Liz Teich: The Warrior of Westchester
I couldn’t help but fall in love with Liz Teich when I saw her signature at the bottom of our first email exchange. It read like a disclaimer: “Please note that I’m a mom in a pandemic and will likely be delayed in responding to my emails. Thank you for understanding.” If these two sentences don’t capture the essence of what this past year has been—especially for moms—I don’t know what does. Of course I can relate to her sentiment, and I’m sure you can, too. What I can’t relate to though, is having a baby while in the midst of a global pandemic. But that’s exactly what Teich did—and the world took notice. An image of her immediately post-labor, breastfeeding for the first time, with her fist proudly in the air went viral, as new and soon-to-be mamas around the country were rallying lawmakers to allow them to keep their partners in the delivery rooms with them. At that point protocols were changing almost daily, but for many, just the thought of having to give birth alone was terrifying. Teich was luckily able to have her husband in the room, but he was forced to leave immediately after, as per the hospital policy. The image captured what so many women around the country were going through, and symbolized this unique moment in time.
If you don’t know Teich from that fist-in-the-air viral photo, then you probably know her from her gorgeously romantic-feeling, feminine blog and Instagram platform, The New York Stylist, where she doles out everything from practical fashion advice (a recent Reel teaches followers how to roll up their sleeves like a stylist. Hint: rubber bands!), to decor tips (she just moved to Westchester), to ways her readers can be greener when it comes to their beauty and getting-dressed routines (see sidebar). She is very passionate about sustainability, both in her personal life and when it comes to the brands she works with. In fact, this past year she even vowed to only shop sustainably and so all of her clothing purchases (along with her husband’s and kids’) have been from small businesses that employ sustainable practices, or through clothing rental services. And before making any purchase she uses the Good On You app to make sure it meets her standards. She’s a woman after my own green heart.
But her Instagram feed is more than just a place for her to share style solutions and decor tips. It’s become a place where she deeply connects with other moms beyond fashion. Her platform is a lifeline for her to reach other moms going through similar experiences—whether that’s giving birth during a pandemic or figuring out how to dress your body after baby—and feel less alone in the process. She thinks of herself as a cheerleader to her almost-36,000 followers, which not only helps them, but in a way forces her to be stronger, too. It’s a lifting-each-other-up community vibe that we could all use right about now. Read on to hear about her move, her pandemic pregnancy, and her mission to spread the word of sustainability.
What brought you to Westchester? How do you like it compared to where you used to live? What do you miss about your Brooklyn life?
We lived in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn for 12 years when we found out we were having a second baby. We thought we’d stay in Brooklyn forever and only have one kid, but when we decided to have another we realized we were quickly outgrowing our two bedroom apartment. We were also noticing that our son Asher, now 4 years old, was his happiest when we would go on vacation and he had space to run and explore in nature. He always felt like a caged animal when we returned to our place. Still, I was pretty reluctant to move to the suburbs, so we settled on New Rochelle because it’s the most like living in Brooklyn—it has diversity, playgrounds, good food, it’s easy to get around, and there are lots of city transplants. And surprisingly, it’s also a quicker commute to Midtown than where we lived in Brooklyn! We love living in a house with kids, but we do miss a lot about our Brooklyn life, especially the walkability. The best part about living there was walking outside of our apartment door and having all the best bookstores, restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores, and even the subway, all within two blocks. I loved that we would walk down the street and run into everyone we knew and have impromptu get-togethers. I miss the sense of community, but now after a visit to the city it’s a treat to drive 30-40 minutes back to our house and enjoy all the space and quiet!
How has becoming a mom changed the blogging experience for you? How has the pandemic changed it?
I became a blogger 10 years ago because I wanted to share my expert perspective from working in the fashion industry for years. I started my career at a high-end fashion brand, so I learned the design and production side of fashion first. I then became an art director working on advertising campaigns. My favorite part of those jobs was working on the photoshoots and seeing the concept come to life, so after my stint in advertising I decided to get back into fashion.
When I became a mom, I felt caught between two worlds of fashion and mommy blogging. But when I started sharing my experiences of motherhood more and more, moms around the country began to message me with questions about dressing for their postpartum body and new life. This led to me to start offering personal styling services, which is very rewarding because I get to make my clients feel better about themselves through clothing.
The pandemic has shifted my business once again. While I’ve styled a couple of in-person shoots, I’ve been mostly focusing on virtual personal styling, as well as my blog and Instagram feed. I gave birth at the beginning of the pandemic, so it gave me a platform to voice my fears and help other moms to feel less alone. My Instagram post after giving birth went viral—I think it resonated with so many pregnant women living in fear at the time and I received so many messages about how that powerful image and my words helped give so many others strength. I always say that we really are warriors to be giving birth during this time and our pandemic babies are going to be so resilient because their mamas are! My pandemic baby (Andi, now one year old) is so tough and amazes me daily.
Can you talk about the journey of having your second kid last year? How did you cope with the stress of giving birth during a pandemic?
