She’s the creative director of Marie Claire and a judge on Project Runway, but more to the point NYC-based Nina Garcia is also a mom to two boys, ages five and eight. Her older son was diagnosed with severe food allergies at a young age, and since then, Nina has involved herself with FARE (Food Allergy Research Education) and become a spokesperson for Mylan’s EpiPen on Location campaign. Her charitable work doesn’t end there, though—Nina is also on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association and works with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
We know so many families living with food allergies. Tell us your story. My son tested positive for tree nuts to a very high degree at a young age. The summer he was 6, we had a very scary incident driving to the beach. Unbeknownst to us, a friend gave him a kale chip. He had a tiny bite. He started to get really red, developed hives, threw up, his throat started to swell and he had trouble breathing. Fortunately, we had two EpiPen Auto-Injectors with us, and we were prepared to administer immediately. It was a real wake up call for us. What’s scary about allergies is they are unpredictable, and accidents happen. It was beyond my control—that is why I feel so passionate about this campaign of EpiPen on Location to raise awareness. Beyond scary. So, what’s the message to other moms? Most importantly, you need to do your own research, consult your pediatrician. Caregivers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins—everybody needs to be aware. Sometimes it feels very tedious to remind them, but it’s just part of the plan. We’re inspired by your philanthropic multi-tasking. What motivates you to get so involved? Philanthropy is important to me and always has been to my family. My mother was always very involved, especially with children. I want to instill in my children the importance of giving back. There is nothing better than to lead by example. So true. Any tips on getting kids involved and truly caring about causes? Speak to them not as children, but as peers. Get them involved in the conversation, not in a scary way, but in a normal way so that they understand and want to take action. Great advice. Really. What are some of your family’s favorite things to do in the city? With two sons, we’re into outdoor activities. Central Park is where we spend the summer—baseball, soccer, tennis, anything to get them out the door! In winter, we go skating, play hockey, and ski in Vermont. Sports aside, the boys are really into science and in the stage of exploring, so the Museum of Natural History is a big destination. And we have to ask: are your boys into fashion? Fashion for them is about the latest sneakers—the Nike or the New Balance—or the next backpack for school. That’s their interest for now! Thanks, Nina, for chatting—and inspiring!