Spotlight

Ava Daza Zanirato: On Life as a New Mom and Normalizing the Talk on Pleasure

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Ava Daza Zanirato continues to change the landscape of conversation around sex, pleasure, and intimacy through The Sexytime Podcast and Jellytime.

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Ava Daza Zanirato wasn’t always one to do things the conventional way. Perhaps this stems from being a part of a uniquely supportive and tight-knit family who served as her closest friends growing up, and who helped build the confidence she exudes. After all, she is the second daughter of Gloria Diaz and the younger sister of Isabelle Daza. Not to mention, the cousin of Sunnies Face founders Georgina and Jessica Wilson, and Martine Cajucom. Eloquence, poise, and conviction are simply part of Ava’s DNA.

Like her sister and cousins, Ava Daza Zanirato has carefully carved a path of her own. Not one to shy away from a challenge, she launched a podcast and a business — both of which are changing the landscape of conversation around sex and pleasure — at the height of her pregnancy. So many things were happening in her life simultaneously that when she announced she was expecting at nine months, many were surprised at the revelation. “It was so hard for me to keep it in. Even in my stories, it was so hard for me not to post stuff. I wanted to share my whole journey but my decision was to keep the pregnancy personal.”

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Ava with her son Leo

On launching Jellytime right before giving birth

“When we launched [Jellytime] on March 30 this year, I gave birth a month after. That was crazy for me because there was so much happening with the brand and I didn’t want to give it up. I was even saying in the beginning that it was my first baby because it took so much of my time and I didn’t want to let it go to waste. I had so much people in the team. We were all so excited for everything. And everyone built the brand together! Leading up to my birth, everyone was like, ‘Is she giving birth today?’ That’s why I made it a point where right before giving birth, I was like, ‘Guys, I’m going in. I’ll only be gone for a few hours.’ I didn’t want to let the team down.”

Despite the successful launch, Ava admits that it was a difficult time. “It was a personal struggle for me to find a way to prioritize Jellytime as a brand and at the same time, learn how to be a mom.”

“Until now, I’d say that I’m still dealing with it. It’s gotten a little bit better. My son Leo sleeps longer now. So I have more time to do my work. But it’s still a big struggle for me. I wouldn’t really say I recommend starting a business at the time you’re about to give birth,” Ava says with a sheepish laugh. “But you can deal with it. If you love doing it, you’ll find a way to deal.”

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Finding the right balance between work and motherhood

“I don’t know if I would do things differently had I known how much work it takes building a brand. Because it takes up so much of my time,” Ava shares. “Being a new mom, there’s definitely mom guilt. And I had to look at my friends for that. I’m like, ‘Guys, I feel so sad. I didn’t put him down for his nap this afternoon. I had to have his yaya do it because I have a couple of meetings lined up and it’s hard to deal with.'”

“Until now, I feel like I need to find a perfect balance because even though I’m able to spend time with him in the morning and at night, I feel like I owe it to be there for him every second. But someone told me, ‘You know, if you can be a better mom for him during the day, then it’s completely fine. You don’t always have to be there for him all day and night. However you feel you can be the best mom you could be, just do it.'”

Ava with her husband Luch and son Leo

Life with Luch and Leo

It’s evident in her conversations how much Ava loves her two nephews, Balthazar and Valentin, the sons of her sister Isabelle. She has a particular bond with Balthazar — mainly because she was around him a lot — before Valentin was born in Hong Kong during the first quarter of 2021 and spent his first few months there.

“Before I had my baby, my sister’s baby, Balti, was like was my baby. I kept thinking, ‘I don’t know how I’ll love anything more than the way I love Balti.’ With him, I had a lot of practice. And I was always there. Literally, I would wake up and go to my sister’s place and work there. But after having Leo, life became completely different, in a good way.”

“Every day I wake up, I’m just so thankful and happy. I told my husband Luch that life after Leo has made me so grateful each day. I don’t know if it sounds cliche. But life has just been so good.”

Parenting tips from her sister Isabelle

Having both her mom and sister around allowed Ava Daza Zanirato to envision what kind of mother she wanted to be. “Seeing the way my sister was a parent, I told myself that I’m going to be like this, I want to be like that. Then I realized that as I go through my own journey, I don’t have to be exactly the way she was. That’s one of the things that I discovered about myself, even prior to being a mom. I didn’t want to be as tough on myself as I thought I needed to be. I just wanted to go through my own journey and just let it be, basically.”

“One of the things that my sister always tells me [because in our family, we have a tendency to gain a lot of weight when we get pregnant] is, ‘You need to find a way to get fit. Just prioritize feeling good and feeling the fit you want to be.’ A lot of other people say that you need to bounce back to your pre-pregnancy weight. But my cousin told me, ‘I really don’t understand why people always say bounce back. Your body literally went through the most amazing transformation. Why would you want to bounce back?’ It’s about moving forward, but moving forward in the way you feel healthiest.”

