Junna, Emi & Matt – Palomita

Junna, Emi & Matt

Q: Can you tell us a little about your background and upbringing? 

A: My husband, Matt and I were both born and raised in California.  I’m from the Bay Area and he is from LA. I am Japanese/Filipino and he is Italian/American. I grew up with a single mom and later my Belgian stepdad, and I have two very sweet brothers that I helped raise when I was a teenager. I went to UCLA and then went into fashion and was at Celine for the last decade working with VIP clients.    

Our recent move to NY was a big change for us having been California people our whole lives, but we’ve always wanted to live here and it’s fun getting to learn to navigate the city with a baby. I was worried it would be difficult at first, but there are tons of families in Williamsburg where we live and I love being outside with our daughter Emi every day and being able to walk to tons of things and enjoy all the beautiful parks here.  

Q: What are your favorite memories from your childhood? 

A: I have many fond memories of being in Japan as a child- my grandfather being proud of me for eating with him at the sushi bar, the onsen hot springs we would go to as a family and this summer house my grandparents had outside of Tokyo where I would chase dragonflies and draw in the attic. The attic had windows overlooking the surrounding forest.  

We are hoping to bring Emi to Japan this Fall to visit my 95yr old grandmother and I am so excited to share experiences in Japan with her, as I know Matt is to share his fondness of spending summers in Rome growing up. We are so grateful to our families for making sure we learned those respective languages and often talk about how we can pass that onto her which is harder since she is third generation and we don’t speak the languages at home. We figure we will just have to visit both places often with her- here’s to hoping!

Q: How has becoming a mom impacted your creativity and work? 

A: I have looked forward to being a mom my whole life and it was a long journey to get here, so I am truly grateful for every second of it.  I am also taking more time off to be with her now. I really think maternity leave should be much longer in this country, but I am very lucky and grateful to my husband that we have made it so that I can have this time with her. That being said, my work has always been important to me, and now I am thinking of how to pivot my career in fashion to more meaningful work. I want to have a healthy work/life balance so that we can spend more time together as a family.  

It's hard to find that balance, I know every working mom has to do it. I hope I can find something fulfilling. If I have to leave my sweet daughter to work, I want it to be for something really great, worth my valuable time and energy.

Q: How did you prepare for your trip to Portugal and London with Emi? How did it go?

A: At first, half my suitcase was stuffed with diapers and then I realized there are babies everywhere in the world and that I could pick up what I needed abroad.  I tried to be minimal and luckily her cute outfits are tiny!  The Doona was a lifesaver since you can buckle it into any Uber and you have a carseat & stroller in one.  It was not so great however, when my husband had to carry it up some steep, narrow streets in Lisbon, so we quickly switched to a carrier.  We went to a picturesque wedding in Sintra and stayed at Trivoli Palacio de Seteais which felt like being at a White Lotus resort minus the murders.

I rented a bassinet in London from BabyQuip which is where you rent baby gear from other families. That was super helpful and we got an airbnb for a much needed washer/dryer.  I have to say, European culture is incredibly welcoming to babies, everyone was kind and attentive to our needs and so accommodating at every restaurant and hotel.  Emi is becoming a great traveler and I can’t wait to show her our favorite places and discover new ones together.  I find that in being a new mom, every time we go out on a new adventure, it helps build my confidence as a parent to be able to do things with her.

Q: What were some of your favorite meals and places to go while traveling?

A: Going to restaurants is my favorite thing to do, especially when we travel.  We really took advantage when Emi was tiny b/c she slept everywhere and in my restaurant research, I check ahead of time to see what kind of stroller/carrier situation restaurants can accommodate- outdoor seating is often also great for bringing a stroller.  

London quickly became my favorite food city- there are so many great spots there!  We stayed in Shoreditch and mostly went out in that area.  We loved Rochelle Canteen, which has the most charming setting in what used to be an old school. The Indian food at Dishoom, Brat, Cafe Cecelia, Brawn, St. John… I could go on!  Excited to go back again to try even more places.

Q: California or New York?

A: We love being from California- You get a bit of everything there...desert, ocean, mountains. We also miss the mild easy weather in LA, but we are excited to experience seasons in NY and our first snowy Christmas ever.  I think with a baby, LA may have felt a little isolated whereas I am outside with her in NY every day. She has tons of stimulation with lots of people around and even though we are new to the area, Williamsburg has a nice feeling of community that I really love.  We joke that Emi is going to grow up a New Yorker and is already cooler than the both of us combined. 

I think our plan is to eventually move back to California, which will always have my heart, but who knows anymore how things will go? The pandemic taught me that you really can’t predict what the coming year will bring so we are along for the ride with this New York adventure for now!

Q: What's something you wish you heard more of as a kid? 

A: It's okay to feel upset sometimes. Let's figure out how to work through it together.


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