Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Lily Kanter

A former Microsoft executive turned entrepreneur, Lily Kanter is the CEO of the wildly successful baby bedding and furniture company Serena & Lily [1]. With celebrity fans like Jennifer Garner and Debra Messing raving about the high quality, unique colors and modern style of their line, the sky is the limit for this business. The popularity of Serena & Lily [2] has been featured in People Magazine and the two founders are Cookie Magazine's current "Mothers of Invention."


Lily and her partner Serena authored the soon to be released Nursery Style [3]. Somehow Lily also manages to engage in many philanthropic pursuits. With three boys under five, she certainly has her hands full. Take a peek at her very candid answers to our questions and you will see why she describes herself as both easy going and maniacal. From our perspective, Lily Kanter is incredibly kind, extremely generous with her limited time and an inspiring example of all that we women with young children can accomplish.



How many children do you have? How old are they? What are their names?


Three children, 5 ½, 3 ½, and 1 ½, their names are Max, Zeke, and Nate.


Describe your job.


As co-founder of Serena & Lily [4], I run the business and operations of Serena & Lily.


How many hours a week do you work?


40 plus hours per week.


Do you work exclusively in the office, exclusively from home or some combination?


I work mostly from the office and many hours in the evening after the children go to bed.


What are the pros and cons of your schedule?


The major pro is that my schedule is dictated by me. The con is that I am not the least bit dispensable in the company and I have zero time for myself.


What are the best and worst parts of your job?


The best part is the creation of new ideas and strategy. The worst part is the daily burden and aggravation of running a business.


Would you work if you could afford to stay home? If so, why?


Absolutely YES, I love to create and that is what fuels my soul. I love spending half my waking hours with my children/husband and half with my business and non-profit pursuits. This definitely makes me a better mom and wife.


Describe your childcare setup.


I have two full-time nannies that are like family. They are on at the same time for about 47 hours per week.


What does your spouse do for a living?


My husband is self-employed and gives a lot of time to the children. He runs a gemstone website.


How does the question of who earns more in your house affect the domestic workload division?


Because I am building a business right now, my husband definitely gives more time to the family.


How do you divide up the family responsibilities? Who makes the lunches? Who takes the kids to school, etc.? Do you feel like you do more than your share of the domestic duties in your household?


I would say the domestic child care split is 60% my husband and 40% me My husband definitely does more but I try to do my 50%. I make sure to be at home every night at
6:30 p.m. The weekends belong to the children.


Did your mom work? What did she do?


My mom began working when I went to school. She was a school teacher so her schedule was in sync with ours.


How often do you have dinner with your children? What are the last three dinners you made for your kids? Did you eat the same thing they did?


We eat dinner as a family on Friday night and Sunday night and that is set in stone. I would say the family mealtime in our home is the breakfast table. I want to move towards dinner with the children as they get older — right now it’s pretty impossible with their ages. My husband is the cook in our house.


Do you have a date night with your husband? Do you find time to keep the romance going when you are juggling so much?


We have date night one to two nights each week.


Forgive us for asking, but how often do you have sex?


Oh my what a question. I would say the average is two times a week.


What is your best tip for maintaining balance or at least some semblance of sanity?


Spiritual practice, reading and listening to the wisdom of the sages.


What do you do when you feel totally overwhelmed?


Get a massage.


Do you feel that you have made professional sacrifices to be a more present parent?


Yes, I could be at the office 16 hours a day, travel and grow the business faster, but I won’t sacrifice my family time.


Do you feel you have made parental sacrifices to advance your career?


I feel like my children are better off that I’m not home 24/7. My nannies are better at it than I am. I am also a happy mom when I get home every night.


Describe your worst working mom moment.


Once I forgot my son at pre-school. Thankfully I remembered right at the time I was supposed to be there so I asked my husband to get him — and he was only 10 minutes late.


Do you ever take your kids to work? Do you think your kids are proud that you work? How do you know?


My children come to the office all the time. I have a nice setup in my office — a coloring table and a jar of lollipops and jelly beans. They love to come to the office.


Describe a typical morning and evening at your house.


A lot of horsing around, three little boys under 5 years old. Do I need to say more?


Do you exercise? If so, how often?How do you fit it in?


I play tennis once per week. My goal is to change this to 4 times per week when I can make this happen.


What is the best piece of advice you have ever received about balancing work and family?


Keep your priorities straight and stay focused on what you want to be remembered for.


What do you think about the so-called Mommy Wars?


I think we are in a sad state of society that we do not honor the work and value of a mom. I have the most respect for a woman that can stay home, be a great mother, and be happy doing it. Staying at home for me is SO much harder than going to work. When I come to work sick, my employees say, “why don’t you stay home?” and my response is, “because it’s SO much more relaxing to come to work.” Being a mom is the most difficult job in the world, and our society has some stigma around it being only for people who can’t make it in the professional world, that is SO messed up and very sad.


What do you think makes a good mother?


A happy mother. And if you are married or with a partner a happy/healthy relationship.


What are the three adjectives that best describe you?


Easy going. Fair. Maniacal.


What accomplishments are you most proud of?


Mother of three children cover of Time Magazine for Philanthropy, Chairman’s award from Bill Gates, a recognized industry leader as evidenced by a two page article in People Magazine within two years of starting Serena & Lily [5].


Who is your hero?


Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates.


The best thing about being a working mom is?


Being fresh for my children and not burned out on being with them.


The worst thing about being a working mom is?


Having zero time for myself.


What inspires you?


Helping people achieve a more soulful/meaningful life. Making a positive difference in the world.


What would you do if you had more time?


Exercise and read more.


If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?


I wish I could read an entire book in 15 minutes.




Want to hear more from superpowered executive moms like Lily Kanter of Serena and Lily [6]? Check out our Working Mom interviews with My New Red Shoes [7] founder Heather Hopkins [7] and MD Moms [8] founder Diane Truong [8]. 



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