Social Media Guru Holly Liss On Maternity Leave, cravings, and wellness.

By Colleen Crivello

Bright and thoughtful, Holly, the founder of ENLISST (a mission-based social media agency working with some of LA’s coolest brands), and goop alum, has a babe on the way with her husband, the co-founder of Sweetgreen (which means easy access to that Caesar dressing, score!).

We caught up with this magnetic mama on learning to let go of control through Covid-19, raising conscious children, taking maternity leave as a solo entrepreneur, oh, and her daily wellness practices (perineal massages, evening primrose oil, and Medjool dates, anyone?).

And, not for nothing, but anyone who counts Mariah Carey’s ‘Emotions’ as their pregnancy theme song, is a win in my book. Just saying

Current state of mind?

Mostly mellow.

Path to pregnancy?

It’s a sweet story. We knew we wanted to start a family and felt there was no better time than the present. A few months after our wedding, we conceived naturally on our honeymoon in Japan, one of our favorite places on earth. 

Exercising while pregnant?

I’m super active and always on the move. Leading up to our wedding, I was aggressively working out and have carried on with my trainer Allyson Gottfried 2-3 times a week through pregnancy. We’ve been working together for over four years and she’s seen me through all the transitions. I also do prenatal yoga with my doula Patti Quintero, the founder of Uma Mother; she is incredible. In between that, I swim, take Tracy Anderson’s virtual pregnancy project classes, and walk anywhere from 8-10K steps a day around the neighborhood. 

Cravings, much? 

Food brings me so much joy. Pregnant, or not, I eat everything and have always indulged my cravings. Now, they’ve just become really specific. I obsess over particular dishes from various restaurants that we’ll either order in or recreate, Spicy Dan Dan Noodles, my favorite pasta from Lilia, or Estela’s mussels escabeche. More broadly, I want citrus on the reg, and anything with bubbles, SmashBurger, always, and Sweetgreen’s Caesar dressing on everything! Oh, and sushi. I know it’s controversial, but from time to time I will have high-quality sushi from a trusted source.

Sounds like you have a thing for food; is that what you do for a living?

I’ve been in the food space for a long time. Initially, at goop, where we tapped into food via recipes, wellness, and travel guides, then at The Infatuation, where we covered restaurant reviews worldwide, and now with my company ENLISST, we work with several food brands. Plus, I’m married to Nicolas, one of the co-founders of Sweetgreen, who grew up in the restaurant industry. So, yes, food is very much a part of our daily conversation and brings us so much happiness. The truth is (and this is not a pregnancy thing, this is a me thing), I’m always hungry, and never not thinking about food. Whenever I’m eating my current meal, I’m already thinking about the next.

Couch Surfing in The Martina Body Suit

Working throughout pregnancy?

I started ENLISST, a few years ago as a solo entrepreneur. We focus on strategic social storytelling and help mission-driven brands bring their story to life in an authentic way that hits business goals. So far, it’s kept me on my toes and very busy over the past many months. The beauty of working in social media is that you can do it from anywhere. ENLISST is naturally positioned to succeed remotely and has accidentally set me up for success through Covid-19 and likely in motherhood. 

What does maternity leave look like as a solo entrepreneur?

Right now, the plan is to take a few months off to adjust to my new role as a mother. This feels a bit nerve-wracking as a solo entrepreneur and hard to shut off entirely especially being in the social media realm. Checking every platform has been part of my daily routine for over 11 years so it will be interesting to see how I navigate that. IDK, maybe I don’t check Instagram or tick-tock, right when I wake up, and instead, I’ll be breastfeeding. Who knows. 

Part of starting ENLISST was a way for me to not only work with brands I believe in but also to allow for flexibility in my life during these significant transitions. Although I won’t entirely know what this looks like until the baby is here I’m grateful to be able to take the space and time to be with my baby post-birth. It’s outrageous that maternity leave is not standardized in this country. How can it be that taking time to heal and care for an infant feels like an elective luxury?

Pregnancy experience through Covid-19?

We count our lucky stars that Nicolas was at least able to come to our first doctor’s appointment to hear the heartbeat and be part of the experience just before lockdown. It’s been an odd experience to go to the doctor appointments alone, but not a big deal by any means. And mostly I’m grateful Nicolas can be in the room during labor. The one thing I’m nervous about is having to wear a mask while laboring and pushing at the hospital. I’m not excited about this, but it is what it is, and the new standard. Again, this is just an inconvenience, and all we want is a healthy baby. I’ve come to terms with the fact that things will not go as anticipated, and rather than hold onto a strict plan, I’ve learned to let go of control through Covid-19; it’s the only way forward. We’ve all had to pivot, transition, make changes, and sacrifice. 

What does it mean to raise conscious kids? 

I have been deep in the conversation for many years. My high school, Cleveland High School Humanities Magnet was dedicated to studying race, gender, and the patriarchy—my entire 11th-grade curriculum focused on these critical topics. Plus, I have a minor in Woman’s Studies from UCLA. But, there is always more to learn, especially as we bring a new human into the world and think about what it means to raise anti-racist children. Fostering antiracism, diversity, and equality in the next generation across race, gender, and class is critical to our future.  

Do you have a birth plan?

As much as we can, but we’re headed into the wild unknown. I have been reading and doing research, but there is only so much to prepare, and then you have to surrender. We have some loose ideas, but that’s all they are, just ideas. We’re hoping our doula, Patti Quintero can come to the hospital with us, but if that’s not doable, we’re planning to labor at home with her for as long as possible and Facetime once we get to the hospital. 

Pregnancy Wellness?

Oh, you know, I do some things… 

To start, we’ve been working closely with Patti, our doula on tips for how Nicolas, my husband, can help me through contractions, with moves like the hip squeeze, the bear walking along my back, and specific breathing techniques. I was a gymnast growing up and taught to keep my core and pelvis tight, which is the opposite of what you need to birth a baby! I have to undo years of training to loosen and relax my pelvis and hips to move the baby out.

I’ve been diving into other holistic treatments such as eating medjool dates (rumor has it, six dates a day leading up to your due date, helps soften the cervix), drinking red raspberry leaf tea, and taking electrolytes to stay hydrated. Also, taking evening primrose oil to soften my cervix (I mean, you do whatcha gotta do to hopefully avoid tearing) and the nightly Epsom salt baths (4 cups in hot water) to reduce water retention. Plus, I love to dry brush regularly. And, then there are all of the oils and body butters; I’m basically a slip and slide when I crawl into bed at night. Lastly, good old fashioned Vitamin D, straight from the source, plus I stretch a lot. 

Books on your nightstand?

Together, Nicolas and I read, ‘Bringing Up Bebe‘ which was fun. The style and methods of that book resonated with us and allowed us to have an open, healthy dialogue about how we want to raise our kids. Additionally, I read ‘Nurture’ by Erica Chidi Cohen, and I’m just getting into ‘Transformed By Birth’, by Britta Bushnell. 

How about Podcasts?

I love listening to the goop podcast; it puts you in a different place. With an innate interest in discovering more information and raising the conversation, they do an incredible job bringing taboo topics into your inbox, raising untouched subjects, and covering a wide range of healers and experts. Also, I could listen to Elise for hours, she’s brilliant. 

Any advice?

As a new mom, going down this journey for the first time, I would say, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Reach out to your community of doulas, doctors, and friends and then make informed decisions that are right for you and your baby.  All in, this has been a major learning experience for me, but in short, don’t be afraid to ask questions, do your own research, and follow your instincts at the end of the day.