Apphia Michael is a writer, a lifestyle journalist and a fashion editor. She is a self-confident woman with a natural and minimalistic elegance. Her distinguish vision immersed her in the worlds of fashion, interiors, design, travel, grooming and architecture.
After working for a long time for the style bible Wallpaper, she decided to become a freelance journalist when she had her first baby, Tallis. This was an opportunity to let her raise her child during the week and perform as journalist during the evenings and week-ends. She also contributes in different new projets like La Petite Mag magazine. Apphia is actually expecting her second baby and she is the JOSEFINA of our February issue!
Apphia, you’re becoming a mom for the second time.
Do you feel anything different this time?
Some things are ridiculously similar, like the dreaded pregnancy insomnia and my very own ‘Internal Kicking Machine’ which seems to come to life at night, just when I’m trying to get some sleep. Thankfully my husband is now used my nightly wrestling matches with the pillows and the sight of my huddled up figure sleeping on all fours with the duvet and pillows scrunched up under me (the only position I find comfortable most of the time!). But a lot of things are also different. Pregnancy the second time round has been much more ‘colourful’ – it now involves trying to keep up with my very own energiser bunny of a toddler as well! Tallis just turned two and I have her at home with me full time whilst juggling freelance work on the side, so it’s harder to fit things in like pregnancy yoga and all that general ‘resting’ that everyone tells you to do! I also only had morning sickness up until about 13 weeks with Tallis but had it until 25 weeks with this pregnancy, so I had a sneaking suspicion that baby no. 2 was going to be a boy. True to mother’s intuition, we’re having a little boy! I do generally feel more relaxed about everything this time round as I’ve done it all before, which is a lovely feeling. In a blink of an eye I’m now 8 months gone, and I still don’t think I’ve had enough time to process the fact our little boy is joining our family imminently.
Are you planning things differently for this second baby?
I’m planning on having a home birth this time round. I had Tallis naturally in a midwife-led birth centre (something like a halfway house between a home and a hospital here in the UK) and had a positive experience so have decided to take the leap this time round and have this baby at home. For me, nothing beats being able to lie in your own bed tucked up under your own sheets with some nice warm buttery toast and a cup of tea right after having the baby (if all goes well). If you had told me three years ago that I would be doing this I would have laughed in your face – I’m the biggest hypercondriac I know – but I am a huge fan of HypnoBirthing which helped get me through my long three-day (!) labour with Tallis, so I’m practicing it for this baby’s arrival too. Work-wise, I made a decision a while back to take a step back from full-time work after Tallis was born in order to be with her during her formative toddler years, which means I fit in my editorial work and a bit of styling in around her, rather than have her in daycare. I do love my work though and have been itching get back into the full swing of things again, so will probably take a shorter maternity leave this time round and try and sort some childcare out for the two littles. Like so many other mothers, I would love to strike that perfect balance between work and motherhood and so am currently working towards that goal.
You are a journalist and a fashion editor. How did the motherhood change your lifestyle? How do you manage to balance it with work, couple and social life?
Well, I’m probably going to go to go against the grain here and say motherhood has changed my work lifestyle big time! Before I had Tallis I had a full-time job working for my dream magazine (Wallpaper*) which involved fashion weeks, travelling the world and countless after-work events. After my year’s maternity leave was up, I sat down and thought long and hard about whether I was ready to go back to the office and the honest answer was, it just didn’t feel right at the time to leave Tallis in the hands of someone else. It’s different for everyone of course – lots of mothers to go out there and conquer the world whilst having a fulfilling family life too which I have the greatest respect for. It’s easy to get swept up in the wave of with what everyone else is doing – especially when everyone else you know is going back to work after a year – but I am taking the slower approach and just trying to immerse myself in these toddler years as I know I’ll never get them back. I’m not worried about losing touch with the industry because I’ve made sure to keep freelancing on the side, which means that weekends and evenings tend to be filled with work and various side-projects, but I am lucky to have the most incredible husband in the world who 100% supports what I do and helps out immensely with everything. I have to say, one of the biggest changes has been my involvement in the kids design world – Instagram is a wonderful thing and has brought me so many opportunities since I joined. What started out as me just posting snaps of my baby girl has now led to me contributing to various kids blogs and venturing into kids styling. I’m now a contributing editor to a new kids magazine in the UK too with my own regular monthly page. But having Tallis hasn’t changed my social life or relationship with my husband – we are firm believers in the fact that she should fit into our lifestyle, so we take her everywhere with us – to galleries, restaurants, hotels and places that wouldn’t usually be classified as ‘child friendly’. Because it’s the norm for her to be out at a small independent restaurant in Soho for dinner, she knows how to behave and we generally get by with no problems. My husband and I are also able to spend quality time with each other in the evenings as Tallis is a great sleeper and is in bed the same time most nights, thankfully!
