The Cool Moms

By / People / May 4, 2017

These 4 local ladies make their own rules when it comes to parenting — and we love that about them. We photographed them in their own spaces, and picked up some advice in advance of Mother’s Day May 14.


Jennifer Worman, 40, with Grant, 5, and Gavin, 3

Blogger and CEO/co-founder of local label T&J Designs

What’s your parenting style? I give my boys lots of hugs and kisses, but they have chores and have to work toward earning certain things. … I want to make sure they know they are loved, but also be strong, smart, kind men.

How does being in the fashion world translate to your sons? I would love for them to find their sense of style — with some of my guidance! Right now they love superheroes and anything with [one] on it is what they want to wear.

What local spots do you love taking your sons? Eating is a large part of our lives. Chinatown is our favorite — from dim sum to a bowl of ramen, my kids love food. Another favorite spot during the summer is Maggie Daley Park (337 E. Randolph).

Where do you go to get away? When I can take some time off, The Langham, Chicago (330 N. Wabash; for a staycation.

What are your words to live by? Live and love passionately, create your own success, and be true to yourself.

Steal her style: Worman’s blog, has a loyal following (more than 90k on Instagram!) and offers fashion inspo and budget-friendly outfit ideas.

Stephanie Izard, 40, and Ernie, 1

Chef/owner of Girl & the Goat, Little Goat and Duck Duck Goat

What parenting “rule” have you thrown out the window? Never sleep in bed with your baby. Sometimes you just have to cuddle for a little while.

How does being a chef affect what you feed your baby? I would love to make all of my own baby food, but there are some organic products out there that are definitely good substitutes. Now that he’s older, he just eats what we eat. I’m actually about to fire him up some moo shu pork from Duck Duck Goat for dinner!

What do you most hope your son learns from you as he grows up? To season properly while cooking. Just kidding! I just want him to be kind.

What local spot do you love going with Ernie, and where do you go to get away? Ernie loves the aquarium — we go to one in every city we visit. My escape is swimming in the mornings, and Ernie is starting to love to swim, too, at Goldfish Swim School (2630 W. Bradley; Goldfishswim

North Side love: Ernie was named for legendary Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks — and the family pup, pictured above, is Burt.

Alexandria Ott, 31, and Henry, 4 months

Founder/CEO of Chrome City PR firm

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten about being a mom? My mom said, “Just do what feels right.” I listen to my gut as a business owner and it has guided me to the best places — I do the same with parenting. Also, it kind of makes you feel better [to know] that civilization has been raising babies for centuries and you are just one of so, so many. So, you got this.

What are the challenges of being a single mom? Scheduling is a challenge when you’re doing it on your own — you are at the mercy of whoever can help you. I see each challenge as an opportunity to change and grow.

What local spots do you love going with Henry? We love going for walks and stopping by Nando Milano Trattoria (2114 W. Division; or Black Bull’s patio (1721 W. Division; for dinner.

Where do you go to get away? When I have a moment to myself, I want to be pampered. I love the team at Custom Hair Lounge (2107 N. Cleveland; — Nevsy [Rothe] always takes great care of me.

How would you describe your parenting style so far? Laid-back. I did a ton of yoga when I was pregnant and spent a lot of time alone so I could control my environment and remain peaceful. I hoped it would result in what I have been lucky enough to get: a calm kid who is super happy and full of smiles.

To market: Ott will spend her first-ever Mother’s Day at Dose Market ( The May 14 installment benefits New Moms, a nonprofit that helps young moms who face poverty. 

Autumn Merritt, 34, with son Ari, 7, & daughter Milo, 6

Co-owner (with her husband Brian) of Sir & Madame boutique in Hyde Park

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten about being a mom? Don’t neglect yourself or your partner. Life and love are about balance. Something’s bound to slip, but the closer the levels are maintained, the better the relationships.

You have a unique sense of style — have your kids inherited that? I let them make their own choices when it comes to what to wear. They are pretty strong-willed, so that was an easy fight for me to give up. I look to minimize breakdowns in the morning.

How else do you inspire them to be creative? By turning off the TVs and tablets! Ari was into customizing sneakers on NIKEiD, but I encouraged him to begin sketching his own footwear. Milo is a natural artist — together they sketch designs for what they envision the Sir & Madame kids line to be.

What local spot do you love going with the kids? We love to hang out at Soho House, playing board games, watching movies and of course eating their favorite chicken and waffles at Chicken Shop (113 N. Green;

Look familiar? The Merritt family recently starred in a Honda Civic commercial as part of the car company’s Greatness Is Within Reach campaign — check it out at

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