Mother Essentials: Erika Dawkins Of Bon Ton Studio
Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
Staying at home giving you a case of wanderlust? Today’s Mother Essentials subject, Erika Dawkins, knows the feeling quite well. In fact, the shop owner behind Bon Ton Studio was initially inspired to start her own biz after her previous job as an Australia-based procurer of fabulous textiles from Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. Now, with her own Healdsburg, California-based brick-and-mortar shop (and website) known for its globally-inspired offerings, Dawkins is helping other folks feel a sense of travel and adventure from the comfort of their home. And, as of 20 months ago, she’s also added another wild journey to her agenda: motherhood. “Nurturing my small business and raising my daughter simultaneously are 24/7 jobs. Sophie was just 11 months old when we got the keys to our first store, and it’s been a wild balancing act ever since,” she says. As for her list of Mother Essentials below? “It’s not easy,” she says, “but these goods make life a little easier.” As any mama knows, you take what you can get.
Polaroid Memories. “Our Polaroid goes on almost every adventure with us. It is spontaneous and memorable, and makes for a fun travel gadget. Last year we were late on holiday cards and managed to take a few polaroids instead.” Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera, $79.99, Amazon.
People I’ve Loved Stationery. “There is nothing more special than snail mail, especially during times like these. We’ve been reaching out to family, friends, and customers and have fun including Sophie’s ‘signature’ by tracing her hand with a crayon.” Cards, $5, People I’ve Loved.
Go-To Cookbook. “Fuss-free and full of flavors, the recipes in this cookbook are easy to prepare—only one pot!—and enjoyed by all, including our 20-month-old.” Leon Happy One-Pot Cooking, $19.99, Bookshop.
Everyday Shoes. “These woven mules from Australian label St. Agni pair with my neutral wardrobe and are an essential part of my daily uniform.” St. Agni Paris Mule, $260, Bloomingdales.
Belly Basket. “Like most people I know, my basket addiction is real! We use them to house toys, Sophie’s laundry, and the occasional house plant. They also make the perfect gift.” Ebbe Belly Basket, $38, Bon Ton Studio.
Turkish Towels. “Ultra-absorbent, lightweight, and quick to dry, I keep Turkish towels everywhere, from the back seat of the car to the stroller. They come in handy for an impromptu picnic or for a nook when building blanket forts.” Turkish Towel, $24, Bon Ton Studio.
Miniware Dining Gear. “This Miniware set is a collection of contemporary self-feeding products for kids with gorgeous modern touches. Sophie uses the bowl all the time and we love the handy travel bag for when we are out and about at restaurants or traveling to see friends and family.” Miniware Cereal Bowl + BringMe Bag, $14 and $22, Miniware.
SuperGoop SPF. “My skin changed so much over the course of my pregnancy and postpartum. SuperGoop’s moisturizing sunscreen helps shield my skin. The brand also makes a great everyday SPF for kids with sunflower extract. It smells amazing and is great for a day of play.” SuperGoop Daily Sunscreen, $38, Sephora; SuperGoop Play! Sunscreen For Kids, $22, Sephora.
Rope Tote. “The perfect companion when on-the-go or traveling, this rope tote is easy to clean and folds flat for easy packing. We have these beautiful totes made in South Africa where my husband is from. Using it reminds me of our visit there when Sophie was just 5 months old.” Luna Cotton Rope Tote, $98, Bon Ton Studio.
Haus Apéritif. “With my husband and I both working from home, we’ve been enjoying low-ABV Haus apéritif happy hours to help transition from work life to home life.” Citrus Flower Apértif, $35, Haus.
Moroccan Pouf. “Everyone uses the Moroccan Poufs in our house. For me, it makes playing at Sophie’s level a little easier. We love them during story time along with her favorite books.” Vintage Tan Moroccan Poud, $148, Bon Ton Studio.
Play Shopping Cart. “I have quite the little shopper in training! It is fun to watch Sophie mimic us, and I have a feeling we’ll be playing shopkeeper for quite some time.” Hape Shopping Cart, $69.99, Maisonette.
Mini Napkins. “These are just the right size for at-home lunches and dinners for those cute little hands. They wash and dry well, and are the perfect addition to the table.” Multistripe Kids’ Napkinns, $28, Heather Taylor Home.
Lip + Cheek Tint. “For perfectly ‘not-there but there’ lips, I go with Tata Harper lip and cheek tint. The formula is really creamy, so it gives my cheeks the perfect (natural) pop of petal pink.” Very Charming Cheek Tint, $39, Tata Harper.
Chalking It Up. “These past few weeks we’ve taken over our sidewalk with chalk art. It’s a fun activity to do together and the perfect excuse to get fresh air. Often I wonder who enjoys it more, me or Sophie!” Non-Toxic Chunky Sidewalk Chalk, $18, Urban Infant.
Wearable Breast Pump. “My Willow pump put my breastfeeding journey at ease and allowed me to successfully pump—stress free—for 12+ months. The pump is an all-in-one, wireless pump working quietly inside your bra. I was able to pump at all-day markets and no one even noticed.” Wearable Breast Pump, $499.99, Willow.
OUAI Dry Shampoo. “Every mother’s best friend, dry shampoo adds a few days to my at-home blowouts and saves me time in the morning, which means extra playtime with Sophie! I’ve tried and tested a few and this one is definitely my new favorite.” OUAI Super Dry Shampoo, $24, Nordstrom.
The Perfect Hand Soap. “My addiction to Aesop rinse-free hand wash started long before COVID-19. I became hooked on the brand while living in Australia. I can’t get enough of this herbaceous scent.” Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash, $39, Nordstrom.
Kraft Paper Roll. “Simple and functional, having a butcher paper roll makes getting crafty easy and is perfect for all of these at-home days.” Brown Kraft Butcher Paper Roll, $14.99, Amazon.
Packable Hat. “When living in Australia, we became accustomed to wearing hats and normally didn’t leave the house without one. The schools there even have a ‘no hat, no play’ policy. These canvas bucket hats are packable and come in various colors.” Canvas Packable Hat, $65, Hat Attack.
Our Passports. “As a dual citizen (U.S. and Australia) married to a South African, it was no surprise to anyone when we had Sophie get her first passport at 8 weeks old—the lucky girl has already travelled to two continents! Traveling with a kiddo can be daunting, but we feel that seeing the world shouldn’t just be for adults. Luckily, we’ve learned a few helpful tips along the way and always try to make everything as stress-free as we can!”
For more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with Weelicious and One Potato founder Catherine McCord, mega-influencer Chriselle Lim, Matana Organics founder Gabriela Babila, interior designer Susan Work, author Tiffany Dufu, Les Gamins founder Veronique Nguyen, Lonny editor Angela Tafoya, Wiley Body founder Vanessa Wade, DockATot’s Roma Patel, designers Anna Wallack, Cynthia Rowley, Rebecca Atwood, and Dana Haim, Olympian Alysia Montano, cookbook author Hetal Vasavada, model and muse Slick Woods, children’s author Serena Minott, clean living expert Kristian Henderson, Oakland retail queen Sherri McMullen, wellness influencer Joanne Encarnacion, author LaTonya Yvette, and many, many more!
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