Summer Fridays Co-Founder Lauren Gores Ireland On welcoming the chaos.

By Colleen Crivello

Thoughtful, warm, and oh-so-gorgeous, Lauren, co-founder of the good-for-you beauty line Summer Fridays, knows a thing or two (or three) about living well. 

With her second on the way, this major mama sounds off on everything from flexibility to self-forgiveness, healing after loss, and the endless learning curve of working motherhood. Plus, big families, quarantine babies, and a powerful new generation. Oh, and her top clean beauty swaps too. Tune in.

Pregnancy feels?

I’m in my favorite phase of pregnancy (six months in), and finally feel great as the nauseous has subsided, and I’m not so big that I’m uncomfortable; this is my happy place. It’s also the stage where everything begins to feel very real. Like: This. Is. Happening. 

Path to pregnancy?

Both my husband and I come from big families and have always dreamed of creating a large family of our own. He comes from a family of 5, and I’m from a family of 6. But, to our surprise, it took us longer to expand ours than we would have thought, for several reasons.

To begin, we launched Summer Fridays when Evan was just about a year old. As a new mom, having never founded a business before, I didn’t anticipate the amount of work it would take to manage both—there were so many learning curves on all fronts. I had to figure out how to be a focused mom and a present leader at work; over the last couple of years, I’ve grown into both roles. 

Once we were on a roll with the business and Evan was a bit older, it felt like the right time to give him a sibling. So, we got pregnant. Then, (and I don’t talk about this too often), we lost the baby, which took a massive emotional toll on me. It was a challenging, unexpected, and deeply personal time for my husband and me. It also took a while before I felt emotionally ready to try again. That said, I had so many friends, both online and off, who shared their stories, which helped me heal and feel less alone. Eventually, I want to do the same, when we’re prepared to as a family; there’s peace in telling your truth as well as an opportunity to help other women.

Between healing and getting back into “trying-mode,” it took longer than planned to get pregnant. Funny enough, it was actually quarantine that helped us get pregnant! Once forced to slow down my mind and body, stop traveling and start working from home, we got pregnant. So, this is the story of our quarantine baby.

Pregnant during Covid?

Obviously, it feels different being pregnant during Covid than it did with my first. Not new news as I’m sure many expecting women are saying the same thing—especially those carrying their second or third and have the experience to compare. But day to day, it’s mostly fine. Most notably, I’m trying to be more cautious about where I’m going or who I am with, plus little things, like my husband not coming to any of the ultrasound appointments feels strange. But otherwise, there are so many silver linings, like simply the fact that I was able to slow down enough to get pregnant was significant and such a gift.

Pregnant during Covid?

As difficult as this has been, it’s also proving to be an era of significant personal growth and hopefully lasting change. This time has pushed me to self-reflect, think about what makes me happy, where I’m dedicating my time, whom I’m committing to, and what is most important to me. I’m sure this true for so many others. Usually, we’re all so busy that no one stops to reflect on these things. I feel it has also allowed us to come together in an entirely new way; we’re entering this new chapter that has never happened before as a whole society.

Do you feel this new generation will be special?

There’s a paradigm shift happening not only in our communities but globally. It is incredible to welcome a whole new generation during the most significant change in our lives, just as we’re creating all new norms.

Boy or girl?

We don’t know the gender, and we’re not finding out! Same as with Evan. Funny story: Throughout my pregnancy with Evan, gender was the number one question anyone asked us and probably what we talked about most at home. But then, after I delivered him and the doctor put him on my chest, we were crying and so caught up in the moment that we completely forgot to find out about the sex! It wasn’t until my mom asked, minutes later, “ Well…is it a boy or a girl!?” that I thought to ask. I realized at that moment that while it tends to be a big conversation when you’re pregnant, the moment your child arrives, it’s not. All that mattered was the enormous love we felt bringing a child into the world. That was an extraordinary moment, and I want to experience it again. So, yes, we are keeping it a surprise.

