We are resuming the Meet a Mom series now that school is back in session and fall is around the corner. To kick this off, this week we are featuring the beautiful Amanda Vlastas – Founder of West University and Mom to 2 adorable sons. She has been one of my favorite people to look up to as I started this platform and has been one of our biggest supporters. Amanda is the OG of the Houston Local Moms pages – Cypress Moms Network is part of The Local Moms Network, we have sister sites all over the country and right here in Houston! I feel so fortunate to be part of such a strong and supportive group of women. Amanda’s work with West University Moms definitely helped pave the path for the Houston moms who launched in our specific pockets of Houston. When I was thinking of launching Cypress Moms Network, I wasn’t sure I could be an expert voice since I had just moved here, but after meeting and talking to Amanda and hearing her story it definitely gave me the push I needed to know that it could be done! She shared how she launched West University Moms after moving here from the same area of Connecticut that I moved from and she did it after just one year. She was also so amazing at giving a helping hand once I decided to launch. I feel so incredibly lucky to know Moms like this one! I’m so happy to share about this gem of a Mama who shows the true value of Motherhood community and who whole heartedly helps Moms thrive.
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town?
I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco for college. After a “devastating break-up”lol, I moved to NYC thinking I would be like Carrie from Sex in the City – of course it didn’t turn out like that. I moved to Houston unexpectedly in 2015 and I always say “You couldn’t pay me to leave”!
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
Two boys – Mattias is 8 and Emilio is 5
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
That I have been to over 55 countries. In my 20’s when I lived in SF I had a habit of getting bored with my jobs and saving up my money and to go backpacking. When I was 26 I basically went from Portugal to Russia and hit up almost every country in between 🙂
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
The random strangers who would stop me and say – “enjoy this time… it goes by so fast!” They were right.
Favorite things to do with your kids around town?
We love being outdoors so any sort of outdoor concert at Miller Outdoor Theatre or Discovery Green, we love farmers markets (but I end up spending too much money because I have a soft-spot for the local entrepreneur vendors). This summer we spent a lot of time at local splash pads like Levy Park and the new Houston Botanical Garden has an awesome waterworks area.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
Yes I am! I am the Founder of West University Moms – the first local mom’s network site in Texas (now there are 13 across the state)! When I moved here my first son, Mattias, was 2 and I quickly became pregnant with Emilio. I was already doing all of the research that a new mom would need so when the founders reached out to me in 2017 to see if I would be interested in starting up a site in Houston, it was like a dream come true.
Houston is such a thriving city with so much art, culture, cuisine, etc. There are so many amazing businesses and industries. I find the most satisfaction from the Meet a Mom interviews – I love to acknowledge moms for how hard they work and want to let them shine. We know what goes on behind the scenes, all the drudgery and non glamorous stuff they don’t show you for in movies or really prepare you for in real life … So even if it’s through an article, I wanted to praise them for their efforts.
I was also lucky enough to find and train and/or just encourage some of the moms that we have running the other Houston sites. It has been such a pleasure working with them. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
This makes me emotional thinking about it – because I owe everything to this city. When I tell you I moved to Houston without knowing a single friend, I am not exaggerating. I moved for my husband’s job, the wives of his coworkers were very supportive though. We ended up getting divorced around the same time I started working on the website and I found that pouring myself into West University Moms helped with the grief and sadness. I quickly started making friends, and meeting local business owners and everyone was so helpful and supportive. I had lived in the most competitive cities where people would literally push you to get ahead, I had never experienced a community like Houston, where people want each other to thrive. It has brought out the best side of me and has helped foster my love for human beings.