As the daughter of legendary musician Tito Puente, you might assume that Audrey Puente might have made her mark in music as well. But Puente sought sunshine (and not the spotlight) instead and became a beloved meteorologist. Now expecting her third child, Puente spoke with Celebrity Parents about the weather, becoming a children’s clothing designer, and why she encourages all mothers to celebrate Mother’s Day the day before — sans kids.
Let’s talk about your career in weather.
I’m a chief meteorologist at My9 News. I do the 11:00 show and I also fill in on Fox 5. I’ve been there at My 9 for three years now.
How did you pick meteorology as a career?
I was always fascinated by the weather. Growing up, I always liked geography and math and I liked weather too, but I never thought I could make a career out of it. When I got to college, I was very fascinated with weather by that point, and I didn’t think about making a career out of it until I did an internship for fun in the weather department at a station in Syracuse. That was it. The weatherman put me in front of a camera and told me I could do this for a living. I thought I was going to be a lawyer in the music business and so when I graduated, I told my parents, “I don’t want to be a lawyer; I want to work in television.” They said, “That’s fine, but you need to get a job!” And I started working in television from there.
Now what was your dad’s reaction in particular?
He was thrilled. My father always discouraged us from being in the music business. I was the only one who listened, so that’s basically what it was. When Thanksgiving or another holiday came, I brought something else to the table to talk about other than music, because everyone else talked about music.
But you do play music.
Yes, I play the piano; I started with the flute in elementary school and then I played percussion instruments in the school band. I joined the marching band, and I was always doing a variety of things. Piano was always my favorite; I started it when I was 10. I was self-taught, but of course I had my dad at home to help me out.
Was there ever any expectation for you to continue in music since you were Tito Puente’s daughter?
You know I never felt that. If people were, it was unbeknownst to me. I never felt I had to be in music; I never felt pressure to be phenomenal with music. I just did it because it was something I was familiar with and surrounded by.
You’re pregnant with your third baby. How has the pregnancy been going?
This one has been a little tougher because we’ve been having heat waves in New York City. But other than that, the struggle of handling two children and running around in New York, having a full-time job and being pregnant — it’s a little much. We’re having a little girl. We have a few names in mind, but we haven’t settled on one yet.
Let’s talk about the story of your older daughter’s name Santana.
The story is that I had that name picked out way early. She’s actually named after a soap opera character on a soap opera called Santa Barbara.
I was thinking Carlos Santana.
Everybody does. So when the soap opera came out, my mother had a cousin who played Santana’s father for like four episodes. And I always thought that the name was fabulous for a woman. I kept it in the back of my mind so when I was pregnant with my daughter, that was the name for me from the beginning. My husband needed a little convincing. But then it all came together because my dad wrote, “Oye Como Va,” Carlos Santana recorded it. My father had a sister named Ann who died when she was 18 and my husband’s grandmother was named Ann who passed away as well, so there were a lot of connections.
So the story was that I didn’t tell anyone the name until the very end because I felt that I wanted the decision to be between my husband and I, and I didn’t want anyone else’s opinion influencing the name. She was born by Cesarean and I was in the hospital. My mother was in the room and when it was time to fill out the paperwork, the nurse noticed that I left the name off and she said, “What is the baby’s name?” I said, “I can’t tell you because my mother is in the room! No one is going to know the name until the baby’s born!” My husband said, “Audrey, she’s going to be born in an hour! You can tell your mother!” So I told my mother before the baby was born.
In addition to the kids and your job as a meteorologist, you launched a clothing line for kids and adults.
Yes, it’s called Stonz and Studz. I was doing it for fun. Basically it’s t-shirts with designs on them that are made with Swarovski crystals. I like the bling; I like it on my daughter.
There’s bling everywhere. There’s blind on the iPod, there’s bling all over.
[laughs] I like the glam. I was doing it for fun for my daughter, and one day someone at the preschool asked where I got that shirt and I said that I had made it. She asked me to make her one and it just grew from there. People were asking me to make shirts for their girls. I would give them as party and birthday gifts and it just kept growing. So this past December, I decided to launch as a legitimate business. It’s really taken off. I’ll do parties with friends and they’ll invite their friends and it becomes this modern-day Tupperware party. Everyone comes in, sees the shirts, orders them, and everything is customized and everyone lvoes it. My favorite thing is to hear something like, “My daughter loved the shirt; she had to wear it immediately.”
I do things for boys, too, like motorcycles and such. “My son will only wear his guitar shirt every day. I need another one!” I love it. I only work with the best stuff. I’m making the clothing I would want to buy myself.
