Get to know...
Kate Gertner and Sarah Deitcher, Co-Founders of PLAY WITH PIECES, the innovative baby play mat company that combines stylish design with safe materials for your little one. Kate and Sarah sit down for a photoshoot with Trish Mennell Photography and talk finding inspiration for their designs, working together as friends and how they balance motherhood.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother? Biggest joys? Biggest challenges?
K: There is really nothing better than hearing your kids laugh.
S: It really is the biggest joy.It’s the best; but being a mom is hard, and there are so many challenges! Fifty percent of our phone calls revolve around sleep, or lack there of—who’s sleeping, who’s not sleeping, how do we get more sleep, how do we get our kids to get more sleep? The other 50% is about our work. But, at the end of the day when all your kids want to do is to show you something new they’ve learned or have a quiet snuggle on the couch, you suddenly forget about everything on the to-do list and want to freeze time forever!
Q: What have you learned about balancing motherhood with your careers?
K: Motherhood really is a balancing act. Sometimes you won’t be able to make it home for bedtime, or you need to take a phone call when you’re on sandbox duty. We try to do the best we can. Sometimes that means spending an hour on the phone parked outside our respective houses to can finish up a work call so that when go inside, we can be present with our kids.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Play with Pieces? Where do you draw inspiration from for the designs?
K: We are both really design-oriented people. There was nothing out there on the market that we wanted to live with everyday in our homes. We draw a lot of inspiration from vintage rugs, and combining them with current trends.
S: It became a style dilemma that we were determined to solve, and we knew we couldn’t be alone in our search.
Q: How is it working together? Do you have any tips for friends going into business together?
K: The funny thing is, we weren’t really friends before we went into business together.
S: Well, we were new friends.
K: Yes, we were very new friends; we were actually set up on a "blind mommy
S: We had both recently given birth—I think Teddy was three months and Grayson was one month—and we met at Terroni and had ate pizza while our babies slept under the table in their bucket car seats.
K: I think we maybe shared a salad too.
S: The mushroom one, obviously.
K: We became really good friends fast; we had a lot in common and basically talked about going into business together from day one (though many ideas were tossed around before the play mat). So we don’t bring 30 years of friendship baggage into our business partnership. It was the perfect clean slate.
S: For business and friendship – ha!
K: Find someone you like (like, really like) because at the end of the day, it’s just the two of you (in a makeshift office) and the idea you came up with together.
S: And like any relationship, it’s all about trust. Ideas will come and go and your business will evolve, but you need to go to bed at night knowing you can trust your partner.
Q: How did you come up with your kids’ names?
K: Theodore just happened to be a name we really liked. We are into traditional names and especially loved that it has a cute short form – we call him Teddy. For my second we were looking for a B name to honour my husband’s mom. Bennett was so perfect us because it felt formal but still fun (and not so common). At home we call him Mr. B.
S: My husband and I have always been drawn to names with English heritage. Having a short-form that we loved was also a must for us.
Q: Do you have a go-to family restaurant in Toronto?
K: Mildred's Temple Kitchen for their Bluberry Pancakes.
S: Terroni or Cibo—basically anywhere that serves pasta and where we can
Q: What's your favourite family vacation?
K: We spend a lot of time in California because we have family there; Abbott Kinney is like a second home to us. California is so kid-friendly (aside from the time change) and what is not to love about being on the ocean?
S: My husband’s family has a home in Vermont. I love being surrounded by so much greenery! It’s my happy place—and when mama’s happy, everyone’s
Q: How do you find time for yourself? What's your ideal girls' night?
S: We are both pretty low key (right Kate??). Ideal girl’s night involves a long delicious dinner in a cozy space, with lots of laughter and some musical chairs so you get to talk to everyone. Also, there must be dessert and tea— Earl Grey for me and peppermint for Kate.
Q. With the power and influence of social media such as Instagram, how do you draw the line about what you think is appropriate to post of your children? As a mother, do you enjoy and/or find it beneficial to share photos and videos of your family on social media platforms?
K: For the first year with Teddy, I really made a conscious effort not to show his face on social media; I would post little snippets here and there but nothing too revealing. Then, our production samples arrived the same day I gave birth to Bennett. Suddenly, we found ourselves in need of a readily available (and free!) baby models, so up our kids faces went, all over our Instagram feed. However, we are very respectful of kids and our customer’s kids on instagram. We always ask permission to post (or repost) and we understand that everyone has different levels of comfort with what they want to share on social media.
Q: Any last words of wisdom for our fellow new moms?
S: Drink water. Eat well 80% of the time. Have sex. Mind your own business.