Since the late ’90s, Ashley Sargent Price has created iconic, creative branding for retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Abercrombie & Fitch and J. Crew. And in the fall of 2017, she stepped into what may be her most ambitious role yet, as the new creative director for Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, goop.
Sargent Price is also a wife and mother (daughter Winslow is 8, son Hamilton is 6), and the sole breadwinner for her family of four (husband David is a stay-at-home dad). It’s a juggling act that she often performs from the air, flying between her home in Columbus, Ohio, to the goop offices in Los Angeles and New York.
Here, Sargent Price shares how she balances work and family while traveling two weeks out of the month — and how she has learned to embrace the imperfection of it all.
MANAGING A TOUGH SCHEDULE
I love my job. We’re doing so many different things, all born out of Gwyneth’s desire to share her interests and passions. The only hitch is that goop is based in Los Angeles, and my husband and kids are in Columbus, where we have an incredible support network of friends and family. So every other week, I commute to L.A., spending Monday through Friday with the team there.
It’s really challenging to be away so much, but thankfully, the kids have adjusted pretty well. I’m lucky to have a husband who is incredibly supportive and is at home with the kids full-time. I try to be really focused on my work when I’m working, and really focused on the kids when I’m with them. When I’m traveling, I try to be back by Friday evening to pack in a full weekend of family time. It helps to create small rituals everyone can count on. For instance, I make a pancake breakfast every Saturday morning, before the rush of weekend activities. And I probably spend more time than I should snuggling with the kids before they go to sleep.
On the weeks when I’m home, because the office is on West Coast time, I’m able to have the mornings with my kids. I get them ready for school and do drop-off. And I try to take a 20-minute break during the workday to pick them up from school and take them to their activities. It’s fleeting, but it’s important to me to spend time with them in the middle of the day and connect with their teachers and peers at school.
“It’s easy to focus on all the things that we’re not doing perfectly.”
EMBRACING THE IMPERFECTIONS
FaceTime helps, although it’s never as good as the real thing. On the day my son graduated from kindergarten, I had a photo shoot in New York. I’d planned everything to the minute: I was going to hop on a plane to get back to Columbus in time to race to his school. But of course, the flight was delayed, then cancelled altogether. I was devastated. Luckily, we were able to call in a family member to stand in for me and FaceTime the event There I was, watching my son’s graduation from the airport, feeling like the worst mother on the planet.
I know I’m not alone. I think that a lot of women struggle with trying to find that balance between doing well at their job, doing well as a mom, and taking care of themselves and their marriage. I think it’s about self-acceptance. It’s easy to focus on all the things that we’re not doing perfectly. But the truth is, a little bit of imperfection is OK for you, and for the family, too.
SEEING MOM AS A LEADER
There are so many great lessons to be learned in things not always being perfect. While it would be great to be around more often, one of the trade-offs is that you’re developing the idea that moms can be leaders and powerful and inspiring outside of the home. My son sees that I’m a woman who’s unafraid to pursue something I’m passionate about. My daughter is seeing possibilities that are open to her.
In addition to that, my kids get to spend a lot of time with their father, which also helps them tap into a separate dynamic — a different way of interacting with men and understanding their roles, and what’s possible for them as well. We have a lot of great conversations around our dinner table about the choices we all have when it comes to how we want to structure our lives. David and I are pretty proud of that.