Nº21: John & Fallon The Secret Ingredient: Meet The Seymours pt2.
(Two of Two)
Photos By Gerardo Mendez
Everyone has heard the cliche “behind every strong man is a strong woman.”
Fallon is certainly that and then some.
Rather than standing ‘behind’ her husband, however, Fallon and John are both equal parts – side-by-side, yin & yang – to a greater whole.
Often hailed “supermom” by close friends and family, Fallon Seymour is not simply “John’s wife” but a strong force to be reckoned with who worked hard to find a unique balance between family and business.
With her calm confidence and Caribbean charm, it may look like the juggling of her multiple titles and 'jobs' come easy but Fallon recognizes how challenging it was to get to a point that was effective and fed her heart professionally and personally.
When their children were born, Fallon and John were surprised at the news they would be having not just their first child; the Seymours were welcoming a set of twins. At this point, Pops had become a neighborhood favorite and John was ready to launch Sweet Chick. For the good of their budding family, Fallon decided to ultimately be a stay-at-home mother and run the business from their apartment. It also became a wise business decision later on, as Caribbean culture had not become mainstream until a few years ago with the explosion of Rihanna and other West Indian icons across food, music, fashion and pop culture.
“I don’t think anyone knew what I did for Pops and how I worked from home. I was always in the shadows,” Fallon admits. “But being a stay-at-home mom was hard. Stay-at-home mothers in America are looked down upon, like they have their man taking care of them and they don’t have any aspirations, but it takes a lot out of a mother to step back for her family. People just looked at me as a mother and a wife and that was all.”
As challenging as the initial period of Jette and Milann’s homecoming was, the Seymours eventually got to a point after the girls were older to hire a nanny to assist for a few hours a day so Fallon could begin her newest chapter with Pearl’s. This was also a difficult transition, as Fallon fought to overcome “mom guilt” – a common internal conflict for professional women who are both mothers but also stepping back into the workforce.
In many ways, women who face mom guilt are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. The dirty looks Fallon remembers receiving as a stay-at-home mother caught her off-guard, but what was even more surprised by the negative comments she has received about going back to work, using the additional help of a nanny. When the girls were doing bad in school, for example, Fallon wondered if she had been around more often, would that have changed or affected their behavior? Should she have done their homework with them and ordered food instead of making them dinner that one night?
“But then I realize it is that mom guilt,” Fallon states firmly, realizing the paranoia of being a good mother is rooted in love and wanting the best for her children.
Fallon continues to carefully balance both her multiple passions with patience and grace in an effort to teach all three of her girls a greater lesson: “You can be a mother – a great mother – and a working woman and have your own aspirations. Having children is the hardest and most important job you can have.”
Another key tenet John and Fallon mindfully integrate into their parenting of the girls is the importance of where they come from. From John’s Irish claddagh wedding band to the family’s celebration of the West Indian parade, the girls are always instilled with a sense of their culture and roots from both sides of the family. On John’s side of the bloodline, the goal was to foster the signature Irish work ethic. From Fallon, confidence as strong and empowered young women was encouraged.
This is also an important element of Pearl’s conceptual culture – being authentic and true to who you are.
But like anything else, it was not always smooth sailing even as strong of a matriarch as Fallon is. Labeled a “white” person by American racial standards in New York, Fallon was greeted with controversy from some patrons as Pearl’s opened its doors. The Trinidadian national has received condescending comments or emails with confusion about her heritage that often insinuated that she knew “nothing” about black Caribbean soul food. Some, in fact, accused her family of being slave owners in Trinidad, not knowing Fallon is a mixture of Portuguese, British, Indian and African descent. She even had a table who got up and left once knowing Fallon was white, not knowing that Pearls is owned by a couple of Caribbean folks wherein Fallon was the only ‘white’ one.
There is certainly a logical fallacy in applying American racial dichotomy to immigrants or those of international backgrounds.
Fallon had a specific response to an offensive email she received when she was asked how she “had the nerve to open [Pearls]” due to her white appearance.
“I emailed [the sender] back, saying clearly, she is not from the Caribbean because if she was, she would’ve known that there’s every skin color under the sun in the Caribbean and that [in the media] it may seem like the Caribbean is just people of African and Indian descent, but there’s Chinese, European, Spanish ‘looking’ people as well. There’s so many combinations of people, that you don’t even know what their mix is.”
Fortunately, even with the misconceptions from certain patrons, Pearls has been a hit and very much a welcome addition to Williamsburg by both West Indian folks and non-West Indian folks alike with a strong rating on Yelp full of bustling every day of the week. To complement Pearls’ success, the Fallon and the rest of the owners opened up Clyde’s Quality next door – a super chill, cozy and delicious cocktail bar with the Caribbean-inspired drinks fit for mixology enthusiast in every New Yorker.
“I want an American who knows about West Indian food to say ‘damn, that’s good’ and I want a West Indian to come in and say that they give it the stamp of approval,” Fallon laughs.
For better or for worse, The Seymours – as diverse and as unique as they are, have had to battle the paradox of the “White” and “Black” experience – two things that are uniquely homegrown here in the States. “In America it’s so cut-and-dry,” Fallon muses. “But in the Caribbean we celebrate all cultures and religions through food and culture. I want to teach that to my girls.”