Mary Michele Nidiffer was voted Best Dressed in high school, and her mission with One Chic Mama, a Raleigh image consulting business that started as a blog in 2005, is to give women of all ages a similar boost of confidence. She aims to help the “ busy woman who has put herself last on her list,” and she knows firsthand that moms too often fall into that category. You don’t have to look like you stepped out of a magazine every day, but your clothes should make you feel good about yourself, she says. It’s about much more than just looks – it’s about the message your appearance sends to your family and the world.
Now, let’s meet Michele and learn how she balances life as a business owner with life as a mom to four kids.
Q. Tell us about One Chic Mama. Why did you start this business, and nowadays what do you do and who do you work with?
A. I started One Chic Mama back in 2005 as a beauty and style blog for moms. After I had my first child, I felt frumpy and so out of touch with what was in style. I sought resources that may be targeted to my needs, but found none, so I created one. In 2008, I felt the pull to take it further after being asked to help a couple of friends with their wardrobes. I became a certified image consultant and now enjoy empowering women by helping them cultivate their own authentic style. In 2010 I created my own proprietary system, StyleFinder ID, that helps women determine what their true style is after years of hearing women say they "didn't have a style" or had lost it. It's been a revolutionary way to approach what I do.
Q. What's your definition of a "chic mama"?
A. A mama who doesn't put herself last on her list. Her needs get met, and because of that she's able to give more back to others. She's confident and can see her own beauty, but she's not egotistical. She's giving, she's happy and others just want to be around her because she loves who she is!
Q. A lot of moms say "Oh, I don't have time to worry about what I wear." I have a feeling you don't much like that statement.
A. You are right! My theory is you don't have time not to. When you give up and put yourself last on your list, it kills your self-esteem and confidence, plus it sends the message that you don't care. It can affect not only your own self-worth, but your kids will likely model your actions. Taking time to cultivate your own sense of style and know what looks good on you is an investment that pays you back fifty-fold, in terms of confidence, time and money spent. Plus, kids will pick up what they hear you say to yourself -- if you talk about how big your thighs are or how fat you look, don't be surprised to hear your toddler saying the same things to themselves! Be the example you want for your kids.
Q. What are some things busy moms can do to get out of that same-old-jeans or yoga pants rut?
A. Make it simple. Jeans are fine as long as they aren't mom-jeans. Put them together in a new and different way. Accessorize. Wear a chic, fitted tee rather than a baggy, boxy one. Wear cute sporty flats instead of sneakers. Wear something that makes you happy!
Q. Why is it important to look good? I think some women dismiss style as being superficial.
A. Our image tells the world how we feel about ourselves. When you dress frumpy and dumpy, it sends the message that you've given up and just don't care about yourself anymore. My thought is that keeping in touch with yourself and your style is key for helping you to stay confident and balanced. Plus, it helps you to maintain your identity and not get lost in the midst of raising kids. You're not just a mom, you're a woman too!
Q. You run your own business AND you're a mom with four kids. How do you make it work?
A. It takes balance, and a lot of help from my amazing husband! We have three girls ages 10,11 and 13 and our son is 7. One day at a time, teamwork and great communication about schedules. At the end of the day, we know we're going to get through it together and we celebrate the family that we've created. Because we're a blended family sharing custody with respective parents, we have built-in date nights and two weekends a month without the kids. Having that time to connect with my husband and continue to nurture our relationship has been key in keeping things harmonious. Date night is essential, even if we just cook at home and watch a movie.
Q. What's your favorite thing to do with the whole family in the Triangle?
A. Our favorite thing this summer was to go swimming at the YMCA pool. Our youngest son was too young to go on the water slide, but it was awesome to see his sisters each coaching him on swimming. We also love First Fridays and exposing our kids to art, the community and different foods!
Q. What's your favorite thing around here to do when you get a few hours to yourself?
A. Honestly, I'm an introvert, so my favorite thing to do is either self-care (massage, facial, nails...), hit the Y for a workout or having dinner with a friend. We don't get out as much as we used to, so spending time 1-on-1 with good friends and good food is nurturing in so many ways.
Q. What's the best parenting trick you've picked up?
A. My husband has been a big parenting mentor to me and taught me a lot. The best is setting clear, firm boundaries and enforcing them. Kids need boundaries and I wasn't always the best at following through. Things have changed a lot for the good and I'm proud of what we've accomplished with our kids, and of what we're teaching them.
Q. What's the best advice someone has given you about being a mom?
A. Take it all in stride because the kids will be just fine. It's so easy to stress and get caught up in what your kids eat, how they act, etc., and worry if you're teaching them the right things. I've learned to have faith that my kids will be just fine, regardless of whether I do the right thing or not, and that has helped tremendously.
Q. What's your least favorite part and most favorite part of being a mom?
A. That's easy. My very favorite is when we're all sitting around as a family, doing something together and everyone's getting along. It's a powerful feeling and something I relish. My least favorite is when one child decides to act up and ruins a perfectly good time. But it takes the bad times to really appreciate the good ones!
Know a cool mom in the Triangle we should profile for our next "Meet" Q&A? Or are you a mom with a story to tell? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.