Motherhood is not what it once was, says a 2017 Pew Research Center study. Notably, long educations and demanding careers are no longer viewed as barriers to motherhood; women of all racial and educational backdrops no longer see marriage as imperative to motherhood; and women are less likely to leave the workforce after becoming mothers. Claudia Goldin, a Harvard labor economist who studies women’s workforce, synthesized the findings: “Women have more education, they’re in jobs that are more fulfilling and they stay with them.”
Chandra Fox exemplifies Goldin’s paradigm, with a slight twist. Instead of “staying in a job” after becoming a mother, she created a new one. Triggered by her fertility journey, her entry into motherhood and a lifelong interest in handmade goods, she founded These Native Goods, a curated digital directory of ethical USA-made brands (we’re honored to be one of them). Beyond combining her passions, TNG allows Chandra to fulfill another obsession that motherhood has brought to the fore: “to be good example for our children and help preserve their future.”
What America is to you.
Describe your journey to founding These Native Goods.
When my husband and I started thinking about creating a family, my doctor informed me that I had an imbalance and would not be able to conceive without hormone treatments. I went down an Internet-researching wormhole trying to learn more. I ended up discovering that a lot of the items I had in my home included possible endocrine disruptors. I felt that getting them out of my life was a good start on my path to healing. This was the beginning of me becoming more conscious of what I used. With the help of alternative medicine (and patience), I was able to conceive. But the process (combined with the fact that I knew I was becoming a mother) awoke a need in me to look into items in a bigger way. It was no longer just food, skincare and household cleaners that I was curious about. It was clothing, furniture, toys…everything, and it wasn’t just ingredients or materials, either. I became very interested in the way they were being made, meaning the working conditions, origins, etc., as well as their environmental impact. I didn’t know where to look for better options at first, so creating a database that could help others just made sense. Not only that, but construction and the art that goes into making things was always a passion and my years of working with other makers made me want to help support their craft.
Your most precious object.
A handprint gift from our daughter.
A place you've called home.
When I was about seven years old, we spent seven months living out of that pickup truck, just cruising around Baja.
When did eco-consciousness become important to you?
I was raised in a very eco-conscious way, but I was also very rebellious so I drifted away from that lifestyle as I got older. There are certain things that I always did, like recycling and trying to carry my own water bottle. But I was kind of enticed by all these things I was so unfamiliar with, like fast fashion, junk food and pop culture. After the newness of these things wore off, I started thinking more about their implications and became less interested in them. My journey to starting my site was when it really became a focus for me again.
Truth or dare?
A picture of your true self.
Barefoot in nature.
What is your earliest memory?
I famously have a horrible memory, but I do have vague memories of our first family trip to Fiji. I was about three at the time.
Sunrise or sunset?
Sunrise — although I typically miss it because I am not a morning person. There is something magical about that time of day; it’s so quiet and calm.
How do you begin your day?
Snuggles with my daughter, stretches if I can squeeze them in, coffee or tea and, lately, breakfast out on the back patio with my girl — then, emails.
Chandra + Olivia.
A picture that explains your life philosophy.
A song you've danced to at home.
How has your work with These Native Goods informed your approach to parenting?
I try to be really cautious with what I bring into my daughter’s life, but I also try not to go overboard. She is young and childhood is typically the only time we have to live without worry. We talk a little about waste and recycling, but in a fun way, and we spend as much time outdoors as possible — I feel that having a connection to and appreciation for nature is key. I think as she gets older, we will talk more in-depth, but she is four, so mostly it’s about trying to lead by example.
What is the most important advice your mother gave you?
What do you most like about being the age you are now?
Right now, there is a lot going on in my life, definitely more than ever before. Despite it all, I still feel more centered and content. I know content can be kind of a “bleh” word, but it’s actually a really nice feeling and one I didn’t have when I was younger.
A recipe you will pass on to your daughter.
I would love to pass down a couple specialties from her grandmas: tamales and Chili Rellenos from my mom and Tah Dig with Zereshk from my mother-in-law.
A song to cook to.
What is the best risk you’ve ever taken?
Deciding to try to start a family. I didn’t know if we were going to be successful and that was a scary feeling. But we were, and it has been amazing!
How has being a mother changed you?
It has changed me in so many ways. I’m way more sensitive, braver, more motivated and also a total scatterbrain, because I’m constantly thinking of and focusing on so many things all at once. Having this little person who I love so much has made me want to be a better person in every way that I can. I want to be someone who she can look up to. I want to go after my dreams so that I can show her it is possible — and I sound really cheesy all the time now.
What do you wish we talked more about?
People don’t talk enough about what happens, emotionally and mentally, when you become a mom. Most moms I know, including myself, have gone through this phase of trying to figure out who they are again after baby. That might sound cliché, but you really do become this new person. Everything is foreign and different, and you have to figure out how to live this new life. If you don’t have a good support system, it can be isolating. It isn’t altogether a negative thing, just something unfamiliar. If people talked about it more, it might not be so confusing to new moms.
What constitutes a perfect day for you?
A day at the beach, with no crowd.
What is the biggest business challenge you’ve faced since founding These Native Goods?
A major obstacle to ethical shopping (especially when talking about USA-made brands) is the price. One of the biggest challenges that I face with the site is trying to find a way to make this lifestyle more affordable. I understand the cost — fair pay, better materials, eco-friendly practices, retail markups — but it can give an elitist feeling to the movement. I personally balance things out in my own life by also buying secondhand or vintage, limiting the amount of items that I purchase and looking for sample or holiday sales. I have talked a little about how I make it work for my family, but I still feel that the concept of These Native Goods can come off as exclusive and I would love to make it accessible to everyone.
What is the last thing you think about before you fall asleep?