Parenting Spotlight: Bee Shapiro, founder of fragrance line Ellis Brooklyn

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Each month, In The Know by Yahoo is giving parents their time to shine in our exclusive Parenting Spotlight.

For mom and entrepreneur Bee Shapiro, founding fragrance and body care line Ellis Brooklyn was a bit of a second act. Having begun her career as a hedge fund lawyer before covering beauty and celebrity at the New York Times, Shapiro eventually realized that as a mom, her routine had to change.

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“I was covering an event, and I was super-pregnant, and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, is this what’s going to be my life?’” the mom of two daughters, ages 7 and 5, shared.

But in addition to questioning the demanding, kid-unfriendly schedule, Shapiro also realized that she could bring something to the beauty market that wasn’t there — the perspective of an Asian American woman.

“I’m a total outsider,” Shapiro said. “What we think is quote-unquote ‘fresh’ has been dictated by pretty much a Caucasian French male. I mean, how specific is that?”

“I remember when I first started, no one thought I even had any idea of scent. There is this stereotype in the scent world that Asians in particular don’t care for scent and are not educated in scent. So it was like both whammies — I was a female, and I was Asian.”

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So, in 2015, Shapiro officially launched Ellis Brooklyn, named after her first daughter (Ellis) and their home at the time of Brooklyn, N.Y. The fragrance and body care line offers clean and sustainable beauty with gorgeous scents, including Myth, a subtly sensual white musk fragrance that Shapiro created for herself, and Salt, which recalls a salty seaside vibe.

Shapiro has since had a second daughter, Sky, who would like her own fragrance line, thank you very much. She has also gone through a divorce, which has inspired her to rethink parenting and motherhood in new ways.

But, of course, Shapiro is no stranger to second acts.

“It was hard to start Ellis Brooklyn, but you can also find so much happiness in taking that big leap of faith,” she says of moving from law and journalism to launching her brand.

“There is always time for reinvention,” she added. “There really is.”

What’s your best parenting advice?

So during the divorce, my older daughter met with the school psychologist. And one thing that I had been doing was, you know: I’m an adult. I have my adult worries. I have my business trials and tribulations. And so I would keep that from her. I would think, “OK, I need to present myself as this perfect, lovely, ‘everything’s OK’ mommy.” And so the child psychologist actually said, “No, you should share.” Obviously not like oversharing, but you should share your day and what is going on within the family dynamic with the children, even though they are young. And that has actually changed my relationship with my children. It actually gives them a sense of stability of what’s going on, as opposed to some quote unquote “secret” lingering in the background.

What would be the title of your memoir?

I Tried My Best

What’s the weirdest thing you plan on saving from your kids’ baby- or childhood?

Is it weird that I’m saving their teeth? My older daughter lost all of these teeth, and I’m saving them in my little jewelry box. And when I looked in there, I’m like, “It’s just so weird.”

Which apps could you not live without?

I’m actually in the middle of trying to find a family organizer app like Cozi. Google Calendar I can’t live without. And I actually can’t live without TikTok. I find it super amusing.

What’s one parenting product you wish you’d bought years ago?

The Snoo

Who are your favorite AAPI TikTokers?

Jimmy O. Yang and Emily Mariko

Who is your favorite celebrity/influencer mom?

Jill Kargman is one of my favorites. She wrote the Bravo show Odd Mom Out. She’s also just a lovely, nice person. And hilarious.

Are there any parenting terms you wish you could retire?

I do hate “mompreneur.” So many of the parenting terms are awful. I don’t love “helicopter parenting.” And “tiger mom” I would retire. I feel like “tiger mom” means you force your kid to do 10 million activities. But what if you’re just really super-defensive of your kids and you’ll go to bat for them? What’s that called?

What is one “mommy win” you’re proud of?

I’m super-proud that I’m able to have a career and have my girls be super-happy at the same time. I still mostly work from home, and I just think one of my huge mommy wins is that I have a measure of control over my schedule.

(Responses have been edited for length and clarity.)

Photo credit: Alexi Lubomirski

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