As a long time fan of her blog Decor8, I of course jumped at the chance to chat with designer, author, blogger, and mom, Holly Becker! I love her simple, European-inspired style (she’s currently an expat living in Germany) and catching glimpses of her adorable son on her instagram account. So when she agreed to create a curated collection of her favorite Bitte items and answer a few of my questions about blogging, motherhood and living abroad I was tickled pink. Read more about our conversation below and shop her Favorites Collection here.
I’m a really big, long time fan of Decor8, I actually started reading your blog back around when it started in 2006, when I was in design school. Blogs were fairly new back then, how did you get the idea to start one?
I was working with clients in Boston back then, and in design school, but wasn’t earning enough money to make a living. I had quit my corporate job to pursue design but had to face the reality: I wasn’t going to earn what I did right away in design that I made as a project manager. I decided that in addition to client work, I would supplement my income by working for magazines as a freelance journalist. However, when I pitched story ideas I got turned down time and time again. I started my blog because I thought it could be a nice way for me to “practice” writing so publicly and also to act as a bit of a portfolio for my writing – I may not have had experience back then as a published writer, but I figured my blog could at least show editors what I was made of – how I looked at design and most importantly, my ideas and feelings around it. Little did I know that my blog would become its very own company and I’d end up someday with 4 books and stacks of magazines and newspapers that I’ve written for. It’s amazing to me to look back and think of how everything came through small steps, a lot of courage, some tears, a lot of rejection and tons of late nights – but most of all, a strong will and a lot of passion for my subject. I never gave up and I tell people this today – never give up on a career path that you believe in!
Your blog is primarily a design and lifestyle blog but I’ve noticed since having your son you include more snippets of him and home life. I love seeing those posts, how did you approach including that part of your life on the blog?
My son is rarely on my blog, you may be referring to my Instagram feed where I include him a few times a month. I try to keep him away from my blog as much as possible so that my brand doesn’t become dependent upon him being part of it. He needs to grow into his own identity – I do not want to have any control over who he chooses to be, and with a mom who is so open and “out there” like me, I have to understand that he may grow up to either love it or to feel really resentful or intimidated by it – and since he is so young right now, I’ve made the decision to keep him more to the side so he can someday attend school without feeling weirded out that his mom posted his entire life online and he has nothing private or sacred anymore. If he tells me later, “Mom I want to be part of what you’re doing”, then great – I’ll train him under me and teach him my business and social media and anything he wants to learn or help me with… I’ll put him on the blog then if he wishes. But for now, he’s still a little boy with zero understanding of the internet and what mommy is doing online, so I have decided to just wait. It’s only a decision for my family though, every parent has the right to do as they please with this and I follow a lot of wonderful mothers who post photos of their children constantly on their blogs and Instagram and I find it so sweet to see what they are doing and how they are dressing them up, etc. But it’s just personally not for me. I like to keep some things very private in my life that involve other people – like dear friends and family. I won’t even post photos of me with my family or close friends unless I ask their permission first and only very rarely. I really like keeping parts of my life very separate from my blog and business. There are no rules with this though, and I support woman deciding for themselves in this matter, I always say to trust your gut when it comes to publicly sharing your kids online. If it feels right, then why not? But if it doesn’t, don’t question that either just because it seems as though everyone else is doing it.
You’re originally from the U.S. but currently live in Germany, how has living abroad influenced your design aesthetic? And from a parenting perspective, how has it been raising your son abroad? Has anything stood out to you in the experience as being eye-opening or very different?
Europeans are very open-minded, free, there isn’t this feeling of having to take a side here or defend yourself for anything – you can just live as you wish. Nudity is the norm, I see more naked people in a day in my gym in the locker room, showers and sauna than I ever saw in my life going to gyms in the states. Nude beaches are also very common. Breast feeding in public is absolutely normal. People don’t follow brands, celebrities, influencers, TV personalities or brand ambassadors in the same way as Americans do… They think it’s interesting maybe but most of the time don’t care so much. I get the feeling that Europeans are more influenced by how their friends live and dress than how a celebrity or TV personality does. I would say Europeans, particularly German–speaking Europe, care much more about great quality and beautiful form over who is selling it unless maybe it is perfume… We raise our son in a bilingual home, he speaks German to his papa and English to me. He is already bilingual and speaks in sentences and he is 2.5! Parenting here is so laid back – it’s a lot like my life as a child in the states in the 80s. No one is stressing out about their kids at the playground, kids age 6+ ride the subway alone or with friends to school, children aren’t that into brands so they wear what they want to school at any age, it’s a very different world being a parent here.
I noticed that you travel a lot, anywhere in particular that you loved traveling as a family?
We love going to Berlin and other local cities for day trips and to show our son more of Germany so he isn’t just exposed to our city but to many. We also love to take him to the countryside, we do this a few weekends each month. He enjoys the farms, the nature walks, the horses, sheep and cows… When I think about what he loves the most it’s definitely being in the country. He is always asking us to take him there.
What are some of your son’s favorite items to play with currently?
He loves firetrucks, duplo, playdoh, his wooden animals, puzzles, anything in mommy’s office (!), his father’s t-shirts, books, and Lightening McQueen! His father let him watch part of the film, “Cars”, when I was away on assignment and when I came home it’s all he could talk about with the biggest eyes in the world! It’s been several months and he is always running around with his little McQueen matchbox car. He also really love instruments – we buy him wooden ones here in Germany (Germany has the best wooden toys in the world!) and so he is always running around signing and playing them. He loves listening to classical music while playing his flute, too.
I believe your son is just a little bit older then my daughter, and we’re currently going through the transition of her wanting to pick out her own outfits. Does your son do this? Or are you still able to pick out cute outfits for him? If so what are some of your favorite kid brands?
He doesn’t seem to car about fashion yet. But the other day he did tell me for the first time, “Mama I don’t like this shirt, put away!”. Hmmmm. Maybe it begins….
Lastly I always like to hear where other design-savvy moms are getting their inspiration, any blogs, instagrams or just moms you know in person that are particularly inspiring to you right now?
Online shops like yours and Pinterest! I always visit small and beautifully curated kids shops online to see what is happening in the world of children’s fashion and toys. I love Smallable.com – their shop in Paris is nice but I prefer their website. I also really love German magazine Mum and French magazine Milk. Another thing I love to do is to follow kids shops on Instagram. For moms who inspire me, I always go to @courtneyadamo because I think her life looks very interesting.