We had the good fortune of connecting with Kalen Isreal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kalen, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
The most difficult decision I’ve ever made was divorcing my son’s father and becoming a single mother. I grew up in a 2 parent household with 3 siblings. So I knew at an early age I never wanted to raise a child alone. Especially a black boy in a society that despises their very existences. My business, Mother’s Desk, launched 7 months after my son was born and 2 months later I was back home, with a baby, in my parents spare room.
I felt ashamed.
The foundation of my business was built on a mother for mothers, a student for students and a wife for wives. But I broke up my family, I wasn’t a wife, I didn’t feel like I was a good enough mother, so I didn’t believe I was worthy to carry this brand any longer. Mother’s Desk was silent for over a year.
It wasn’t until I graduated college in May 2019 that I started to regain my confidence. I signed back into the Mother’s Desk Instagram account and started posting videos and pictures of my son Kasche (pronounced cash), where my creativity was becoming more and more alive. Then the world went silent due to COVID-19 and I connected with a community of beautifully imperfect moms through this platform.
Although getting a divorce was a painful decision, I knew if I stayed in that marriage, I would not be thriving as I am today. My dreams would’ve been thrown away and forgotten. I wouldn’t be this confident woman I am today nor the confident mother I am evolving to be. I did not want my son to think mommy was happy and in love, when all the while she settled for less than what she deserved.
Divorce has always been frowned upon in my family. I didn’t want the shame nor the struggle that followed that decision. But I chose myself, my son and my peace. And it was worth it!
What should our readers know about your business?
Mother’s Desk is a lifestyle brand for modern day mothers and students. Our mission is to build confidence, embrace creativity and serve the community. In fulfilling that promise we sell stationery and accessory products, curated by myself, with positive affirmations to navigate through life.
The story begins as a class project in my entrepreneurship and leadership class at Cal Poly Pomona, where I put together a website that would automate a planner for every person’s individual needs and preferences. Preferences included lined or blank pages, spiral or bound books, the number of note pages at the end, etc. Needs were categorized by occupation, family size or student majors. The name of this planner business was “plan me”. After our pitch presentation at the end of the semester, and a thumbs up from the dean of the hospitality program, I continued to work on how to enhance the business.
On January 15, 2018 my life changed when Kasche was born prematurely at 28 weeks, in the middle of my senior year of college. I withdrew from school that semester to be with my son in the hospital, thus setting aside “plan me”. While recovering from childbirth and discovering who I was as a mother, I would reach out to another mother at my church for words of encouragement. We talked about Kasche, a lot, and she talked about her kids, how well they were doing in school and how other kids were treating them because they were so intelligent. Since when did being smart become an entryway for bullying? From these conversations came the idea to sell pencils with motivational phrases to encourage kids as they did their homework, wrote essays and completed exams. Phrases like “I am brilliant. I am a leader. I can do all things. Beauty & Brains.” I also had the idea to sell other stationery pieces for moms to encourage them through their motherhood journey. In this, “plan me” was re -purposed and became Mother’s Desk.
The name itself is unique and forces you to visualize your mom’s desk growing up. Some desks may have been messier than others, but you always found exactly what you needed. From school supplies, her coffee mug, stacks of mail, her grocery list, the list of things to do and vendors to call for your birthday party. The desk symbolizing an organized chaos, for the resilient woman we call mom.
It wasn’t easy getting to this point, aside from the traumatic divorce, I am naturally an introvert so marketing hasn’t always been my strength. I’ve learned that speaking your truth, being transparent, sharing your lifestyle, having fun while making videos with your child, is pure content and a representation of your brand’s story. There is power in being your authentic self, whether your personality is soft or loud. I was allowed to connect with a community of moms who have the same goal as me, which is to provide the best for our children. I am proud of the community we’ve built and continue to build. I am proud of all of the flea markets and trade shows attended in the last year. My goal is to sell Mother’s Desk stationery in Target stores nationwide. Andmy ultimate goal is to develop creative spaces in the community for mothers to connect, children to play and students to thrive. Los Angeles, stay tuned for Mother’s Desks…
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It can be difficult to experience all that Los Angeles has to offer in a single week, but let’s try this:
Let’s say it’s one of my mom friends coming for the week with her daughter and a nanny, because us moms will definitely need one on one girl time. They arrive to LA in the late afternoon, we’ll head over to Manhattan Beach pier and eat at The Kettle right before sunset. Friday morning we’ll have breakfast at The Griddle Café in Hollywood so the kids could share a huge pancake before going to the LA Zoo. Afterwards, we’d head over to Hello Pizza for some really good hand tossed pizza and kid friendly space. Saturday, we’re going to Marina del Rey for brunch; there’s Cast & Plow, The Hive, Bru’s Wiffle Marina del Rey, The Butcher’s Daughter for dining options. Then we’d take a day cruise with the kiddos. While on the cruise we’re checking out Eventbrite or any posts from The Outlet LA for a Saturday night out, just us moms. And if there’s no events going on (which there usually is) we’re heading to a rooftop scene; The Roof at The Edition Hotel, Harriett’s Rooftop, Perch, EP LP. Now Sunday. My faith always takes precedent in my life, so obviously an afternoon worship at The City of God Church followed by shopping at The Grove and the farmer’s market. Monday, we’re ditching the kiddos again (smile). Mom and I are going to Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen in Eagle Rock for coffee and a Bangin’ Breakfast Burrito. Then we’ll hike the Hollywood Sign Trail, which is about 30 minute – 2 hour hike depending on which way we take. Afterwards we’ll shower and take the kids out for dinner. Tuesday, we’ll spend the day in Downtown LA! There’s The Broad museum, La Brea Tarpits, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Pershing Square, Grammy Museum, LA Live for our entertainment options. For dining we’ll eat at Fixins Soul Food, PERIOD! Wednesday we’ll enjoy one last mom day, just the 2 of us. We’ll head over to Breakroom LA in Van Nuys and eat at Tabitha Brown’s new restaurant Kale My Name. Lastly on Thursday, we’ll keep it fun and local before their flight back home. We’ll dine at either Pann’s restaurant or Coffee Company, take a tour at the new Sofi Stadium, home of The Los Angeles Rams, pick up some snacks from Simply Wholesome and bid our farewells.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost I have to acknowledge my GOD, because without Him and my faith, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My sonshine, Kasche, for being my teacher, my motivator, my inspiration and the reason I need multiple cups of coffee throughout the day. I have to also acknowledge my dear friend and fellow creative, Kevin Bouknight, for believing in me and my brand to give us this Shoutout opportunity. Lastly, I’d like to shoutout 2 organizations that have made extreme impacts in my life; Step Up Women’s Network (Los Angeles, CA) and The City of God Church (Carson, CA).
Step Up Women’s Network is an organization that mentors young girls in under resourced communities to fulfill their potential. I was fortunate enough to be one of those girls in high school where I met many women of all colors, in all industries exposing me to a life outside of what I saw in South Central Los Angeles. As a professional in the hospitality industry and a busy mom, I do my best to find time to give back to the organization that gave so much to me as a teen.
I have been attending The City of God Church under the leadership of Apostle John Brown, for a majority of my adult years. Here is where I am spiritually fed and inspired, where I fellowship with a diverse group of people and where I am challenged to become my highest and best self.
A.N.S Photography (Inglewood, CA)