Photo credit: Rebecca Gould
Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms weekly Meet a Mom series where we feature one local mama, what they’re up to both personally and professionally. But first we’d like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to our brand new Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Law Firm. Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities!
This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely Highland Park mama (born, raised and returned) of three kiddos and two pups, Chief Legal Talent Officer for a 400-lawyer firm AND an adjunct professor at Northwestern University by day, PLUS a clothing designer by night, Lesley Wynes! The dyeGirl (Insta). Lesley spoke to CNSMoms about how the comfy and bright clothing line was born in this pandemic while raising $3,000 for local charities and how she manages to juggle all of this with the help of her supportive husband. Welcome, Lesley!
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?
HI! I’m Lesley Wynes (aka dyeGirl). I grew up in Highland Park, about a mile from where I live now. My parents still live in that house, and my dad owns a local business, Smart Jewelers, in downtown HP.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
Yep! I have 3 kiddos ages: 11, nine and youngest almost six (he would be very disappointed if I didn’t acknowledge his birthday in April!) and my two dogs are Bernedoodle Riley age three and German Shepherd Husky mix Jordy age one.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
Knowing that when the going gets tough, I’m the first one they’ll turn to for guidance, support and love. As my mom always says, “everybody needs their mom” – and that really does resonate with me every time one of them skins a knee or has a problem they don’t know how to solve or just wants someone (always me!) to lay in bed with them at night. Also, when my little guy tells me that he loves me to the moon and the stars and the galaxy and back …
Do you have any mom tips to make quarantine/COVID life a little easier?
Be as kind to yourself as you’d be to a friend experiencing whatever you are. We are always so quick to soothe a friend struggling through a hard time, giving them space to process their emotions and lean on our shoulder. But when it comes to how we treat ourselves in a similar situation, we often plow right through the challenge, criticize ourselves for not being able to handle it all with grace or overemphasize the mistakes we make without acknowledging the things we do well. Oh, and lots and lots of coffee!!
What has been the hardest part about this pandemic for you personally?
Working a full-time professional job from home has most definitely been the hardest part of the pandemic. While I appreciate the flexibility to work from home when I need or want to, I’ve discovered it’s not an environment in which I thrive professionally on a full-time basis. I miss my colleagues and the hustle and bustle of being part of a large organization. Working through problems with others and building relationships internally and externally to my Firm is a huge part of my job, and it’s really hard and exhausting to do that in a virtual environment (especially when the kids and dogs are running amok in the background!)
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I bake challah from scratch every Friday for Shabbat dinner – always cinnamon sugar stuffed, sometimes also with chocolate chips and sprinkles for the kids.
Any local favorite takeout restaurants?
Barnaby’s pizza, Happi Sushi, Michaels and BYG are on regular rotation for dinners with the kids. My favorite lunchtime treat is a veggie omelet from Country Kitchen!
You’re a mompreneur! Please introduce dyeGirl.
My role as mompreneur is my second career, leading to lots of late nights and working weekends. During the day, I serve as the Chief Legal Talent Officer for a 400-lawyer firm and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. I’ve always loved tie dye (both the art and the clothing), and I bought a few kits as a quarantine activity with the kids last spring. After we made a few fun projects with neighbors and friends, my daughter asked if we could run a Dye It Yourself tie dye station in our front yard to provide other local kids a COVID-safe activity and give her something to occupy her time when she should have been at overnight camp. She couldn’t wait to teach younger kids how to tie dye, and I was thrilled she would learn about business and marketing along the way. From there, I started experimenting with various dye styles and techniques, making gifts for family and friends. When asked if I would sell my work, I asked my best friend and graphic designer, Tamara Silver, to create a brand concept with me. After many long walks talking about names, styles, colors and more, dyeGirl was born! Fast forward 9 months, and we just launched www.shopdyeGirl.com!
What is the most rewarding thing about this endeavor?
dyeGirl has become so much more than a business for me; it’s a stress reliever when I roll up my sleeves and immerse myself in creation. It’s a diversion from the grind of pandemic life. I LOVE the social media marketing and networking component of the business; creating a brand concept, writing copy for posts, photographing my product and meeting other small business owners are parts of the endeavor I truly enjoy. Lastly, dyeGirl is a vehicle for my family to do good in the world – over the last 8 months, we have raised over $3,000 for charitable organizations that are meaningful to us, and we will continue to use our brand to raise money for causes we care deeply about.
Do you have any mentors that have helped you get to where you are today?
I learned everything I know about running a small business from my dad; he’s the real deal in retail, treating his customers as family and role modeling what it means to be a contributor to your community. I inherited my ability to juggle numerous responsibilities at once from my mom; she’s the OG superwoman in our family. And I’ve developed this incredible family of small business friends who are cheerleading for dyeGirl every step of the way.
What advice can you give other mamas out there who are looking to start a new business in the current climate?
First, the only way to launch successfully is to have the full support of your family. While my kids are always yelling at me to “stop ‘Gramming” and dyeGirl inventory is stored in almost every room of our house, my kids and husband are always proudly wearing dyeGirl merch or telling everyone they know about dyeGirl. My dad has worn tie dye almost every day since I gifted him his first ice dye tee on Father’s Day, and my mom does all of our business accounting and inventory management.
Second, know your brand. Own it. Immerse yourself in it. Most importantly, ignore the noise that distracts you from it. It’s so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing or whether a similar business has more followers on social media; at the end of the day, none of that matters if you know what your brand stands for and you create products or experiences that enhance it.
What are the 2 most common questions that people reach out to ask you?
The first is, “How do you do it all?”
It truly takes a village – a family who loves and supports me is critical to both my day job and my role as mompreneur. Some days I do it better than others; so I try to be kind to myself and communicate with my husband and kids when I’m in need of a little extra help. It also helps to have an insanely high tolerance for stress and chaos and a husband who does all the laundry and the dishes !!
The second is, “Do you ever sleep?”
YES! I sleep a lot less than I used to and I use the weekends to catch up from the grind of the workweek, but I can’t function without at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night.
Undergrad college/major: U-Michigan: Political Science and Spanish
Favorite candy: Anything gummy, including red licorice
Strangest thing in your purse right now: A kid’s sock
Last book you read: I had to check my kindle as I don’t think I’ve read a book since dyeGirl really took off. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
Your binge shows: Beauty & the Baker (the Israeli version); Virgin River; Ted Lasso
Last but not least, what’s next for dyeGirl – any new products coming out?
We just launched shopdyeGirl.com this weekend! With the launch we introduced the XOXO collection and a few new items for men (the Empire Long Sleeve Tee and the Insider Hoodie) and our first women’s item for Spring/Summer – the Humphrey tee. We have another sweat collection launching later this week and a few more crystal adorned items in the works. You can always check our website for new dyeGems (truly one-of-a-kind items created as we try new techniques, products and colors and sold at a discount) and visit the dyeBar to personalize your dyeGirl shopping experience.
And, now that the warmer weather is here and the snow is melting, we’ll be partnering with other local businesses to host pop up boutiques on the North Shore. Follow our Instagram @dyegirl_chicago on Instagram and Facebook for more details.
We know you’ll love it! xoxo, dyeGirl, Lesley 💜