This article appeared in Thrive Global March 16, 2020
By Dr. Ely Weinschneider
Kristina Vetter took over Tonik Cycling Apparel in 2018 to lead the company into its next phase and bring Tonik’s mission to even more women. Tonik makes elegant, high-quality performance apparel that fits women of every size and shape and the company’s mission is to help women look fabulous and feel confident while being active.
Kristina has a graduate degree from the London College of Fashion at the University of Arts London. She is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and a cyclist for over twenty years. Prior to studying fashion, she worked for years in technology law as General Counsel to many different technology startups, and as a professional photographer. Kristina is a mother of four teenagers and a dedicated leader in public schools in her community of Palo Alto, California. She is an advocate for local and regional theater and serves on the Board of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, the Tony award-winning regional theater. She has degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and the University of Arts London.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I grew up in North Carolina and much of my childhood was spent in a progressive “new town” in an extremely poor part of the state. My parents are divorced and both remarried, so I grew up with many half- and step- siblings. I went to UNC- Chapel Hill for college but was pretty ready to get out of North Carolina. I spent my junior year abroad in Japan and moved to New York after I graduated to work in banking.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
I have about twenty years’ experience as a corporate lawyer, mostly as a General Counsel for small tech companies. In the early 2000s, I had my four children within five years and dialed my work back to part-time, then paused my career entirely to be a full-time mom and volunteer. During my break from paid work I wanted to do some creative things, and took masters’ classes in photography and eventually got a degree in fashion. I went back to full-time work in law last year, and a couple of months after I started back I found out that the founders of Tonik — a company with a product that I knew and loved — were retiring, and looking for someone to take over the business. With my kids getting older and increasingly busy with their own things,, I decided that it was the right time to do something new and fun.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
During the spring, summer and fall I make a lot of sales trips to cycling events, to meet customers and introduce new people to the brand. In between trips I try to keep my schedule pretty flexible to do things with the kids. During the winter I travel a lot less which is great. I spend time designing the next season, on marketing, and on planning the following year.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?
Children need strong and stable adult figures in their lives to feel secure, so it’s good for their parents to spend time with them. Aside from that, if you don’t spend time with them they will miss you, and you will miss the opportunity to share your life with people who will greatly enhance it.
On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?
They will miss you and you will miss a great opportunity to share your life with people who love you.
According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?
Great ways to spend quality time with younger kids are reading with them, drawing with them, sitting on the floor building something with them or snuggling with them and having them tell you about their day. As kids get older, they may not want to do as much with their parents, but they still take great comfort in the security of knowing you are around for them when they need you.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.
Your children probably can’t help you at your work, but there are many aspects of life that they can be included in, all of which help them feel stable and secure. They can grocery shop with you or load the dishwasher or do the laundry with you — giving them tiny pieces of each job to do themselves (“put this plate here”) is a great way to teach them things.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
There are many ways to be a good parent, but I think one common factor among “good parents” is that they love their children and their children’s well being is very important to them.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
“Dream big” means different things to different people. What you want for your kids might not at all be what they want. I want my kids to find out what they love spending their time doing, and then to think about ways they can spend their time doing it. To me that’s a great thing to dream about- spending your life doing what you want to do and not what other people decided for you.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
Success is defined in the richness of how you spend your time and in your relationships with people. If you wake up in the morning happy about how you are going to spend your day, that is success.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
My children, and other real-life moms including my own, inspire me to be a better parent.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
If you are feeling down and want to feel better, try these things: get moving, get outside, and do something for someone else.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would get people to truly practice empathy. Genuinely trying to understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes goes a long way towards understanding different points of view and reducing conflict.