Mom Muse | Marie Tillman

Our admiration for Marie Tillman runs deep. This amazing woman embodies strength, humility and grace as she navigates her public and private lives, balancing her past and present. Marie was thrust into the national spotlight when her first husband Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan after famously giving up his career in the NFL to fight the war on terror following 9/11. The two were high school sweethearts in Northern California long before Pat’s football career, and were married just two months prior to his military deployment overseas. Following his untimely death and in response to the nationwide outpouring of support, Marie started the Pat Tillman Foundation in his honor with the help of family and friends in 2004. Under her leadership, the Foundation has gone on to make a significant difference in the lives of many by investing more than $14 million in educational support to military men and women committed to a life of service both in and out of uniform. To learn more about Marie’s life with Pat, her memoir, The Letter, is a must-read about love, loss and life.

Her role as the face of the Pat Tillman Foundation, while a big piece of her life, is just one aspect. After experiencing tragedy and being forced to move past her grief and rebuild so early in her adult life, Marie found happiness again with her husband Joe Shenton and their five kids ranging in age from 3 to 15 — Joey (15), Johnny (13), Sam (11), Mac (4), and Frankie (3). Now living in Chicago, her life as a working mom is busy and full.

Photo Credit: Erin Konrath

Enter her latest venture. While trying to successfully juggle her work and family responsibilities, Marie saw an opportunity to start a business with the goal of helping busy parents by lifting one time-consuming, yet necessary, task off their plate – shopping for kids’ clothes. Mac & Mia is a curated children’s clothing subscription service, where stylists create unique looks and hand-select items for kids from newborn to six years old. Mac & Mia’s 25+ style experts are moms themselves, mostly former executives prior to having kids that were looking for a flexible work schedule so they could spend more time with their families, thus they understand what kids and parents need. Have young children and a New Year’s resolution to organize and streamline your life? Mac & Mia is a terrific solution we highly recommend checking out.

MSL: Describe your style in five words or less.
Classic neutral with a twist.

MSL: We remember so clearly the heroic story of Pat’s decision to join the war on terror, followed by the tragic news of his death. Tell us more about the man and vision behind the Pat Tillman Foundation and your long-term goals for the organization.
The Pat Tillman Foundation started as way to channel all of the support and goodwill we received from across the country after Pat’s death and has grown into an organization that has given over $14 million and supports 460 Tillman Scholars at 100 universities nationwide. In those first days, we knew nothing about building a nonprofit or foundation. But, what we did know was that Pat was a voracious reader, an enthusiastic debater, and a life-long learner. His passion for learning fueled his concept of leadership. And, an investment in educating leaders seemed like a natural fit to honor his life and legacy. So that’s where we started.

Photos Courtesy of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

MSL: We’re excited to learn of your latest venture, Mac & Mia. What inspired you to start this new business? Was there an “a-ha” moment?
Mac & Mia is a result of my own experience as a working mom. Years after I started the Pat Tillman Foundation, I had children and entered another unknown territory – motherhood. I became immersed into this new world and quickly discovered it truly does “take a village” to raise kids. I was constantly looking for ways to simplify my life and outsource little things so I could spend more quality time with my kids. At Mac & Mia, we take care of the shopping so parents can get a little more time back in their lives.

Photo Credit: Erin Konrath

MSL: Your favorite Mac & Mia pieces right now?
I have so many! I love Imps & Elves denim for little boys — it’s super soft and has a nice slim fit. The Kate Coat — I’ve been looking for a version in my own size. (Note that Mac & Mia currently offers styling for kids from newborn to size 6T.)

Photos Courtesy of Mac & Mia.

MSL: What is your favorite part about being a mom? Biggest challenge?
I love seeing the world through my kids’ eyes. The joy on their faces when they experience something new is amazing! My biggest challenge is letting the little stuff go and reminding myself that it doesn’t matter that the house is dirty as long as everyone inside it is happy. 

Photo Credit: Erin Konrath

MSL: Any tips you can share for achieving good work-life balance?
I’m not sure I believe in work-life balance. Let’s face it, any mom who works outside of the house spends a lot of time away from her family. I think it’s more important to get up and feel good about whatever it is you do all day. I love my work and what we’re building at Mac & Mia and I love that I can share that passion with my family every night when I get home.

Photo Credit: Erin Konrath

MSL: What’s the one item in your closet you can’t live without?
Jeans.

MSL: What’s your best style advice for other moms out there?
Simplify. I’ve found the less I have in my closet the easier it is to get dressed in the morning.

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