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Meet the Women Who Are Rewriting the Rules of Working Motherhood

Hitha Palepu, Catherine Brown, and Jeanelle Teves share a glimpse into their careers, closets, and more.

By Madeleine Kim

Have you ever had a conversation so inspiring, you thought, this should be published? That’s exactly how we felt after our recent panel discussion at our Upper West Side store with Hitha Palepu, Catherine Brown, and Jeanelle Teves.

Rewriting the Rules of Working Motherhood

Left to right: Hitha Palepu, Jeanelle Teves, and Catherine Brown. Shop their looks here.

Hitha Palepu

Instagram: @hithapalepu
Newsletter: #5SmartReads

I am the CEO of Rhoshan Pharmaceuticals, an author, a content creator, a mom and wife, a daughter, a romance novel-lover, a depressed sports fan (at the moment), and an ardent coffee drinker.

Jeanelle Teves

Instagram: @jeanelleteves
LinkedIn: Jeanelle Teves

My day job is Chief Commercial Officer at Bugaboo, but what I call my life’s job is being a mom to two young kids here in New York City. I am also a content creator, a keynote speaker, an advisor, and a future children’s book author.

Catherine Brown

Instagram: @_thecabro
Newsletter: The Cabro

I am a Seattleite and a southerner. I am a tech marketer at Microsoft. I am a mother to two toddlers, a wife to one Washington Husky. I am a Georgia Bulldog. I am a content creator for @_thecabro, a traveler, a lover of Coca-Cola Classic, and an estate-sale enthusiast.

As executives, moms to young children, and content creators, these women are true multi-hyphenates, and their thoughtful discussion left everyone in the packed house feeling inspired. In case you missed it, I sat down with Hitha, Catherine, and Jeanelle to dive deeper into the topics from the panel. Read on to learn about their go-to “uniforms,” the questions they wish people would stop asking working moms, their approach to self-care, and more.

Want to join us for the next one? Check out all upcoming events here.

Do you have a “uniform” or an “outfit formula” that helps you get dressed?


I have two modes: I’m either dressed up and look like a boss-ass bitch, or I’m in really comfortable cozy clothes.

I love classics, and most days, I wear a skinny pant and a matching top. I think a monochrome outfit, especially in a non-black color, always looks really chic—hunter green, camel, and navy are my go-tos. If I want to play it up, I’ll add jewelry and a little extra makeup. When I’m working from home, putting on a non-athleisure outfit helps me snap into work mode more efficiently.

The Janette jacket + Allyn pant is my favorite suit. I actually just loaned it to a friend who had a big speaking engagement. She said it gave her good luck.


My go-to uniform is a button-down shirt, in any fabric—silk or cotton.

My other go-to is a turtleneck, which always works for me. I’m in tech, so I could get away with wearing a hoodie with sneakers and jeans to work, but I try to elevate things a little bit, because that’s just who I am, and it makes me feel good.

I had children over the last four years, and I’m getting used to this new body that I have. I’ve heard other people talk about that transition, but I didn’t understand it until now. I’m trying to learn what fits and looks good on my body now, because it’s very different from the body I had for the first 40 years of my life.

I felt amazing in the outfit I wore for our recent event in NYC—the Axam turtleneck and Bia pants. That was the first time since having children that I’ve put on a pair of pants and loved what I looked like.


I dress differently depending on the day of the week.

I’m a mom to two young kids; I have a high-demand career; and I also take time to care for myself. Given all that, I need to spend the smallest amount of time possible getting dressed in the morning—but I also want to feel confident and pulled together. Through trial and error, I have found the formula that helps me feel my best: wide-legged trousers, a structured shirt, and a blazer. That’s what I call my work uniform.

Women are judged by our appearance, but more than that, I really do believe that when you feel your best, you do your best. So much of that, for me, has to do with what I’m wearing and the energy that I bring into the room. I love to wear heels—the Lillian pumps are my favorite pair because of how comfortable they are—and I really love a good suit set.

What don’t you do? How do you say no and stick to the no?


I used to have a rule that I wouldn’t go out for a couple nights after a business trip, and now, I’m extending that.

I’m in the middle of a four-week constant travel stretch. I’ve decided to implement a “hibernation week” when I get back to make sure I’m home every night to reconnect with the kids, but also to rest. I don’t have the unlimited social battery I had in my 20s. At 39, I need more sleep.


I’m very intentional about what my priorities are.

I have my career, and during work, that is what I’m focused on. But all of my extra free time is for my family and for making sure that my husband and I maximize our time together. After those two things, @_thecabro is very important to me, as is sleep.

I have not had a chance to fit a lot of exercise back in since I had my daughter. It’s something that I’m working toward, but through this season, I’ve realized that I need rest more than I need to push my body to the max.


I have a full schedule.

I work for a global company, so at least once a quarter, I’m flying to Europe. I also create content and share advice about what has helped me develop as a leader and a working mom. I find my career so fulfilling, but right now, I am in the season of needing to preserve my social battery.

Outside of my career and my family, the friendships that I have need to be low-maintenance. They need to be based on flexibility and understanding and being able to just check in with each other with voice notes and say, “Hey, I’m thinking about you.” I need to conserve my battery in order to fully show up for other aspects of my life.

What’s a narrative about motherhood that you are rewriting for yourself and for your community?


Motherhood has prepared me for my professional roles more than my professional experiences have.

In pharma, setbacks are the norm: More things go wrong than they go right, you’re constantly negotiating, hearing no, and dealing with roadblocks that are completely out of your control. My sons’ toddler phases prepared me to deal with the downs of my pharmaceutical career better than anything else I’ve ever done.

