Moms Who Inspire: Yoko Shimada
Yoko’s journey to starting Mitera – a fashion company for pregnant women and new moms – isn’t one you might imagine.
In 1999 Yoko’s father received a blood transfusion that contained Hepatitis C. As a result he passed away shortly afterwards, which motivated Yoko to dedicate her life to Global Health. She worked diligently with organizations like The World Bank and the Clinton Foundation for 15-years to improve the quality of healthcare in developing countries and keep fewer families from experiencing similar tragedies as her own.
“In many ways my life has been defined by both death and birth. The death of my father moved me towards global health and the birth of my children lead me to creating Mitera.”
Yoko with her daughter
Before Yoko became a mother, she had a vision that, as a career woman, having babies wasn’t going to change her or her life.
“Those first few months of motherhood were really difficult. Of course, I was in love with being a mother, but that’s not to say it wasn’t really hard at times.”
But after becoming a mother, Yoko had an awakening. She realized that she didn’t want to look at motherhood as a subtraction when it came to achieving the things she wanted to accomplish, but instead she wanted to view it as an addition. “I noticed I wasn’t just a mother, I was everything else and a mother.”
This passion to empower women to feel like they can chase their aspirations through pregnancy and new motherhood is how Mitera was born. Yoko began creating clothing that made women feel beautiful and confident whether they were breastfeeding or at the end of their pregnancy, whether they were working or at home. Wherever they were, whatever they were doing, women can feel like themselves in the clothes she created.
Yoko with her children
“Through Mitera, Yoko honors the process of creating and bringing life into this world and celebrates the nurturer—the unique, beautiful, determined, multifaceted woman–who gives all she has, while still remaining who she is.”
It’s with great admiration and respect that I share Yoko’s thoughts with you below.
Yoko’s husband and children
“To see my kids discover this world and to see this world through their fresh eyes. They remind me to see the little, beautiful things.”
“Letting my kids be kids, and letting them be their own people. As a working mom, I’m always feeling like I’m never enough – never spending enough time, or never feeling like I’m spending quality time with my children. But the biggest challenge for me is remembering that I have to let my kids be their own unique people. I do my best to guide them but at the end of the day I have to allow them to become who they are.”
“It’s definitely something you have to remind yourself that you need every day. I know for me it’s easy to fall into a routine of feeling like I don’t have enough time but when I say to myself that self care is important not only for me but for my entire family, it helps me to stay on track.
I’m an avid triathlete, so I enjoy cross training, cycling, running and swimming. But the biggest advice I have is – Whatever you find that fits your personality and your lifestyle, do that. You don’t have to do a triathlon, you don’t have to do yoga, just find something that you want to try and do that. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, you have to do what really brings you fulfillment.”
“Meditation makes me more in tune and purposeful. It helps me to respect myself more, makes me a better mom, helps me focus better, and reminds me to take care of me.”
“Respect your partner and remember that they are not the same person as you. Respect their individuality and understand that you won’t always have the same views, especially when it comes to parenting. I got married young, at 26 years old. The first year was the hardest and we almost thought we wouldn’t make it, but we went to counseling and were given homework that truly transformed our relationship. Although it sounds silly, the homework which was as simple as taking time to look into each others eyes and ask “how are you doing” or really hug each other once a day made such a big difference. Of course, date nights are great as well but I think it’s important to remember that taking a minute to connect each day can be just as impactful.”
“I’d like to impact women’s lives, particularly mothers. I want to help mothers be confident and I want to help them understand that becoming a mother empowers them to be everything they want to be. Whatever they set their sights on, they can achieve it.”
“That you receive so much more by giving. As a child, I traveled a lot with my parents and grandparents and they made sure that we experienced poverty and saw how people live all over the world. So, with my work in Global Health and through my experience as a child, I want my children to understand compassion and the gift of giving.”
What’s your favorite part about being a mom?
What’s been the biggest challenge being a mom?
What advice do you have for moms who want to incorporate more self care in their lives.
How does sitting down to meditate impact your day?
What’s the one piece of relationship advice you would give to new moms?
What is the number one thing you want to see come out of Mitera?
What lesson do you most want to pass onto your son and daughter?
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