Swiss-Miss has to be one of my all-time favourite blogs. With over 900,000 unique visitors a month, Tina Roth Eisenberg has built a hugely successful following of design-savvy readers since launching Swiss-Miss back in March 2005. She lives in Brooklyn, US, with her husband, four-year-old daughter Ella and baby son Tilo Red.
I was lucky enough to interview Tina recently on how she manages to run such a highly successful blog, work as a designer, teach at a design school and also raise two small children. Tina has shared personal and inspirational stories with us and I hope you enjoy reading about Swiss-Miss as much as I enjoyed putting the article together.
Tell us a bit about your background and the story behind Swiss-Miss?
Originally from Switzerland, I crossed the Atlantic in 1999 to find myself a three-month internship in New York City. An internship was found within twenty-four hours of arrival, which turned into a fulltime job offer and work visa. The rest is history. I never left. I now run my own design studio and swissmiss the blog out of a loft in DUMBO, Brooklyn. At this point I am a fulltime blogger and not taking on any client work but am working on my own products. A few months ago I released a simple, designy, browser-based to-do app called TeuxDeux and am currently working on the iPhone app.
What’s been your most exciting blogging moment since launching Swiss-Miss?
About two years ago, my friend Julia Hoffmann introduced me to Michael Bierut at the National AIGA conference. She introduced me as Tina Roth Eisenberg, which didn’t do much. She then looked at Michael and said, “she is swissmiss”. His face lit up and he said enthusiastically: “I read and ‘love’ swissmiss”. Needless to say, I had a big happy grin on my face for the rest of the day. I had no idea that a much respected designer like Michael would read my humble blog.
How do you get in the creative mood to work if you’ve had a tough or tiring day with the kids?
We don’t have a tv so my husband and I usually end up ‘having a peek at the internets’ after the kids are in bed. I enjoy blogging. I enjoy designing. After a day with the kids I crave some surfing/blogging/me time. Add a glass of vino and I am one happy mama.
How do you manage your time between your young family and your business?
I currently work three or four days a week, depending on how much is going on. I have an amazing nanny who takes care of the little ones when I am at work. Running my own studio and being able to work from anywhere means I can be flexible with how much I see them. If I decide to work from home, I can squeeze in a cuddle here and there. Last weekend I decided to take Friday off and make it a long weekend and we drove out to the country. Being my own boss helps. Not sure if I could do this having a job at an agency where I’d need to rush out the door at 8am and wouldn’t come home until 7pm, hardly seeing my little ones. Flexibilty is key.
What are your ‘can’t live without’ baby items and why?
Oxo Candela Nightlight.
My son is almost four months now and one of the items I use every night is the Oxo Candela Rechargeable Guardian Nightlight. It’s my favorite gift for new parents. I bought it when my daughter was a baby, she is now four. She used it as a nightlight before her little brother came along. It amazingly lasts all night and gives off just the right amount of light for that nighttime feeding or diaper change.
Ella ‘lived’ in the Oeuf Lounger for a good portion of her early days. Now Tilo took over and is very much into the bounce. Whenever he moves his arms or legs it starts bouncing just a little bit. He loves being somewhat upright and watching us do stuff in the apartment. On top of being practical it’s just oh so designy!
Kaengurooh Baby Jojo.
The swiss Kaengurooh Baby JoJo is a lifesaver for parents with a colicky baby. Ella needed to be bounced for hours on end. There’s only so much bouncing on a yoga ball you can handle. My sister, living in Switzerland, heard about the BabyJojo and was told that the minute one uses this ‘baby hammock’, baby tends to stop screaming and actually sleep peacefully. If only we had gotten our hands on it earlier. It works wonders as it mimics the up and down movement the baby experiences in the belly. Tilo, being a non-colicky happy baby, loves the Baby JoJo equally. In fact, I wouldn’t mind lounging in it.
Tell us about how you crowd-sourced the name for your son?
When I was about seven months pregnant my husband and I were somewhat stuck in our name finding process. We knew we were having a boy and that we wanted a four-letter name. We had plenty of ideas but none felt right or got us equally excited. On a whim I decided to put up the crowd-sourcing post asking my readers for suggestions. I admit that right after I put it up, I scratched my head thinking that this was a little crazy and maybe going a little too far. But I was wrong! It has been the most commented post in swissmiss history and people were really into it. Amazing name suggestions came pouring in from around the world. We ended up naming our little man Tilo Red, which wasn’t any of the thousands of suggestions but it sure got our naming momentum going.
Brooklyn has become such a popular neighbourhood for young families. What is it you love most about Brooklyn?
How much time do you have? I keep joking that I am the unofficial ambassador of Brooklyn. I absolutely ‘love’ our neighborhood for its restaurants, small designy shops, low Brownstones, vicinity to Manhattan, every subway line you can possibly think of and the fact that I *always* meet interesting people in playgrounds. I have never made more amazing connections anywhere else. Networking is happening in Brooklyn playgrounds, not at expensive conferences, really.
Anything else you’d like to share?
When I was preparing for a recent talk my developer helped me dig out some stats like how many posts I’ve put up over the course of the five years, how many comments, etcetera. He was able to tell me which are the most active categories on the site. I had no idea that ‘kids stuff‘ was in second position right after ‘made me look’. I never realized how ‘kids centric’ my blog is. A surprise that I am perfectly happy with.