Mom Crush: Four Women Changing Dallas
They do interesting work, possess serious style, and they just so happen to be moms. We took a peek inside their worlds to see how they do it.
(1) A colorful necklace from Kimberly’s travels sits alongside vintage books and art. (2) Kimberly meticulously organizes her shoe collection. (3) An elephant saddle belonging to Kimberly’s father-in-law (actor Stuart Whitman) is JR’s favorite spot for reading and playing with his stuffed toys. (4) Kimberly’s entertaining book shares space with an Elsa Peretti for Tiffany bowl filled with family snapshots. (5) Kimberly displays her collection of favorite scents in her dressing room.photography by Elizabeth Lavin
MOM CRUSH NO.3
Kimberly Schlegel Whitman
A preternaturally poised colleague once commented that being in the presence of Kimberly Schlegel Whitman makes her want to “take things up a notch.”
So mannered and gracious is the author, editor, philanthropist, television personality, and mother of 4-year-old JR that even women who possess those same qualities are impressed and inspired by her.
Kimberly hails from Canada. She moved to Dallas with her family as a child, and the combined influences of those places—Canadian friendliness and Southern manners—are at the core of her appeal. The SMU graduate is warm, approachable, and unfailingly polite, whether serving as past chair of the North Texas Food Bank’s Food for Kids program, creating a canine birthday party for one of her six books on entertaining, or dispensing lifestyle tips on the Today Show.
In a job seemingly tailor-made for her, Kimberly now has a new audience to woo as co-host of Texas Living, a one-hour daily live show focusing on community and lifestyle.
For work and play, Kimberly travels a lot. To manage her relentless schedule, she swears by a wardrobe of classic dresses. “I have been known to wear the same thing over and over because I often don’t have time to think in the morning. The thought of having to put a top with a bottom stresses me out,” she says.
Kimberly’s glamorous lifestyle is well balanced with low-key family activities. She says she’s happiest when hanging out with her “boys,” JR and husband Justin, exploring their neighborhood on leisurely, afternoon bike rides or going on nature walks.
The commonly sited but infinitely wise maxim, “The days are long, but the years are short. Make the most of them,” is always at the forefront of Kimberly’s mind. This is perhaps best demonstrated in what she calls her “most beloved tradition,” her family’s annual summer vacation to a tiny Canada town with a population of 950. “This slow family time is my idea of bliss,” she says. “We eat big meals, read, play games, go on walks, and just decompress. I can’t think of anything better.”
(1) Paula’s pared-down work space keeps things running smoothly. (2) Piñon incense from Paula’s mother-in-law burns in the den. (3) Jeff Koon’s Puppy vase was a wedding gift from Todd in honor of Paula’s Westie, Mickey. (4) Paula’s go-to beauty products—including Rodin Oil, Kiehl’s Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion, Nars The Multiple in South Beach, Neutrogena lip gloss, and Cle de Peau concealer—sit on top of Gaia pouches. (5) Beaded masks and faux taxidermy give the house an eclectic vibe. photography by Elizabeth Lavin
MOM CRUSH NO.4
Infant twins, two tweens, and a couple of dogs is not exactly a formula for a chill afternoon, but somehow the vibe is just that at the Minnis household. Music plays, glasses of cold drinks sweat onto their coasters, and piñon incense burns. It’s decidedly mellow, not unlike the woman at the center, Paula Minnis.
Paula is well-versed at managing seemingly overwhelming situations. She was vice president of brand development for a retail services company, overseeing some 200 people. But before marrying her husband, Todd, in 2008, she paused to reassess. “I was burned out by the nonstop travel and the high-pressure job,” she says. “I wanted to make a home for Todd, Genevieve, and Will” (Todd’s children from a previous marriage).
On leave from work, Paula took piano and art lessons, and began creating a more environmentally friendly home. She and a group of friends also explored starting a charity aimed at aiding women.
Things clicked when Paula began mentoring refugees through the International Rescue Committee. One afternoon, she was helping her mentee, Catherin, learn English, when the image of a thimble prompted Catherin to reveal that she knew how to sew. “In that moment, the pieces just fell into place,” Paula says. “The concept for Gaia was born.”
Through Gaia, Paula provides work directly to the refugees she mentored. They craft accessories out of vintage fabrics and receive a living wage. The women are able to purchase their own sewing equipment from Paula over time, allowing them to take on additional work. And by using repurposed materials, Gaia celebrates her environmental commitment.
Gaia is now a thriving enterprise with five employees who create accessories sold at stores like Neiman Marcus and Forty Five Ten, structured around a model that allows for balance, especially crucial as Paula and Todd welcomed twins Gabriella and Charlie in March.
“The household hums with activity,” Paula says, “but this is my dream. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”