My main objective is to raise independent little women.
Lily Bekmezian is a single mama of two and owner of House of Sofella, an online children’s boutique of European brands curated by Bekmezian and her young daughters. She recently chatted with Raise founder Jessica Butler about launching a brand with two little ones in tow, her approach to parenting post-divorce, and her relationship with her ex’s new partner.
On Building A Business With Two Young Children
I was married for 10 years to my high school sweetheart. We have two kids — Sofia (9) and Stella (7) — and we’ve been divorced for three years. In the beginning, whenever the girls went to be with their father, I would just sit and just cry and talk about how much I missed them. I finally said to myself, I’m not going to keep doing this. They’re going to be gone half the time and I’m going to utilize that time to start a business. To establish myself. I’ve worked since I was 16 years old, I’ve always brought home a paycheck, and I still to this day have a full time job, but I wanted to create something that my daughters could be involved in.
The name Sofella is combination of my daughter’s names. I put them in the title as a way to make them a part of it.
My main objective is to raise independent little women. I’m lucky to have my mother as a role model. She’s a big boss in the County. She was 30 with two kids and didn’t speak the language and I thought, if she can do it, anybody can do it.
I’ve always loved fashion, but I had such a hard time finding clothes for my girls because I refused to go out and constantly look around. It’s exhausting, and I didn’t have the time or the energy. That’s what led to the idea of an online store, plus it’s a way to control the overhead costs a little bit. Of course I would love to have a brick and mortar down the line.
The name Sofella is combination of my daughter’s names. I put them in the title as a way to make them a part of it. It makes them very excited. They tell their friends about it, they take business cards to school to spread the word. When it came to building the actual business, I had no one to walk me through the process of opening up an LLC or to hold my hand. I researched and found answers on my own. I’ve made mistakes, and everything’s been a learning curve for me.
On Creating A Positive Post-Divorce Environment For Her Daughters
Divorce rocks their world, so it’s our job to create better, happier, more joyful atmospheres in separate homes. The whole reason we separate is to spare them from our broken relationship, so they don’t see it or just adapt to it and carry it into their future relationships. Making a dig about their father may make you feel better for two seconds, and then it will pass for you, but they will remember. They remember everything and they carry it with them everywhere. I have a responsibility as their mom to lead my life with that in mind.
I’m dedicated to putting my children’s needs first, but sometimes that comes with a fee — and that fee is me.
For kids, everything is emotional. They’re too young to be logical. They’re not able to analyze what they’re feeling and convey it in adult ways, so I’m a true believer in keeping the drama completely away from them. Do not let them see you angry. Try not to let them see you cry. Try not to fight and argue in front of them. I’m dedicated to putting my children’s needs first, but sometimes that comes with a fee — and that fee is me. That’s okay because I’m the adult. I can do something to manage my stress, I can meditate, but they can’t process it. They will build resentment and stress, and I don’t want them to feel like that about anyone they’re living with.
Things will change as they grow. Things will become more complicated and stressful with age and hormones, and it’s already stressful enough. I’m always checking in with them, asking, are you happy? Is there anything that’s making you unhappy? Are you stressed right now? I’ve always been honest with them and given them a platform to come to us and ask any questions.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to creating a healthy structure for your kids. If you can set your feelings aside and create an environment solely for the purpose of making your children’s lives free and healthy, you’ve won.
On Her Relationship With Her Husband’s New Partner
I remember when I invited her to meet for a cup of coffee. I got there early and just sat there, trying to kind of mentally prepare. I told myself, the first thing you need to do is make her feel comfortable. I had to put myself in her position. No matter what, I am the mother of my kids and with that, there’s going to be some kind of intimidation factor or preconceived notions on her end.
It’s wasn’t my job to make her feel comfortable, but why not? I didn’t want it to go anywhere other than a good place.
She came in and I gave her a hug, and the first thing I said was, “I want to say thank you. For always treating my girls so well. They always have such nice things to say about you, and they’re always so happy when you’re around them. Thank you for that.” We often forget what the other person is going through. The truth is, I could have decided to intimidate the hell out of her, but what was that going to do? It’s wasn’t my job to make her feel comfortable, but why not? I didn’t want it to go anywhere other than a good place.
Jessica Butler is the co-founder of Raise, stepmother of two, and adoptive mother of one. Prior to Raise, she was a writer on USA’s "In Plain Sight" and TNT’s "The Last Ship." She and her husband, writer/producer Warren Bell, co-created the Nick at Nite series "Instant Mom," based on her life as a stepmother. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and six-year-old son, Levon.