Interview No. 5: Lissa Ziranek (Zita Roma) & Chad Kushner (Linus Bikes)


Lissa and Chad at first seem like an impossibly cool couple, she a designer of clothing line Zita Roma and he a co-founder of the Venice treasure Linus Bikes, and both hailing from South Africa.  We met through mutual friends in the neighborhooda really sweet collection of people who all have kids the same age and also happen to be people you would hang out with, even if you didn't have the common kid denominator.

I experience first-hand how challenging it can be to maintain a decent energy level, not to mention remain creative, while raising a toddler.  And I'm always interested to hear how others, who seem massively productive, manage it.  Here's a glimpse into their morning lives:

1. How many hours of sleep are ideal for you?  When do you typically wake up?LISSA: 8:30am is my ideal. I don’t function well on much less. Our daughter, Olive (age two and a half), is a good sleeperthank godand doesn’t get us up too early in the morning. We generally get up around 7am.  Chad can function on a little less sleep and will often have some late night work urges that keep him up too late.


2. What's the first thing you do, right after waking up?
LISSA: Hear Olive calling but contemplate whether there’s enough time to make coffee before she really needs me!
CHAD: Lie (very still) in bed hoping Lissa will get up first to get Olive.
 
3. Do you have a memory of waking up to watch the sun rise?  Where were you?
LISSA & CHAD: A mini honeymoon surprise organized by family about six years ago--we went on Safari in our home country, South Africa, to a place called Singita in the Kruger National Park. The second night we slept out on the balcony under a mosquito net overlooking a river valley. At sunrise the animals started calling from below, a morning greeting, and we lay there tired but happy as the sounds of nature filled our ears.
 
4. Any traditions you remember from growing up, focused around the morning or breakfast?
LISSA: While I believe I was brought up pretty healthy, there is one very unhealthy morning tradition that I will never forget. My parents divorced at an early age, so during our formative years my brother and I spent weekdays with my mom and weekends with my dad. Saturday morning at my dad’s house was named “Junkfood Morning." Whether it was out of guilt, laziness or just plain negligence on my dad’s part, I don’t know, but he religiously bought us a 2L bottle of Coca-Cola and a large bag of chips, and we indulged ourselves in front of the TV watching cartoons until noon.
CHAD: Growing up, we spent weekends at our beach house in a tiny town called Mossel Bay, South Africa. My brothers, dad and I would wake at first light to check the waves out front, shovel a bowl of cocoa pops into our little mouths and rush out into the ocean to catch the first waves of the day.
 
5. Do you have a morning ritual?  If so, please explain.
LISSA & CHAD: Well, since Olive is the queen of the house, mornings usually revolve around her until our nanny arrives and we can start our work day. We read books together, try to encourage her to wear something other than her favorite purple tutu (but mostly she wins and she wears it anyway), make and eat breakfast together while taking turns to shower.
 
6. What is your favorite breakfast meal?  {Please share recipe, if possible!}
LISSA: I have pretty much always been the one in charge of food so I make what I feel like, and Chad accepts until one day he complains and eats out! So my favorite right now is a breakfast smoothie with banana, LOTS of baby spinach and kale, almonds, almond milk and Aloha chocolate protein powder. It’s kind of amazing!
CHAD: Lissa always spoils me with food. Most days she sends me off to work with chia pudding filled with seeds, nuts, coconuts and fresh mixed fruit such as mangos, persimmons and berries. It’s what I most look forward to when I get to work!
 
7. If you could have a conversation with anyone over breakfast, who would it be? What would you ask them?
LISSA: My father’s mother died a year before I was born. Her name was Zita, from where Zita Roma (my business name) originates. Zita was Austrian. She was regal, bold and brave. She was both a dressmaker and a potter, making functional ceramic ware and delicate porcelain pieces. My family speaks of her with mixed emotions but in my eyes she will always remain kind of fascinating.
I’d love to ask her about how she was able to remain positive through many of her dark years, and how her children and creativity motivated her to keep moving forward.
CHAD: I had a great uncle that I hardly knew, he was a pilot in WWII. On one memorable occasion, we had a fascinating conversation about how his plane was shot down, he was held captive, escaped, and later rejoined the UK forces. The conversation was brief and left me with so many unanswered questions about his experience in the war. But he passed before I saw him again.
 
8. If you could be transported anywhere in the world tomorrow morning, where would you most love to wake up?
LISSA & CHAD: Camps bay, South Africa, overlooking the ocean, hearing the waves crash against the sand.
 
9. What's your morning soundtrack? 
LISSA & CHAD: Olive singing “ABCB…” (no that’s not a typo).