Antonia Plunkett is a hospitality consultant, from London living in Echo Park, LA with her husband, son Jack and their dog Kodak. She was brought up in France where her love for food and beautiful establishments started. She has worked in the hospitality industry in London, Hong Kong, Italy and LA. She loves meeting new people and helping them realize their dreams.
How are you finding being a new Mum?
I’ve been very lucky to have an easy baby, which enabled me to go back to work very quickly. Perhaps too quickly! I was back after 11 weeks and in the end decided I needed a bit more time to be at my best and as productive as possible. On the whole it has been an incredible journey and it helps I have a really supportive husband.
Did you have a support system after giving birth?
When you’re pregnant there is a support system; and you are treated as this miraculous being. After the child was born, I struggled to find support; especially as I live so far away from my family. I wish there were more conversations about being a new Mom and so we can be more prepared about having this new identity.
As an expat and Brit working in the US, do you feel you are missing a support network of your wider family?
It 100% it takes a village. So I had to find my village elsewhere since I didn’t know many people in LA at first. Finally I found Big and Tiny which is a place I can get my work done, build back my confidence and find a group of like-minded parents.
How are you finding balancing your professional life with your new family?
Big and Tiny have helped me find a balance that I am really comfortable with. I don’t feel I have had to make sacrifices at all. I know Jack is in good hands and if anything happens I am just next door. We, working Mums, always feel a certain level of guilt either to our bosses or to our child. Places like Big and Tiny are vital to bringing about an end to that guilt.
As a hospitality expert, is your industry a nurturing place for a working Mum.
Yes and no. Yes because a lot of women work in my industry and therefore there is this general understanding of each other and our needs.
No, because it is very demanding as it requires late nights and working weekends. So at some point it becomes impossible for a mother to execute some of the roles offered within the hospitality industry.
Who I work with and my job role has evolved with my own personal situation and lifestyle. I definitely can no longer work for a snazzy nightclub like I did during my wild Hong Kong days!
Is being a mother really the most rewarding job in the world?
(Laughs) Yes and no, again. Yes of course. I’m learning everyday about being a mother and learning a lot about myself in the process. But for me getting back to work was really important, personally I enjoy being in a pressured work environment, meeting and connecting with people, and making things happen everyday.
Do you still find any time for you? To pamper?
Pamper? I wish. But I always make time after Jack has gone to bed to have aperitivo with my husband or to watch a current documentary. I feel a child shouldn’t 100% dictate what a family is doing; we can still go on culturally awakening trips together. Jack just needs to behave!
Oh and Big and Tiny do offer manicures and facials at work – which is a complete godsend.
Is child care expensive where you live?
Very. I was pretty shocked by the child care prices compared to the UK even. So I limit Jack’s time with a nanny. And I find it more lucrative for him to come with me to Big and Tiny, besides he is a lot more entertained there!
When you first returned back into a work environment did you realize that you had changed?
I was more emotional and burst into tears more (Laughs!.) – mainly due to lack of sleep. Other than that I felt more powerful, confident and grown up. I stood up for myself more, because I realized there are more important things in life. So I got rid of a lot of negative energy and negative people when I returned to work. Something I never had the courage to do before.
Members Clubs and Co-working spaces are your thing. Tell us LA in relation to London and beyond.
The LA landscape is one behind London when it comes to membership clubs. In fact some great spaces I’ve been to started in London and opened an outpost in LA. Such as Second Home, Soho House and the H Club.
London just does private member club really well and they’ve been around since the 1600’s – but they were stuffy gentlemen’s clubs then. But LA has integrated the work-life- wellness balance in such a great way, and therefore their co-working spaces are at the top of their game, they offer hotel like amenities and foster collaboration.
Should you ever get a chance for a date night, where would go?
You can’t beat getting a table at the Hollywood Bowl, sharing a bottle of wine and a platter of cheese over live music. One of my favourite restaurants is Cafe Stella in Silverlake. It’s a French Bistro and it reminds me of my time in Paris. Otherwise getting out of town to stay at the gorgeous The Colony in Palm Springs or an airbnb in Big Bear Lake for a date weekend is always on the radar.