Magdalena of O.N.A
I can't remember exactly when the sunlit O.N.A boutique on Vanderbilt Avenue first came on my radar. It could have been as simple as seeing the façade in passing on my way to a brunch or on one of my frequent pre-baby rides on the Vanderbilt bike lanes. But I began following the boutique on Instagram and enjoyed scrolling through the beautiful photos featuring garments by Ilana Kohn, Liam of York, and more—all beautifully minimal and highly functional, the makings of an essential wardrobe made for and by real women.
On June 1st , 2017—just ten days after I brought my baby home from the hospital—I saw that O.N.A owner Magdalena had proudly announced the birth of her own son, Oliver. The caption read: “You guys, I made this! I promise I won’t spam you with baby photos, so if you’d like, follow me on my private account…” Of course, at that, I felt driven to reach out to Magda and learn more of her business and of her journey toward motherhood.
As you can expect with two new mothers, my initial meeting with Magda had to be rescheduled a number of times. But, when I finally made it over for a visit, it was one of those harshly windy days in the midst of a never-ending winter here in Brooklyn. As angry and frigid as it was outdoors, the inside of O.N.A beamed with a welcoming and communal warmth.
Magda told me that six years ago when O.N.A was established, the market was begging for slow, transparent fashion, founded on high-design, high-quality and sustainable practices. Driven by a personal passion rather than shrewd business planning, Magda discovered that she had the answer to this niche in the product matrix she curated with a majority of female designers: "I am inspired by cool women makers because I see myself in what they create. I wanted the opportunity to collaborate with them and promote their work.” The result is a shop filled with exciting designs made with the consciousness of today’s woman.
All this is pretty inspiring when you consider that Magda had no intention of being a part of the fashion industry. While studying biotechnology, Magda supported herself by working retail. By the time she graduated with an MA, her sights had shifted to owning her own boutique centered on her own vision for the market.
As any career person can relate to, raising a business demands the same effort as raising a child. So I asked her how becoming a mother has impacted her life and her career.
She admittedly struggles—as do we all— with how best to balance the personal and the professional, especially when her professional responsibility is to a business that requires her constant attention and care. We commiserated over that illusive equilibrium between baby and business, one that for as close as we ever get to achieving, seems to constantly slip through our fingers. Afterall, working motherhood has many different faces, and no arrangement will ever be perfect. Yet, despite the lack of balance, what Magda has found in motherhood is pride in herself and in her power as a woman, both professionally and personally.
During our conversation a mail carrier popped in to deliver two packages to Magda that required a quick signature. One package was a soft-pack full of what one can only assume to be delicious samples for the boutique. The other package was a big box of Huggies. Magda may not have been able to describe in words her formula for balancing motherhood and worklife, but if I were to imagine it in my mind’s eye, it would be this scene of a self-employed, self-empowered mom, wearing an outfit of clean lines, great fabric and highly functional pockets.
See Magda's picks below for the essential, mom-approved wardrobe:
Magda is wearing the Ilana Kohn Gary jumpsuit in light denim.