Motherhood unlocks a skillset, mindset, and resilience that the corporate world demands, especially leadership. And yet, it’s never recognized as such. I get asked, “How do you do it?” from men who seem to question a woman’s ability to juggle being present with her family and present at work. And I am very quick to gently put a mirror up and say, “Would you ever ask this if I were a man?” We have to normalize that people are capable of this.

Big tech really embraced flexibility in the pandemic, and many companies have retained a level of flexibility since then. Because of the culture of my husband’s company, he’s able to show up as a father and a husband in a way his previous roles didn’t allow. I think that needs to be talked about just as much as the narrative that motherhood cultivates leaders.

I have the privilege of running a small company that works remotely, and one of the things I’m most proud of as a leader is that we are a remote, async-first team. My team is able to be hands-on with their kids and grandkids while also taking care of business.


Moms still matter.

I always knew that I wanted to work and be a mother at the same time, because it was modeled for me by my mother. And because I had that example, I thought I wasn’t going to deal with “mom guilt.” But I did.

I had to realize that I still matter; I still need my sleep, even if my child is crying in the other room. If my husband has my child and they’re safe, it’s okay for me to go take that nap. I might still struggle with feeling guilty, but I also need to be fulfilled to give to my children. It’s very cliché to say, “Put your own oxygen mask on first,” but it’s so true.

Mothers as employees have been woefully misunderstood for years. I once asked my mentor, “Did you feel like you lost your edge when you became a mom?” She said, “Absolutely not.” And she hasn’t. She has had an incredible career. She told me that coming back from maternity leave taught her how to prioritize. Your time becomes so much more limited, so during work hours, you get very good at triaging and getting things done quickly. I think people see being a “busy mom” as a distraction, instead of recognizing the abilities that we gain through the experience of motherhood.


I heard this saying that really crystallized it for me: As women get more senior in their careers, the quieter they tend to become.

When you get into the C-Suite, there’s still this mystery around how you got there. On top of that, there’s a narrative that getting to where you are must have taken a lot of time away from your family, and that your choices came at the expense of being present at home.

A narrative that I am writing for myself is that you can do both—it just requires a lot of planning, structure, delegation, and support. In the content I share online, I show people the tools that have helped me progress through global brands; I share what has helped me take those steps as a woman who had two children along the way. This is definitely not the narrative of “doing it all”—it’s the opposite of that. Working motherhood is a series of conflicting priorities, and navigating it means figuring out how to make decisions that leave you fulfilled.

What’s something you wish people would stop asking working moms?


It’s not what I’d like people to stop asking, but what I would like people to start asking any leader who is a parent or a caregiver:

What does your home team look like? The unconscious bias that some leaders have is that they will talk about all the little things they do to manage their lives without disclosing what their childcare situation looks like—or what their housekeeping or home management situation looks like, or what their partner might take on. I would like all working parents, especially dads, to talk about who runs their household, and to talk about domestic and home labor just as much as they talk about leadership at work.

We have but one life. As much as we try to compartmentalize work and personal life into two separate buckets, the lines are very much blurred. This narrative of separation hurts us more than it’s helping us.


“How do you do it all?”

I get asked this a lot, and I actually don’t mind answering it—but sometimes, I want to say, “I don’t have a choice!” I think often, this question comes from someone who doesn’t understand the structural disadvantages that mothers have in the U.S. There’s a lot of slack that is left for parents—and often moms—to pick up. Many people still don’t have guaranteed subsidized childcare, paid time off, or sick leave. I’m fortunate to get a lot of that through my job, but still, sometimes, I’m like, “We need more.” Instead of asking, “How do you do it all?” we should be asking, “How can we make this more accessible for others and ease the unnecessary burden on families and mothers?”


What I want to actually encourage is for more women to share the tools and systems they have in their homes.

That’s something that I’m asking Hitha and Catherine and all the women I connect with. I have a learning mindset—I am eyes and ears wide-open for things that are working for other women that I could apply to my own life.

I think that as women, we should be asking more from each other—questions like, “What are you working on? How are you doing it? What’s working for you?”—and being generous with our knowledge. I have made the most incredible connections with women who have been really generous with what they’ve learned.

What’s something you do that’s just for you—for your own enjoyment/self-care?


When people ask me how to find a new hobby, I tell them to think about what they loved doing when they were a kid.

Our childhood selves are good at knowing what brings us joy. For me, that’s reading. Since I learned to read, I have always had my head in a book.

I have a deep, deep love for romance novels, simply because it’s a world that I want to live in—a world where women are loved for all their multitudes, and where a woman’s needs come first (and come often). It’s a guaranteed happily ever after, and to escape into something that predictable and lovely really does bring me so much joy.


For me, it’s my Instagram account, @_thecabro.

I’ve wanted to start something like this for a long time, but I didn’t always feel like I had something unique to say. Then, when I became a mom, I started looking for accounts by women who worked outside of the home and talked about how they were doing it, and I really couldn’t find any (this was before I found Hitha, and Jeanelle hadn’t started her account yet). I thought, this is a niche that needs someone in it.

I have always been a fairly open person, and it gives me a lot of joy to share product recommendations, or tell people about something I figured out, or talk about the struggle of mom guilt. People will say, “I don’t know how you run this account and you do your work,” and what I say is that @_thecabro is not work for me. It is pure joy.


We all know the phrase, “You need to fill your cup before you can fill someone else’s.”

And for me, that means moving my body. I wake up really early, drink a lot of water, envision how I want my day to go, make myself a coffee, and then do a workout in my apartment. That whole process takes 45 minutes, and as I move, I can literally feel the stress crumbling off my shoulders.

My mantra is that it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to get done. It’s not overly complicated, but it completely fills me up, and it’s just for me. And then, I can take care of my family, my team, my business, my community, and my responsibilities.

Photos by Darcy Rogers.

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is the Senior Brand Manager at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

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