Leslie Bruce is a five-time New York Times bestselling author, an award-winning entertainment journalist and the self-proclaimed “Best Driver” in the state of California. She launched her mama platform Unpacified earlier this year as a place for like-minded women to come together to appreciate that moms are people too (because being an amazing mama shouldn’t prohibit you from being anything else).
Her go-to karaoke song is Regulators and she fiercely opposes the Oxford Comma, but is often forced to invoke it. Her spirit animal is a Roberto Cavalli leopard print body suit.
We are so thrilled to have this dynamic mama join our BURU Tastemaker Tribe!
Read our exclusive Q&A with her below + shop her curated #momstyle!
The best part of being a mom is having a bullet proof excuse to cancel Friday night plans. There’s so much I truly cherish about being a mother, but I can say in all sincerity that Tallulah is what I love most about being a mom. I’ve been given the great gift of watching my daughter grow into this wonderful little girl and as she develops into the person she will one day be. It’s a blessing, and one that I try to never take for granted.
How did becoming a mom change me? I mean…in what sense? Physically? Emotionally? Spiritually? Mentally? Because, yes. To all of them. First of all, my rib cage never truly went back to its pre-baby shape. I’ve had to break up with more than a few dresses (particularly anything with boning). And as a news junkie, I can’t help but to now consume all media through a filter of motherhood and how what is going on in the world might affect Tallulah one day. But, to be fair, I also cried during last week’s episode of Shark Tank. Most of all, becoming a mother has taught me to breathe deep, laugh when I want to scream, and to take life one step and a time.
My husband and I have a feisty, kind, opinionated two-year-old daughter named Tallulah Everly. She’s sensitive, strong-willed, independent and endlessly loving. She loves music: dancing, singing, playing one note on a plastic harmonica for hours on end with impressive lung capacity, etc. I can already tell that she’s not going to make motherhood easy on me, but she’s going to make it amazing too.
For me, breastfeeding was a struggle, and I weaned after 10 weeks. (Which is perhaps the most casual way I’ve ever described the full on Greek Tragedy that it became in our home.) Therefore, my experience dressing for breastfeeding is limited, but honestly, I wish I would have known about Shop Buru! All expectant, nursing and new moms need to feel good about how they look. My whole day gets better when I feel confident in my appearance; and new moms need that more than most.
Unpacified means marrying, respecting and appreciating both parts of your world; it’s impossible for one aspect of your life not to seep into the other. My style has absolutely changed since having Tallulah, which usually comes down to me saying, “I can no longer wear that dress I bought for Vegas. I’m someone’s mother.”
Most mornings, I am forced to dress quickly and practically. When you have a two-year-old and live in a city, you never quite know where your day may take you. I’ve invested in some really amazing, well-fitting jeans, and great basics to help me survive my day-to-day. And… much praise to the fashion gods for allowing me to wear my Adidas Superstars with pride.
But as for what I gave up? High price point trend pieces. Don’t get me wrong: all mamas deserve to feel really good about how they look (especially after surviving pregnancy and delivery!) and thanks to places like Shop Buru, that’s actually possible now! I completely subscribe to the idea that investing in pieces that make us feel amazing is not just acceptable…it’s our duty! That being said, becoming a mother also means I have to provide for a small human: her home, her future, and so much more. So, while I might want to snag those Yeezy Boosts…it’s probably not the best use of my income (but my husbands? Ok, I’m a size 9).
Amazing Fitting Denim. Every mama needs to feel good jeans!
Cross Body Bag. You need something that will stay put when you’re wrangling a toddler in the grocery store. I prefer that is also small enough to shove in a diaper bag. (I just can’t quit my Chloe Mini Cross body)
Statement Earrings. Just because you have dinner plans, doesn’t mean you have time to wash your hair. That’s when you hook-up some dry shampoo, pull your hair back like a Robert Palmer girl and throw on some amazing hoops.
A Luxury LBD. Being a mom doesn’t mean that you check your sexy at the door. A little black dress that fits like a glove and makes you feel like a million bucks is worth EVERY DAMN PENNY.
Sunglasses. For me, mom style is all about covering my shortcomings…which includes my occasional mascara-free, puffy, no sleep eyes. I have four pairs of Ray Ban Aviators.
