Since joining the New York & Company family six years ago, Eva Mendes juggles life as a fashion designer, a businesswoman, and most importantly, a mother.
Although growing up, she didn’t have an interest in designing clothes, seeing her mom and older sisters slip into something beautiful that made them feel good, triggered a happy feeling for Eva. “Now when I design clothes, I get excited about [what] somebody could be wearing on a graduation for their kids, or [what] somebody could be wearing on a special day that creates a memory for that child, and that will be with them forever.” With that in mind, her bold and print-heavy pieces appeal to those who want to feel sexy, feminine, and aren’t afraid to stand out.
In an exclusive with HOLA! USA, the Cuban-American star who shares daughters Esmeralda, five and Amada, three, with Ryan Gosling, keeps it real about what it’s like to balance motherhood and career. “It is such a challenge, and it is a challenge that I'm grateful to have because that means I have a job, but I have not figured it out,” she shared.
Adding that, to this date, she still wonders how her mother managed to balance life with three kids, the actress-turned-fashion designer doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Luckily, Eva is able to rely on an amazing support team. “I do have to thank my family and Ryan's family for being a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge support system. To have the tias, his mom, my mom, his sister, and my sisters around, that is invaluable, “ she added.
Keep reading to find out how the triple-threat mamá designs clothes for all shapes and sizes, her biggest challenge with being a working mom, and how she’s learning to connect with her fans and customers via social media.
HOLA! USA: What is your favorite piece in your new collection? Eva Mendes: “I would say the sweaters sets. I did more sweaters this fall than I have ever before so there's a lot of new knits."
There’s a vintage essence with most of your collections, would you say that comes from someone in your family you look up to? "I look at women like Maria Felix. She's this amazing icon. I love to look at those women of those paths and look at what they were accentuating, look at what they were like. [They were] sexy in the way that I respond to it. [It was something like a] beautiful blouse, but then a very, very, very cinched waist and then a full skirt. It was just so elegant. I love going back to the Latin icons. And I have so many pictures of my mom dressed like that."
What have you learned about designing for all shapes and sizes? “Latin women, we all look different. That's one thing that non-Latin people don’t really understand. In my family alone, we have some blondes, we have like literally from every color to every body type. That's really inspiring to me because I'm designing for every woman and they're basically all in my family.”
Do your family and friends ask for dibs on stuff from your collections? Or your closet?
"Totally. They do. They're great, and they're so supportive. They’ll send me screenshots of stuff and be like, ‘Hey, is this out yet?’ [And I’m] like, ‘No, but when it is, I'll get it for you.’ What's so great about them is that they actually let me try things on them and they give me great honest input. Now Ryan's family does that, so I have a very diverse group of women."
We saw you asked your followers for their thoughts on how you can improve the Everette Soft blazer and pant. Did you receive any helpful feedback?
"I got the most amazing comments that were so helpful. This is what I came away with: the color was too hard to pull off on certain skin tones and that it was too baggy so they would feel too big in it. It was amazing feedback. I really appreciated that people took the time to give me feedback that really helped. I was like, ‘I'm going to do this so much more because it really was helpful.’ And that's when I realized I liked social media – when I can connect to people directly. I was really fighting the selfie thing for so long because I feel so silly taking a selfie, but I‘ve really given into it."
Speaking of social media, you really focus Instagram for business. How helpful is social media for connecting with your fans and getting their feedback?
"I really struggle with social media. I struggle figuring it out – like where I fit within it because I definitely don't like to get too personal. I don't like to post about my family and stuff, but what makes me really excited is when I hear directly from the customers. And every time I comment that is me commenting, that is me replying to my customers. That's me really wanting that connection because that's what I need it to keep the line moving and evolving."
We see you have shoes in your collection, do you test them in your house or while running errands?
"It took us a while, but right now, we have the perfect pump. It's really comfortable, and it's sexy at the same time without being ridiculous. You could go to work and then stop by the market – the fit is amazing."
What’s the biggest challenge with being a full-time mom and businesswoman?
"I feel overwhelmed, which is every day at certain parts of the day. It's going back to my mother, how did she do this alone in Cuba with three kids and then coming over to the United States alone. [Esmeralda and Amada] are very opinionated and active as they should be and it's beautiful, but it's maddening – and then to try to work within that and be present as a mom. I would say the hardest part about it is the mommy guilt that I feel. Even though I know that working is a necessity, but it's also good for them to see me work."