Nicole Levine is no stranger to the flashy and famous – starting out as a television makeup artist, launching two (two!) celeb-loved fashion brands, and now as the COO of Good Carma Studio, she’s more than used to living in close quarters with people we all admire. Her positivity, major people skills, and a hearty dose of hard work have all contributed to her and her sister making their branding dreams come true. Her favorite adventure du jour? Being mom to two sweet boys under 5 years old, and figuring out just how to strike that work-life balance that eludes us all. Read on for her most star-struck moment, the amazing advice she has for moms going through big-time transition, and how she’s learning to fulfill both identities as a mom and a career woman.
Name: Nicole Levine, COO, Good Carma Studio
Location: Los Angeles
Education: B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences, minor in Marketing
Children: Graham (4) and Walker (1)
What was your first job, and how did you land it?
Ready for this one? When I was 15 I worked for a DJ company and danced at Bar Mitzvahs on the weekends. I was a “crowd motivator” and would get the guests up and dancing!
You started out as a hair and makeup artist — where did that passion develop? What was it like working in that industry?
I loved dabbling with hair and makeup when I was a kid. I loved trying different looks and hairstyles, it was my creative outlet. So when I graduated high school I decided to take a leap and head to makeup school to work in film and television. It was eye-opening, and although I loved the art, making a living at it was not as easy as I had envisioned!
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You and your sister started My-Tee and Hope & Glorie, two fashion and clothing companies, in 2003 and 2005, respectively — what was the process of starting your own business like? What roles did you play, and what did you learn?
Starting our own business was scary but very exciting at the same time. Since I had already been working on my own in the entertainment industry, this was a seamless transition. With my love for fashion and design and my sister’s marketing background, it was a perfect match.
I handled all the design and creative while my sister handled marketing and strategy. We were able to come together to create and do something we loved so much. Seeing celebs wearing our designs and having placements in magazines really validated what we set out to create.
What advice do you have for women looking to turn their passion into a profitable company?
Keep going! There are times that you are going to want to throw in the towel, but don’t give up. See your vision and believe it will happen. We also learned early on that having eyes on your product and people talking about your brand is really valuable in creating success. Although our business was created before the social media era, we really knew that having celebs wear our designs brought exposure to the brand. We pushed through in the tough times.
In 2010, you launched your blog Frankie Hearts Fashion (way ahead of the blogger trend!). How did you get into writing about fashion and lifestyle full time?
I started blogging before Instagram was even a thing. After being in the clothing business for so long, putting together looks really was a true passion. I had friends and clients that would ask for advice on how to create looks for different occasions so the blog allowed me to translate my thoughts. There was something so fun about documenting fashion and knowing that if one of my posts helped someone feel good, then I was on the right path!
What was it like to work on your own, after working with your sister for the last decade?
It was a transition at first, but during that time it allowed me to find my strengths and be creative in my own way. It allowed me to head down a really amazing path of self-awareness and discovery. It prepared me for what was next.
You’ve moved through three major careers in a short amount of time — how do you handle transition? What advice do you have for other women who are interested in making a major career change?
Although it was tough at the time to not feel as though I was jumping or failing at something, it actually allowed me to connect the dots. I didn’t realize at the time that all the contacts I made would later help me with my current job. I look at it from a perspective of preparation for the “big game.”
I am proof that if you are feeling as though you are not succeeding, turn it around and look at how you can use it for success. We are so hard on ourselves sometimes that we don’t get to see the good or the bigger picture. Life’s too short! Do what makes you happy. I’ve made it my mission to wake up every morning and do what I love. There is no reason to ever settle. Network, make great relationships, and truly tackle the career of your dreams.
What did your previous experience as an account manager in the entertainment industry and working in the fashion industry teach you that helped as you took as your blogging endeavor? As you moved into Good Carma? How about with motherhood?
All the experiences from each job to my creative experiences leading up to motherhood taught me persistence. Keep moving forward, trust that the universe has your back, and remember sometimes there will be shitty days. In the end I’ve learned there are rainbows after the rain stops. Being a mom now has enabled me to teach my kids to try – and keep trying – until they succeed. For someone who has never really had a ton of patience, having kids has literally forced me to learn how to have more!
How has running multiple companies together changed your relationship with your sister?
We are sisters first and foremost. We have been through the highs and lows together over the years but always had the goal of succeeding together. It’s trying to separate the personal and professional elements that sometimes becomes a challenge but knowing we can weather any storm and do it for our family is something you can’t put a price tag on. Plus dancing in the car on our way to meetings and laughing are some of our best times!
You now run Good Carma Studio, a branding agency that promotes products by getting them to the right people and shown off with the right flair. How did you and your sister start this company? How do you divide roles?
