One In A Maven

Leslie Bailey is a very busy woman. She seemingly does it all: on top of raising three young boys, she’s also the co-founder and CEO of Indy Maven, a lifestyle media company and community made for women, by women. Since launching in 2019, it’s been a hit—the company was voted “Best Newsletter in Indiana” in 2020 and 2021 and features alumni from Cosmopolitan and the New York Times. Her hard work has earned her a spot on Forbes 2021 Next 1,000 list, and for good reason. Now, the #MavenMovement is growing with Bailey’s upcoming launch of Maven Space, a sister project to the Indy Maven brand. Bailey has transformed 15,000 square feet of downtown Indianapolis into a social and co-working space for women, trans and non-binary people, and it’s opening to the public on May 16. With Maven Space’s upcoming launch and Mother’s Day right around the corner, PATTERN couldn’t resist squeezing into Bailey’s jam-packed schedule to figure out how she makes it all work. 

Photography by Polina Osherov

Cover Design by Carrie Kelb

Katie Freeman: You have three adorable little boys. How do you manage raising them on top of being the CEO of Indy Maven & Maven Space?

Leslie Bailey: A very supportive, hands-on partner. He not only wants me to be doing what I’m doing—he will do anything to help make sure that I can do what I’m doing. He makes their lunches every day. When I talk to a lot of moms, their partners are not necessarily supportive or they’re supportive in some ways but not others. He’s very supportive. I have one of my friends living with us to help us. I use a company called My Sherri to help us once a week to keep things in order and make sure that our house does not crumble around us. Definitely bringing in help, even sometimes when we can’t afford it, honestly because we also can’t afford not to have it. That’s when stuff just falls in the cracks.

KF: What is the most challenging part of making it all work?

LB: I think it is a challenge to remember to be present. That applies during business hours and when I’m with other people too. People are constantly interrupting, especially when I’m in a place where lots of people need to ask me questions and talk to me. I’m learning that I have to physically remove myself. Like at home, I have to physically put my phone away so I don’t even see it. At work, I have to physically move my body into another room so no one can see it. Otherwise, I can get pulled in too many directions.

KF: What’s your approach to self-care? 

LB: I don’t go for the whole ‘wine and bubble baths’ [idea]. That’s very superficial to me. It’s nice, but it’s not actually fixing anything. If you’re feeling like you need to drink a bottle of wine or take a bubble bath every night—if your life is that stressful or there’s that much toxicity—there’s some other things you need to fix. That to me is more like setting boundaries with people. I don’t like to say no, but I’m learning the “Yes, but.” Saying “Yes, I can do that, but I can’t stay the full time.” That’s more important to me than actually saying no. There’s this whole movement about “Say no, don’t do things,” but I’m also an Enneagram seven, which means I want to be at everything all the time. How about we just say yes, but we also don’t need to be the last person to leave. Just thinking about things more creatively, not so black and white. 

KF: How do you establish that work-life balance?

LB:  I am super protective of my time [after] my kids get out of daycare. [From] 4:30 to 7:00, I don’t have my phone. I ask people not to reach out to me because that’s basically my only big chunk of time with them every day. Even if you don’t have kids, though, it’s whatever that thing is that you need to protect, whether it’s time alone, time with a partner, time with a friend, exercising—making that non-negotiable is the most important thing.

KF: Even though it can be tough to juggle it all, I bet it’s worth it. What are some of the best parts of being a mom? 

LB: It’s funny, my first son was not very affectionate, but I’m not either, so it didn’t really bother me. It bothered my husband more. Now, he’s like, “I love you, momma!” and he tells me how pretty I look. It’s very unconditional love. It’s a different kind of love than any I’ve ever experienced before. You can’t replicate it. Also, watching them grow. Ethan is just about to turn two. He said his name for the first time yesterday. I was not there to hear it, sadly. But that’s fun! He now knows how to say his name, which is a cool thing to watch a human learn to do.

KF: What’s something your kids have taught you?

LB: Patience. I say that with caveat that I actually think my mom taught me patience at the end of her life, which then actually prepared me for having patience as a mom. My mom took forever to go down the stairs or walk through a parking lot. She was not very physically mobile. It’s the exact same thing with a two-year-old. You have to hold their hand down the stairs. You have to make sure they don’t fall. Everything takes longer. They want to do things themselves. I have so much patience for everyone else because you don’t know what anyone is going through. 

KF: You’re always keeping up with all things Indy. What are some of your most-loved spots to visit with your fam? 

LB: If I’m being completely honest, it’s not the sexiest spot, but my family loves going to Cancun for Mexican because my kids think it’s the coolest place ever. We like going to Holliday Park a lot. We’re going to Trader’s Point Creamery this weekend. There’s a little farm—this is a great spot, I almost don’t even want to tell people! [It’s] On Michigan Road and 65th Street and they have a horse, but they do blueberry picking during the summer and a pumpkin patch during the fall. It’s the cutest little family-owned farm. That’s one of our favorites. 

KF: If you had the rest of your day off, what would you do with your family?

LB: I’d pick the kids up. Usually, we would go to the park. I never take them to get ice cream—my husband does—but something like that. Get them a treat. But also, my son thinks it’s such a treat when he just gets to go [straight] home. Honestly, I would probably get them to spend time with them at home. Maybe go to a park or something. I feel like my time at home with them is so limited. I don’t feel like I need to take them to the zoo or the Children’s Museum. I would hang out with them at home and actually just play with them.

KF: What are you looking forward to right now? 

LB: I’m looking forward to planning my first solo trip. I think I’m going to take a solo trip, because I just need to go somewhere and be alone. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m tossing that idea around. I am excited about opening Maven Space. I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day because it will be my first one outside of COVID. It’s the first holiday that my kids are old enough to know what’s going on and that’s not as bad, COVID-wise. My family’s taking me out to breakfast which is great. Plans are a lot more fun when there are kids around!

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