Folks We Love with Phoebe Hayman from Seedling

Photos by Emma Feil Photography

Photos by Emma Feil Photography

Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here.

It’s been an international and creative journey. I was born in New Zealand, but spent a big part of my childhood in the US (living in California and then Iowa). We moved back to New Zealand at the start of my high school years, where I completed my degree in Fine Arts, met my husband and had our two wonderful boys before coming full circle and returning to Southern California. It’s all connected and it drives from a love of experiences, a curiosity of creativity and a passion for the experiences we have in life.


Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?

My husband Suraj, and our two boys – Kieran, 12 and Ashwyn, 11 and our little girl dog Lucy who when we moved back to the US, went to live with my Dad in New Zealand where she happily chases chickens and cows all day long.


How did you choose your kids names? 

My husband’s family is originally from India, and my family were immigrants to New Zealand from the British Isles, so we wanted names that reflected both parts of our heritage. Once they were born, it was clear they suited their names perfectly.



We currently live in Irvine, California where we have close proximity to our favorite beach, Crystal Cove. We have lived on an island for so long that I don’t think we can ever be too far from the beach.



Founder and CEO of Seedling, where we believe creative play is a fundamentally important part of childhood and build products that make it easy to raise creative kids.


What’s on your manifest board?

It’s a real mix – I love to travel and see new cultures. A few things on my current list are Machu Picchu and Japan. I love creativity, so both making and experiencing art are on there. I also love food – it’s one of our favorite things as a family. I love to cook, but I also love discovering a new great place to eat where we can experience someone else’s passion for great food and of course spend time with our kids before they grow into adults. My board is an exotic blend of serene places, fascinating cultures, time with people we love and continuing to explore my creative spirit.


Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?

We walk, eat and play together. These things always seem intertwined. We recently hiked a trail in Yosemite and it was such a great way to spend a day with them – and once we got back to the base site, that burger was the best thing we’ve ever eaten. My favorite days are days when we have nothing in particular scheduled so we go somewhere we’ve never been, find somewhere new to eat, wander around and spend some time exploring a new park or beach.


When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different? 

I dreamed of continuing to learn about and explore the world. Sometimes I think this is exactly what I’ve done, and sometimes, I feel like life is rushing past so fast that I just don’t have enough time to absorb all the amazing things that the world has to offer and I feel so far from where I thought I’d be. Life is certainly more of a journey than I had ever considered when young.


What are some things you really believe in? 

I believe in the power of family, treasured moments of shared experiences and finding peace to accept yourself for who you are.


Where do your passions lie? 

I love what I do in many facets of life. I love being a mom, I love being a partner to my husband, I love working with my team, I love being creative, I love inspiring children, I love knowledge, I love complexity, I love simplicity, I love consistency and I love change. Like many things in life, my passions are a paradox.


Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids?

My husband and I have been together for 18 years and I’ve found the relationship has evolved to meet what we need from each other at each point. It certainly changes and with kids- it’s a constant negotiation around who is responsible for which parts of our lives. I have to say that I’ve been so grateful for the support of my husband, especially over the last two years – we’ve moved countries, aggressively built out Seedling and our kids have grown into serious sports people (no idea where that comes from). This is when you really discover what each other are made of and it’s only brought us closer. I realize how lucky we have been to find each other and we both appreciate what we have in each other.

What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard) 

You will always be harder on yourself than anyone else will ever be – this applies both to what you think of yourself and what you think others think of you.

Love is the only thing in life that matters, value this above everything else.

Knowledge and support always comes along at the right time, all you have to do is be open to accepting it.


What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?

Make the most of every opportunity. Each day is something to treasure and a place to stop and appreciate where you are going and where you have been. When you’re busy, it gets hard to stop and reflect, but these are the moments that bring happiness.


What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?

The fierce protective instincts – the acceptance that you can control some things, but that some things you have to step back from and let your kids control – even if they don’t deal with it the way you think is best for them. Sometimes doing the right thing for your kids is not being a good parent – they have to learn to make good choices and sometimes they learn this by making less than great choices.


What do you want your kids to learn about the world?

That the world is full of amazing diversity in every way, soak up as much of it as possible and find delight in all the ways you can see the world. From history, art, friendship, work, nature, and undiscovered depths of the ocean, there is always another perspective. If you’re at a point and time when you’re finding your own perspective challenging, seek more perspectives.


What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?

A gigantically big washing machine.

Music – we all love to dance and sing, even when some of us have absolutely zero talent at both (speaking for myself) so Spotify is our most used app.

Great schools with talented and engaged teachers.

Family vacations where we all get a break from school, sports, work and chores.


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