Dave Allocca/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling
Eva Mendes is a self-proclaimed "kitchen freak."
While she's always enjoyed cleaning and doing dishes, the actress recently turned that passion into a side hustle. Over the pandemic, Mendes fell in love with cleaning brand Skura Style's antimicrobial sponge and, earlier this month, she was announced as a co-owner of the female-founded company.
The partnership is a natural fit since the mom of two spends a lot of time in the kitchen — but, she admits, she's usually not the one doing the cooking. "Ryan's the cook. He's an incredible cook," she says of longtime partner Ryan Gosling. "I think that there's a really nice balance to 'you cook, I clean.' And it just works for us."
Aside from their meal-time deal, Mendes admits she's a "control freak about the sink," saying it's therapeutic for her to set up shop in front of the dishes.
"Life is so chaotic. But the one thing I can control is my house, my kitchen. So when I do the dishes it's meditative for me," she tells PEOPLE. "It really goes deeper than just cleaning up. It really gives me clarity. Clean sink equals clear mind for me."
The Place Beyond the Pines star says the peace of mind she gets from the process transcends just tidying up.
"Growing up in a tiny, tiny apartment with a lot of people, we didn't have anything," she says of her upbringing in Southern California. "But when the house was clean, it was like, 'Hey, I just feel better.' Everybody felt better. So for me, it's really emotional."
Mendes says she "always has a bit of hustle" in her, both in and out of her kitchen. And after a years-long acting hiatus, she says she's selective about what work she takes on, and is taking advantage of what she's passionate about right now.
"My level of curiosity has been the same since I was a young girl as far as, 'What's next?' 'What can I do?'" she says of taking on new opportunities, including her collaboration with Skura Style.
With her projects come all the intricacies of working from home — something that Mendes says was difficult to adjust to, especially when daughters Esmeralda, 7, and Amada, 6, are home.
"It's a mess!" she says. "I'll be Zooming with various people throughout the day and I have no idea. I'll see people kind of giggle, and I see my five year old, who just turned six, will be right behind me with her blankie and looking so cute."
Like many people in the "new modern way" of hybrid work, Mendes has set rules for when her family can interrupt meetings. If the door is closed, that means she's working and no one can come in unless it's "super important."
"Of course, my six year old will run in and say, 'It's so important.' And I'm just like, 'What?' She's like, 'Essie took my Barbie,'" she says. "But it's hard to be mad because it's so cute."