Posted: Jun 28 2016
Gemma Broekhuis is the woman behind Milestone Baby—the original baby photo cards (now sold in 30+ countries and printed in 19 languages). Her love of documenting the special little moments with her three boys has helped moms across the world do the same. She balances motherhood and a rapidly growing business from her headquarters in the center of Amsterdam.
I love how kids make you realize what life is really about: discovering, growing, learning, sharing, and being amazed. They are a reminder to appreciate every day, to feel gratitude and to keep looking at the world as if you are seeing it for the very first time.
I have become more focused. When I am with my kids, I am consciously enjoying that time with them. I try to soak up everything and be in the moment. And when I work, I work. I am not wasting time. You stop procrastinating quickly when you have a growing company and 3 young children. And most of all, having children has made me realize how (relatively) unimportant 90% of the things that you used to worry about are.
Mikkel is 5 years old, Frey is 3 and Rover is 1. All boys! They are similar in many ways and different in many ways. Mikkel is very perceptive and senses what is going on around him. Frey can be a handful but, as they say in Dutch, has a big heart (sweet and soft). Rover tackles life head on, rushing to do everything his older brothers can do. Together they make for a perfect batch of chaos.
I breastfed about 14 weeks with all three of them. I was very practical in terms of my wardrobe. I had a favorite breastfeeding tanks and tops which I would wear and wash every day. Every time I was nursing, I just made sure that I was comfortable and ready to deliver the goods.
After my 2nd and 3rd pregnancy, I was back to my original weight pretty quickly. I kind of picked up where I left off before getting pregnant. But now that I am getting closer to 40, I think I am investing more in good quality pieces that I can wear for years. Less trendy and more timeless.
I am not very good with patterns except for really bold ones like the Brush Stroke skirt (LOVE!). I love ‘real’ materials. Give me cotton every day. I need to feel what I am wearing. And unfortunately I’m very itchy so no wool for me. Also, I don’t want to think about what I am wearing in the morning. So everything needs to mix and match.
Skinny jeans. Always form enhancing and very versatile. And… they stretch!
When my oldest son was a few months old, he rolled over for the first time. I wanted to capture that moment to have something to remember. With all the photos I already had on my iPhone, I felt that I wouldn’t be able to connect the right picture to the moment or memory. So I wrote a card, placed it next to him, and took a picture. That was when I had the idea to create a whole set of cards for parents like myself. A year later, I launched my first product. Four years later, cards by Milestone are now sold in 40 countries in 19 languages.
I am enjoying the whole adventure. From doubling our sets sold every year to getting into my dream stores like Barney’s, Giggle, The Land of Nod, Anthropologie and Barnes & Noble. But I think building a great team and seeing our whole team working together to build our company every day is probably what makes me the most proud and happy.
I usually start with our team ‘daily.’ We all list our activities for the day, what our priorities are. I try to work on product development every day and check in with our US team either by phone or email. And then there’s the email swallowing up my time. In between, I go on appointments for partnerships or new opportunities for the company. I head home around 6pm to spend time with the kids. Once they are in bed, I either go to a Pilates class, watch Netflix or – often - my husband and I usually end up working some more.
I live in Amsterdam, a nice area south of the Museum District. The school my children go to is 8 minutes by bike (we have a bike that fits all three of them), and my office is 5 minutes away. Every morning is a great start dropping them off. My husband and I both have our own businesses, so the weekends are for family only. We love going to Artis Zoo or Amsterdamse Bos (a large park). We also take the car and go to the Veluwe which is a National Park about an hour away. Green and animals are high on our wish list for activities.
It means a journey. An adventure. Becoming who you are and being aware of how precious and valuable time is.
Business owner: sharing
Product designer: intuitive
Bedtime Story: The story of the little Mole who knew it was none of his business. So funny!
Lullaby: One I made up myself. (Little Mikkel, Mikkeltje little, you should be dreaming already. Little Mikkel, Mikkel sweet. Mommy and Daddy will protect you all night.) PS In Dutch it rhymes.
Vacation spot: France, Italy, Spain. Anywhere that requires a maximum 2-hour flight.
Restaurant: So many great new places in Amsterdam! Let me know when you visit, I’ll give you updated tips.
I would tell myself: You’ll figure it out. Don’t spend your time worrying, spend your time loving, playing, enjoying the moment. Trust yourself and be kind to yourself. And go to sleep whenever and wherever you can!
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. – Goethe