cocokind's Founder Priscilla Tsai Says pregnancy has made her a more compassionate CEO

By Colleen Crivello

On a mission to make high-quality, sustainable skincare accessible to all, Priscilla, founder of cocokind, is about to become a mom.

Today on Babe, this superfood-based beauty brand’s leader reflects on why pregnancy has made her a more compassionate CEO, postponing her wedding due to Covid and planning to follow a modified version of “the first forty days” Chinese practice. Plus, her surprising new craving for coffee. 

Feeling?

I’m due in two weeks and feeling very big. Although, I imagine that’s not unique to me and more or less how everybody feels at this point. That said, I was born nine pounds and two weeks early, so while I’m tracking average on every metric of my pregnancy, including my fundal height, I can’t help but wonder, ‘am I about to have a huge baby?’

Path to pregnancy?

We had a really interesting 2020 (I know, I know, who didn’t?). My husband and I were supposed to have a large, traditional wedding with 100 plus people in July of 2020. However, when the pandemic hit hard in March, we hit pause on the big wedding, had a small civil ceremony instead, and decided to have a baby! We both come from families with three siblings and also want three kids of our own, so we didn’t want our decision to postpone the wedding to prevent our starting a family. Therefore, straight after the civil marriage, we got on it! Of course, I assumed it would take months, but to our surprise and good fortune, it happened immediately. While it’s definitely not what either of us had imagined, we’re so excited about it and very much looking forward to having our eight and a half-month-old baby at our wedding.

In light of last year, we adapted as much as possible personally and did our best to control what we could. And, you know, here we are.

Pregnancy through COVID?

Pregnancy through COVID has not been without it’s challenges, but I have to say, working from home while I was really nauseous was pretty great. Not going to physical office meant I was able to prioritize comfort which made all the difference in the world, even if I’m still on back to back calls.

Additionally, having this experience has made me a more compassionate CEO, especially toward expecting moms at work. I’m better able to relate and understand how we can support our people through pregnancy.

Plans for taking a maternity leave?

As a company policy, we have three months of paid leave, although I think I’m going to take a modified version of that for 8 to 10 weeks or so. Seeing as I’m going through this for the first time, I’m hesitant to commit to anything as I have no idea what recovery will be like for me. cocokind has been a part of me every day for the past five years. I know I will really miss being away from that and anxious to get back, but I’m trying to avoid having any expectations.

Will you follow “the first thirty days” Chinese practice?

While I’m not planning anything formally, my mom will come and cook traditional meals with herbs sent from her friend in Taiwan. She’ll be making recipes with healing qualities, like Sesame Oil Chicken and a few others that seem a little more daunting, but I’m going to let her do her thing. Beyond the food, I will avoid having cold beverages immediately after birth; my mom is adamant about this.

Cravings, much?

I have an epic sweet tooth and honestly, expected my cravings to be much worse, but it turns out I’ve had more aversions than cravings. I usually eat meat and couldn’t be near it, plus random things like salsa, which I’m typically obsessed with. Otherwise, I’ve mostly reached for anything refreshing and totally hydrating, like fruit and sparkling yuzu beverages. Also, I’m Chinese, so Chinese food has been super comforting and a staple in our house.

Wellness hacks?

It’s been a hard year when it comes to wellness; I’ve not excelled in this area of my life with everything happening at work. But, I try to take the small wins as much as possible, like going on a walk to the grocery store to pick up something or being able to take the time to cook a healthy meal. Other than that, there have been weird things like coffee! I never used to drink coffee and now I’ve been drinking it every day throughout my pregnancy.

Plus, I started taking tennis lessons in my third trimester because I wanted to have more formal exercise activities. However, I’ve had pretty bad pelvis pain the last 8+ months, and I was finding the recovery too painful after I played, so I’ve paused and mostly walking instead.

Thoughts on raising the next generation?

We have a real chance as parents to educate and shape the next generation based on what we’ve learned and what we hope to see of the future. My mom realized the true American dream; she immigrated from Taiwan, worked extremely hard, and eventually owned her business. Watching her my entire life empowered me in my career. I want to instill the same values in our kids that I was brought up with: hard work, nothing’s a given, and the power of earning things for yourself. The only way I know how to do this is to lead by example. My mom did this really well. She would bring us to various work events and seeing her in action gave me confidence. I plan to do the same. 

Any advice you can leave us with?

There’s amazing content out there from pregnancy to parenthood, but equally, there’s a lot that can shock you when your life doesn’t mimic that. While dealing with all these mental, emotional changes, seeing others’ perfection on Instagram can be a lot, for sure. I broke out on my belly, on my face, and all over my body, which impacted me when I would see these beautiful images of pregnant women on social media. Therefore my advice is to have acceptance versus comparison. Also, know this too shall pass.