Building a legacy, the story of Libby Romano
Every once in a while, you meet someone that you just click with. You can’t explain it, but you feel an incredible bond. Libby has been one of those lucky few instances in my life. At first glance, you see an impeccably dressed, bite-sized woman with an infectious smile. Get her talking business for a few minutes, and you see the brilliant marketing and creative powerhouse behind the tiny package. Believe me, the only thing dainty about this woman is her shoe size.
Co-Founder and Publisher of LUXYMOM®, mama of two, loving wife, and all-around bad mama-jama in the side hustle department, Libby Romano has been looking to the horizon with unwavering optimism since she was a young girl. This is her story through my eyes. My business partner, Wonder Woman of computer coding, and genuinely great friend.
From the beginning, Libby knew she was going to own a business. A conservative young lady, and self-admitted “goody two shoes,” Libby marched to the beat of her own drum – which was normally leading her straight to the bookstore. “I was always a bit different,” she said to me. “I was always going to the store and buying entrepreneurial books like How to Own Your Own Company. I always knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
So, while other kids were out buying candy, Libby was quite literally trying to figure out how to market that candy. While others were out playing, she was covering her walls with fashion photos and magazine spreads – steadily keeping her eye on the horizon that someday she would own her own business in the fashion industry.
The early 2000’s – when frost lip gloss was in and Juicy Couture sweatpants were popular. We shall refer to this as PL, or Pre-LUXYMOM®. Our wide-eyed beauty had just graduated college with a marketing degree from Nebraska and set her sights on the Windy City. She approached this new opportunity just like she still approaches any new challenge – full speed ahead. So, lipstick on point and stilettos on, off she went into the big bad world of corporate marketing.
There she was, a twenty something woman kicking asphalt and taking names. “There was no experience like real-world experience,” she said. “I’m just sort of a trial-by-fire kind of girl, so I dove head-first into the scene.”
For the next couple of years, she sharpened her skills as a businesswoman and began developing and perfecting her own personal style. Still, the entrepreneur inside kept reminding her there was something bigger out there. There was no question she was damn good at marketing, but she knew she needed to freely create her own launching pad. So, in true form, she kept one stiletto firmly in the corporate door, and ran headfirst towards her entrepreneurial dreams. This was the beginning of what I like to call “The Lib-eration Era”.
It is early 2010 – we are still PL, and Libby is making moves both professionally, as an entrepreneur, and personally. We officially enter “The Lib-eration Era” of our story. Enter, le husband. Libby met her husband Steve while operating her own business and the two fell in love. They were married, had a lovely ceremony, and Libby wore the most fabulous now-vintage Halston Heritage wedding dress – 100% Libby. Seriously, a dove probably landed on her shoulder and cooed in unison with a violin, it was so dreamy. Mother Nature would approve, as I personally think she herself is a LUXYMOM® reader, but I digress.
A couple of years later, Libby was running a successful personal styling service for brides. This was an extremely demanding job, but the constant pivoting was mentally stimulating. At that same time, she became pregnant with her first son. It was at this junction in her life that she had the idea to start a blog focusing on fashion for pregnant women. Already being a stylist for others, she wanted to expand that platform and have a stylish conversation with expectant mamas everywhere. Thus, De-Frump your Bump was born and so was Libby’s career as a blogger.
However, halfway through her pregnancy something shifted. Thoughts and emotions were changing and so were priorities. Ultimately, she conceded that she needed to slow down, a completely foreign notion until becoming a mother. “I realized I would be working every weekend as a bridal stylist. You are constantly running, and I didn’t want to do that when I was nine months pregnant. I also wanted to spend time with my family once I had my son. I wanted to focus on family,” she explained.
Time. All she needed was time. Enjoying family and snuggling her new baby boy were knowns. But what were unknowns were the changes going on with her body. For a new mom, she probably thought to herself, “what in the hell is going on there?” Having a child totally changed the way her body responded to working out and how things fit her. What she didn’t know was that there was something on her horizon that would bring her wardrobe conundrums and love of blogging back to the forefront. Foreshadowing….
Then it happened. A decision. A choice. A new adventure. Libby, her now toddler, and husband packed up and moved to Florida.
Touch down. Once arriving in the land of palm trees and Tropicana, Libby attempted to gain her bearings in quite the different scene from Chicago. However, her mind was constantly milling with ideas and plans on how she could build a business in her new hometown.
A short while later, she was pregnant with her second son and Libby was inspired by a much bigger conversation than just pregnancy. “After I had my first son, I was noticing the changes in my new body and trying to adjust. It didn’t matter how much I worked out or what I ate, things didn’t fit me like they did when I was in my 20’s. I knew that if I was having problems picking out outfits to wear, I imagined other women were, too. That was the impetus of LUXYMOM®,” she said. “So, as I was pregnant with my second son, I was giving birth to LUXYMOM®.”
Welcome to the LUXYMOM® era. 2017, enter the photographer. I first met Libby when she hired me to take photos for her then personal blog, LUXYMOM®. I remember people by their outfits. Listen, I fully embrace and appreciate that I am an odd bird. She had on white skinny jeans, a yellow silk camisole, a gold Chanel bag, and the most adorable yellow flats with a fringe bow. She was fun, vibrant, and absolutely lit up when she talked her blog.
After our first shoot we went to Campiello – a tony restaurant in downtown Naples – and talked business for a while – which was when I first realized how brilliant of a businesswoman she is. I asked her why she started the bog and she said thoughtfully, “Every mom deserves to feel stylish and beautiful. That is something that she can have. It is okay to have that and it is okay to still want that when you are a mom. It isn’t something reserved for younger women. You aren’t being shallow. So, I wanted to provide options for women and for every budget.”
I remember that. It resonated with me as a mother, but also as a businesswoman. I appreciated her transparency.
2020. The year Chuck Norris cried and an orgy of hurricanes formed in the Atlantic. Present day. The rebirth of LUXYMOM®. How did it happen? Over the last three years, Libby and I have both grown as entrepreneurs. Libby grew her blog and honed in on her readership – really connecting to her audience. I became Fashion Editor of a local magazine and polished my skills directing and orchestrating photoshoots.
One day, we decide to sit down for lunch and start talking business. I ask about LUXYMOM® and said to her, “You should start a magazine.” She sort of giggled and tilted her head at me – but oh my, did she go into her creative zone. Libby has a way of rolling an idea in her mind while still maintaining a deep conversation. I can tell when she is doing it by now. You see, she was looking for the next evolution of her business. Libby is always eyes on the horizon.
A short time later, we got together again, but this time we had a real honest to goodness conversation about re-launching LUXYMOM® as digital magazine. The conversation grew to a plan, which grew to a full-blown partnership. “I always feel like things happen for a reason,” she said. “And I always knew I wanted LUXYMOM® to grow into something bigger than just my blog. Obviously to do that as a legitimate business, I would need the right team. It would be extremely hard if not impossible to do it by myself.”
So, here we are. We did it. To say an eight-week relaunch was ambitious is an understatement, but teamwork makes the dreamwork! We each have strengths in areas the other does not and there is zero ego. The respect is genuine, and the work ethic is steady. It is truly a dream dynamic. We push each other to be better and challenge one another to think bigger. I don’t think Libby would have it any other way. I remember during one of our first LUXYMOM® meetings, she asked if we could launch in September – this was at the very end of July, and I about fell off my stool. But that is Libby, eye always on the horizon.
LUXYMOMs®, it is a distinct pleasure to be business partners with Libby Romano. A serious businesswoman, eternal optimist, and above all, genuine friend to each one of you out there!