When Meridith Layne began conceptualizing her brand, Coveted Things, having a second child wasn't part of her business plan. Yet she not only maneuvered through obstacles with an unparalleled sense of grace and ease, but has now been running Coveted Things for a total of five years, never once compromising her vision or values in the process. We spoke with the founder and mother of two about what it takes to launch your own business and what it really means to have it all.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Phoenix, but all my family is from a really small town in Indiana, where I spent my summers growing up. I moved to LA for college and then moved to NYC. My husband and I moved back to LA about 13 years ago. This is where we were married and where our two daughters were born. It definitely feels like our home now.
What was your first job?
In college I worked for The Fader Magazine, which had just launched. I moved out to NY and continued to do small random jobs for them out there like helping out as a stylist. That time was really special, just being young and free. It was all about making memories, and what we could get into each night. Getting margaritas to go and sitting on stoops during the hot summer nights in the city. I miss those days, we were like a family. In fact, that is how my now husband and I met!
When I moved back to LA, I was designing for a clothing line out of a factory in Compton. My desk was literally above the factory floor in a big warehouse. We had no air conditioning or heat, so in the winter I would sketch in gloves and a goose down every day. Looking back, it was such a wild experience, but I was just happy to have a "real" job.
When did you start Coveted Things, and what inspired you to launch your own company?
After the stint in Compton, I went to work designing for a private label manufacturer in Downtown LA. I got pregnant with Stella, and as it got closer to her due date, I just knew I wasn't going to be okay with being away from her for such long hours. I decided that I was going to leave my career after I had her so that I could stay home with her. It was such a big leap, and we had to make a lot of sacrifices to make it possible, but we did it. Shortly after she was born, I began feeling like my identity had gone through a huge shift. I felt like I needed to find myself again, and I needed a creative outlet to balance out my new life.
During that time, there were no contemporary items in the baby industry. It was so hard to find anything baby related that had a modern or minimal feel. I had a light bulb moment, realizing that I could take from my previous career and develop something that could fit into my current life. Instagram was just starting to take off at that time, and I thought it would be fun to create swaddles with large scale prints that parents would want to take pictures of their babies in and post. I started with nothing, just an idea. I've navigated my way through this entrepreneurial maze with a lot of hard work, sacrifices, tears, sweat, and exhaustion.
You were eight months pregnant when you launched your company. How did you navigate that and ensure you maintained balance between the two?
After my first daughter was born I started work on Coveted Things. It took me a long time to find the right fit with vendors, artists, etc. I was surprised to learn that I was pregnant with my second daughter, Goldie, in the midst of developing the brand.
Having children gives you the most amazing motivation. You really cut out the bullshit, and get going on what needs to be done, because as you learn quickly, time becomes your greatest enemy.
What inspires you, and how do you think that ultimately inspires your designs?
I used to keep a notebook next to my bed after my first daughter was born where I would record my random thoughts while I was up breastfeeding at all hours of the night. The middle of the night is a strange, but lovely time, and a lot of magic happens when everyone else is asleep. Most of my swaddle sayings came from the avalanche of emotions that I felt during that time. I continued to do this after my second daughter was born as well. Her name is Goldie, and I remember the moment I was holding her, breastfeeding her at some odd hour. I looked down and thought, "when I met you, I knew we would shine together," which has since become one of our most popular swaddle sayings.
What does your daily work routine look like and what advice do you have for working moms?
My girls go to school in the afternoons, so after my husband leaves for work, we have all morning to spend with each other. I get them off to school, and cram as much work as I possibly can into that time. I have learned that it is nearly impossible to work while your children are around. I used to try to do everything at once, and nothing ever ended up getting done properly. Now, I balance out my day and really focus and stay present with each task. It is challenging, as every day new situations come up, but I am really working on it. After they go to bed, my work day continues well into the night. Owning your own business really means working around the clock.
What have you learned from running your own company?
It is okay to make mistakes. Not only is it okay, but it will definitely happen, so you just have to navigate your way around them and learn from them. This is something that I am also trying to instill in my daughters. If something doesn't work out, you can't let it get in your way of looking to the future. You have to constantly be moving forward.
When you're not working, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not working, I'm always with my kids and my husband. Before we had children, my husband and I used to travel a lot, which was put on hold after they were born. Neither of us are from California, so we would go on weekend excursions to beach towns after the girls were born, and stay in these cute little coastal areas just to get out of the house. Now that the girls are older, we have started doing more international traveling with them.
What are some things you do to stay balanced and centered?
As the girls are getting older, I am beginning to find a bit more time for myself. It is much easier said than done when you have babies, but it really is important to take care of yourself, so that in turn, you are able to take good care of your children. Even if it is just going for a walk, or taking some deep breaths, you have to find a way that works for you to stay centered. I've been running in the mornings. I find it to be a good way to get the day started. If I am feeling stressed, I will drop into a class at Unplug Meditation or Pop Physique.
Your designs are definitely more contemporary, featuring slogans such as, "shit just got real." What advice do you have for soon-to-be mothers?
The vision of motherhood is often very different than the reality. You really have to just let go and trust the process. The transition is such a foreign, messy, emotional, complicated process, but at the end this beautiful butterfly emerges in her new confident skin.
The "shit just got real" concept came to me after I gave birth to my first daughter. I just kept saying, "oh wow, shit just got real." I knew if I was feeling like this, a lot of other moms probably felt the same way. This swaddle was created to bring humor and light to the reality that we are all in this together. It is a good way to open up the conversation with a new mom, to let her know you understand what she is feeling and are there for her.
What's next for your brand and what are you working on now?
We are partnering up with other brands to expand our line with co-branded products. I. hope to expand Coveted Things into a design house of sorts. I love working with other brands to help modernize their products, as the baby world has definitely taken a turn into the contemporary space.