This pregnancy was planned, after suffering a miscarriage prior, and she was supposed to be my rainbow baby—but we moved when I was 8 months pregnant, and then two weeks later I found myself in the epicenter of a “containment zone” in a global pandemic. It was absolutely terrifying because all we knew about the virus at that time was that it was extremely contagious and that affected pregnant women even more. The idea of going to doctors appointments and the hospital during the initial peak of the pandemic kept me up at night. I think Instagram was my outlet for combating anxiety during that time because I was able to talk to other moms going through the same experience, which helped me feel less alone. I did a virtual reiki/energy healing session with my friend Erin The Urban Mermaid, that helped give me clarity and peace before the birth. I practiced hypnobirthing techniques and did the meditations every night before bed to release any thoughts of anxiety as well. I also loved rubbing drops of lavender essential oil on my temples, and taking Calm-a-Mama drops.
How has your style changed since becoming a mom? How has it changed during the pandemic?
It’s become less fussy and more effortless. I used to focus on trends and put together “outfits.” When I became a mom four years ago, I realized I needed to reevaluate how I shop and how I dress. I now focus on timeless pieces that work together easily, and I also constantly edit my closet. There’s no more agonizing over what to wear because I truly love everything I own. I love helping other moms get to that point too, through my closet cleanses and filling in the holes they are missing to round out their wardrobe. My general rule is to start with a good pair of jeans that make you feel like you can take on the world. Then add a quality sweater, button down, or even a great tee and casual blazer. These combos are easy uniforms to take you from momming to Zooming. I personally have been loving puff-sleeve button down tops (like ones from Dôen), and feminine midi-dresses because they make me feel effortlessly put together.
What was your single best pandemic purchase? The item you don’t ever want to live without?
I honestly didn’t purchase much this last year because I was focused on saving money, decorating my new home, and dressing the baby—the kids now have better wardrobes than me! But the best investment has been my Allbirds slip-on sneakers that are my everyday house shoes. They’re the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn on my feet—and they’re sustainable! I also highly recommend investing in cashmere sweatpants for a luxe athleisure look. I had never worn athleisure outside the house unless I was going to work out, but I now love my polished sweats and am not ashamed to wear them.
Let’s talk about your focus on sustainability—how important is it to you? And who do you think is getting it right in the industry?
Sustainable fashion has actually been a passion of mine for a long time. Through working in fashion over the years, I saw the impact made on the environment firsthand. But it wasn’t until I styled a celebrity who requested only sustainable and ethically-made clothing a few years ago that I really did the research and learned what goes into the production of what we wear from major retailers—everything from the chemicals, to the waste, to the water consumption and even the poor labor practices. I think H&M Group (H&M, & Other Stories, and Cos) is really paving the way for major retailers to take action. The Shop Conscious collections are a good start, and they’ve forced other fast-fashion retailers, like Zara, to follow suit with their own sustainably-made collections. Also, the H&M fabric recycling program has paved the way for other popular retailers like Madewell to do something similar.
Maintaining sustainability is definitely a challenge being a fashion stylist with a love for clothing, but I do hope the more we all talk about it, the more it will just become the standard.
Now that there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic, what are you most looking forward to? Is there anything about going back to “normal” that you’re dreading?
I’m looking forward to working with people in person again—one of my favorite aspects of my job is connecting with people and I miss that. I also miss going to events and seeing all of my industry friends and other mommy bloggers. It’s also been hard to not have much interaction with the outside world for the baby, and I can’t wait to have play dates, go to classes, and meet other local moms. I’m dreading that I’ll be working so much and won’t have time for my family like I have now. I’ve been trying to appreciate that while I can!
Liz’s Guide to Westchester:
Favorite coffee shop/cafe: The Grange (in Larchmont) Their avocado toast and cold brew coffee are my go-to!
Favorite kids store: Penny & Ting (in Ossining)
Favorite takeout spot: The Taco Project (in Bronxville)
Favorite date-night spot: We sadly haven’t had any yet since we moved, but we’ve had family dates at La La Taqueria in Larchmont—they have outdoor igloos!
Favorite outdoor kids activity: Walking around Five Islands Park (in New Rochelle) and Ward Acres Park (in New Rochelle)
Favorite food market: DeCicco & Sons (in Larchmont) is comparable to any NYC food market and their tortilla chips are our addiction.
Favorite gift shop: If and when I see other humans, I’ll probably pick up gifts at Village Mercantile (in Larchmont).
Liz’s 3 Ways to Shop Sustainably:
1. Support small retailers that carry multiple sustainable brands like Av Norden and The Verticale, or shop brands, like Catbird and Grey State Apparel, that have sustainability baked into their DNA.
2 When it comes to larger retailers, like Shopbop and Net-a-Porter, use the filter and sort features on their website to see only sustainable options within the category you’re shopping.
3. Renting clothing instead of buying is a great way to lower your environmental impact. Tulerie is a NY mom owned peer to peer designer clothing rental. I’ve been a member of Rent the Runway for years, and I love Romp + Tumble for my kids. I also buy and sell pre-owned pieces for the whole family on Poshmark.