As Chief Merchandising & Product Officer at ethical fitness brand, Girlfriend Collective, Justine Liu is motivated by sustainability and creating comfortable activewear for all types of people. Whether you’re heading out for a run, errands, or are planning on lounging at home all day, Girlfriend Collective is stylish and supportive clothing made from recycled materials that will have you feeling comfy all day. A businesswoman and mother of two, Justine Liu has learned to juggle both her inspiring career and motherhood. We caught up with the eco-conscious mama to get a glimpse into her day-to-day world, and, of course, to get some hot tips about the most comfortable sweats to live life in.
I’ve been through pregnancy twice, and each time my body has changed in significant ways. It was more of a struggle the first time: I had to find new brands that fit my body — even after the pregnancy — and in many ways the switch away from the brands I loved felt like it was forcing me to change my aesthetic and identity. It was an incredibly alienating experience, in the midst of all the other changes that come with motherhood. I want our brand to be able to be there for our customers through all sorts of changes in their lives, especially body changes.
While it is important to think about actions that individuals and families can take (e.g. buying second hand, repurposing items for other uses to extend the life cycle of materials), the scale of the problem needs involvement from larger groups like companies and political entities. That’s why we’re proud to take action at a corporate level on behalf of our customers. Our ReGirlfriend recycling program turns used leggings and bras into reusable raw material for new leggings and bras. It’s a great option for our customers to participate in when they’re ready to move on from some Girlfriend clothing, instead of throwing old items in the trash!
This has been tricky in the midst of a pandemic, and my answer to this question has definitely changed over the years based on my own evolution as a working mother. For a good chunk of the pandemic, I’d say my approach was to try and manage everything all at once. I got really good at doing meetings juggling my newborn on my hip and monitoring my toddler over my shoulder. It’s done the trick for what has been an unusual time for all of us. I’ve also gone through phases where my approach is more of a defined balancing act where work takes priority over home sometimes, and in those instances I’m incredibly lucky to have an amazing partner to help me cover down on the home front. Other days, my family is my priority and I turn off my work Slack and block my calendar out. The very clear separation of the two worlds helps me be as present as possible for work and for my family, and helps me focus my energy in a productive way. Lately, coming out of this pandemic, I’ve landed somewhere in the middle. I am striving to keep my personal life as separate as possible from work, but hey, working from home does mean that my kids will still join me for the occasional meeting!
I’m still primarily working from home these days, so I would say I tend to wear the same thing around my family as I do for my zoom meetings. My go-to has been our ReSet collection or our 50/50 sweats. These keep me feeling comfy without making me feel like I’m wearing my pajamas around all day.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this in the past few years. My number one priority as a mother is to help my kids explore, try different things, and ultimately figure out what brings them joy and self satisfaction. It’s important that they know I will love, support, and respect whatever they decide to do from a career perspective and that, at the end of the day, their job title doesn’t define their worth to me or to others. As the daughter of immigrants, I can now reflect and see that the pressure that was placed on me to be a doctor was just my parents’ way of trying to ensure they could secure a “safe” future for me. That said, one of the hardest things I’ve had to reprogram about my inner dialogue is that I am not defined by the goals my parents or others set for me. Some of my most rewarding moments have been where I’ve exceeded my own expectations and found true inner pride and satisfaction.
Therapy. It’s self-care and self-work that is gradual and takes time and effort, but has really helped me find a healthy perspective on things.
I’m not sure this is an original answer, but it’s been a joy to see the world through my children’s eyes and rediscover some of the wonder that can be hard to experience as an adult. Just the other day, my 4-year-old saw earthworms in a rain puddle and was completely fascinated — who’d have thought that watching, discussing, and learning about worms would occupy us for hours that afternoon?