From her curated Instagram feed, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Jen Pinkston has a perfect life. The former wardrobe stylist (she worked with major A-list clients and on The Ellen Show) has impeccable style, lives in a bright and airy Instagram-worthy home in Austin with her two beautiful daughters, and now runs her own children's lounge and sleepwear line called, La Paloma in addition to her lifestyle site, The Effortless Chic. And you'd be right, it is perfect: perfectly messy that is!
Pinkston is navigating the daily dilemmas of life just like the rest of us—she's working from home while helping her eldest daughter, Parker with virtual school, tending to the needs of her youngest daughter, Ever (which includes playtime, walks outside, cooking) and cleaning the kitchen before squeezing in some exercise (sometimes she even hops back online after the kids are in bed to work a few more hours). Just reading this sentence is exhausting but it feels good to know we're all in the same boat and that even the women we admire don't have it all worked out either. And that's okay!
Life will always be perfectly imperfect and, honestly, we wouldn't want it any other way. So, step inside Pinkston's stunning family home as we chat about career, creativity, motherhood, morning routines, and so much more.
I’d love to learn a bit about your background! Where did you grow up, how did you start your career/your site and how it led you to launch La Paloma.
I grew up here in Austin, Texas. As a kid we were always visiting my grandparents in California– they lived in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Lake Tahoe at various points in my childhood. From the time I was in middle school I knew I wanted to move to California when I grew up. I was a fashion merchandising major with a business minor at the University of Texas and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a buyer right after graduation. I quickly realized that buying wasn’t for me and found my way into a wardrobe styling assistant position at The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
My path to styling was a true ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ story. I thought I would stay for a year in California and then move back, but I fell in love with my husband (who I met while working on the show) and with styling, and a year quickly turned into a decade!
After working at the show for four years, I decided to start my own freelance business as a stylist. I did everything from styling Apple commercials and dressing actors for red carpets to really cheesy catalog shoots—I loved set life and I loved styling. At the same time that I went freelance, I started a blog. I was used to working 60 hour weeks at the show and freelance life left me with more time on my hands. When I look back on the last 14 years of my career there are these really vivid moments that stick out that informed my career direction. One of them is of a day when I was walking out of Neiman Marcus during my first few months of working as a styling assistant with a stack of sheer plastic garment bags draped across both arms. On the very top, I could see the $1450 price tag of a cashmere sweater and it was hard for me not to think about how that was more than a month’s rent for me in Los Angeles.
When I started The Effortless Chic years later, it was with the belief that style didn’t have to be fussy and over-the-top and it also didn’t mean you had to spend $1450 on cashmere sweaters. In 2015, when my oldest daughter, Parker, was one I decided to hang up my styling kit and pursue the blog full-time. It was already making up more of my revenue. I was excited to pursue opportunities that I couldn’t always say yes to because of styling and to take the time to really create the corner of the internet that I knew The Effortless Chic could be. It also meant a lot more flexibility to be the kind of mom I was really wanting to be.
Tell us the story behind La Paloma. What inspired you to launch the company?
Elizabeth Gilbert writes about ideas in one of her books and how they’re these little gifts that come to visit us and whether or not we act on them is up to us. I feel like that is the only way to describe how La Paloma came to be. I never saw myself owning an apparel line or creating a product. I am always ideating on new things and this was never one of them. At the time, though, Aaron was still traveling and I was getting my two daughters ready for bed. They loved wearing nightgowns to sleep, but it was such a challenge to find nice ones.
I had scoured the internet and reluctantly landed on the ones that I was now trying to yank over my youngest daughter’s head and literally thought, Why are there not better options?! That was the lightbulb moment.
After the girls were asleep that night, I jumped in bed with my laptop and got to work. That was June of 2019. A month later I was in New York sourcing fabric and 10 months after that, in May of 2020, we launched La Paloma—a collection of better sleep and loungewear for kids. We make simple, beautiful, natural fiber sleep and loungewear pieces that allow kids to rest, recharge, and feel like a kid. We launched with our hero nightdress, but have four other styles launching in 2021. Our 100% cotton nightdresses go through an extensive three—wash process, making them cozy enough for sleep, and pretty enough to be worn all day.
What does a typical day look like for you? Walk us through it.
I wake up at 6 am usually to the sound of our home alarm beeping as Aaron leaves for his run. I get up and make coffee and read The New York Times daily briefing on my phone. I work out from 6:45-7:30, shower and get ready from 7:30-7:50, and then meet the rest of my family in the kitchen for breakfast.
Parker is doing virtual school right now from home. She’s set up in my office so we have this space that’s part first grade classroom and part showroom-meets-fulfillment-center for La Paloma. She gets started around 8 am and Ever and I play, clean the kitchen, go for a walk. The morning is spent in mom-mode. I feel like I do my best work in the morning, but with the pandemic, it just is what it is right now. If there’s anything pressing, I can sneak in 15 minutes here and there, but these mornings spent "momming" are also so special.
Around 1 pm Parker finishes school and I begin work for the day. I usually work from 1-4:30 these days and then again at night after they’re asleep some nights. In some ways, it feels inconvenient and like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but there’s also an unbelievable sweetness to us all being home during this time.
Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of sibling bickering and moments where I would give anything to be alone in my house, but there are other times when I get to be witness to things I never would have been had we not living during these unprecedented times. I know at some point we are going to look back on this through such a different lens.
We eat dinner so early - between 5 and 5:30 most days! Afterward, we go for a walk as a family and then get the kids down by 7:30. The kids going to sleep by 7:30 is literally the best gift I give myself and the ultimate self-care.
What time is your wake-up call? And how much sleep do you usually get?
I am adamant about getting eight hours of sleep a night which usually means 10 pm to 6 am.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Make an almond milk latte and sit on the couch and read the daily briefing from The New York Times and the Robinhood Snacks newsletter. I’m alone and the house is dark and quiet. It’s so nice.
Describe your morning beauty routine from start to finish.
After I workout I’ll use Milk & Honey Gel Cleanser or True Botanicals Nourishing Cleanser. I’m not super particular with cleanser, honestly. Next, I use a few drops of Skinceuticals CE Ferulic followed by Skinceuticals Mineral Sunscreen. If I’m feeling extra dry I’ll use a little Darphin Predermine on top. I use this at night but I’m so crazy for the way it feels on my skin that some days I use it in the morning, too.
Most days I skip any kind of foundation and go straight to using Glossier Boy Brow in Blonde on my eyebrows and filling them in a little with an Anastasia Brow Whiz pencil in taupe. For mascara, I love Thrive Causemetics. I’ve always been a blush person. In my twenties, I felt about blush the way most people felt about mascara, although now I’m probably more into eyebrows than blush if we were in one of those, “If you could only choose one…” scenarios. I love Glossier Cloud Paint in Dawn and Lily Lolo in In The Pink for blush. The best discovery I’ve made all of 2020 is Rituel de Fille lipstick in Bittersweet.
I didn’t think deodorant was a beauty ritual until I discovered Taos Aer in Palo Santo and Blood Orange. I wish everything in my life could smell like this.
What do you eat for breakfast?
During the week I make a shake for breakfast. It’s almond milk, almond butter, frozen spinach, frozen blueberries, protein powder, collagen powder, flaxseed, cacao nibs, D3, and four pieces of ice. On the weekend, I eat Migas tacos from either El Dorado or Veracruz.
What are your morning media rituals?
While I’m unloading the dishwasher or prepping dinner in the mornings I’ll often times turn on a podcast. It’s usually Brene Brown, an episode of The Daily by NYT, How I Built This, or Superwomen by Rebecca Minkoff. If it’s not a podcast it’s an audiobook.
What are your favorite books?
I love non-fiction. I love fiction, too, I just feel like I don’t have a lot of time to read these days and I love true stories and business books. Shoe Dog was one of my all-time favorites. I love anything Malcolm Gladwell writes. I don’t know who needs to hear this but you can link your public library card to the Libby app on your phone for unlimited free access to books. I’ve listened to so many good ones. I miss actually reading books, but I just don’t have time in this season of life, so I have made my peace with audiobooks for now.
What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?
I have so many! We have Google Homes synced throughout the house so you can ask it to play music from any number of rooms. The problem is that both my children know how to use it so one moment I’m listening to Vampire Weekend and the next thing you know Frozen 2 is playing!
I made this playlist to share with our La Paloma community. I never actually got around to sharing it (oops!), but I’ve been listening to it on repeat. I’m super into California Saga by the Beach Boys right now and also We Belong Together by Vampire Weekend with Haim.
Do you work out in the morning? if so, what do you do and for how long?
I do workout every day in the morning from 6:45-7:30ish. I alternate running every other day with a barre workout or a weight workout I find on Instagram. I miss in-person classes, though. I love Mod Fitness here in Austin and can’t wait to go back. I’m considering getting the Mirror right now. If you have it, I want to hear what you think. I think I would enjoy it, but my desire to be back in-person with people keeps me from actually buying it.
I never leave the house without _____.
These days? My children! Also, my Claire V attache bag.
Healthiest morning habit:
Staying positive. Starting the day off on an optimistic note always.
Worst morning habit:
Not always making my bed.
Depends on the season, but right now it’s straight leg ankle jeans with cozy, cashmere sweaters or printed tops and usually slippers. I love a good midi slip skirt and tee combo on a warmer day or just a midi dress in general.
Bath or shower? And what’s your favorite shower/bath product?
I actually haven’t taken a bath in a long time. I was in the habit of a Sunday evening bath for a while, but then it got so hot here and that didn’t sound so nice anymore. I love the Naturopathica Sweet Birch Magnesium bath flakes though.
If you had one extra hour every morning, how would you use it?
Honestly maybe an hour of work in the morning. I know that might sound strange, but I truly love my work, and an hour of interrupted work time in the morning when I’m fresh sounds like the ultimate luxury right now. I want to say sleep, but I honestly can’t sleep in, even when I try!
What are one or two things you do every day to live a more present/mindful/joyful life?
Put my phone away for small chunks of time and play on the floor with my kids. There’s such a difference between caring for them and actually being down on their level and locking eyes and seeing the things that bring them joy and the ways the wheels of their mind are turning and considering things. That change in point of view puts everything else in perspective.