When we think of all the GirlBosses we’re lucky to call friends, there’s one we like to make of point of keeping up with—Sari Azout. If she’s not off starting her own businesses, she’s helping other businesses get off the ground or investing in people and products she believes will change our lives for the better.
On top of that, she’s a wife and mother to two sweet little boys. Busy? To say the least. But you won’t hear her complain about it. Because she’s driven by the desire to be a good role model for her boys—to show them that a woman can be a leader in business without compromising her maternal nature.
But let’s take it from the top. Because there’s to a lot to catch up on. And with Sari, there’s no slowing down in sight.
Can you tell us a little bit about your family? Namely your little one(s), and how becoming a mom has impacted your life? (Other than the lack of sleep.)
My husband and I have been married for five years, and we have two beautiful boys, Steven and Aleph. Steven is two and Aleph is 3 months. We’re loving Steven’s clever personality and charm. And as far as Aleph, all I can say is #2 is SO much easier. The infant stage was really hard for me the first time around.
Becoming a mother has, of course, changed my life and schedule but it hasn’t changed who I am. I obviously have a lot less free time but I’m still a human being with interests, passions, and desires, [I’m] not a robot mom. Since having children, I have gained focus for the work I truly want and love to do. I don’t have time to fuss with stuff that isn’t pushing me forward. One great thing about having small children is that they make you more accountable to how you spend your time. I now have no patience for unproductive meetings and I’ve pared down my social life to the people I truly care about. I order diapers on Amazon while I pee and I order groceries on Instacart while at a red light.
I’ve also learned that the best mom is not the one feeding her children organic fruit, throwing them Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, or the one that doesn’t give in to screen time but rather the one that is true to herself.
Bib + Tuck, Rokk3r Labs, Level Ventures, 23 Hats. You’ve got quite an impressive lineup. Did you always have an entrepreneurial spirit? Or is it something you developed over the years?
I’ve always been drawn to new ventures. The desire to turn nothing into something in a way that solves a real problem and creates real value has always motivated me. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My great grandfather immigrated to Colombia from the Middle East and built a business from nothing, so I was raised to believe that going out, building something and disrupting the status quo is totally possible. My father is a lifelong learner and serial entrepreneur – he set a really strong example of living a passionate life and loving what you do which has really influenced who I am today.
And while we’re at it, can you tell us in own words a bit about each of these ventures and what role you play(ed) in them?
Bib + Tuck was the first company I started – an online community marketplace to buy and sell clothes. I started the company with a very close friend and led vision, strategy, and product until we sold the business in 2015.
Rokk3r Labs is a company builder where I work with entrepreneurs to build, refine, and launch technology products.
Level Ventures is an early stage venture fund where I invest in amazing founders building products that leverage technology to improve our quality of life.
23 Hats is the consulting company I started where I coach startup founders on branding, storytelling, and product strategy. It is also where I occasionally blog about startups, ideas, motherhood, and other things that are subtly connected.
Tell us about the moment you first decided to go out on your own with Bib + Tuck?
There was no aha moment. I’m a big believer that the best things are born out of side projects. I kept my job in finance while I was building the business, and only quit when I saw early traction signals and leaving my job felt like a calculated risk. Going from a stable job to starting your own company can be tough, but I knew that I was running towards something and not running away from something.
In your experience, what’s the landscape like for moms in business? What would you like to see change in the future?
I think women have a lot more freedom these days. But despite how much women have evolved in the workplace, the fact remains that our responsibility as caregivers has not significantly changed which means there is just more pressure to do it all.
I happen to agree with [the thinking] that in order to move forward toward real equality, we need to redefine how we value care giving.
We as women have to recognize that we define masculinity just as much as men help define femininity. So it is up to us to see men who are willing to take on new roles and help in the home not as ‘house husbands’ but rather as strong, secure, caring men.
What are some of the things you do to balance your career and family life?
I am obsessive about my calendar. I have blocks of time set aside to spend time with my children and I make sure I can’t be booked for anything work related during those times.
Weekdays often feel a little crazy but my weekends are all about family. Saturday nights are always reserved for date night dinners with my husband and friends and our Sundays usually consist of going to the park, beach, or some other activity with our children.
We also travel a good amount as a family, which is a great break from routine – we will be traveling to Colombia soon, and will be spending some time in Colorado this summer.
Was there a moment when you considered staying at home with the kids?
I was certainly open to it but soon after Steven was born I realized abandoning my work would be a disservice to me and to him. While I am constantly juggling and balancing, I am so excited to set an example of following my dreams.
What do you think of the notion of having it all? Is it possible? Is it necessary?
I don’t think it’s possible to have it all. Life is all about trade-offs and I think this elusive balance we all talk about only generates more pressure. There is no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and they have consequences. Of course I can be a great mother and have a great career, but there are only so many hours in the day and you can’t do everything. Attending a conference or staying an extra few hours in the office one night may mean I miss my son’s bedtime – something’s got to give and I’m learning to be ok with that.
We have to ask, what are some of your favorite Monica & Andy pieces for Steven and Aleph?
I am also loving the Little Kahuna print—the short-alls are my favorite.