Brooklyn Decker is a model, actress and the tech entrepreneur behind Finery, which she describes as "the Clueless closet on steroids." The former Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl is married to former world no. 1 tennis champion Andy Roddick — the couple are parents to son Hank, two-and-a-half, and daughter Stevie, seven months. In the latest episode of the #NoFilter with Danielle Snyder podcast, she discusses politics, motherhood and the hustle required to run a startup.
By Danielle Snyder
Brooklyn with Dannijo co-founder Danielle Snyder.
On her married name
"I’m Brooklyn Danielle Decker Roddick. I kept my last name for work purposes, but legally it is now Roddick. I don’t know if you're going to change your last name, it’s a pain. I told Andy, 'You should just be Decker.' It’s funny, when he stays in a hotel with me, and he calls down for whatever, they're like, 'Hello Mr Decker.' That sounds right to me."
On Beauty Shortcuts
"Full disclosure: We had a photoshoot yesterday, they did my hair and makeup, and I didn’t wash it off last night. I was like, I don’t have time. I have to wake up and pump and then I’m going to see Danielle, and then we’re going into meetings all day, so I have to sleep in this makeup, wake up, pump, get dressed and go. Like, I didn’t wash my face — this is makeup from yesterday, which is, by the way, breaking every skincare rule in the book, but whatever, I didn’t have time. My 24-hours-later face."
On Getting Married at 22
"I was 22, he was 27, we were both earnest and I think naïve and optimistic and us against the world. We were like, we want to get married, and want children and who cares, and we just did it. I think now we are life savvy, we’re business savvy, we’re planning for the future.
"We’re like water, we just ebb and flow together. I don’t know that we necessarily had that base partnership that is required when you get married, we were just infatuated with each other, and fortunately we’ve built upon that infatuation. Now we’re in a place where if I’m super stressed and being evil to everyone around me, which totally happens, he gets pissed understandably, but has to take a step back and understand that this is what I’m going through and be supportive, and vice versa, whereas I feel like 10 years ago I would have been like, don’t act like that, you’re being a dick. There’s an understanding now that I don’t think was there before."
On Marriage and Gender Roles
"I think we both went into parenthood specifically saying we are equal partners, and I feel guilty saying that because usually moms are doing 80 percent and dads are doing 20 percent, so I feel like maybe I’m failing my kids by having it be a 50/50 split, but we evenly share all duties and responsibilities. And that’s what it should be, and it feels good because when Andy says to me, 'Hey I want to go on a golf trip for three days,' I know that he’s with the kids when I’m in New York, [so] I’m like go, whatever makes you happy, do it, because I have the fort. I feel like it gives both of us the freedom to be our fullest selves, to pursue what makes us happy. Also it sets a really good example for our kids, to see their parents having a life like this, where they can have independent lives but are ultimately a family unit, and that comes first. We’ll see — we might be totally messing up our kids, but I feel like it’s a positive thing."
In Hollywood, people are constantly looking at each other like, how can I use you?
On Motherhood and Mortality
"It’s super exhausting. The biggest thing — and I’m trying to be more forgiving of myself and this may not be everyone’s experience — but as a mom, you constantly feel like you’re letting someone down. Either you’re letting your kids down because you’re working or you’re letting your co-workers down because you’re with your kids, or you’re letting down your husband because you have to travel, and he’s there manning the children. You constantly feel like you’re letting someone down, and I don’t think that mom guilt goes away from what I’ve heard from friends.
"A friend of mine said it so eloquently: She’s like, 'You become so aware of your own mortality as a parent.' Because if something happens to you, what happens to your babies? I travel every few days, at the very least once a week. [Before kids] I was just totally spontaneous, I was totally fine with traveling, and now I definitely harbor a lot — I don’t want to say anxiety because I certainly don’t want to underestimate how challenging that is for people — but it’s the closest thing to anxiety that I’ve felt in my life. But it’s also the best thing in the world. [Andy] is superdad. [Andy’s home with the kids] all the time. It’s exhausting. Stay at home moms are the unsung heroes of this country."
Brooklyn with husband Andy, son Hank and baby daughter Stevie. Source: Instagram.
