Mother Daughter Diaries: COVID-19 | Rising to the Occasion

Interview by
Diane Danvers Simmons
Natalie Simmons
Published on
April 27, 2020

In this episode...

The third episode in Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered’s series, Mother Daughter Diaries: COVID-19, brings together mother-daughter duos that are taking the challenges of COVID-19 in stride and transforming them into opportunities. Twenty-one-year-old, Rennie Lembo, details the 3D printing masks project she has embarked upon with her community college to keep our health workers safe as her mother, Laurel, “walks the talk” as an owner of an “essential business.” Founding member, Alex Aitchison, thinks creatively about pivoting new business venture as her mother Deb offers wisdom on how to keep an even keel through it all.


Alexandra Aitchison

Alex Aitchison is an outgoing millennial living in San Francisco who along with her team has recently launched a recruitment and consulting company working alongside venture capitalists and tech founders.

Deb Aitchison

Deb Aitchison, also known as The Deb (coined by daughter, Alex), resides in Carmel, CA with her husband Steve and dog, Tag. This baby boomer is constantly on the go though these days she has taken on the full time role as resident chef and therapist to both her returned children.

Rennie Lembo

Reynolds (Rennie) Lembo is a student of sculpture at Monterey Peninsula College. She specializes in 3d modeling and printing in addition to traditional sculpture. She lives at home with her mother and poodle brother.

Laurel Hedges Lembo

Laurel recently released the latest version of herself with a return to the workforce as a co-owner and employee of an electronics manufacturing company based in Central California. She is the mother of two children and one Standard Poodle.


We hope you are enjoying this series and would love to hear your stories too. If you would like to be featured on an upcoming episode please submit an audio or written blurb via email to natalie@mdunfiltered.com or direct message us on Instagram at @motherdaughterunfiltered. 

Key Points

1:00 - Diane & Natalie introduce the episode’s premise around women rising to the occasion during COVID-19 for the greater good of their families, communities, country and beyond. 

4:00 - Diane reads a quote, “What you do for yourself - any gestures of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing towards yourself - will affect how you experience your world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you are doing for others, and what you do for others, you’re doing for yourself.” By Pema Chödrön 

6:00 - Interview with Laurel & Rennie begins. The duo introduces themselves. Rennie currently attends Monterey Peninsula College as a sculpture major and is a student advisor in the 3D printing program. Laurel co-owns what has been deemed an essential business on the Monterey Peninsula during the crisis focused on technology and manufacturing.

7:30 - Rennie shares how her experience has changed at school from being hands-on in the studio and supporting the 3D printing mask project. This project is creating a temporary solution to provide a barrier for medical workers who currently lack the adequate medical supplies to keep them and their patients out of harm's way.

9:25 - Rennie and Diane discuss the importance of taking care of yourself to take care of others. Rennie shares her personal experience of overworking and becoming sick in the beginning of the pandemic. 

10:00 - Rennie shares her focus on masks for the female face as many of the current medical masks are designed for men. 

12:00 - Rennie walks through how the 3D printing works and the repurposing of household items such as vacuum bags, cotton pads and reusable grocery bags. 

14:30 - Diane asks about the impact of the project, beyond the Monterey Peninsula. 

15:30 - Rennie states that “there is no gender bias in 3d printing” and that she sees this time as an opportunity for women to work on a level playing field for an important cause

17:00 - Natalie asks Laurel to share what she has been facing in terms of challenges and opportunities during this time for her essential business.

18:00 - Laurel describes what her company does - providing systems for mass communication like intercoms and paging systems. This includes a video intercom device that is usable for the outdoors and is popular in a medical environment for intake where medical personnel need to be seperate from the people they are speaking with.

19:30 - Laurel details about the protocol her company has taken to protect her employees from contract or spreading the virus. 

20:30 - Natalie talks about the importance of business leaders communicating with their employees about how the virus is progressing and affecting their work.

22:30 - Laurel talks about how she reacted to Rennie getting sick and “walking the talk” as a leader. 

25:00 - Laurel shares what she has been doing for herself during this time - taking walks, zooming with sorority sisters, connecting with her mother and celebrating her son’s 25th birthday.

26:00 - Laurel and Rennie share their mantras have been through this time. Laurel shares “it is what it is” as well as a quote from a service Rennie shared with her that said, “every day may not be a good day but there is good in every day.” Rennie echoes that “it is what it is” is also her mantra. 

27:30 - Rennie talks about balancing relaxation and productivity. How important it is to be kind to yourself and respect how you feel.

28:30 - Natalie transitions the episode over to the interview with Alex and Deb Aitchison.

29:30 - Deb & Alex introduce themselves. Deb shares how her grown children have returned to their family home in Carmel. Alex shares why she returned from San Francisco and how she is working from home. 

33:00 - Alex describes the company she launched in the beginning of the year as recruitment and consulting services for executive assistant and chief of staff roles partnering with venture capitalists. 

34:00 - Alex talks about what COVID-19 means for venture capital and her space in tech and how “terrifying” COVID-19 has been for  a company based in recruitment.

35:00 - Alex asserts her opinion that this is a time for creativity and thinking outside the box. And shares some of the ways she and her team have pivoted to create new opportunities.

38:00 - Deb shares her experience having the kids return home and the challenges that come with it.

38:30 - The group talks about what has been keeping them balanced. Alex says that “ it doesn’t matter how old you get your mom’s comfort is sometimes all you need in a moment of vulnerability.”

41:30 - Diane asks the ladies for their mantras. Deb shares “stronger together” stating that we are stronger as a family, community, state, nation but it takes everyone to do their part. Alex shares how she is focusing on the opportunity and silver linings in this time is presenting and “not getting lost in the thick of it”. 

42:30 - Natalie introduces a new segment of the podcast asking listeners to share their stories too. If listeners would like to be featured on an upcoming episode please submit an audio or written blurb via email to natalie@mdunfiltered.com or direct message us on Instagram at @motherdaughterunfiltered. 

43:30 - Diane shares a personal story from her friend, Jillian, in London whose daughter had recovered from the virus and talks about living 180 steps from her grandchildren who she hasn’t been able to see for over 6 weeks.

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