story by LIESEL SCHMIDT
photography by LUCIA SMITH
featuring MEGAN PODOLSKY + SARAH MEYER WALSH
As big an undertaking as owning a business may be, adding motherhood and raising a family to the mix makes it even more of an issue of balance—something Megan Podolsky knows well. The co-owner of Mint Condition and 529 Kids Consign in Old Town spends five days a week working in both locations, juggling time at the women’s boutique and kids’ consignment shop with time with her boys and her husband. But the balancing act is one she considers well worth it.
“I love what I do,” says Podolsky. “Owning these stores makes me a better mama because I feel fulfilled in all aspects of life. I strive for work-life balance and sometimes combine the two. Luckily, my boys love coming to Mint and being a part of the daily operations there when they’re on a break from school. We recently started carrying men’s clothes, so they sell their gently used, hard-to-find sneakers at the store. I feel like they are learning from me, and I love that!”
Of all things they learn from their mother, Podolsky hopes her boys see her dedication. “I want them to always remember that their mom worked hard to be able to play harder with them,” she notes. “I want them to see that sheer will pays off.”
Podolsky and her husband recently built a beach house in the Outer Banks. The family spends much cherished time together there. “I want them to remember all of those beautiful moments,” she says.
Like Podosky, Sarah Meyer Walsh has embraced the challenge of business ownership and motherhood. The owner of Haute Papier in Arlington spends her days at the letterpress print and design studio’s office, going home to her husband and children at the end of the day confident that she’s doing what needs to be done for her kids. “All moms work in some way, right?” she posits. “Having a full-time job outside of helping my husband manage our house and family always takes balance, but I like being able to have both. And I really feel that my being a working mom helps our kids understand the need for balance in all things, from what we eat to how we spend our time.”
As she raises her kids, Walsh is growing in her own ways. “I think my children have helped me be more patient,” she notes. “I’m often doing 15 things at once, so the need to slow down to ‘enjoy the process’ is something that they’ve helped me work on.”
"I hope my kids never forget how much I love to bring the fun! -Sarah Meyer Walsh
Despite her busy schedule, Walsh is determined to find fun where she can. “I hope my kids never forget how much I love to bring the fun!” she says. “I’m always up for an adventure, whether it be a spur-of-the-moment trip or dinner party. I’m spontaneous and always up for hosting the last-minute fun!”
Love of hosting, in fact, is something that Walsh and Podolsky share—as is the incredible bond that has grown between the two women and their families over the years. Having met in their neighborhood on an evening walk, they quickly became friends over their mutual love of books, cooking and travel. “She is definitely one of those people that, as soon as I met her, I knew we would be longtime friends,” says Podolsky of Walsh.
Indeed, they have been, as their similarities led to friendship and, eventually, a weekly dinner bringing both their families together. “We’d gather with a few other moms on Mondays after school, and it became known [as] 'Mom Monday,'” Podolsky begins the story of how their tradition came to be. “We’d hang out and have a glass of wine and let the kids play. After a glass or two, what to do for dinner became a big question mark. Sarah and I often exchange recipes and talk about our love of creating beautiful meals for our family, so we began to join forces on Monday evenings. We plan our menu out that morning and between the two of us, we gather all the ingredients that we need. And then, voila! We have a fun and delicious meal that our children and husbands love, as well.”
Adds Walsh, “We are always talking and texting recipes and market finds. Megan is such a gracious hostess and always throw[s] together a beautiful tablescape complete with flowers. I’m usually on the hunt for what local ingredients are only in season for a tiny amount of time and [I wonder,] how are we going to make the most of them?”
As much time as their families spend together, bonds have developed between their husbands and children, as well. “Our children range [in] age from seven to 14 and they all play beautifully together. Even our husbands bond on all things—bourbon, home projects, life and their fabulous wives,” Podolsky says with a laugh.
“Our kids have been friends as long as we have, and both our husbands enjoy spending time with our full families together and on their own with their monthly poker games,” Walsh agrees.
"I love a beautiful tablescape... there are never enough candles or flowers!" - Megan Podolsky
With as many dinners as they’ve hosted for one anothers' families, their recipe games are strong—as are their abilities in creating gorgeous tablescapes. “I love a beautiful tablescape!” Podolsky says. “But this doesn’t mean I go crazy and spend a ton of money on it. My biggest secret is that Trader Joe’s has the best flowers. I don’t set out for a very specific flower because they are so seasonal, so I grab whatever looks healthy and is [in] abundance. Depending on my mood, I’ll either do a huge centerpiece or small bud vases with a cluster in each and add lots of candles. I absolutely love Crate & Barrel outlet for all things candle-related right now. In my opinion, there are never enough candles or flowers! Most often, I go for a neutral setting, so that the flowers really pop, but I do love a fun, printed napkin from Boxwood. I’m definitely not opposed to a fun paper napkin, especially on a Monday. However, if we went to zhuzh it up a bit, I’ll use a beautiful cloth napkin.”
For Walsh, the perfect tablescape pulls in the season. “I’m usually adding flowers, whether they’re from my garden or grocery store blooms, to take advantage of what’s growing at any particular time,” she says. “Recently, it’s been coral bell leaves and honeysuckle adding to our weekly blooms. While not technically part of a tablescape, lighting is one of my other big focuses when hosting. Candles and uplighting are a must, and if you can have the doors open to add more natural light, do it—and dim the overhead lights.”