‘The Moms’ cofounder on juggling family, business and life in the Big Apple

Melissa Gerstein

BY ELLIE GROSSMAN, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Often times, it seems, when someone from St. Louis strikes it big in New York, she tends to forget her roots. Not so, however, with Melissa Gerstein, who is co-founder of The MOMS, a multi-platform lifestyle brand and event company that represent the most important consumer demographic, namely mothers.

This ’91 Parkway Central graduate was raised in Chesterfield and Creve Coeur, and now schmoozes with celebs, appears regularly on the HLN network’s “Raising America” and other media outlets and walks the red carpet at “Strut The Fashionable Mom,” one of the largest live-streamed fashion shows in the world starring “real” moms. Gerstein is most proud of her family: her husband Anthony, from Toronto, and her three kiddos Elias, 11, Lily, 8, and Sydney Rose, 4.

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At a recent event, she proudly modeled a black-and-white zippered dress that hugged her tiny figure while she carried a baby on one hip, and with her free arm, held the hand of her other daughter. It’s all in a day’s work for Gerstein, who earned a broadcast journalism degree from New York University and worked more than a decade as a producer at CBS, MSNBC, CNN, MTV, and CNBC before creating her own social media empire.

With dark tousled curls and an exuberant smile, the camera loves this hard working mom, who just turned 40. Recently, she found time in her whirlwind schedule to answer a few questions.

How did a small town girl turn into a diehard New Yorker?

After I left St Louis I attended the University of Arizona on a dance scholarship. I met a producer from MTV in Tucson and hounded him for an internship, which led me to transfer into NYU my junior year.  

I knew as a little girl growing up in St. Louis that I thrived on action, action, action.  I could not sit still..I still can’t.  I was always busy, and I always wanted more (just ask my mother).  

As a working mom, how do you balance a career and being in the limelight with your family life?

There is no such thing as balance.  I stay in motion; that is how I get everything done.  I am also the queen multi-tasker. I can wipe a tush on a conference call while thinking of dinner for the night.  To some that would be meshuga but to me it is the norm.  I also try to not go out every night, as I have many red carpet events to work.  I have to pick and choose because a bedtime story with my kiddos outweighs any celebrity any day!

What’s the best part about owning your own company The MOMS?

I love to empower other moms and let them know that the sky’s the limit.  I see endless opportunities for what we are building, whether that is our celebrity events, or the products we have coming out, or the Fashion Show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. It is all exciting, and the TV is just a platform to promote everything we are doing at The MOMS.

How has the changing role of motherhood influenced today’s marketplace?

Moms represent a $2.4 trillion market! The “word of mom,” as we call it, is quite powerful and to be in that bracket as a businesswoman who owns a company that is targeting mothers….well it is an exciting place to be.  I don’t believe that motherhood has changed. I believe that companies have smartened up, and they now understand that the mom picks out the car, not the man.  Every brand we work with wants our reach…moms! It is a hot and competitive market.

How important is it for you to raise your kids Jewish?  

Being Jewish is very important to me personally and to our family.  We are members of Congregation Habonim in New York City on the Upper West Side, and it is our second home.  We love this community. We try to have Shabbat in our home every Friday, as it is a wonderful time to slow down and to all be together.  

What’s the best part about living in New York?

From the minute I arrived in the Big Apple, I knew this was home. Everyone was finally moving at the pace that I needed to move at, and I called my parents and said, “I am not coming home.” It was a contagious energy and to this day, New York is still for me.

What do you miss about St. Louis?

Toasted ravioli and my family the most. I also miss the easiness of life and the friendliness of everyone.