Plus, it’s my second, so I feel more patient with the process as a whole. We have no names picked, no nursery; I feel relaxed and know it will fall into place.

The ah-ha moment to launch Summer Friday?

It was 2016; I was eight weeks pregnant, had just finished my career as a news broadcaster, and focused on building my blog (remember this was 2016, and blogs were still a thing). Marianna, my partner, was working in the beauty blogging space, and, like me, she was fascinated with clean beauty. Newly pregnant, the idea came to us after complaining about cleaning out my skincare drawers because I was pregnant, and discovering that I couldn’t use most of my products because they were toxic. Then equally, feeling frustrated on the flip side when replacing those products with clean options, as most of the available products didn’t resonate with me. And so, Summer Fridays came to be; clean products made with good-for-you ingredients, recognizable packaging, and a lifestyle built around it, which resonated with us as founders and our community. From there, we started working with labs almost immediately, formulating, and developing the brand for the next two years. We launched in 2018 just as Evan turned six months old.

Maternity leave as a co-founder?

Maternity leave looked different the last time then it will now. Back then, I had a lot more flexibility, I wasn’t traveling as much, and had paused a lot of my influencer work to spend time with Evan. We launched Summer Fridays when he was turning one, and learning to juggle momlife and worklife those first six months were probably the most challenging of my life. Launching a business requires constant care and attention, and there’s so much you don’t know until you’re in it, which is not unlike raising a child.

Those first 6 months also taught me how to forgive myself. In the beginning, juggling the two was so hard. I was continually trying to hold myself accountable for being 100% all the time at all of my roles, which is an impossibility. Over time, I figured out how to ask for help and allow others within my home to support me in being the best version of myself. Leaning into the imbalance and imperfection of it all gave me space, freedom, and flexibility. Once I accepted that it is a bit chaotic, I naturally became more present at work and at home. We tend to glorify this idea of the multi-hyphenate: being bosses, mothers, friends, wives, partners, and sisters. While all these facets are all true ( and wonderful), it’s essential to acknowledge that to do it all requires help, self-forgiveness, and the knowing that it may look a little imbalanced, even chaotic at times, and that’s ok.

As for now, I don’t know what maternity leave will look like exactly, but I do know that it will be necessary for me to focus my energy on my newborn. My Summer Fridays team is creative, hardworking, talented, and passionate; I have every confidence in them. While it will be impossible to shut off entirely, my team is more than capable of running the day to day, and I’ll come in where needed.

What are you listening to?

All through Covid, I’ve been devouring every episode of the podcast How I Built This. With more time on my hands, I could finally dive into so many founders’ stories that I have wanted to hear. I’ve recently wanted to shift into listening to more motherhood podcasts and prepping my body for labor. Lately, I have been tuning into Little Sprigs podcast and Instagram, a series of daily conversations on early childhood. It’s an excellent reference for raising kids and having productive discussions with them.

Top clean pregnancy beauty swaps?

The first and easiest thing to look at is your body care because it covers such a large part of, well, your body. From lotions to creams and body washes, there are incredible clean choices. Also, look into your daily face cleanser. Use something pure during pregnancy because you use it every day.

Plus, make sure you remove any retinoids or hyaluronic acids. If you love acne treatments, switch to something with tea tree oil, or our newest Summer Fridays product called Soft Reset. It’s a night time AHA solution that’s strong but safe—I’ve used it since the start of my pregnancy. Ease into using it even if you are pregnant, your skin might be a bit more sensitive and there are acids and glycolic acid in it. Reset helps with brightening skin, texture, and minimizing pores, plus it helps with breakouts and maskne—oh, the mask acne is real!

One hope?

I love being a mom; it’s a privilege. Of all my roles, it’s genuinely the one that brings me the greatest joy, even in my most frustrating moments. I hope that my kids will grow up to create amazing things, to love others, and be impactful. What an honor it is that I get to be a part of that journey.