It looks very SoHo boutique.
I call it “Boutique Chic.”
How do you find the time to do it all?
Before I was doing everything by hand. I would do it at 1:00 in the morning because I work nights. I would come home, lay everything out on the dining room table, and start blinging by hand. It took quite a while, but it never felt like a chore. It was fun. But then I started learning about the business and I got wise and got people to help me. Now I do a little bit of outsourcing but I do press the shirts myself. I have a professional machine here; I call this my traveling sweatshop in the apartment because I have to move everything when I need to. One day I’ll have my own space and I’ll put everything in one spot.
I had always wanted to own my own business. Like weather, it just started out as something that I loved. What better way to have a career than by doing something you love to do? People will often say someone is lucky if they have a great job or career, but I don’t really see it that way. I figured out what I love to do and how to get paid doing it. That’s the secret to the success and happiness I feel. I tell that to the students that I meet at schools: “Figure out what you love to do, and how to get paid doing it, and you’ll never feel like it’s work.”
So when people ask me how I’m doing everything, well, it’s fun for me, whether it’s being with my kids, blinging t-shirts, or telling the weather on TV. When you love what you’re doing, you’ll find the time to do it.
And you don’t mind people stopping you on the street to ask you what the weather is going to be?
Never, because who better to ask than me? I have the answer, and I love talking about the weather anyway.
And the sun just came out after we did the cover shot.
The same thing happened to me at our wedding. We had the remnants of Hurricane Floyd the morning of my wedding. I was like, “How could this be happening?” I had the photography shots planned for outside in Times Square, so we had to do it indoors at the W Hotel.
[pointing to a photo on the wall]. That’s a beautiful shot. Where was that?
Well, the sun came out! [laughs] So we rushed everyone outside really quick and we did a bunch of shots.
How do you find your personal balance?
Deep breathing! I’m a Buddhist and I just finished reading Buddhism for Mothers and I was like, “Finally someone thought of this book! It’s fabulous!” I was very into my Buddhist studies before I had children but once you have children, that takes over everything.
Is anyone else in the family a Buddhist?
No, but that’s what makes me the sanest one in the family! They might agree. I’m the calmest one.
There are Asian influences all over the house.
Yeah and you would think I would absorb from them more! [laughs] Last summer, I realized that no one was going to look out for me except me. If you want a spa day. or dinner out with your girlfriends, no one is going to step up and say, “Hey, why don’t you take the day off? You go out and shop all day, and when you come home, the kids will be in bed, and I’ll give you a nice massage!” That will never happen. I finally realized that, so I started thinking that I have to do it for myself. I started doing girls night out with my friends once a month and a spa day for myself. My husband is a genius; he actually came up with the idea that Mother’s Day is now celebrated the day before Mother’s Day for me. I take the day before Mother’s Day off, completely to myself, go to the spa, have lunch with friends, shop, so that when Mother’s Day comes, we can do all the stuff with the family and friends. I feel that Mother’s Day is the most overrated holiday because no mother gets a break on Mother’s Day. You still have to get everyone ready to go to the Mother’s Day brunch/lunch/dinner. It feels like work — where’s my day off? But I get the day off the day before.
I told people that story and they said, “Oh my God, I have to do that, too.” And then I feel like I had a day to myself. So the next day when I have to do stuff, I’m relaxed because I had a massage, mani/pedi, lunch with a girlfriend, and then I shopped. It’s all anybody wants.
As for the rest of it, it’s really my iPhone. It’s my brain. I say that if I lose my iPhone, I’ll have lost my mind because everything is in there.
I think that with this pregnancy is when I’ve brought Buddhism back into my life with the deep breathing. And when I read the book, it reminded me that everyone is in a beginner’s mind and having patience and understanding and that’s been helping me cope a lot lately! I’m revisiting my Buddhist roots.
Let’s talk about your monthly moms’ night out.
About 4 years ago I started a girls’ night out. We got all dressed up like before we had kids and went to a fancy restaurant, Buddakan. There were six of us and it was so fabulous that we decided to do it every month. I stuck with it! [laughs] Really, it’s the only way. I have to take care of that part of me. People ask me how I’m living so fabulously, and I tell them, trust me I’m faking it because I have my moments!
How do you think life will be with three kids?
Crazy. Many people tell me that when you have your third, you just throw them into the mix. The other two will entertain the third as she grows older. Santana will be 5 in two weeks, my son just turned three, and then we’ll have this baby. I’m not really that nervous. I know that it will be chaotic, but it seems like it’ll be a fun chaos. I’m already expecting to be overwhelmed but it will all be fine in the end.