A Little Muse

 

A Little Muse

Penelope Jagessar Chaffer & Family

How many 7 year olds do you know get invited to have their own art exhibition?  I know of  one remarkable young boy- Penelope Jagessar Chaffer’s son Zephyr Hawk!   His intricately detailed drawings of skyscrapers, bridges and trains -all from memory are really quite extraordinary. I met Penny at Zephyr’s exhibition in Brooklyn and quickly realized he not only inherited his mother’s beauty but her incredible creativity as well!  And that’s just 50% of his DNA!   Our play date reflects how creative and physically spirited the Jagessar Chaffer family are!  The surf and skate boards are as much part of the landscape as the art that hangs along the walls of their Brooklyn apartment! Elliott- Zephyr’s dad a NY based Creative Director breaks out the building blocks -the kids erect complicated structures and Elliott brings them to life with a stop animation film.  Oceana- Zephyr’s baby sister concentrates on her own delicate circle drawings and Bun Bun the cage less rabbit seems quite oblivious when impromptu football game breaks out as if this sort of thing happens all the time!  Zephyr has met his match in Tallulah -like Oceana she’s there with him every step of the way-with her love of crafting, football and skateboarding!  I think he is pleased commemorating the day with a necklace he’s made especially for Tallulah!

A BAFTA nominated film maker-Penny has created Toxic Baby a revolutionary interactive documentary app for desktop, smart phones, tablets and game consoles. Toxic Baby brings to light the effects the chemical industry has had on the health of our children.  Please watch Penelope’s TED WOMAN talk on Toxic Baby HERE!
You can also see more of Zephyr Hawk’s work HERE!

 

What was the inspiration behind Toxic Baby?

I found out that the number one preservative in baby care products (a group of chemicals called parabens) mimics estrogen and had been found in breast cancer tumors. Parabens from products like shampoos and lotions can get into the bloodstream within an hour of application. I then found out that parabens were just the tip of the iceberg. Over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released into the American environment each year, including 72 million pounds of recognized carcinogens. The US imports and manufactures 41 million pounds of chemicals EVERY DAY and the vast majority of these chemicals have never been fully tested to see how they affect our kids.

At the same time, rates of childhood cancer, asthma, autism spectrum disorders, childhood diabetes and birth defects have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. An elite group of scientists at the cutting-edge of research caught the connection and realized that this bombardment of toxic chemicals were having detrimental affects on the health of our children. I just couldn’t believe I didn’t know anything about it. My baby’s skin care is estrogenic and I don’t know this?

So my mission was to put together a very clear illustration of what the scientists had found out in a very innovative, interactive and distinctive way. What we are doing with Toxic Baby has never been done before. It’s such an important issue and because there is so little regulation it’s up to parents to police their children’s exposure to these toxic chemicals. That totally sucks so I’ve tried to create a resource that would not only educate and inform but also entertain and resonate. It’s a digital adventure for the MTV generation that grew up and had kids. I also wanted to inspire parents to support better legislation like the Safer Chemicals Act, currently in Congress. Better regulation means the burden won’t fall on parents to angst about toxic chemicals and we can get back to just raising our kids.

 

While doing research for Toxic Baby what was the most shocking news you came across?

So many things shocked the bleep out of me. That every blood sample ever taken has shown chemical contamination. That newborn babies have been found with over 200 chemicals already present in their body at birth. That moms pass on toxic chemicals to their unborn child when pregnant. That chemicals that were banned in the 1970s were still turning up in my blood, forty years later. On reflection though, I think the most shocking thing was seeing 2 year old girls, who had started getting their periods, with breasts and pubic hair. To this day I am still haunted by those images of toddlers going through puberty.

Wife, mother, film maker-how do you find time for yourself?

In the morning I meditate and prepare for the day. I’ve always encouraged the kids to be able to occupy themselves so during the day at some point I will always sit down with a nice cup of tea and take 5 and at night I have a daily ritual where I have a bath and endulge in some DIY beauty therapy. A total indulgence that allows me to reflect on the day we’ve had and prepare for the day to come. I try to also have regular acpuncture sessions with the amazing Jill Blakeway of the Yinova Center. My ultimate moment for myself is bikram yoga with my favorite teacher Vinnie. I call him the New York yogi. I used to be 100% nonstop at 100 mph and I really just had to shut that shit down.

If you had more time just for you what would you be doing?

I’m a compulsive creator of things. I just adore making stuff and crafting, but I have so little time so if I could manipulate Einsten’s theory of relativity I would do more crafting, sewing and knitting. I’ve always made little things for the kids and have started making clothes and toys for them. I would love to do more of that and make more things for the home too.

What’s your favorite thing about being a mother?

