Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Meet a mom series where we feature and celebrate our local mamas and share what they’ve been up to with their careers. This week’s Meet a Mom feature is Leslie Gutstein, founder and CEO of Atarie Boutique an online clothing boutique for women. The busy Skokie mama of four littles says, “Having been through many challenges and changes such as major weight loss/weight gain, 4 pregnancies and balancing my work/stay at home wardrobe, I discovered this passion for helping women build a stress free wardrobe and a new found confidence from within.” Way to parlay your experience and passion into a career mama! Welcome Leslie!
Where are you from originally? What brought you to your current town?
Hi! My name is Leslie Gutstein. I grew up in the Northern suburbs of Glenview, IL where my parents lived for over 30 years. (They now live in Northbrook, so not too far). I currently live in Skokie and have been there for about 10 years. We love the community and appreciate living in such in a central location. We also love that we have access to so many fun activities for the kids and awesome restaurants!
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have 4 beautiful children. Yonatan (Tani) is 9, Aliyah (Allie) is 7, Yair is 4 and Atara is 2.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
Definitely the cuddles and laughs :-)..
Picking my favorite thing about being a mom is a tough one.
Watching my children grow is an unbelievable experience. I find it amazing to see how much they’ve accomplished and the challenges they’ve overcome. I love being their cheerleader and teaching them they can do anything they set their minds to. It is so awesome to see their beautiful qualities shine through, whether it’s watching them make a friend feel good or helping a total stranger. I just love knowing the world is a better place because of them.
Raising kids is one of the hardest jobs but they show me their unconditional love despite my faults and give me the opportunity to be a better, kinder and more compassionate human. They test my limits and they do a great job of pressing buttons…HARD… but the constant challenges teach me to strive to be better than the day before. I’m so grateful for the lessons they’ve taught me.
Do you have any parenting tips that make your everyday life a little easier…
My kids literally eat every minute of every day. I’m not kidding. We are stocked up on snacks wherever we go which helps with the kvetching and whining.
Having 4 kids, I’ve also learned the importance of giving my kids some sort of independence. Teaching them how to be self sufficient is so helpful, whether they get dressed on their own or make their own breakfast, showing them how to be independent is a skill they will use in so many ways down the line. Let’s face it.. it makes everyone’s lives easier. 🙂
I know I’m not the only mom that hates Sundays. With all the running around, birthday parties, family get-togethers and sports activities, it can be too much and exhausting. I’ve learned that it’s ok to not sign up all of my kids for activities or to not attend a birthday party. Giving myself that power helps me prioritize what really needs to be done for the week ahead.
Something I’ve become much better at after starting my business is my home organization. Feeling as clutter free as possible helps me feel a little less stressed and chaotic. When you know where things are, you’ll save time and you will have a great start to your day.
Any favorite apps or podcasts that inspire you right now?
I would really like to manage my time a little better so I downloaded the Productivity app which acts as a motivational planner. I haven’t used it much yet but I’m excited to try it out!
Lately I’ve been listening to a podcast called “On Purpose” with Jay Shetty who shares powerful and inspirational content about mindfulness. His knowledge and wisdom helps me start my day off in a positive way!
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I am a purple belt in Tae Kwon-do. Unfortunately I stopped taking classes after my third child was born.
Favorite local places to spend with the family
It’s always challenging to find places where all of my kids are happy. One of our favorites is Little Beans Cafe. There is something there for all of my kids. We also love outings at the zoo or local parks. All of us love biking and hope to do a lot of riding in the spring and summer.
Please introduce your business…
Just a little background..I have a Bachelors degree in Merchandise Management and had a dream of opening my own boutique one day. I opened Atarie Boutique In September 2018. Originally my plan was to open an online boutique for women. Soon after I opened my business I also started offering wardrobe and style consulting services. I quickly realized how much I loved it and started focusing my energy on that. I help women go through their closets to make sure everything fits their body, personal style and lifestyle. I also help my clients figure out any items that might be missing from their closet. Many of my clients are going through/have gone through major lifestyle changes such as postpartum body changes, weight loss, going back to work or going back into the dating world. I offer closet edits, outfit planning and total style revamps. Having been through many challenges and changes such as major weight loss/weight gain, 4 pregnancies and balancing my work/stay at home wardrobe, I discovered this passion for helping women build a stress free wardrobe and a new found confidence from within.
Who are your influencers and/or mentors?
When I decided to jumpstart my consulting career, I decided to enroll in a style certification course. My teacher, Lauren Messiah, is a very talented personal stylist who inspired me to do something I love. I learned so much from her classes and techniques.
What advice can you give other mamas out there who are looking to re-enter the workforce?
Re-entering the workforce can be pretty nerve-wracking. Whether you’re going back to work in something you have extensive experience in or a totally new career, choose to do work that you love. When you enjoy the work you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Ok, it will still be “work” but it will help you look forward to the day instead of focusing on the fact that you have to leave your child/children.
Trying to balance life and work is very difficult. I started my business when my 4th baby was 6 months old. My mom guilt hit me pretty hard and it was more difficult to leave her than I imagined. In the beginning my mom was available to help me a little but it just wasn’t enough. I struggled with hiring a babysitter for so long, feeling so nervous leaving my baby with a complete stranger. After a few months I hit a breaking point and felt like I was drowning and decided to hire a nanny. You have to prioritize your wants and needs. Putting yourself first isn’t selfish, it is necessary. All the decisions we have to make when we decide to go back to work can be overwhelming but when you are happy, everyone else around you is happy too. “Happy wife, happy life”… so true!
How important is it for you to have a career outside of being a mother?
There were times I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Of course I love spending time with my babies but I also feel a need to contribute to the world around me. Before starting my business, I worked as an insurance agent for my family business for 9 years. I liked the idea of going to work but insurance was just not for me and I knew I needed to use my creativity in some way, and figured I could use my degree too. It really is important to recognize your talents and passions. Doing what I love helps me be a better wife and mom. Of course my family is my priority but it’s important for me to use my creative energy, feel connected to others and to help make a difference.
How has your business changed with living through COVID 19?
As a personal stylist, I am unable to shop with my clients right now due to social distancing and the fact that of course the shops are closed. I have transitioned to seeing my clients virtually which is quite an adjustment! I’m trying to convert one of my workshops so that it can be done online as well. I guess you can say the silver lining in all of this is that I’m taking the opportunity to develop and sharpen skills that I wouldn’t have had a chance to prior to the Coronavirus. I am also unexpectedly “meeting” with other business owners through social media and making some great connections which is exciting.
What’s on the horizon for your business? Future aspirations, plans…
I’ve been so inspired to continue style sessions and closet edits virtually! This is quite a change for me but I’m so excited to continue to work with my current clients and to have the opportunity to work with women around the world. There are so many places I would love to go with my business. I am in the middle of working on a virtual styling workshop and can’t wait to finalize details.
Have questions about personal styling? Reach out to Leslie: