“Now that I'm a mom, I’m propelled by a desire to be a role model. I want my son to see that I have a sense of self and a sense of independence, beyond my husband or my marriage; that I have this world outside of all that, that’s just for me – because I want him to have those things, too.”
Jina Kim is the co-founder and CEO of Circumference, a skincare company backed by science and committed to helping create a more balanced world. Jina’s first son, Miles, just turned one and a half. With a growing boy and a growing brand, Jina’s expectations for this year included lots of time in Prospect Park and a slate of exciting campaigns and partnerships. Like all of us, she is now balancing business, motherhood, and being a woman from indoors.
“To be honest, right after I had my son, I lost my sense of independence for sure. My whole reality, my whole world was tied up in this little guy. We were in this weird cocoon: the two of us trying to figure each other out. Now that he's a little bit older, I feel like I'm just starting to regain my sense of independence. And it’s odd because what I’m finding is that being a mother is pushing me to be even more independent in my work life, my personal life, my social life.”
“Running your own business while being a new mom requires a lot of patience and resilience. It’s tough when the work-life balance becomes really blurry. How do you draw that line between your work, your child, and your home life? I have found, however, that being an entrepreneur enables you with flexibility.”
“People – coworkers, colleagues, clients – understand that we have home lives outside of work. And I’m always pleasantly surprised when I have a meeting, and Miles makes a guest appearance, that people understand and they’re okay with that.”
“I’m learning to give myself some wiggle room, too; to not hold myself to impossibly high standards that say, ‘This hour is only for work.’ Or, ‘This hour is only for Miles.’ I’m starting to really understand how blurry that line can get. Being okay with that blur is what is helping me stay sane.”
“People tend to think about motherhood and womanhood in these two silos. What I’m learning is that it doesn’t have to be so separate. Being a mom has given me this new resilience, which I’m pouring into Circumference. And building Circumference has given me a lot of patience, which blends into my parenting. I’m picking up skills on both sides, and trying to apply them all to business and motherhood.
JINA WEARS THE BALC IN TAUPE
While Jina is finding some sanity in blurry lines, she makes an equal effort to draw boundaries between the world of work and the oasis of home. These days, with all of us working and living and mothering at home, some of those boundaries are more psychological than physical.
“Even before quarantine, it was important to me to create a home environment that was different from work and the outside world. We, of course, have a toddler that is running around screaming, but we actively try to make our home an oasis; a mental relaxation. We even change into what we call ‘inside clothes,’ to set that vibe, reminding ourselves that it’s time to relax and release that ‘work, work work’ mentality.”
“So, all of these undistinguished days at home have been tough, but I’ve been setting boundaries. I separate our space. We keep work out of the bathroom and the bedroom, which are for relaxing. I work at the dining table. I set rituals for myself. We change the music throughout the day – Miles is a dancer – starting with something upbeat and fun and winding down towards the end of the night.”
For most modern mothers, the balance is not as symmetrical as work and home. While Jina balances running a business with raising a dancing one-year-old, she also prioritizes carving out time for herself.
“Everyone is still so busy, even in isolation, especially working mothers. We’re all trying to juggle so much, keep our families together and keep everything afloat during this crazy time. I’m prioritizing my self-care, which, for me, includes taking care of my mind, my body, and my sensuality.”
“As soon as Miles goes to bed, it’s like a timer goes off: it’s me time. Of course, the end of the day means catching up on work, doing chores and things like that. But I’m a bit of a night owl and before I go to bed, I always make sure to carve out time, at least one or two hours, for myself. I catch up on podcasts, TV shows, or a book. I try to turn off my laptop and my work brain. I light a candle. Sometimes I take a bath. There’s always wine involved.”
“Whatever it looks like, I prioritize that mental refresh and give myself time to unwind. I’ve noticed that on the days I don’t give myself that time, I have a harder day the next day – at work and as a mom. Self-care is not selfish. It shouldn’t be stigmatized. Taking care of myself bleeds into taking care of others.”
Jina just so happens to be in the business of taking care of others. It’s not just that Circumference's products help women care for their skin, but Jina also takes a caring approach to every aspect of her business. From sourcing sustainable ingredients to upcycling materials, disrupting the supply chain to challenging green-washed beauty marketing jargon, Jina is taking the extra time to build a brand with real ingredients, responsible products, and a mission of substance.
JINA WEARS THE BALC IN TAUPE
“We’re in a time where people are not choosing, but being forced, to slow down. They’re being forced to rethink their lives. They’re being forced to make a conscious decision through every purchase. We don’t have the luxury of going to the store every day, so people have to be more mindful and careful.”
“At Circumference, we get so excited because we feel there are countless possibilities of how innovative and creative we can get in building sustainable products. We have to be creative, to use both sides of the brain. There has been a status quo in beauty for so long – and we are challenging that, which means we have to be open to new processes, new ingredients, new ways of doing things. Being creative is truly the only way to innovate.”
“Skin-care and self-confidence are definitely linked for women (men, too!). When you take care of your skin, you’re taking time for yourself. I always felt that the real disconnect in skincare marketing comes from being told that your beautiful skin has to be flawless or perfect – but beautiful skin does not equal perfect, flawless skin. Beautiful skin equals healthy skin. The journey of understanding these things – your skin, your body, your values – is what leads to true confidence.”
“I experience that same feedback loop in my relationship with my body. The older I get, the more in tune I get my body and its needs – and that knowledge makes me more comfortable in it. Being pregnant made me appreciate my body so much more because I learned so many new things about what it was capable of. I have a science background, so I was in awe watching all the changes.”
“It’s amazing what a woman’s body goes through before, during, and after birth. Being able to give life to a living thing. Then, the whole nursing process. Then, bouncing back – with bodies resilient enough to support all the rest of what we do.”