We interviewed Jasmine Hodgson, creator of clothing label, MerriMane. After almost 10 years of living in Manhattan, Jasmine and her husband decided to move to the suburbs. Jasmine shares her move to Darien, CT story and gives us a peek into her busy life as a mom and entrepreneur.
Tell me about your move to Darien, CT
My husband and I both grew up in small coastal towns in Maine. We grew up running freely around our neighborhoods and having picnics on the beach with family and friends. So after nearly 10 years of living in Manhattan we knew it was time to consider our next step and create the same environment for the children we were planning to have.
I struggled with the change as I lived for the energy of the city. Every night we could attend a sport, art or music event unlike anything we had witnessed before. We could stroll through Central Park and find something new around each corner. NYC still mesmerizes me and I love going in for day trips regularly.
Once we had Lily, we lost a bit of the spontaneity we had enjoyed and we found we were spending more time at home to accommodate her needs. So when Lily turned 1 we started to consider a move. We wanted our children to grow up as we did with open space, quiet places to reflect and freedom to explore.
Why did you choose to move to Darien, CT?
I was open to anything North of the city as our families are all in Maine and Massachusetts. Community is most important to me. I wanted an inclusive town where we could feel at home surrounded by friends who would become like family. I visited playgrounds with Lily and observed the other families. My visit to Darien was unlike anything I experienced in other towns in NY and CT. I had made multiple acquaintances within minutes and felt incredibly welcome to join in.
When you moved to Darien, did you know anyone? How did you make friends?
We didn’t have any friends when we moved to town but quickly made connections with others via high school, college or work networks. The YWCA Newcomers group is so central to this community. The YWCA organizes cocktail parties and events as well as playgroups for children, Gourmet clubs and Winetasters clubs for adults and all new members to town are encouraged to join. I met some of my very best friends through YWCA groups.
Can you describe your social life
BUSY! The most challenging part about living in such an active community is saying no. I struggle balancing work, family and personal time as I want to support everything I can. The options are endless for family events in town nearly every weekend.
You started a new business, can you describe your typical day?
I wake up early – that is a big change that I made to make my day work with MerriMane. My girls sleep until 7am so 5-7am are email and planning hours for me. These hours are critical for me as my head is fresh and clear. Thinking of collaborations and marketing tactics are often done during these hours.
Then typical mom stuff getting the girls ready and out the door for school.
I work 5 days a week just not always the same hours and some weeks are crazier than others. One day I could be in the city for design meetings, fittings or production reviews. The next day I am attending a trunk show. Other days I am alone in my home office writing all day – my journals have been so wonderful to share with people and I am going to continue them with varied content about my process, successes and struggles.
Late afternoons and early evenings are with my girls again which is so nice. I am the chauffeur and short order cook and then reading and cuddling until bedtime.
Evenings are spent fulfilling orders, responding to emails and catching up with my husband.
Lights out by 10!
How old are your kids? What do you like to do with your kids in your area?
Lily is 6.5 years old and Claire is 3.5 years old. Lily loves animals and Claire loves dance so we are typically outside playing with music to accommodate both of their interests.
What are the best playgrounds and parks in the area?
Cherry Lawn in Darien and Mead Park in New Canaan are our favorites.
What are some things you don’t like about Darien?
I wish we had a larger central village area. I love New Canaan’s downtown lined with shops, restaurants and coffee shops. People just stroll downtown on the weekends. Darien is working to build this but we are lacking a real village for the community to get together.
How would you describe residents of Darien?
Kind and generous.
What are your favorite restaurants in Darien?
Darien is limited but we go to The Goose American Bistro and Bar and Ten Twenty Post for family dinners locally – both are lovely and consistently make everyone in our family happy.
What has your experience been so far with schools in Darien?
Teddy and I both grew up in families where education was paramount. We reviewed schools prior to deciding on Darien and have not been disappointed. Multiple pre-schools exist across town, all with a slightly different approach. We have programs for 2s, 3s, 4s and Pre-K as well as a town funded Early Learning Program starting at age 3 for those that qualify or get in via lottery.
Our public school system has worked well for us thus far. I feel connected with the teachers, administrators and parents. I receive regular communications from the teachers and I am active with the PTO.
A major benefit for Darien families is we have options should the public school system not be the best fit for your child. We are in close proximity to wonderful private schools, some of which even offer transportation for students coming from town.
Do you or your spouse commute to the city? What has your experience been with the commute?
My husband commutes daily to midtown Manhattan. It takes him 1 hour and 10 minutes door to door. He has settled in to the daily routine and takes advantage of the quiet time to read, watch movies or catch up on work. On paper it feels like a long commute but even in the city it took 40 minutes to get to the office and there were always subway issues, overcrowding, no AC etc. He is seated in a temperature controlled train car for a couple hours a day alone – I think most people would consider that a luxury!
How is the parking at the train station?
We are on the waiting list for a spot – it is at least 5 years long but he just pays for a daily spot with an easy online app.
Any tips/advice you wished someone had told you when you were looking to move to the suburbs?
Rent a home here before you buy. Yes you move twice which is exhausting but you give yourself a chance to learn about neighborhoods and where you want to be.
About Jasmine Hodgson
Jasmine Hodgson created MerriMane, a new standard of kids outerwear by merging luxury, style, ease of care, and versatility with sensory-friendly design choices, decorative woven linings, and ultra plush fabrics such as the Velveteen Fleece™ used in every style. As a mother of two young children Jasmine wanted to simplify the process of getting out the door. Creating a versatile jacket that would be useful in all four seasons and loved by both children and parents became her ultimate goal. The jacket would have to be soft and easy to put on for children, but also elegant and stylish to ensure it transitioned well from an afternoon nature walk to a party. And if it was going to be getting this much use, it would need to be durable and machine washable. Each detail has been chosen with tremendous care and reflects a mother’s practical understanding of what makes a child and parent happy. Jasmine grew up in Maine, loving the outdoors. She attended Colby College and worked for major financial institutions in Manhattan following graduation. She serves on the board of Opus for Person-to-Person and is active in the schools her daughters attend. Jasmine lives with her husband, Teddy, and two daughters, Lily and Claire, in Darien, CT.
@merrimanekids on instagram
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