Joy Cho On Managing the Working-Mom Juggle

Designer Joy Cho shares familiar working-mom struggles: how to make meaningful holiday traditions, raise creative kids, and—oh yeah—get dinner on the table.

Joy Cho and Daughters
Photo: Ari Michelson

You may know her as the creator of your favorite baby clothes and a best-selling nursery collection at Target, but designer Joy Cho is just as concerned about getting home to her kids for dinner as you are.

On the Possibilities

“My parents came from Thailand in 1975 with $600 and ended up with four restaurants. Seeing how hard they worked, I didn’t want a business. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way! I absorbed from them that you can make something from nothing and anything is possible.”


On December To-Dos

“Because my parents were immigrants, we didn’t have any Christmas traditions. At my house, we start with a shiny gold tree, and then I use colors I’ve been feeling at work—this year, it’s gray-green and peachy pink, like a winter watermelon—to make honeycomb balls or strings of painted popcorn. Then we add the special ornaments, like a kooky polka-dot Santa, that we’ve collected over the years. It’s a Christmas expression of my brain.”

On Giving Back

“Before the holidays, we sit with the girls to go through toys and books to decide what we can donate. We ask them: How do you think a little girl would feel when she gets this? How would you feel if you had no toys? Ruby is getting it and might first say, ‘Oh, I love that,’ then change to: ‘But I haven’t played with it in a long time.’ ”

On No-Guilt Meals

“I use meal kits or get a roasted chicken to add to rice or pasta, because I would rather spend the extra time with my kids! My priority is to be home for dinner, and then I’ll work after bedtime. We go around the table and say our favorite thing from the day, least favorite, and what we’re looking forward to. My little one still says things like: ‘My favorite thing is a... potato.’ ”

On How She Raises Creative Kids

“We keep an art table in our living room with two chairs and IKEA bins that I clearly label with a paint marker (you can rub it off with nail polish remover) for Ruby, 6, and Coco, 3. We keep glue, paint, felt, tissue paper, pom-poms, beads, and sequins. Kids love to glue things like googly eyes and beads onto fabric. To shake things up, I’ll also bring out pantry items like dried beans, rice, noodles; it delights them to realize they can paint macaroni and string it.”

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