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Monday, March 30, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Elyssa (Lyss) Stern, The Brains Behind Divalysscious Moms

Elyssa (Lyss) Stern was all set for the coming birth of her first son; her hair was blown out and her nails were manicured. She was determined to keep her image of a chic New Yorker -- no matter what. While settling into motherhood, she realized that it was not necessary for a woman to lose her style, confidence and “divalyssciousness” while caring for a baby.

There were no companies that catered to the needs of a mother who did not want to give up her high heels and make-up. Armed with a double masters degree in early education and communications, Stern set out to combine her creative skills, chic sense of style, networking abilities and love of children to create Divalysscious Moms. She felt that this was the much needed haven for moms who were seeking to reclaim their fabulousness. Divalysscious Moms would create a forum that would address all their needs while also focusing on their children.

“Children are only as happy as their moms, if the moms are not happy the kids are not happy,” explains Stern.

The organization took off immediately and became the go to place for chic New York moms who wanted to maintain and keep their pre-baby fabulousness.

In 2006, Stern was asked to write a weekly column for the New York Sun’s style section. The column was called Divalyssciously Yours, where she discussed upcoming events – shopping parties and special movie screenings as well as the must-have items to keep you “divalysscious.”

Lyss Stern has appeared on numerous television shows, including The Today Show, CNBC and MSNBC where she discussed divalyssiousness and the boom of moms who want to retain their fabulousness while enjoying being moms. Today Whom You Know is pleased to present her as a Mover and Shaker!

Cookie Magazine has made Stern their lifestyle correspondent, where she gives advice and shares her knowledge of a variety of TV and media outlets.

In April 2009, Stern and her co-author Julie Klappas will launch their much anticipated book, “If You Give a Mom a Martini… 100 Ways to Find 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself" published by Clarkson Potter, Random House filled with advice from high-profiled mothers around the world. Supermodel and Supermom Christie Brinkley has written the forward.

Stern lives on the Upper East Side with her husband, Brian an Uber Manager in the talent industry and their two wonderful sons – Jackson and Oliver and their Wheaton Terrier, Zack Taylor.

Peachy Deegan met Lyss Stern recently and chatted with her for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: When and how did you come up with the concept for Divalysscious Moms?
Lyss Stern: I founded the company in 2004, after my first son Jackson was a year old. I realized that there was a need for a company that addressed the issues of a woman who was a mother but still wanted to keep her fabulousness and high heels while doing the things a mother does. I formed Divalysscious Moms, Diva (self explanatory), Lyss (my name) and Moms (speaks for itself) to celebrate moms that are strong, confident, sexy and wonderful. Divalysscious Moms has become the “it” organization for moms who want to be involved in cultural and chic happenings in New York City.

You say you did not want to give up your high heels or makeup (-why should you?!-) so what is your favorite shoe designer and makeup line?
My favorite shoe designer is Christian Louboutin and Makeup line is Edward Bess.

What do you like most about Divalysscious Moms and its evolution?
Divalysscious Moms has really spread through a grass roots campaign or as I like to say “word or mom” when I started the company five years ago, I started with just a few moms, now we reach out to over 60,000 of NYC’s most influential mothers.

What has surprised you the most in the course of being the founder of this group?
That I love what I do because I am making motherhood fun, sexy and glamorous. The days of motherhood from Leave It To Beaver are gone, and I love empowering other moms to be the best moms that they can be.

What do Manhattan businesses not understand they need to do to meet the needs of families?
I can honestly say that every businesses in NYC has become baby-kid friendly. From all of the stores, restaurants, salons and buildings. I think New York City, should be called Stroller City.

What are your favorite businesses to patronize in Manhattan and why?
My favorite business to patronize are Enchanted Toys on Lexington Avenue with my boys. Its a tiny jewel of a toystore that sells natural, handmade toys that encourage imaginary play. There are no plastic toys, all handcrafted dolls, wooden castles and so much more. One of our favorite book shops is Books of Wonder, we love going to their book readings and their collection on vintage children's books. We love the cupcakes from Billy's Bakery.

What aspect of being a mom in Manhattan do you like the most and why?
There are so many amazing aspects of being a mother in NYC. We have everything at our fingertips, the best food, culture, theatre, parks, restaurants, the best of the best. I take advantage of all that the city offers for me and my family. You can be having breakfast uptown and that same day be eating diner in Chinatown. If my son is learning about outer space in school, we can take a walk over to the planetarium to explore more. We can go to the fire museum to meet the real NYC fire heroes. There's nothing that you cannot do or see in NYC. Our immediate family always wants to know why we do not want to move to the suburbs to have a backyard? We explain that Central Park is our backyard, and that there is now where else we would rather live.

How did your upcoming book come about?
My book came about while my dear friend Julie Klappas and I were joking around, that we never seem to even get ten minutes a day any more for ourselves. Then we both looked at each other, smiled and said we have to write this book for moms, and the rest is history. We put together our book treatment, and our amazing book agent sold the book to Random House/Clarkson Potter very fast.

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
I love taking my boys to Serendipity III for Frozen Hot Chocolate

What is your favorite shop?
Barneys New York (The Shoe Department)

What is your favorite drink?
Iced Skim Cappuccino from Bottega Del Vino

What is your favorite restaurant?
Scalinatella for Italian Food and Normas for brunch and Tomoe for Sushi

What is your favorite NYC book?
The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
Take my boys on adventures in Central Park during the Spring

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
I think the Subway is underrated, I love taking the subway all over the city. I think taxis are overrated.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I love to play tennis every Friday, I love traveling to foreign adventures with my family, I collect vintage Barbie Dolls and my favorite fruit is watermelon.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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