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Mother Essentials: Saima Chowdhury

Written by Erin Feher

For Saima Chowdhury, fashion runs in her blood. Her father ran textile factories in her native Bangladesh, and after racking up an impressive resume of business accolades here in the States (an M.B.A. at the Wharton School, years of working for Victoria’s Secret and Nike), she set her sights back on the women of her hometown. Looking to foster more seamless relations between fashion houses and Bangladeshi manufacturers, she launched her global business—and got pregnant with her son in the same month. From the time her son was 6 months old, he traveled with her on all her business trips back and forth to Asia. By her son’s fourth birthday, her company was reporting more than $22 million in revenue. Now, after ten years of helping other companies get their clothing made, Chowdhury has launched her very own line, Grey State. For her super-soft collection of ethically sourced athleisure basics she uses only OEKO-TEX certified fabrics, employs women under the strictest safety standards in Bangladesh, and uses the UN’s Sustainability Goals as her guide to manufacture in the most compliant, internationally-certified factories. For Grey State’s latest collection, Chowdhury partnered with local artist Kathryn Lewis, who dyes costumes for the New York City Ballet, to create one-of-kind tie-dyed pieces. We had to know what keeps this business and fashion powerhouse going, so we asked her to share with us her 12 current Mother Essentials, from the sweetest smelling baby shampoo to the blazer that’s best to pack on an around-the-world flight. See all her picks below!

Timelines of Everything. “My go-to book for answering my 9-year-old’s questions about what came first. I love the visual layout of timelines that make it easy and interesting to explain historical events.” Smithsonian Timelines of Everything, $17.83, Amazon.

Instacart. “According to their calculation, I have saved 225 hours of grocery shopping by using this app. I love that they deliver from my favorite grocery stores within two hours and I can shop from my bed or during my commute.” Instacart.

Digital Notebook. “I take lots and lots of notes but I don’t like handling and managing papers. OneNote allows me to keep all my notes, thoughts, and lists organized and accessible from all my devices so I can go paperless.” Microsoft OneNote, $69.99, Instant Keys.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. “My whole family cannot live without this cream. My son had eczema when he was a baby and we started using this ‘miracle’ lotion. We are hooked on it.” CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $13.53, Amazon.

Spa-Worthy Bath Towels. “These soft, fluffy, and absorbent towels add a bit of luxury to my everyday.” Sonoma Collection Bath Towels, $38, Serena & Lily.

Smudge-Proof Eye Liner. “I have three minutes to do my makeup in the morning and I love how quickly this eyeliner glides on and that it stays on all day.” Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, $22, Stila.

How I Built This Podcast. “I love listening to this podcast about how other entrepreneurs built their businesses—it serves as a source of motivation and learning when I hear about their trials, tribulations, and successes.” How I Built This With Guy Raz, Free, NPR.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. “Delicious, allergen-free cookies that are a safe treat for all kids. My son loves them and so does my husband!” Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip Soft Baked Cookies, $24.84 (6-pack), Amazon.

Make-Up Friendly Sunscreen. “I love that I can reapply sun protection over my make-up.” Supergoop! x Rebecca Taylor Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $12, Nordstrom.

Clean Shampoo and Bodywash For Baby. “I am a big fan of this all-natural shampoo and conditioner for my son. I try my best to use chemical-free products and this is free of GMO’s, Triclosan, SLS, and other harsh sulfates—and I love the smell!” California Baby Calming Shampoo and Bodywash, $22.99, Amazon.

World’s Best Blazer. “It is a blazer made out of soft, comfy, sweatshirt material. Need I say more?! Perfect for meetings, planes, and playgrounds. Bonus: I can throw it in the wash.” Elle Blazer, $128, Grey State.

NYC Parks. “Central, Prospect, Bryant, Madison Square—I love the sanctuary the parks offer in a busy city. Whenever things get hectic, a dose of quiet park time helps me feel calm and centered.” NYC Parks.

For more on Saima Chowdhury, check out her Instagram feed. And for more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with designers Cynthia Rowley and Taylor Jay, children’s author Serena Minott, clean living expert Kristian Henderson, June & January founder Amy Richardson-Golia, Oakland retail queen Sherri McMullenShahidah Zareef of Bossmom NationJoanne EncarnacionLaTonya YvetteMorgan Walker of Make.doJeanne Chan of Harlow & Grey, and more!

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