How does one become a NYT Bestseller? The same way you go about being a parent: fake it ‘til you make it.
While I do believe that part of the magic has been my being at the right place at the right time, I also know that it takes something more to continue catching lightening in a bottle. (Actually, my husband and my agent tell me this, because I’m always pretty shocked.) Over the past four years, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to partner with some incredibly talented, fierce, powerful women in the telling of their stories and in the offering of their worlds to readers.
As a journalist, I spent much of my career trying to “read the room.” It was my responsibility to not only figure out what people wanted to know, but also to determine what they were desperate to know…but just hadn’t realized it yet. I also don’t have a bullshit filter. I don’t mince words, and I’m not afraid to say what I think or what I feel. I’m a mother, I don’t have time to beat around the bush. And that’s usually the stuff people connect with the most!
The biggest moment for me since creating Unpacified was shortly after we launched and receiving this incredible outpouring of support from the women closest to me. They rallied around me with nothing to gain for themselves; they’re just really good people that wanted to see me succeed.
One of my closest friends, who really encouraged this entire venture, shared my site with her following (of about 5 million-plus followers). Not only did I receive this remarkable gift of drawing hundreds of thousands of eyeballs to my project and the support of a woman I respect to the ends of the earth, I also was able to hear from women all over the country! One woman in Florida with six-week-old twins said that after reading something I had written, she no longer felt alone…or like a failure. I cried when I read it, because that was the point. Knowing I had touched just one woman for one night made it all worth it…but she was just the beginning.
I had to start Unpacified. It wasn’t so much a passion, as it was an obligation. Women deserve to experience motherhood on many planes and in varying degrees without the fear of judgment, because while motherhood is profoundly universal, it’s also exquisitely unique. My experience is mine… and many roads lead to Rome. In order to be the best mother I could be, I needed to make sure I continued being someone other than a mother. My personal identity was paramount to the happiness of my family, as was being honest and open about my journey.
We live in Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills (which sounds way more glamourous than it is, I promise). Luckily, Los Angeles is pretty kid friendly. When it comes to restaurants, Tallulah is pretty much a regular Nate ‘n Al’s Deli and is no stranger to the the cheese quesadilla at El Compadre (I’m pretty familiar with their flaming margaritas). Au Fudge has changed the game when it comes to “mama and me” dining, with a playroom and onsite au pairs, so parents can actually taste their food before they swallow it.
The Original Farmers Market at The Grove is my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon: fresh produce, delicious food, outdoor sports bar, fun shopping…everyone wins. We love Franklin Canyon Reservoir. It’s this perfect little oasis hidden behind The Beverly Hills Hotel where my daughter can climb trees, skip rocks, and look for birds and turtles. Greystone Mansion is a historic estate with gorgeous grounds, that are open to the public. My daughter adores running around looking at the fountains and the flowers, and is convinced Cinderella lives there.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the word balance recently. While chatting with another mompreneur, I said that my life isn’t about trying to have it all…that’s impossible. Right now, I’m just trying to find a balance that works for me and my family. To which, she responded, “I tossed the word balance out the window a long time ago.”
And I sort of loved that. Nothing is ever going to be properly balanced, because there’s no real way to evenly distribute this weight. I think it’s about setting your priorities in a way that gives you the biggest peace of mind, which may require you to juggle and re-shift every single day. Some days, I’m trying to be a kick ass mom, and some days I’m trying to be a kick ass writer. Occasionally, I can juggle both in a day, but that’s the exception, not the rule.
To take a twist on our Unpacified slogan: Being motherly means everything…but it’s not all there is.
wife: teammate (he always has my back and I always have his)
friend: dependent (without my girls, I’m nothing)
Bedtime Story:Where the Wild Things Are
Lullaby: “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music
Vacation spot: Lake Tahoe and Cabo San Lucas
Restaurant: The Farm in Beverly Hills
Children’s Brands: Carly Megan, The Magpie Company, Tucker and Tate, Peek
Everything. But most importantly, that having hard days, really f**king hard days, is just as normal as really f**king incredible ones.
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol
This post first appeared on ShopBuru on Dec. 1, 2016.