The physicality of love-all of the snuggles, cuddles, kiss-ups, love-ups and sloppy kisses it entails. Also it is through motherhood that I found my meaning and true essence as a woman and a human being. It’s undoubtedly the best thing that ever happened to me.

Is there anything you can’t say NO to?

Mangoes!

What are some of your favorite things to do together as a family?

We are a surfing, snowboarding, skating family so our favorite activities all involve riding boards. Oceana just had her first snowboarding session in Fort Greene Park after the Nemo blizzard.

What are your mommy must haves and what can you NOT live without?

My life is so full that I really need good tools and strategies to keep it all on track and on time. I am constantly in the kitchen, which really is the heart of our home so my Gobalknives, Mauviel & Cephalon copper pans and my 360 stainless steel. For the inevitable sniffles, strains and ails of childhood my Helios Homeopathic Nursery kit (arnica and ferrum phosphoricum in particular), colloidal silver and Rescue Remedy kids formulation are indispensable. My to-do lists and my i-Phone with all it’s apps, alarms, calendar alerts, notes and ability to manage my entire social media output, not to mention my life. Acupuncture from Jill Blakeway at the Yinova Center in NYC. Louis CK for humor when parenting becomes a four letter word.

What are us some of your must have beauty products?

I don’t do synthetics or toxic chemicals so I look to natural solutions and I am really picky so few brands get through my radar. Tata Harper’s skin care line is my absolute must have. Her products are just remarkable espeically the serum and facial oil. I also love Nine Naturals shampoo and conditioner. (My husband is obsessed with their body wash!) Argan oil is my all round miracle product and pure colloidal silver is quite remarkable. Lavie Organique face cream is lovely and I’m totally hooked on my new “From My Neck Up” facial exercise regime.

My life is so full that I really need good tools and strategies to keep it all on track and on time. I am constantly in the kitchen, which really is the heart of our home so my Gobalknives, Mauviel & Cephalon copper pans and my 360 stainless steel. For the inevitable sniffles, strains and ails of childhood my Helios Homeopathic Nursery kit (arnica and ferrum phosphoricum in particular), colloidal silver and Rescue Remedy kids formulation are indispensable. My to-do lists and my i-Phone with all it’s apps, alarms, calendar alerts, notes and ability to manage my entire social media output, not to mention my life. Acupuncture from Jill Blakeway at the Yinova Center in NYC. Louis CK for humor when parenting becomes a four letter word.

What are some of your favorite children’s brands?

Favorites include Petite Collage for cool laser cut mobiles, Manimals for organic stuffed toys, Kidsonroof for fantastic paper construction and Oeuf for their awesome design aesthetic. For clothing right now Flora and Henri, Lucky Wang, Dagmar and Daley, J Crew, Appaman and Atsuyo et Akiko are on rotation. Love love Lieschen Mueller’s hairbands/headdresses. My kids spend a lot of time outdoors so I love functional clothes with style. Polarn o Pyret and Patagonia are getting alot of airplay at the moment. Also it’s important to me to support brands that make a commitment to organic clothing and green manufacturing practices like Winter Water Factory, Tane Organics and Mini Rodini.

Sometimes the question is “how I can interpret this brand’s vision for our unique needs?” So I rework pieces like embroidering Atsuyo et Akiko t-shirts or customizing a J Crew tosca lamb trapper into a cat hat and I’ve recently found myself upcycling my castoffs for the kids. Zephyr also has a really keen eye for what’s he’s wearing so we spend much time discussing what the fabric is and where it’s come from and whom might be making the item he’s going to wear or the toy he’s playing with. Is it toxic? Is it plastic? Is it recycable? Will it harm the environment when we are finished with it? Do we think the people making it are fairly treated. These questions are important to us and I think it’s important for children to be aware of the ethos of a brand that they are using.

Favorite designer you wish would come out with a children’s line?

I love kids’ wear with a twist so I would love, love, love to see my little girl in Sarah Burton’s vision for Alexander McQueen (Holla!) I’ve reworked a couple of skull and roses t-shirts for Osh. Such a fan of Ms B! or Mary Katrantzou’s killer prints (love her-she’s a true visionary)and my boy in anything Phoebe Philo would care to create. Phoebe’s unique take on the blurred line between menswear and womenswear (her graduation collection for St. Martin’s was menswear) reinterpreted for littler people would absolutely hit it out of the park…

When Zeph grows up he wants to be…

A dad and an architect. He’s rad…

And finally your perfect day would be…

The whole family surfing the perfect 6 foot break on a reef break in the tropics, followed by a freshly fished fry-up on the beach and a star lit dance party with all our mates.

Tallulah wears dress by Wovenplay,  cardigan and tights and shoes by Crew Cuts.

Comments

read review says: April 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm

very good post, i actually love this website, carry on it

Reply
annemarie says: April 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Thanks so much! Carry on with us!
Annemarie x

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>