So glad you stopped by! I’m a stylist + the owner of Gunn & Swain. This is my life + style blog where I talk about my creative projects, women who inspire me, new product launches, my home and family, and my love for San Diego and Southern California living.

Mama Muse: Rachel Castillero

Mama Muse: Rachel Castillero

Mama Muse is my monthly feature where I chat with creative moms I admire. It may be anyone rad and inspiring - entrepreneurs, travelers, artists, photographers, musicians, foodies and anyone else who seems to be able to do it all while making it look easy and stylish! Give me all the secrets and advice - I can use it!


This month, the Mama Muse feature is a fun little shoot + interview with my sweet friend, Rachel Castillero and her gorgeous son, Shepard. Rach is a talented photographer, a creative with a beautiful eye and an honest mama from whom we can all learn. She and her husband, Rico, along with little Shep travel all over for work and split their time between San Diego and their new home in Sandy, Oregon. Both of their homes are gorgeous, serene spaces that feel like the Ace Hotel but homier. Oh, and lucky for you, you can rent their spaces when they aren't there! Check out their San Diego space & their Sandy, Oregon home. Follow Rach and on Instagram @rachelcast for travel eye candy, style inspiration from this beauty and her stunning family and some real, honest motherhood conversations. You can also follow her travels with her family and friends at @getlostwith.


All photos by Meghan Guerrero of Studio Castillero / Rachel's dress is from Jen's Pirate Booty & Shep's bloomers are from Little Urban Apparel / Hair & Makeup is by Sloane Wormser / Bed linens via Dazed But Amazed


What do you admire most about your child?

Shepard takes so much joy out of life, the simple things, everything. He loves every bug and rock and stick he sees and vehicle and person he sees. His passion for life extends to the ones he loves as well. He loves openly, constantly kissing those he loves, dancing when he sees them, sitting in laps, hugging them, trying to make them laugh. He loves freely and isn't afraid to show it. This is so inspiring to me, to love freely and openly with no fear of rejection and being intentional about letting people know how much they mean to me.... it's deepened my relationships with others in a beautiful way. 


What are some of your favorite ways to instill creativity into your child's play?

Being a creative, this is definitely something we have placed a lot of value in at home. And although I'm sure I could be more intentional about this, I like to keep things simple. So the main thing I do is I let him lead when it comes to play. I have made sure since he was a newborn, that he practiced and learned independent play separate from me (although I'd still be nearby of course to make sure of safety). Now that he's a toddler, he can happily play for at least an hour alone, making up games and stories in his head, not needing me to suggest things to him or tell him how and what to create. There is definitely also intentional interactive play happening daily since that too is important, we just don't want him to be completely dependent on us to entertain or create games for him. We also read to him every day because we feel like that really encourages imagination and creativity...that and we limit the amount of toys available to him at one time. 


Best piece of parenting advice you've gotten?

Surrender. It's all just part of the journey, shedding my old self and being reborn into a deeper version of myself.  A fellow mama friend of mine told me that the more I surrender to all of it, motherhood, the lack of sleep, lack of control, the worry, anxiety, the joy, the good, the bad, everything....that the more I would be able to embrace motherhood and take it in stride. That I  would not only deepen my relationship with my child but also with myself, a version I hadn't known before. Due to my struggle with anxiety and depression, I like to be in control. I wasn't ready for how that would effect me in motherhood, and babies, they really have a way of making you feel completely out of control. So this concept of surrender REALLY helped me in the moments when I was freaking out over my inability to control every aspect of this child. I'd take a deep breath and just remind myself to embrace my situation, and that it was OK that maybe we were having a rough day, or he was crying a lot, or not sleeping well.  All the phases and tough times are all temporary, and surrendering daily to this journey really helped me embrace and enjoy it, the good AND the bad. 


Most of us know that balance is a myth but what's the best way you've found to run your business and spend time with your family?
Balance is a very tough thing for us, and although it's become easier, it's still a daily struggle. What's worked best for us is a pretty strict schedule and routine. I had always desired to be the kind of parent with no schedule, going with the flow for naps and eating and bedtime etc. I learned pretty quickly that doesn't work for our family and our business. So now we wake up at the same time every day, nap at the same time, eat meals at the same time, and even have certain amounts of time spent outdoors or indoors every day for play and errands. Of course this isn't possible all the time, things come up and we have to be flexible, but in general we keep our schedule pretty strict and it allows me time to spend time with family and to get my work done (for the most part ;-)).


Traveling with small children can be a challenge. Do you have any tips on how to make it easier... possibly even enjoyable?

It is very challenging, but this leads back to the surrender thing. We have traveled a lot with Shepard and whenever we're traveling we always have to remind ourselves that it's not easy traveling with a child, no matter what anyone tells you and that's OK. The experience of traveling is usually worth it to us, so we'll take a little less sleep and some thrown off schedules to make it happen. We just now have boundaries about how far we travel from home, timing of flights, and then how often we take trips. We have said no to so many more travels than we would have before we had a child, but it really has to make sense for our family. Also, while traveling I'd recommend not cramming as much into a day, stay in an airbnb or a place where you can have some nice downtime in between site seeing...take that time to "stay home" even while you are traveling so you're child can get a little break from the running around. Then we also always travel with sound machines and black out curtains. ;-) 


Clearly photography is your trade but do you have any advice for us novice photographers about how to capture the best snaps of our littles?

Find the good light and just let them play in it. That's the first step in getting a great pic of your child, or anyone really. Let your kids be them, don't try and get them to pose or smile at the camera, just put them in some good light (which can be tricky I know, and a whole photography lesson in itself) and let them be themselves, with low expectations of how you want them to behave in the picture and instead letting their personalities shine through. 

New Years Ladies Lunch With True Food + Beijos Events

New Years Ladies Lunch With True Food + Beijos Events

The Sling Is The Thing

The Sling Is The Thing