In Tim Gunn's wise words, working parents across Los Angeles are learning to "make it work" as schools are closed through summer — and that dynamic concept of "work/life balance" is basically looking like that giant shrugging emoji. Among those getting a crash course in WFH-schooling are Alexx Jae and Josh Monkarsh, the married co-founders and CEOs of minimalist-cool and sustainable L.A. label Dame.
The Monkarshes' schedule now involves running a company while simultaneously (and temporarily) homeschooling their three kids. "Josh and I have a great balance always with our strengths and weaknesses," Alexx tells UncoverLA. "We really tag team. Because we have three kids in school right now, we really rely on a schedule each day. While kids are on a Zoom meeting we will get to our emails, we will schedule work calls. I'll get the kids up and dressed and fed, while at night Josh will get the kids to brush their teeth and then ready for bed. And we always will eat dinner as a family and talk about what worked today and how tomorrow we could make better."
She adds: "While we are working at home, we need to distract the kids from time to time. Our kids' school suggested Quick Math [and they] love it! They think it's fun and we can feel good having them play while we work. We have also been doing a ton of crafts. My kids love art, so we turned our dining table into an art world."
Though Dame was founded in November 2018, the duo has been partners in love and fashion for over a decade. Out of college, Josh spent his time peddling vintage tees to Melrose Avenue's indie boutiques. While dating, they became business-official together after launching Alexx Jae's namesake line of eco-friendly women's basics.
They made Dame a truly friends-and-family affair by tapping their niece, Tori Monkarsh, as co-COO/partner and their sister-in-law, celebrity stylist Molly Levin (who dresses stars like Malin Akerman, Chelsea Handler, and Jennifer Beals), as co-founder. Most recently, the label teamed with artist Kim McCarty on a capsule line of graphic tees and sweaters ($95 to $165) featuring her ethereal watercolor paintings.
We asked the wife-and-husband-team to impart more of their wisdom on keeping their entire clan calm and collected as everyone's cooped up. (And you can bet we're taking notes.) They share that retail therapy is part of that strategy: While Alexx's self-care involves investing in skincare, Josh is zeroing in on his sneaker collection.
"Violet Grey is the perfect site to invest in right now," says Alexx. "Now is the time to get your skin back in perfect condition while we are not having to wear makeup and go out we can heal our faces."
As for Josh, "the [streetwear resale] app GOAT has kept me sane. It's a great app in that I'm able to recreate my childhood mall experiences at Foot Locker in the privacy of my home — who knows when I'm ever going to step foot into a Foot Locker ever again."
His latest sneakerhead scores? "I myself am a big fan of Jordans and I recently bid on and won a pair of Air Jordan 1 Flyease Black Toe. These shoes are great for hanging around the home because of the Flyease design, which allows you to slip the shoes off and back on with a simple zipper."
Beyond serums and sneakers, local food delivery service Haute Chefs L.A. has also been a self-quarantine savior for the Monkarshes. "[On top of] cooking three meals a day, having three meals delivered to you in a week is so helpful," explains Alexx. "It doesn't hurt that they have the most delicious foods!"
Of course, the couple is keeping their home office attire cozy and chic. "I have been living in all my Dame cozy clothes, [I'm usually] between the sweatsuit and the oversized sweatshirt. I'll even throw on a vintage dress," says Alexx.
Dame's mom-and-pop co-founders were kind enough to share their family's entire schedule — from their wake-up call and Zoom classes to their very safety-first package opening process and more. Whether you're working from home with kiddos (or have fur or plant babies), pick up some productivity and kids activity ideas and read on below for their full routine.
Alexx Jae & Josh Monkarsh's Quarantine Work-Schooling Routine
- Wake up kids and ourselves.
- Making breakfast for kids and coffee for grown-ups.
- Checking and responding to work emails and work including the fulfillment of any/all Dame online orders.
- Logging kids into their virtual classrooms for approximately 45 minutes of interactive learning with their teachers.
- Working on individual teacher assignments with kids for approximately 1-2 hours.
- Check kid's classroom hubs for any/all additional assignments and help kids complete collective assignments.
- Take work calls pertaining to Dame PR efforts.
- Feed our dog Maggie; our guinea pigs Rosie, Ginger, and Oreo; our turtle Kermit; and our fish (three betas and a goldfish); and clean guinea pig cage if needed.
- Make kids lunch and feeding ourselves.
- Check in with our colleague Courtney regarding social media campaigning.
- Check in with our cousin/colleague Tori regarding shipment prep and status for recent online orders.
- Prep for the opening of Amazon packages outside; e.g., using a disinfectant spray and putting on gloves and masks (mainly for the spray). Generally speaking, we try to let all boxes sit outside for at least 24 hours prior to spraying.
- We then start the process by spraying the boxes. Even though Lysol is more effective, the odor is very intense and we prefer Seventh Generation spray due to the fumes being more tolerable. Next, using a plastic knife, we cut the boxes open and remove the contents. If the contents are covered in plastic, we either spray or wipe down the plastic with a disinfectant wipe and then we finally bring the contents inside the house.
- Depending on the number of boxes we open we will usually shower and change after each round of opening packages.
- Back to school! We read chapter assignments with our oldest daughter and assist her with the interpretation of each chapter in her notebook.
- Break up any/all fights between kids which happens approximately 10 times a day.
- Explore our backyard for animal sounds for our younger twins and assist them in interpreting their experiences.
- Checking and responding to ALL work emails and follow up calls.
- Extracurricular activities for kids which consist of painting, drawing, and an occasional Roblox game with their friends.
- Treadmill time and virtual Pilates time for adults.
- Dinner with mandatory wine.
- TV for kids.
- Bathe/shower kids, brush teeth, and bed.