Juliane Camposano, a Solo Mom designing her future
Born and raised in Germany, Juliane Camposano studied graphic design and photography in London before moving to New York City, where she worked in fashion and beauty branding for 20 years. She recently relocated to Los Angeles and is now the creative director for the popular beauty-sampling service Ipsy. Although marketing is her full-time gig, she has her own collection of ethically and sustainably produced clothing and accessories called ROSEL.
An avid surfer and accomplished athlete, Camposano also solo parents two sons: she long-distance parents her elder son, Phillip, 17, who is completing school in Brooklyn; and Henri, 12, lives with her in Los Angeles.
Q: How did ROSEL come about?
A: I started ROSEL in 2009 as a creative side project. I always liked to design clothes and do pieces for myself. I have a very specific personal style. Friends quickly picked up on my designs, so I started to do some small-scale wholesale. My main income is still my career in advertising.
Q: Do you see building ROSEL into a primary project?
A: My ultimate dream would be to make ROSEL my main work. I’m currently reconcepting a creative fashion project with a friend, which will include ROSEL. I love being creative and like to constantly make stuff; therefore, I want to keep pushing it.
Q: How would you describe your personal style?
A: It’s casual wear that supports the life I like to live and takes me from day to night without needing to change. It’s really an extension of myself. I’m an outdoor person: I surf, I ski, I run around on an adrenaline high 24 hours a day. I have sleep issues because I’m so overactive!
I grew up with a crafty, creative family. So as a kid, it was natural to make and craft things. I grew up knitting and sewing and wearing my own clothes. I intended to go to fashion-design school, but my dad was pragmatic and wanted me to do something where I could actually “earn money,” so I went into graphic design, photography, and advertising.
By subconscious guidance, I ended up doing beauty and fashion advertising, but I was always behind the scenes versus doing it. In my mid-30s, when I was feeling frustrated with my 10-plus-year marriage and locked creatively, I wanted to go back to doing my own clothes. So I did it for myself.
I made my clothes. People on the street or friends would say, “Wow, I like your outfit.” So I started making a couple more . . . then a couple more . . . and that’s how the business came to life.
Q: Your clothes have a simple elegance and West Coast feel.
A: I call it “the secrets of a tomboy.” I sometimes have such a strong personality that I say I’m half man—like all single moms have to be, I guess.
For years I’d been going back and forth to Los Angeles. I have friends here, and I love the lifestyle. When I started surfing, it became even more of an extension of me. It was a natural transition to move here. I tried for years to make it happen, but there wasn’t much opportunity as the career I’m in is dominated by the New York fashion and beauty world. But over the last couple of years, things have shifted, and there is more work in LA. That’s when the store started to become a reality.
Q: When and how did you become a Solo Mom?
A: I did everything at once: got a divorce, moved, and started a new job.
We were married 17 years [and] then separated in the summer of 2013. We are in the process of divorcing. He literally packed up his car and left—then later met someone and moved to the West Coast.
It was pure coincidence that we both ended up out here. We each literally moved here within six weeks of each other. I was done with New York and needed a new lifestyle and creative inspiration. LA was presenting that to me and has always been a dream of mine.
I have a glass-half-full personality. Things don’t get me down. I’ve never been that much into horoscopes, but I came across a piece online about compatibility. By horoscope standards, we had the worst compatibility.
We met young. I got pregnant accidentally at 28. I never planned to have a baby so young, so we just went with the story. Having a baby was incredibly life changing, especially at that age when you are still looking for your own identity. Next thing, that child is five and you go for the sibling. You don’t really ask yourself, Am I still happily married to this person? We were so busy making ends meet. But as everyone predicts, you get to this crisis moment where suddenly you have time for yourself, and you ask these life questions and realize, I’m not happy in this marriage.
Q: Was it an amicable split?
A: Now we have an amicable setup, but I took the initiative to walk away. I made an effort to not drag the kids into it. It was very “man typical”: right after school finished, he just moved out.
Technically we share custody, but Henri lives with me, since I put a roof over his head. They see their dad sometimes; they talk to him but look at me as their first parental contact. I don’t intend to take custody away from my ex. It is what it is, and I don’t want to fight. I foresee they will be spending more time with me. Phillip will move to LA. But I would like some relief for at least one weekend a month so I can have a break.
