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Mom Next Door: Shannon Newsom

Founder of Wisteria, wife and mom of two

Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Greece … Shannon Newsom knows her way around the globe. How else will the 45-year-old hemisphere hopper get genuine inspiration for Wisteria, the home-finds boutique that she and husband Andrew founded? North Texas residents are lucky enough to have a Wisteria brick-and-mortar store in Dallas so they, too, can decorate their homes with the same kind of exotic flair that the Newsoms are known for. While Shannon grew up in Houston and Andrew in Atlanta, the couple has been living in Dallas for the past 17 years and has two children — son Cooper, 14, and daughter Susanna, 12.

Can you imagine living anywhere else other than Texas?
I’m a native Texan, and I think I’ve converted Andrew. … We love Texas — it’s been a great friend to us, in terms of business and friendships. I can’t imagine that we’d live anywhere else.

What was the last thing you did before this interview (10:30am)?
I ran 7 miles with a friend, sorted the laundry and took a shower.

What time do you wake up?
5:30am on average.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Get a cup of hot coffee and have some quiet time.

What’s the last thing you do before going to bed?  
Tell the kids “good night.” And I usually read.

Book on your nightstand:
I just finished a book called The Nightingale [by Kristin Hannah], which is about France during the occupation in WWII. It was amazing.

If your life were a song, what would it be?
“Oh Happy Day” [It’s a gospel song.]

Favorite film:
I love Africa. … Cry the Beloved Country. It’s a novel by South African author Alan Paton. It’s a beautiful film.

On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you right now about your life?
8

Three things in your purse besides your cell phone and wallet:
Lip gloss, my Kindle and some sunscreen

What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My faith

How many countries have you visited?
20-plus countries

Favorite airline:
I love Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Do your kids travel with you?
Sometimes. Trips often coincide with school, but when they were still relatively younger, they went with us more. … They went with us on a buying trip to France. During the last two summers, they went to Istanbul, Turkey with us last year; and this year, we went all over Western Europe.

Any tips on traveling with children?
Always have your bag of tricks! When they’re little, it was books and games. Now that they’re older, it’s making sure they have a book, their Kindle or a movie to watch. Also, before going on a trip, I’d try and introduce something about [the destination] to the kids prior to arriving. For instance, if we were going to an art museum in France, I’d introduce them to a few paintings beforehand. The experience becomes far more meaningful than if they’d never heard of the artists or seen their work before.

Favorite find from your travels so far:
A felt Nativity scene from a small town in Provence, France. The original was the inspiration for something we developed [for Wisteria]. … It’s been one of our longtime bestsellers.

What were you doing prior to Wisteria?
I was working at East Dallas Community School. I’m an educator by training — early childhood education.

Why did you choose the name “Wisteria”?
We love the South. [Andrew and I] both grew up in the South, and we loved the name Wisteria. We tried a few different names out, and that’s the one that stuck.

Other names that were in the running:
“Blue Hydrangea,” “White Hydrangea” … We didn’t stew on it for too long.

Three words to describe yourself:
Intense. Determined. Sensitive.

Last nonprofit you supported:
Orphan Outreach. They’re based in Dallas. Their mission is to glorify Jesus Christ by administering to children and orphans around the world by meeting spiritual, emotional and physical needs. They work with children around the world.

Favorite part of the house:
Living room.

Any favorite items in your living room?
I have a carved wooden baby elephant that Andrew gave me. It came from India. We did have a life-sized carved wooden elephant in our store in Dallas — it was a gift to us from some friends in India. It has now gone to a home in Fort Worth, and I have the baby.

Who’s your favorite interior designer?
My mother, Jane Moore, is a lifelong interior designer. She just recently retired, but she’s my hero as a mother, a grandmother and an interior designer. I have many more that I respect in the industry — Shannon Bowers, Cathy Kincaid — but my mom is my no. 1.

First thing you notice about people when you first meet them:
Their eyes.

What was your last mom fail?
I fail every day, and it definitely takes a village! [Laughs] During the State Fair, I set a strict budget, but I let the kids convince me to buy way more tickets and game cards than I set out to buy. … I did not follow through with my own rules.

What do your weekends look like?
I love to run. I go to the occasional yoga class when I can. As a family, we like to be together outside, whether it’s one of the kids’ games, walking our dog or going to movies. Just this past weekend, we went to see a production at the Dallas Theater Center.

What’s one rule your kids ignore?
No yelling from one end of the house to the other.

What’s the one rule they’re never allowed to break?
Lying

One of the coolest things about being a mom:
To see them come into their own; to see them become their individual selves while still bearing some of the traits that you have.

If you could invite anyone over for dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Mother Teresa. I met her before she died, and I would love to have had a little more time with her.

Who’s your favorite real mom?
My own mother, Jane Moore, and Andrew’s mother, Lisa Newsom. They have been instrumental as role models in parenting as well as in business.

One thing moms should not feel guilty about:
Taking time out to do things for themselves, whether it is lunch with a friend or a trip with their spouse.

What do you wish you had more time for?
Friends and family.

What have you learned from your children?
To lighten up and not carry the weight of the world on my shoulders … They remind me to loosen up!

One good habit you’d like to pass on to your children:
My work ethic.

Your bad habit you hope they won’t pick up:
I’m too much of a worrier.

Hardest part about being a mom:
The times you have to use tough love — when you know a decision is going to make them really upset and mad, but you know it’s the right thing to do as a parent. Also, as a mom, it’s really hard to balance everything. I know everyone probably says that, but sometimes I feel like I never quite have it down.

Speaking of, what are your thoughts on achieving the ideal “work-life” balance?
You can do lots of things over the course of your life, but I think I’ve learned that you shouldn’t — and you can’t — try to do it all at once. There are a lot of different seasons in life. You can do plenty of things, but women shouldn’t feel like they have to them all the time, all at once. Just because you’re not doing XYZ right now doesn’t mean you won’t do it in five years.

Most treasured gifts you’ve received:
My first Bible from my mom. Also, when we got married, Andrew wrote something called “The Boat” about our lives and our families’ lives.

Last country you visited:
Spain.

Favorite country to visit:
Kenya.

One superpower you wish you had:
Endless energy

Best surprise you’ve ever given:
My husband’s 40th birthday was a surprise, and we had an Elvis impersonator. (Andrew’s an Elvis fan.) It was so funny!

Best surprise you ever received:
For our 17th anniversary (we had just come back from Europe), Susanna had converted our playroom into a fine-dining venue and had candles and flower petals in place, and she had cooked a gourmet meal. She’s 12! Andrew and I had only been gone for an hour or two running errands, and when we got home, it was all set up to look like a romantic restaurant in Italy.