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Phyllis Cole

Chatting with Phyllis Cole in her spacious Lakewood home feels like catching up with an old friend. Her energy is infectious, and she is surprisingly candid about her journey from Missouri farm girl to senior vice president at CultureMap Dallas, a thriving online news source for all things culture in Big D.
When asked about her career, her kids – 7-year-old triplets – and even her divorce two years ago, Phyllis’ favorite response is, “I just won the lottery.” At 6 feet tall, with blond hair and hardly a line giving away her 47 years, it seems she won the genetic lottery as well.
After retiring from the military, Phyllis’ pilot father and model mother opted to leave behind city life in the East to plant roots on a Missouri farm. Tending to farm animals fostered a hard work ethic in young Phyllis, but frequent family trips to New York City instilled a love for city lights. “All I could talk about was how to get away from the farm,” she says. “I wanted out.”
Phyllis escaped to the University of Missouri, where she studied business and manufacturing before heading south for an internship under local designer Jan Barboglio. Ultimately, the 22-year-old decided to make Dallas home and opened a clothing store in Deep Ellum. “I carried Betsey Johnson, and no one in Dallas had Betsey Johnson,” she says with a laugh. “Here I am, a girl from the farm, thinking Betsey Johnson is the bomb and you couldn’t find it in Dallas!”
Ism, as it was called, evolved from a chic clothing shop to a sort of art space. Local artists adorned the store walls with their work, and Phyllis offered no complaint. “I have an art problem,” she says. The “problem” is visible throughout her home. Surfaces are generously adorned with artwork, both professional pieces and masterpieces crafted by the small hands of her triplets.
Phyllis, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur at heart, enjoyed running her own shop, but declining sales and a tug toward the corporate world led her to close the store in 1990. Following a brief stint at AT&T and time in London with a handsome Dane, Phyllis ended up in ad sales at D Magazine. It was here that she figured out she had a knack for sales and a passion for publishing. After a year, Phyllis was recruited by the Wall Street Journal where she spent four years honing her skills before returning to D Magazine as publisher. During this time, Phyllis helped launch multiple titles including D Wedding and D CEO.
Today, the mom of three is thriving at CultureMap. “It was one of those dream-come-true kind of jobs,” she says. “I’m the luckiest person you’ll ever meet, bar none.” CultureMap provides daily content written by seasoned journalists for Dallasites with a passion for the arts, dining and society. Running the site is no small task, and Phyllis says she’s able to balance career with motherhood thanks to a naturally logical mind and a friendly relationship with her ex-husband, Jay. “I’m an overly logical thinker,” she says. “I’m good for running a company, because when crisis hits I’m very logical. In my marriage, when crisis hit I became logical at an emotional time.”
The divorced couple make it a point to co-parent with a focus on empathy for their children – recognizing that the divorce has affected them, and choosing to put personal feelings aside. Holidays are spent together, and Jay picks up the triplets every day at 6:30am to taxi them to school. “It only benefits them if you can get some good common ground,” she says. “We loved each other at one point for the things we can still discover in friendship. So, it’s working.”
Focused on career, Phyllis wasn’t always sure she wanted to be a mom. At 40, she and Jay were in the process of filling out adoption papers when the topic of in vitro fertilization came up. The couple decided to go for it and found out they were expecting triplets after just one round of treatment. The mom enjoyed a blessedly simple pregnancy and carried the babies to 37 weeks, unusual for multiples. “I couldn’t eat anymore and probably looked like a circus attraction,” she says with a laugh. “My 6-foot body came in handy for the first time in my life, and I didn’t experience what a lot of other mothers experience.”
Phyllis’ logical nature kicked in while she was pregnant, and she began to worry about things like postpartum depression and trouble with bonding. All worry melted away when Ava, Cole and Vaughan came into the world. “The minute they’re born is the most miraculous thing,” she says. “The minute you are Mommy, something just clicks in the most wonderful way. It is the most awe-inspiring thing and an incredible love story.” The mom says she was gifted with easy and healthy babies. While the thought of triplets might strike fear in many, Phyllis says that once again she won the lottery.
Phyllis has held many titles throughout her life but says “Mommy” is the most fulfilling. Having grown up as an only child, she especially enjoys watching the sibling dynamic among the triplets. The siblings have very unique personalities, but Phyllis says they happily celebrate each other’s interests. She admits that they fight and tattle on each other, like any kids. But most mornings she finds them piled onto one twin bed, sound asleep.
This mom will always be a career woman and doesn’t entertain working-mom guilt, although she says she would love to remarry someday. “I’m all about the dysfunctional family,” she says with a smile. She says she gets satisfaction from a career that makes her a better person and a better parent. “I’m happy in what I do every day,” she says. “If I was unhappy in my job, then I would feel guilty because I was doing something that I wasn’t stimulated by and fulfilled by. The secret to balance is being happy.”