Kyla Eato Flax is the Head of Styling at Intermix who pulls together all the cool designer pieces that you see on Instagram. Originally from the Midwest, she majored in costume design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and styled at Shopbop and Net-a-Porter before she landed at Intermix. (Yes, she’s worked at all three pioneering fashion e-commerce retailers!)
She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Josh, where they are expecting their first child, a boy. We spoke with Kyla about the journey to motherhood, the most stylish maternity wear, and staying active with her husband during quarantine.
What was it like finding out that you were pregnant just days before the pandemic shut down New York City?
I was on set, styling a photoshoot, at the time—and they sent me home immediately. I was told that I may have come into contact with someone who had been in contact with coronavirus. I didn’t finish styling the shoot. That weekend, I took a pregnancy test, and I was like, “This is crazy!” The timing was insane.
Did you plan for this pregnancy?
Yes, we had, and that’s what makes it interesting. At first, I thought that had I known about coronavirus—and had I known what was about to happen in the world—there would be no way I would’ve kept trying for a baby. I was so scared. I’m still scared! It’s just not what a typical pregnancy is for most women. We can't travel, so both our families and parents are out of state. We had to find our support system in other people and places.
In retrospect, it’s been such a blessing. I spent my first trimester quarantined at home with my husband. When would I ever be able to do this again? It is so nice to be able to take care of myself and eat right and sleep well and do all the things that I’m supposed to be doing. It ended up being okay, but it was wild in the beginning.
Has the pandemic changed your birth plans at all?
I’ve accepted that it’s just going to be me and my husband, even though I had expected my mother and sister to be there. The goal is to have the safest, healthiest baby. We’ll have to be flexible.
I’m really grateful for what this has done for my relationship—we’re just so in sync. It’s us against the world. It’s going to be super special even though it’s not what I had planned.
Did you have a baby shower yet?
I have one planned in a month—we’re doing Zoom. In a way, that’s really nice because I have tons of friends and family across the country, and they would never have been able to come to a New York City get together. And now they’ll all be included!
It’s going to be low-key. My mom and I sent out little champagne bottles with little treats on the invite. We’ll all Zoom in and have a toast for the new baby. Probably also show some embarrassing photos of me as a child.
You have to compromise. In fact, I think that’s the first lesson in bringing a child into the world anyway. We’re just getting started a little bit early.
That sounds like it will be a beautiful gathering! Speaking of compromises, you mentioned on Instagram that it’s been hard to slow down since you’re such an active person. And especially because fashion styling is such a physically active profession, how has your lifestyle changed since you became pregnant?
When the pandemic first began, we were all isolated at home. I went to the office once to grab all the sample clothing so that I could do virtual styling on Zoom. I would send the clothes to models and photographers who lived together. We were really scrappy. But as New York opened in different phases, we’ve resumed going back to the office. And that was terrifying—especially as a pregnant person. It’s still not easy. But I’ve done seven shoots since we’ve been back. We just shot our fall campaign in TriBeCa and SoHo. It was then that I realized that I won’t be able to do it all.
I’ve always been a multitasker. I love working out with Thea Hughes [watch Thea's 10-minute prenatal workout video, featuring Kyla here], and I pride myself on keeping healthy because this is a physical job. But this time on set, when the model forgot her shoes, I offered to run half a block to get the shoes—like I always do. And my body was not having it. I had shooting pains up my leg. It was just such a long day of schlepping clothes, dressing up models, and bending down. It’s not glamorous at all! I realized I had to slow down. I need to ask for help. I’m going to keep working. It’s part of my identity and it’s what I love to do. But physically, I won’t be there at 100 percent. A couple of friends have told me that I don’t need to stop being who I am. I just need to change my speed.
I’m still shooting, and I’m entering my third trimester. I know it’ll get harder in the coming months. I think mothers are strong and that this is the first test of motherhood—balancing my work with the needs of my child and body.
How has your personal style changed since both the pandemic and getting pregnant?
At first, I couldn’t wait for my bump to show. I wanted everyone to know! I usually dress very comfortably. I was wearing sweatpants and joggers, But then around 20 weeks, I started poking out, and I couldn’t wear pants anymore. I’m grateful that I could wear a lot of dresses in the summer—I’ve been careful not to just wear slinky slip dresses, but also have fun with print and color.
Any maternity brands you’d recommend so far?
I really like Ulla Johnson. They make these pleated paper bag trousers, and they have jumpsuits with more leeway. A lot of the dresses are tiered and have some element of design—so it’s not just a blob. A.L.C. also makes super comfortable sportswear. I like a little bit of sexiness and an element of sportiness to my look.
How has your beauty routine evolved throughout your pregnancy?
I now use the Evereden Nourishing Stretch Mark Cream on my belly daily. I’m trying to get as much moisture as I can get.
How did you become a fashion stylist in the first place?
I was a total theatre nerd in high school, and I’ve always been creative, so that’s how I majored in costume design. I was in Wisconsin at Madison for school, and there was this brick-and-mortar called Bop that became Shopbop, and then Amazon picked it up. It was based right there in Madison. When I graduated, I had already been working in the store, and Shopbop needed a stylist assistant for the photo studio. I was there for two years, and then I decided to move to New York, where I worked at Net-a-Porter as a stylist. After four years, I transferred to Intermix. It kind of unraveled, but I knew I had an aptitude for it, so I threw everything I had into it.
It’s amazing that you’ve worked for three internet fashion pioneers. Tell us about building a family in New York City.
I'm going to have a Black child and I think it’s so important that he be not only street savvy, but also exposed to all types of people. We just moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant, and I couldn't be more excited that I'm going to bring a child into this neighborhood. I love, love, love the sense of community. You gain experiences in New York that you wouldn't anywhere else. I grew up in the Midwest and I wasn't exposed to that variety of culture, food, people. If I stay in New York, at least for a while, I hope that my son will pick that up.
What is your Eden?
When it’s just the three of us, having a moment together. My son’s kicking, and my husband’s there. It’s us against the world. And I hope that continues after he’s born, too.