Folks We Love with Aleksandra Zebrowska from francis and henry
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here.
My name is Ola, I’m 29, the oldest of eight kids – I have 6 sisters and 1 brother. I’m now a mom of two boys. One of my sons is half a year older than my youngest sister – so yes, my mom and I were pregnant at the same time! That’s also when I realized I should quit hoping for a baby-girl of my own, as the girl limit in our family has already been pushed too far.
As the oldest of eight, I literally took care of babies since I was a child, and felt there’s nothing that can surprise me when I become a mother. But being a mom turned out to be so different from anything I had ever imagined as just an older sister. The amount of strength a woman needs to extract from her body during and after pregnancy – both physically and mentally – is beyond our imagination. My experiences inspired me to make something that will support women in this journey. I started a small business making sets for pregnant and nursing moms with super soft and delicate pieces carefully designed to make women feel…normal, in a special way.
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
My husband, Michal, is 44 years old. We have two sons – Francis and Henry (6 yo and almost 3) Makes the origin of my company’s name “Francis & Henry” pretty clear.
How did you choose your kids names?
Apart from liking the names themselves, we liked to have good people we know behind them. Both of the names are after our older relatives, whom we never got to know very well, but who remain in our families as examples of really great guys.
We live and work in Warsaw, Poland (Europe), but have a wooden chalet in the Polish mountains, where we try to spend as much time as possible – away from the city and with beautiful views and nature around, literally in the middle of nowhere.
My area of education was Social Psychology, but I never actually worked in the field. My husband is an actor and 6 years ago he opened a private theatre in Warsaw. As any “own business” this was something we were both very involved in for a long time as a family. We now have a great team who helps Michal in running the theatre, as I shifted my time to finally starting something of my own. Inspired by my kids, my pregnancies, I’m working on the Francis & Henry project, hoping it will allow me to spend lots of time at home with my kids, at the same time let me pursue my own passions and dreams.
What’s on your manifest board?
Francis & Henry is dedicated to appreciating moms – given all the wonders and hardships related to pregnancy and motherhood. My idea was to make pregnancy and birth more about women, not only the new baby as I feel the little fellas get plenty of attention anyway ;)) So much changes when we’re pregnant and have kids – most for the better, but there are things that become really challenging, to say the least. I wanted to make something to help women find balance between being a mom and staying ‘a woman’. I believe that while this “be yourself” issue applies to all phases and aspects of our lives, the special time of baby delivery requires extra focus and care. In Poland, where I am from, it is still common that women give birth in their husbands old t-shirts, or just XXL night gowns that fit and allow them to breastfeed. While I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with that (and that’s exactly how I gave birth to both of my boys) I thought how much of a difference it would make when packing your hospital bag, to be able to have something special prepared for yourself as well. I hope my little project will help highlight the importance of women not only looking but also feeling good about themselves in this rewarding yet challenging moment of their journey as moms.
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
I really like Mondays..when kids go to school and I can finally do something on my own! But seriously, I really enjoy and crave the time we have with just the four of us. We like listening to their conversations, reflecting the unbelievably pure idea of this world that only kids are capable of having. Whether it’s a trip to the mountains or just building lego’s at home, it’s something I already feel I will miss when they start growing up to playdates and sleepovers with their friends.
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
“Mom, how does the cereal come out?” – asked Francis while carefully watching me breastfeed his baby brother, Henry.
They are both hilariously overwhelmed by the situation with my siblings. My youngest sister Zuzu, who is Francis’ age and his close friend, is also his aunt, and Zuzu’s parents (my parents), are naturally his grandparents. He just doesn’t seem to understand any of it and tells everyone that he has a lot of sisters and keeps asking who my parents are and if they’re still alive.
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
My dreams shifted quite often, from dreaming of being a stay-home mom to being a successful businesswoman, then a track and field athlete or a painter. On some level, things are close to going as planned! I also remember I was always scared I’ll end up being a nun.. We can safely cross that one off the list.
What are some things you really believe in?
I believe it is so important for any human being to have a true feeling of self-worth, and self-love. This is something that lets you love and feel loved by others, and I find that it makes a lot of things easier to deal with. Because having a naturally positive, nonjudgemental attitude toward people around, has a huge impact on how you live your everyday life, by allowing you to BE and LIKE who you really are. It’s still a work in progress for me.
Where do your passions lie?
I always loved drawing, anything art and working-on-details-related. This was honestly the best part about starting Francis & Henry – the logo and print making. I’m hoping this area of my small business will be able to flourish and that eventually I’ll get to spend more time in the artistic creation process of it all.
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids?
We got married a year after we met and had our first son exactly 9 months later. I think it’s safe to say any relationship changes, grows, with time, especially within those first years. Not sure we can give our kids all the credit.
We are now married for 7 years and with every year we get closer – in terms of our understanding of one another, enjoying the present rather than constantly planning the future, and cherishing our time alone – that’s definitely something our boys taught us best.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
Not to worry so much about the small things (..including my boobs!)
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
Probably the constant worrying (also about the small things!). It’s exhausting to even imagine what my kids will be like and what they will have to deal with when they grow up..
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
I hope my kids feel that there is a lot of good in the world. I want them to see the good in people and situations around them so they can live life with a positive approach toward all of the unknown.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
2. Baby hugs and cuddles
3. Alone time – to recharge our batteries
4. Last but not least – my mom and sisters – the best mental health providers 😉