My sister started Good Carma back in 2011 and I decided to jump in a few years later slowly as I was still doing my own thing. About 3.5 years ago is when I came on full time and we really developed our talent branding division, and we have never looked back. It’s been an amazing experience to work with so many incredible brands and talent clients creating campaigns, marketing strategies, and building their brands. It’s truly been a dream and another creative way to dress someone, visually speaking.
We divide and conquer most days, but as she handles marketing and strategy, my role has developed into really carving out the niche for each client. I am able to see what brands are a great fit, while she is able to market their strengths. It’s a perfect match!
What’s been one of your favorite projects or creative challenges at Good Carma?
In keeping it real, one of my biggest creative challenges is not having enough time. I do my best to balance work and home life but I must admit that is a daily struggle. A mom’s job is the hardest, most fulfilling gig one can have, and adding a career on top adds another layer of complexity. With that comes extreme gratification on the work side and a whole lot of guilt on the mom side. I’m definitely learning to cut myself some slack, but it’s still a work in progress. I know there are other moms who feel me on that!
What’s next for you, Chrissy, and Good Carma?
Good Carma is always growing and branching out into new brand niches in order to create optimum success for our clients. We have recently started a sports division and are currently working on building that roster. We are building our empire with our mom cars and laptops! “We got this” is our daily mantra!
You have two sons! How did you handle childcare with your first and second sons?
I am beyond blessed to have my parents living close. My mom is an absolute angel who helps me take care of my kids while I’m doing the daily hustle. My oldest is in his last year of preschool five days a week, so that has also freed up my mornings to work more efficiently.
Walk us through your typical day.
6 am: wake up with my kids who are ready to party! Take that party to my bedroom where it is a solid hour of Paw Patrol goodness. Get dressed, breakfast, and school send off. My sister arrives around 9am and then it’s off to the races.
Work for me stops at about 2pm (except when we have client meetings or events) so I can hang with the boys, cook dinner, and then we eat as a family. After that, it’s the boys’ bedtime routine and then back to work while the fam snoozes. I tend to be the most productive at night when the house is quiet and my phone isn’t ringing!
How has your view of motherhood changed as your children have grown older?
Honestly, I feel like my life has accelerated very quickly as they’ve grown older. The saying, “the days are long, but the years are short” is one of the most accurate statements as a parent. It’s forced me to take time and enjoy all the little moments. And in the stressful moments, I constantly repeat, “stop and take it all in. They will never be this little again.” When you take a moment to step outside the daily routine you realize just how fast time goes.
How do you and your husband, Jared, divide parenting roles? How has your relationship changed as you’ve had children?
Jared is one of the best dads I know. He loves creating our own traditions and making sure we always do things as a family. Truly, my kids hit the dad jackpot with him. He is the king of making everyone breakfast in the mornings, does school drop off every day, and is always creating fun for the boys. Since I work from home most days, I am around for the day-to-day things with the kids.
Jared and I have been together for 17 years so our relationship has definitely changed throughout the years, but for sure since having kids! We learned right after our first was born (when we were completely sleep deprived) that communication is key. When we are aligned and in sync, we are not only better partners but better parents. And although extremely hard to fit in some weeks, we really make it a priority to go on dates so that we can have our time together. We have learned to be patient with one another and also understand that as two working parents, the house isn’t always going to be spotless and some days dinner may be pizza. Not everything is going to be perfect all of the time, and that’s okay!
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How do you kids inspire you, either in your career or otherwise?
My kids inspire me to be better, to work harder, and to show them that in life you must set goals and go after what you want. Everything I do is for them. Hopefully, they will see when they are older that hard work and perseverance is an example I’ve set for them.
When it comes to motherhood, what are you most confident in? Most insecure about?
I’m most confident in knowing I can cook for them and keep them alive and well! My pancake creatures are something I’m really I’m proud of.
I’m constantly learning as I go, so I wouldn’t say insecure but rather more “mom in progress.” Each day brings new adventures, new sand in my car, and a bug or two I must release back in the wild.
If you had to pick just one, what’s been your favorite motherhood moment so far?
My older son Graham is quite the singer and dancer. And now my 1-year-old, Walker, is starting to dance with him! It is literally one of my favorite things to watch. I can’t not smile after watching them find their inner Bruno Mars!
Nicole Levine is the Everymom…
Favorite date night? Sushi and a boat ride.
Most star-struck celebrity moment? Doesn’t happen often, but Tiffany Haddish was extremely kind and inspiring!
Go-to source of creative inspo? It’s cliche, but Instagram and Pinterest.
Best way to end a long day? With the three men in my life.
Most embarrassing mom moment? Realizing my shirt was soaked with breast milk whilst ordering salmon in the fish department at the supermarket. Took me a minute to figure out why the fish man was looking at me funny!