This week we had the opportunity to catch up with Hitha Palepu (@hithapalepu). In addition to her founder, author and blogger roles, Hitha is also mom to Rho. Hitha has brought us countless life hacks through her book, "How to Pack: Travel Smart for Any Trip," and her blog, "Hitha on the Go." Naturally, we wanted to hear more about how this renaissance woman moves through her day.
One of the most inspiring things about Hitha, besides her pharmaceutical work and the many hats she wears, is her commitment to finding balance and owning what that means for her. Sometimes a glass of wine and a book can be as restorative as exercise and meditation. Hitha is here for all of it. Read on below!
Hitha wears the Rebecca Allen New Pump in Nude III.
Where do you reside and what are your favorite local spots close to home?
I live in the Upper West Side, which is where I’ve wanted to live ever since I saw, "You’ve Got Mail." I love popping into Joe & The Juice for a flat white after dropping Rho off at school. I’m lucky to have so many Le Pain and Sweetgreen locations in our neighborhood for healthy lunches, but I sometimes pop into Mido for Japanese (their agedashi tofu and sweet potato tempura roll are my favorites). The Mermaid Inn and Pizzeria Sirenetta have great happy hours, and Le Bin and Barbico Enoteca are my favorite places to grab a glass of wine.
It's breakfast time on a weekday, where are you and what are you eating?
I’m usually at home for breakfast, drinking my matcha and a smoothie. It’s always a mad rush to get Rho fed and ready in the mornings, so I need something I can consume one-handed. Once Rho is out the door (by 8:30am), I sometimes sit down to savory oatmeal or eggs, and my latest business book (I'm currently reading, "How to Get Sh*t Done").
It's dinner time on a weekday, where are you and what are you eating?
I’m usually home for dinner, cooking one of our week’s Purple Carrot meals (except for Fridays, which are burger and fries nights). I start cooking at 6:30pm, while Naleeni (our nanny) feeds Rho his dinner. It’s one of my favorite times of the day - I spend time with him, sip a glass of kombucha or wine, and get lost in chopping and sautéing. I do go out for dinner one night a week to catch up with a friend, and we try to go out with other couples once or twice a month.
Describe your workwear style.
My workwear style is polished and classic with a twist. I love well-tailored separates and dresses from MM.LaFleur. I'll jazz them up with a funky pair of shoes, a bold bracelet or a necklace. If I have meetings for Rho Pharma, you’ll find me in business casual or business formal attire. If I’m working out of The Wing and meeting people for my website or blog, I’m much more casual; jeans, a cool top and a blazer, paired with funky sneakers or boots. I like to travel as light as possible - even on the subway - so my shoes and attire have to be comfortable enough to get me through the entire day.
Do you have a favorite workwear item that you can't live without?
I own 5 Didion tops from MM.LaFleur. I purchase a new one every season. They have the polish of a blouse, the comfort of a t-shirt and work for virtually every occasion.
You're about to give a big presentation/have a big meeting, what are you wearing:
The Emily dress from MM.LaFleur, a Helmut Lang blazer, and my Rebecca Allen pumps. I skip the jewelry for settings like these, but I’ll swipe on a bold lipstick (Moshpit by Urban Decay is my current favorite).
How do you prepare for said big presentation or meeting?
If it’s a presentation, I’ll practice it once a day for the week leading up to it. For any meeting, I try to anticipate any questions and log them in Evernote, along with some bullet points to address it. I review these every day, and especially before I walk into a meeting. I play the second half of Meek Mill’s, “Dreams and Nightmares,” before I walk into the building. It's the ultimate pump up song.
What constitutes a good day at work?
I’m still trying to figure this out. Every day and week is so different, and sometimes I’m at the mercy of someone else’s schedule and end up having a completely chaotic day running around the city.
A good day: I would be at my computer (worked out, meditated, had breakfast, showered and in real clothes) by 9:00am. I’d spend the next three hours working on strategic work; updating a deck, reviewing journal articles, writing content - all while my phone and computer were disconnected from WiFi. I’d have lunch and read my latest novel, and get back to my computer at 1:00pm. The afternoon would be spent responding to emails, having calls and generally getting caught up on everything. After planning the next day and tidying my desk, I’d change into pajamas and head to the kitchen to make dinner with a glass of wine. Dinner with my husband at 7:00pm, bath and a face mask by 8:30pm, and asleep by 10:00pm!
There is one daily practice I have that has been tremendously helpful. I keep a networking Evernote (one note for Rho Pharma, one for my blog and one for my book) of people with whom I’ve met or connected, the date I last reached out, my networking goal or outcome, and any notes. I try to review these and reconnect or reach out to someone new every day.
How do you unwind and turn work off?
I work out most mornings. It helps me maintain my sanity and my strength to power through the day. I also meditate most mornings, which really helps with my focus and energy during the day.
I do them because of the benefits, but I don’t particularly enjoy them. I do enjoy really good wine and food, a bath, a body scrub and a face mask when everyone else is asleep. I also enjoy curling up on my couch with a great book or movie, or getting a blowout or a facial. I love to travel and explore a new place. I always return inspired and ready to take on the world.
My favorite ritual is my Friday date with myself. I leave my phone at home and go to a nearby restaurant with a book. I have a glass of wine and an appetizer (usually fried and made with carbohydrates), and return home an hour later. It’s the best way to end the week and kick off the weekend.
Regardless of whether your work is your passion or your path to the weekend, what is your favorite thing to allocate time to outside of “the office?”
My family is at the top of the list. If I’m not working, I try to spend as much time as possible with my son and my husband. Reading, cooking and traveling are my biggest passions, so if I can plan and prepare a meal (outside of Purple Carrot) and read an entire novel on the weekend, I consider it a success.