Q: How do you manage?
A: I live one day at a time. I can’t think three days ahead. It’s just waking up in the morning, making a schedule, going with it, and hopefully I can plow through all the things I need to get done for the day. If people ask me what I’m doing for Christmas, I’m like, “Christmas?! What about this weekend?”
I’ve been blessed to work in office environments that understand the Solo Mom because it’s becoming so much more of a norm. In my New York office, I was able to leave work at 5:00 and get them at school. I was always willing to go back online and work from home if I needed, but I got my kids fed. It’s the same here. It’s worked out so far.
Q: Did being a Solo Mom impact your career?
A: No, but having kids early impacted me because it wasn’t the norm [for a woman] to have a baby [while] at the level in advertising I was at. I worked 16- to 18-hour days, weekends, sometimes an entire month without time off, and hardly saw Phillip. It was a huge sacrifice. My ex and I had the arrangement where I was the primary breadwinner. He was an architect and had a fixed schedule, and I was the one employed full time. I still support my kids. I do it all.
Q: When your status shifted from being married to being single, did you feel a shift in your community?
A: Not at all. I was always social. Our friends were my friends. When we broke up, I realized he barely had any friends. Nobody shunned me. They knew I was European and had a different attitude about relationships. I don’t think we are meant to be with one person forever. People saw me as liberal, so they weren’t really surprised. Plus I wasn’t involved in the mommy sect at the school. I had one mom friend: my son got a girlfriend early on, and her mother became my best friend. He was at her house so much, and she was able to give me feedback about how he was doing emotionally when things started to fall apart.
Q: You recently moved from New York to Los Angeles, and your elder son stayed behind. How is that going?
A: When we moved to Los Angeles, my oldest (who is in 11th grade at an East Coast school) decided to stay in New York to finish school with his class, then move here after. He’s living with close friends in Brooklyn. But there were moments shortly after we said good-bye where he sounded like it wasn’t the best decision for him. There’s already talk of him coming here to finish high school. He hadn’t even seen our new home until Thanksgiving, which was all about him seeing this is his new home, and he is just living with a host family to do schooling. The story is not finished yet.
Q: Was there a defining moment that drove home you were raising children alone?
A: When my ex left: I was in LA for 48 hours for my last batch of interviews for this job. I was scheduled to come home on a Wednesday night. So my ex decided to pack up his car and leave Wednesday morning. I couldn’t comprehend it: “Why are you doing this? What if something happens to me or my flight gets delayed?” I got a phone call Tuesday night from Phillip. (Henri was at a friend’s house.) He was sobbing. My ex had asked him to help pack up his car. I realized then this is it: I’m the one who has to bring my kids through and make sure they are OK emotionally and psychologically. He took off Wednesday morning. His teenaged son was falling apart, and he left him alone.
Q: How are the boys now?
A: I have to say my sons are stellar in school. I thought their performance level would be affected, but it’s fascinating how resilient they are. I’m hoping to give myself a little credit for this. I held my shit together.
Q: What are you most proud of as a Solo Mom?
A: As a woman in crazy corporate America where we still have to fight so much harder for the same positions as men, I’ve learned to deflect and depersonalize. So I’m proud I’ve never brought myself down to do battle at their level. Even though my ex was fighting a war with me, I never bad-mouthed him once. I teach my children that you cannot control what life hands you, but you have a choice [in] how you react.
Q: How do you think Solo Moms in general are faring these days?
A: Society’s negative stigma is that if you are a single mom, you have to be out there hunting for someone to be with in order to be happy. This is such a sad concept. I’m trying to teach my kids that this isn’t what life is about. Companionship is beautiful, but it doesn’t have to be a relationship. It can be friends or a community. We don’t have to be out there “hunting” because of an ideal that society is trying to implement.
I love being a single mom. I’ve rediscovered a part of myself that I’d lost during my marriage. I had thought it was what happens in a marriage, something to do with age. But once that door was cracked open, I’ve discovered a whole new passion that is so liberating and exciting to explore.
Right now, me settling with anyone is light-years away. I might be one of those people who’s just not meant to be with one person.
Check out Camposano’s designs at ROSEL.
Kathleen Laccinole, ESME’s Dating Resource Guide, has penned numerous films and parenting books but is best known for producing the highly lauded Greta, age 18, and William, age 14.
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