A safe space to talk about sex

When Isabelle and Ava Daza started The Sexytime Podcast while Ava was pregnant, they didn’t anticipate how well people would respond. “I didn’t realize that it would take up a lot of my time, too. Because we didn’t expect it to take this life of its own. Now we’re working with Spotify exclusively and we try to get content at least once a week.”

In between managing their respective families and households as well as their hectic schedules, Isabelle and Ava find ways to record. “The last podcast we did, my sister was in the bathroom of her hotel,” Ava shares with a laugh. “Her kids are outside screaming while both of us are just trying to create content and learn from our guests. We’re like, ‘Excuse us. We promise we’re professionals.’ But it’s juggling having kids while recording our podcast and making it quality audio. It was such a unique time as well. I was learning so many things about, for example, sex during pregnancy.”

Ava Daza Zanirato on normalizing the talk about sex

Now that Ava Daza Zanirato is a mother herself, she often wonders how she’ll talk to her son Leo about sex and pleasure when he’s older. “The first thing we’re going to make sure to do with Leo is to call his private part as it is — so penis. We address the body part as it is — like it’s your neck or your nose. Because the moment you put a tone of shame towards the body part, then that’s instilling in them that this is something they have to be ashamed of.”

“A lot of research has shown that if you introduce the concept of sex at an earlier age, they’re able to deal with it and make proper decisions when they get older. For example, a lot of boys 3 to 4 years old touch their penis. And you’ll see a lot of parents say, ‘Don’t do that. Ano ba yan!’ They’ll try to tell them to pull their hands away. But one of our podcast guests, Erika Lust, was saying she would advice parents not to do that. You can do it in such a way where you tell them, ‘I understand that it feels good for you. But it’s better if you do that in the room by yourself.’ Never tell them that it’s wrong to do it. Because then it puts malice into that.”

“I’m already preparing myself how I would tell Leo what it means to receive pleasure and that it’s not shameful at all to feel good. It becomes shameful when people guilt you for it. Like, ‘Oh my god, anong ginagawa mo?’ That’s really the stigma that we’re trying to advocate against. Everyone deserves pleasure and they deserve it in a way that they’re not being shamed for.”

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The importance of intimacy for Ava Daza Zanirato

Ava believes that being intimate is one of the most important components of a marriage. “My sister and I always say this on our podcast. It’s about working on it. It doesn’t necessarily mean something sexual, by the way. It’s not always like, ‘Oh, you need to have sex and keep your relationship hot and sexy all the time.’ I think a lot of it has to do with the plain boring stuff and just spice it up a bit. Whether it’s grabbing your husband’s butt or whispering in his ear when he’s washing the dishes.”

“I think it’s about keeping things fun and not just monotonous. Scheduling sex is a good way to deal with it. Because for some people, it can be a way for them to anticipate and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to be doing it tonight.’ You can mentally prepare. This is especially when you’re so tired from a long day at work or taking care of your baby, and when you get home, you don’t realize that your husband or wife wants to do it and you reject them. Of course, it’s a blow to the ego. But if you say it like, ‘Hey, I feel like we haven’t been intimate in a long time. Do you want to schedule sex tonight or tomorrow night?’ It’s something you can both prepare for. You can prepare mentally or take a shower. I feel like that helps a lot.”

A solid relationship between parents is a good foundation for children

“But even getting there is hard. It’s easier to say it than do it — scheduling sex. So even baby steps like remembering to prioritize. It’s so easy to get caught up in parenting that you forget being a husband or a wife. I always tell my husband, ‘I want to be your wife. I want our relationship to come first and foremost. Because when we have a good relationship, that’s a good foundation for Leo.’ I always want to put that first.”

“It’s about remembering to do something different or something exciting for us. A lot of it is teasing or flirting. Something funny that I was talking about with my sister the other day was, ‘When was the last time you made out with your partner?’ And you know, when you’re first dating, making out is so fun and passionate. I told my husband the other night, ‘Let’s make out!’ And he found it so weird. But it’s so fun to do! It’s injecting stuff like that. Sometimes, you end up becoming so routine when you get married. So you need to find unique stuff like that to inject into your relationship.”

With a solid partner in Luch, the guidance of her mom and sister, and the support of her family and friends, there’s no doubt that Ava Daza Zanirato will continue to thrive and carve her own path — be it in modern parenting, building her brands, and creating a safe space to talk about sex.

Words GRETCHEN GATAN FRAGADA
Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Art Direction MARC YELLOW
Makeup EMMAN MAGPANTAY
Hairstyling MONG AMADO
Styling ROSHNI MIRPURI and SIYA DARYANI for THE CLOSET CULTURE
Shoot Coordination MJ ALMERO

Shot on location at ASCOTT BGC

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