On Finery, a tech startup she co-founded with Whitney Casey
"It's the 'Clueless' closet on steroids. Basically we get your online purchases automatically, you sign up with your email, and we pull them into an online wardrobe, and everybody’s like, 'Wait, what? I don’t have to manually enter anything?' And you don’t, that’s what we have a patent on, that piece of technology. It scans your clothing order confirmations, and pull them into an online wardrobe, and for anything you buy in store, or with vintage, you can take a picture and add it easily. We want that to be the last resort, because virtual closets have existed before, where it’s all manual entry, but if the idea is we want to save you time, then the last thing we want you doing is taking pictures of your clothes, unless it’s one-of-a-kind vintage.
"I have 600 items in my wardrobe, all in all. I’m a fringe case because I have, for many years, shopped almost exclusively online, like I barely shop in person unless it’s vintage. So almost all of my wardrobe was uploaded automatically."
"It’s really hard. It’s probably one of the biggest challenges I'm personally facing in being an entrepreneur. And it’s not that I’m afraid of the hustle, it’s that I have never had to ask friends for favors. Hollywood, specifically, it sounds horrible, but people are constantly looking at each other like, how can I use you, how can we benefit each other. I’ve never been that way — I live in Austin, Texas, I have intentionally worked my ass off and then removed myself from that, so I never am a person who is friends with someone because they can help me. Or vice versa. It’s why all of my relationships in Hollywood are really authentic and they're rooted in something that's real.
"Now I’m going to those people who I trust and love and I’m like, 'Hey, can you post for me? Can you talk about me? It’s really hard because especially in this day and age, with social influence, that is currency for a lot of these people, that’s how they make their money, so to go in and say, 'I can’t afford to pay for you, we have no money as a startup, but can you post for us?' It sucks at your soul."
Brooklyn in the Dannijo Mathilde earrings.
“I have a really interesting point of view because I was raised in a conservative household in Matthews, North Carolina, and North Carolina is a very purple state, it’s a swing state. My father was a Republican, my mom was an independent, I’m a Democrat, so I’m used to having really different points of view in one household —I have been able to have the conversation with people who disagree with me for years. I know that I can love them as a person and not at all agree with their politics. I think that’s getting harder and harder now, but my approach is: I am incredibly liberal and I am a democrat, but I can totally empathise with the right because that was the household I grew up in."
On Investor Miroslava Duma (Duma was accused of racism earlier this year following an Instagram post of a note from designer Ulyana Sergeenko with the words, "To my n****s in Paris." She also came under fire over a newly surfaced video from 2012 in which she is seen making homophobic and transphobic comments about the blogger Bryanboy and transgender model Andreja Pejić.)
"It’s hard because you have to separate someone’s actions from who you know. As a company, especially when you're really, really young, and really new, and you can’t afford to take a blow like that, it’s really challenging. So our approach was like, we know the person, and we know how supportive and incredible and inclusive she has been to us, and how she has helped us. That doesn’t mean we necessarily approve of the things that have been said. It's a really tough thing to navigate outside of what we’re doing, outside of fundraising and entrepreneurship. You can love a person and then hear about actions after the fact, and I have a hard time connecting those actions with the person that I know."
On Personal Style
“I always say pilgrim granny, that’s my style, like granny meets a little boy. Andy has gotten so used to my weird choices that when I dress normally he’s like, ‘Oh, where’s the turban? Aw, where’s the grandpa cardigan?’ He gets confused when I dress like a normal person. He’s so used to me being a weirdo.”
On her Favorite Apps
“I use Slack, because that’s the only reason I can stay in touch with my co-workers, I use In Lieu — in lieu of gifting, you give a donation on behalf of someone, so it’s like I In Lieu’d you X amount of dollars, or you don’t have to say the dollar amount, for your birthday to your favorite organization. It’s the quickest way to donate on behalf of a friend, and it’s such a meaningful gift, and also let’s be honest it doesn’t take up any of your time. It’s awesome.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. To listen to the full interview, download and subscribe to the #NoFilter with Danielle Snyder podcast here.