Interview with the Co-Founders of 'Mother Tongue'
The Post Supply gets deep with the Co-Founders of 'Mother Tongue' talking about motherhood, art and the value of women's stories.
Mother Tongue (@mother_tongue_magazine) is a biannual print magazine that interrogates (and celebrates) modern motherhood through inclusive stories about art, sex, pop culture, politics, food and a few things in between. It’s not about kids or how to parent them: it’s about the nuanced lives we are living—as mothers, and much more. The magazine is edited by co-founders Melissa Goldstein and Natalia Rachlin and designed by creative director Vanessa Saba.
We are obsessed with Mother Tongue, if you didn't already know. We feel like it's an editorial viewpoint that has been missing. Can you share how Mother Tongue strikes that chord of 'needed for so long' and what the overall vision for the publication is?
First of all, thank you! That really means so much to us. When we started Mother Tongue, we personally felt like there was an opening in the media landscape for a magazine that spoke to mothers who thought of themselves as women first; as in, they might be mothers, but it’s not their only, or even their first, identifier. We had wanted to engage with motherhood as a topic — but not in the way it was being spoken about in the mainstream, where it almost always become entirely about kids: what to pack for lunch; parenting how to’s, styles of parenting, etc — there was very little about the inner lives of women who also happened to be mothers, and we feel these are some of the richest, most compelling narratives.
How did the three of you - the two founders, and your designer, find each and come to start this project?
We (Melissa and Natalia) met over a decade ago while working at the video storytelling platform Nowness in London, but we’ve only hung out a few times in real life, as Melissa moved to L.A. soon after Natalia started—and Natalia later moved to Houston, Texas. We reconnected in the early days of the pandemic, that was definitely our spark, because we both (had to) put work on pause to stay home with our kids when schools shut down in the spring of 2020. The load on mothers the world over just got so intense, and we felt like there were so few arenas to have candid, more nuanced conversations about the realities of motherhood today. Most days we are on a perpetual zoom, but we also text round the clock, DM on Instagram, and pretty much communicate on every available digital platform.
We found Vanessa … wait for it … via Instagram—we noticed her when she subscribed to the magazine and cold-called her to see if she would join us as CD for issue 2 and beyond (shout out to Cate White who was the art director on the first issue, and designed our logo). Vanessa's incredible eye and taste and intellect shone through in the work she was posting on social media, and we thought it would be such a win for MT if we could convince her to jump on this crazy train—working with her has been one of the most fruitful and rewarding parts of putting this magazine together and she is a brilliant illustrator and artist and thinker in her own right. We basically proposed marriage to her the minute we met—like, nice to meet you, would you like to contribute to the magazine—or better yet, design the whole thing and work with us everyday? And it’s been a very happy union.
A project like this only comes to fruition from people who all share a common goal for how art and motherhood can impact the world. Can you speak to the world you wish to inhabit and how Mother Tongue is helping us get there?
That's a big question with a big, long wishlist of an answer but if we focus on the change we hope Mother Tongue can help effect, we'd be talking about a world where motherhood is acknowledged and valued for what it is: difficult, wonderful, essential, the root of the next generation—who will hopefully be much, much wiser than us (partly because of the hard work we have all put in). Where inclusivity is the priority and patriarchy has been dismantled (we can dream, right?) and common kindness and care prevails. We want Mother Tongue to be a conversation starter, a spark, an invitation to productive dialogue: if we can help widen the discourse around motherhood in even the smallest way, and help underscore the inherent value in women’s stories then—we’re happy.