Kristi Yamaguchi is a gold medal mom. We recently spoke with the Olympic Gold Medalist, Dancing With the Stars winner, author and mom of two about her new partnership with Smucker’s, her fashion line and her extensive work with early childhood literacy.
Kristi, how did your brand ambassadorship with Smucker’s Uncrustables come to be?
I’ve had a long relationship with them. They are involved in skating and support those events. This is my second year working with them on their Smucker’s Uncrustables Unstoppable Family Photo Contest, which I am so
excited to work on them with. Now through November 1, people can submit a photo of their families being adventurous and where they like to enjoy their own Uncrustables. After uploading the images, they can have a chance to win $15,000 for their own unstoppable family adventure! They also get a year’s supply of Uncrustables, too.
That’s a very cool, interactive contest. Back in the day, you’d have to write a 3 paragraph essay![laughs] Yes, that’s true. It’s certainly more fun and open. It allows people to be more creative and you get to truly see their personality.
Not to give people an unfair advantage, what would your submission be like?
Oh, that’s interesting. Well, my girls like biking, so I would definitely do an outdoors biking photo, and have our Uncrustables snacks with us. We love being outside in the fresh air.
Now, as a kid, were you anti-crust?
I think I was like most kids in that I didn’t especially love crust. As an adult, you learn to embrace the crust! My kids will definitely nibble around the crust and leave a hole in the middle. In my home, I’m known as the Uncrust Mom! [laughs]
In addition to the contest, Smucker’s is partnering with you for your Always Dream Foundation. Let’s talk about that.
For every Like on Facebook and new Twitter follower, they will donate $1 towards my Always Dream Foundation which supports childhood literacy. That’s an amazing thing.
Speaking of literacy, your second book, It’s a Big World Little Pig came out earlier this year. What can we expect for your next book?
Writing the books has been a wonderful experience, and I love the main character of Poppy the Pig. But I think for the third book, I might move on to a new character and explore that.
Are your girls good readers?
Keara  loves it but Emma  needs a little extra encouragement. So I get her books that are not so daunting to her. I read with her and applaud her when she does well. She just started first grade, so this is the year when you really start reading and writing.
First grade is a big deal!
It really is! It is when a lot of your firsts happen, so it’s essential that kids everywhere learn how to develop that love of reading and writing.
Which leads us to your Always Dream Foundation. It’s in its 16th year, which is incredible.
Thank you. This year, we’re really focused on early childhood literacy. We are launching two new literacy programs this fall, and I’m excited for it to expand nationwide. We are growing so rapidly and it’s so satisfying to see this progress and know that we are helping so many children.
And you’ve just recently added fashion designer to your resume.
I did. I launched a new women’s active wear clothing line at Lord & Taylor called Tsu. ya. It’s actually my middle name, and it was my grandmother’s name. I liked it because it’s a nod to my Japanese heritage. We call it fashion active wear because it’s feminine but functional. It’s girly with its embellishments which is a nod to my skating background. You can work out and then throw a cute jacket over it so you can go through the rest of your day, which is what all busy moms need. And a portion of the proceeds go back towards my Always Dream Foundation, too.
Kristi, how do you balance it all?
It’s certainly a challenge, like it is for any mom. I am always trying to figure it out. I’m very conscious about not overscheduling myself. I never want to bite off more than I can chew, although that’s not always easy to do.
At heart, I’m a homebody and I like to stay home, and not travel too much. I pick and choose wisely, sticking to the things I’m passionate about so I can have the energy to see it all through.