all the noise from everything that’s out there and creates a tailored collection of pieces with modern and old world inspiration.”“I love ferris wheels and the idea of going to a fair and seeing all the whirring lights. There’s so much wrapped up in it, like the spirit of youth and the idea of simple pleasures.” Wonder Wheel by Night Coney Island, NY by Franck Bohbot Studio.
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
Her go-to bag is a bucket style from Mansur Gavriel that’s pared down and sophisticated. “I can throw anything in it, even snacks for Harlowe. I like that I can wear it cross-body and stay hands-free and this tan shade really goes with everything.”
She collects stylish inspiration for Harlowe with books from the Little People, Big Dreams series which helps little ones discover extraordinary people like Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel. To match, “I found these Japanese-style Kokeshi dolls in London and couldn’t resist.”
On her bedside, we spotted a diffuser and essential oils from Saje in scents made for any mom who needs her 40 winks.Catriona loves writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “She is a great example of a modern day feminist and she shares her perspective in a way that’s easy to digest.” Also on her hit list: Zadie Smith. “I enrolled at NYU for a summer program because I found out she was the instructor and then she had other commitments that kept her from teaching.”
The pumps she depends on are from Gianvito Rossi (that’s right, Sergio’s son). “I can’t wear them from 9-to-5. I have to take breaks and wear pairs of Four Seasons hotel slippers that we have handy at the office.”A pair of Christian Louboutin heels signed by the designer are perched on her office shelf. “I’m afraid if I wear them, his note will wear away. Plus they’re so sculptural, why not put them on display?”
Her beauty routine is all about a glowing finish that leaves an impression: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow, NYX Mineral Stick Foundation, Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher, YSL Touche Eclat, Gee Beauty Tinted Powder Primer and the chic scent of Nemat Amber Perfume Oil Roll-On.
“I don’t normally wear too much colour but I couldn’t help myself from buying this dress. It makes me feel bold.” Dress, Michael Kors.This busy mom needs a daily skincare routine that isn’t fussy: Dr. Sebaugh Rose de Vie Serum, Belif The True Cream and Consonant Come Clean facial wipes (that’s a tote-able size for this jet-setting mom who was just at Coachella).
The everyday kicks that make her feet happy: Adidas Ultraboost Uncaged running shoes. “I have a few pairs of these. I love them because they feel like I’m just wearing socks.”