Mother’s Day with Dawn and Micaela Hoo of My July
We know spring is in full swing when pink blossoms give way to verdant foliage. Gardens bloom up and down the block. The soundtrack of outdoor dining fills the streets. The list goes on—but sensory details aside, this turning point also marks the impending arrival of Mother's Day.
As you can imagine, this occasion holds a special place in our hearts at Ordinary Habit. Time and time again, our co-founders Teresa and Echo show us the beauty that comes when we reset and reconnect with loved ones. And on the note of connection, we recently spoke with another inspiring mother-daughter duo. Enter Dawn and Micaela Hoo of My July, whose story is filled with courage, creativity, and love.
Read on to meet Dawn and Micaela, who shared more about their relationship, rituals, and ideal Mother's Day itinerary.
Please introduce yourselves. What ordinary habits best capture your essence?
We're Dawn and Micaela Hoo, a mother-daughter duo based in Los Angeles. We co-run My July, a clean skincare company that was born out of Micaela's Lyme disease. Some of our ordinary habits include drinking celery juice every morning, going for a daily walk, moisturizing after bathing or showering, and going to bed early. That encapsulates our essence pretty spot-on!
The inception of My July stems from a deeply personal place. How has this endeavor taught you to appreciate the little things?
Dawn: We touched on this a bit, but we started My July after Micaela developed a breakout of rashes on her hands so severe she lost flexibility in her fingers. If she tried to bend her fingers, the skin around her knuckles would literally crack and bleed. She walked around the house wearing bandages, and I had to prepare her food, wash her hair, make her bed, and drive her places. You never realize how much you use your hands until you can't use them!
A few years later, Micaela was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and we discovered the rashes were a symptom of one of her co-infections of Lyme. During this time, I started experimenting with making my own skincare remedies Micaela could safely use. After many iterations, we came upon a formula that not only worked but felt luxurious and soothing when applied. We figured Micaela couldn't be the only person dealing with chronic illness, so we decided to start selling our skincare.
We believe the best businesses are born out of necessity. We endeavor to create safe, gentle, and effective treatments for not only those with chronic illness but for anyone who wouldn't put anything on their skin that they wouldn't trust eating. It's taught us to appreciate our health and take care of ourselves. It was truly scary to see Micaela's body deteriorating without us knowing how to save it. Simple things like getting restful sleep, movement, sunlight, and being kind to ourselves keep us happy and healthy.
Like My July, Ordinary Habit is also founded and led by a mother-daughter duo. What are some unique rewards and challenges of building something together? How do you reset and reconnect with one another outside of the office?
Micaela: My mom was a stay-at-home mom during my entire childhood, and as an only child, we grew very close. We would do everything together: go to the park, see movies, go shopping. My July felt like a natural extension of our relationship. We both have similar personalities but are also very different in a lot of ways, too. I'm a lot more high-strung, anxious, and obsessive. My mom is more mellow, reasonable, and level-headed. We balance each other out. We always make sure we're having fun, even when we're working. It's all about mindset. If we have a lot to do, it's easy to get overwhelmed, but if we reframe and realize we're literally working with our best friend on something we both love that is for the greater good, how can we ever treat that gift like a burden? We also schedule time for play. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant. We love watching a 10-minute YouTube video, walking down the street to get a latte or tea, or shooting pictures together.
Micaela, you mention that July has always been your favorite month. How has your relationship with this time changed the most as you've navigated life, health, and creative evolutions?
July is my favorite month because summer is my favorite season. July, to me, represents the peak of summer. Looking back at my life, many of my most pivotal events happened in July: I traveled to Europe for the first time in July, I moved from Connecticut to California for the first time in July, my mom and I ran our first half marathon in July, and I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in July.
Dawn, what have you learned to let go of in your motherhood journey?
I was and am always mindful of giving Micaela the space to be her own person. Of course, now she's an adult—but when she was a child, I was careful not to force my opinion on her. I did this in little ways, like letting her choose her meal at a restaurant, letting her dress herself for school, and letting her decorate her room. I never forced her to take music lessons if she didn't want to or to play soccer when she'd rather do figure skating. I was always there to guide her when needed, but seeing Micaela develop into this vibrant person who resembles me, yes—but isn't a carbon copy of myself—has been the most delightful part of motherhood.
What are some new habits or rituals you're building together?
We're really trying to streamline our work-life balance. As entrepreneurs, it's easy to work 24/7 as there is always something you can be doing. We always try to work smarter and not harder, but lately, we're evaluating our workflow to see if there is anything else we can make more efficient. One thing we're trying out is making 1-2 days out of the week a "content day" when we shoot content—be it of us, our product, or something else related to My July. We've turned them into field trips, picking a new neighborhood, garden, or beach to shoot at, so we get to have a little day trip while we're at it!
What is your favorite memory to revisit when reflecting on your relationship?
Micaela: When I was little, my mom would take me grocery shopping with her. There is this grocery store near where I grew up in Connecticut called Stew Leonard's, which I can only describe as the Disneyland of grocery stores. There are displays of dancing and singing animatronic animals, costumed characters, samples galore, and a petting zoo. Dawn: When Micaela was off from school, I would take her to New York City, and we would see Broadway shows. It was something just the two of us did, and it felt very special.
Micaela and Dawn’s Mother’s Day Guide
How does a typical Mother's Day celebration begin? A morning walk in the neighborhood.
What's on the Mother's Day menu? We love a good brunch, and we love to eat at home—something savory like a big salad bowl with rice, beans, avocado, and hummus. We truly don't know why this isn't more common, but hummus in a salad bowl is absolute heaven. Maybe with some seed crackers on the side. So the salad, the crackers, and homemade juice. We're both obsessed with juicing. Eat that with the windows open, a slight breeze rustling the curtains, and birdsong in the background.
If you could grab a bite with any mother-daughter duo in the world, who would it be? This duo is fictional, but we love the real-life actresses behind them: Donna (Meryl Streep) and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) from Mamma Mia. (By the way, if you're reading this, let's connect!)
What are the first three songs or tracks on your Mother's Day celebration playlist? "Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae, "Somethin' Stupid" by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, and "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Do you do anything special when it comes to a Mother's Day skincare or beauty regimen? A mother-daughter sauna date!
What are your favorite stories about mother-daughter relationships? Micaela: We love the iconic Rory and Lorelai relationship/friendship in Gilmore Girls. My mom has always been first a friend, then a mother.
Where is your ultimate mother-daughter vacation or getaway spot? Palm Springs. We do it every year. It's the most healing place we can think of.
What journaling prompt would you give to one another? Micaela: What is a book or movie that changed your view of the world? Dawn: What is the first restaurant you'll go to when you heal your gut and can eat out again?
If you could complete any Ordinary Habit puzzle together, which would it be and why? The Home Flowering Puzzle, which we have! It is such a peaceful tableau and speaks to our plant-based alchemizing souls!