What do you like the most about being a mother? And what is your favourite thing to do with Tallis?
Nothing gives me greater joy than the heart-swelling moment Tallis comes up to me unprompted and gives me a giant bear hug. I love the sense of pride that I get from any ridiculously little thing she does, and the fact we get to spend so much time together so I never miss a moment. A lot of our daily grind during the week is boring and monotonous and filled with the usual classes, routines and chores, but I do love the odd spontaneous afternoon where we go for a ridiculously long lunch together at a nice restaurant, or hop on a bus and head to the Natural History Museum for a wander (she loves dinosaurs and never gets enough of the exhibits there). Living in Shoreditch, we’re really lucky to be amidst a creative environment so roaming the streets together is a great way of immersing her in art and culture.
You look absolutely gorgeous! How do you manage your body changes while pregnant? Do you have any beauty & sport routine?
Ah thank you. I’ve always been naturally tall and skinny so it’s a lovely change to have curves for a change – the boobs, the round belly – I love all of it. I feel my most body-confident when I’m pregnant… if the feeling of my ‘Internal Kicking Machine’ wasn’t so uncomfortable I would definitely happily stay pregnant forever. I don’t really have a sports routine – running after a toddler and pushing a buggy around London and up and down hilly roads pretty much every day is workout enough for me! Beauty wise, I’m very much a low-maintenance kind of girl – I actually find I need to do less with my face, nails and hair thanks to all those pregnancy hormones… it’s what happens after birth that requires more of a routine to get things back to normal!
How does pregnancy affect in your style? Do you have ‘key’ pieces while expecting?
I’ve always favoured baggy, oversized silhouettes and flat shoes, so pregnancy hasn’t really changed my style choices. I found an extra large pair of wool baggy tailored trousers from COS with an elasticated sportswear-inspired waistband when I was about four months pregnant and have been living in them ever since. My newfound curves make it easier to wear more figure-hugging clothes without feeling self-conscious so I’m wearing a lot of bodycon tops and dresses at the moment. For unconventionally chic maternity wear, BAE The Label, BoobDesign and Ingrid & Isabel are great brands to check out.
Where do you like to eat and what are your favorite spots to go to in London town? (With and without kids)
Being half Chinese and half Indian, I naturally gravitate towards South-East Asian flavours. A light refreshing noodle soup always picks me up and Tallis has come to love it as much as I do. I’m currently obsessed with Bao, a Taiwanese-inspired cafe in Soho that serves up the most delicious steamed milk buns filled with things like slow braised pork combined with peanut powder, coriander and fermented mustard greens. I’m also a real Japanese food fanatic – under-the-radar Kirazu in Soho is where I go for an authentic hit of traditional home-cooking style sushi and Japanese ‘tapas’, then there is the wonderful Kulu Kulu, a low-fuss sushi bar on Soho’s Glasshouse Street which is great if you’ve been shopping in town. Morito on Exmouth Market is great for inventive Tapas, while Antipodean brunch spot Caravan in Kings Cross never disappoints with its flavour combinations and general family friendliness. At Lardo on London Fields you’ll find the tastiest pizzas in an industrial-chic setting. For teatime (as I’m pregnant everything naturally revolves around teatime), Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market, Fernandez & Wells on Lexington Street and Shoreditch Grind (my local) are my go-tos.
And do you have any vacation place you recommend child friendly?
I think Asia in general, and in particularly places like Bali, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are incredibly child friendly. On top of being beautiful holiday destinations, the people there in particular have a very loving and tolerant approach to children – useful when your toddler is screaming blue murder in the middle of a cafe or shop! For our last Asian holiday we travelled to Bali and split our stay between the amazing Amandari resort in Ubud and the Bulgari Hotel on the coast in Uluwatu – they aren’t really advertised as ‘child-friendly’ hotels but we had a great time at both as a family. To be honest we don’t tend to search for family-friendly hotels – we just go with a place that we like and Tallis comes along for the ride. I’ve always felt that kids are more than capable of fitting into your lifestyle if given half the chance and that’s what we’ve done with Tallis. So far it’s worked!
What does your JOSEFINA bag contain?
Nappies, wipes, a whole bag load of snacks for Tallis which takes up about 50% of the space (she eats more than any other child I know – I actually don’t know where she puts it all!), and I always make sure I have a large notepad and crayons and colouring pencils at the ready to keep Little Miss occupied when we’re at a restaurant or cafe.
Do you have any tips for mums to make the best use of theirs Josefina?
Pack your bag the night before – it saves so much time when you’re rushing out the door!
Do you have any inspiring mum? and why?
My mum. She was the original Eighties working power mum who jet-setted around the world with work when I was little. She has an amazing work ethic but at the same time has never made me feel that I was any less important in her life because she worked and climbed the ladder. In a funny way it was having such a strong female role model in my life when I was growing up that has given me the confidence to do what feels right for me and my family.