We caught up with the Co-founders of Of A Kind and co-authors of, Work Wife: The Power of Female Friendship to Drive Successful Business, Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur about their journey creating their business and this exciting new chapter with the release of their first book.
What is the secret to maintaining friendship through business?
Erica: You have to be willing to be vulnerable with one another. Letting your guard down is what makes it possible for someone to support you as a pal and not just a colleague, and it’s also pretty dang freeing to be able to be your whole self at work.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned from starting Of a Kind?
Claire: Starting Of a Kind has taught me (over and over again) the importance of listening to your gut. This was especially hard to do in the early days when it felt like we didn’t know anything, but I’ve learned that when you’re having a physical reaction to something, there’s a reason, and sometimes your body knows better than your brain.
Did you have any new revelations after reflecting and writing a book together?
Erica: Oh, so many! One is how impactful relationships between women that meld the personal and professional can be in reshaping the workplace. Though it probably should have been obvious to us before we dove deep into writing this book, we realized almost everything about traditional office culture and its norms were established by men, and it’s exciting to think about how women banding together can change that—for the good of everyone.
What do you hope people take away from reading Work Wife?
Claire: We hope that friendship and partnership—and all of the qualities that attend them, like vulnerability, emotional transparency, and mutual support—become much more privileged in the workplace. We’d love to see corporate culture evolve to become more accommodating to the idea of twosomes and threesomes working as a unit.
What is your wind down routine and how do you switch your mindset from work to rest?
Erica: Cooking dinner is a really good transitional activity for me. I find that I can lose myself in its order of operations in an almost meditative way, and that helps me turn my brain off—or at least turn it down—for the night.
Claire: This is going to sound ridiculous—and I’m quite sure that screens are not supposed to be involved in the answer to this question—but my favorite thing to do before turning off the lights is watch the E! News Insta-stories from that day. It’s the best way to take my mind off of my own problems and focus it on Nick Jonas’s problems instead.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Claire: Three months ago, my answer was that I’d make a cup of something caffeinated and read the news for awhile before going for a run. Nowadays, I grab the baby monitor to see if my 11-week-old is still sleeping and, assuming he is, start pumping breast milk before hitting the treadmill for as long as I can before he gets up.
Erica: I feed my bunny Ash. She loves breakfast so much—it’s her very favorite part of the day—and to make her wait any longer than absolutely necessary feels cruel.
How important is self-care and sleep to you both especially living and working in NYC?
Erica: You should see all of the articles I send to my husband about the importance of 7 to 8 hours of sleep! It’s a little ridiculous. He’s one of those people who functions well on less shut-eye than I can, but I’m still always pressuring him.
Claire: I prioritize sleep and exercise above pretty much all else. I know that without enough of either my mental health will start to suffer, and once that happens, I’m pretty much useless. It took me way too long to realize how connected all the physical stuff is to the mental and emotional stuff, but once I figured it out, it completely changed my life.
What is one piece of advice you would give your younger selves?
Claire: Travel more—everything and everyone will still be here when you get back.
Erica: Your last job will probably have very little to do with your first job. I think people feel a lot of pressure to find a career when they’re, like, 22—I know I did. But at that point in your life, you really just need to land a gig that teaches you something and keeps you curious so that you can figure out your next step, and your one after, and your one after...