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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Smarty Mom: Valerie Lecoeur

By Katie M

Happy Smarty Mom Saturday! I am excited to introduce our first Smarty Mompreneur, Valerie Lecoeur, green mom and owner of Zoë b Organic. Zoë b Organic is a one-stop shop for hip, organic moms offering a range of eco-friendly products-from organic maternity t-shirts to diaper bags made from recycled water bottles.

Valerie and her husband John have three precious children, Zoë (6), Lucas (4) and Sophie (1). They moved to W-S five years ago from Chicago. Valerie started Zoë b Organic (named after her daughter, of course) with a line of maternity t-shirts. Then her business started to really take off when she introduced Natursutten, all natural rubber pacifiers, in the US. Valerie also pens a blog for Zoë b Organic where you can find the latest organic finds.

Ok, let’s find out more about this Smarty Mompreneur!

What was your original inspiration to start Zoë b Organic?
As a mom, you become more aware of your everyday choices and when I realized that conventional cotton is really bad for the environment, I decided to try organic maternity t-shirts. And from there it evolved into BPA-free baby bottles and pacifiers. I would rather buy one organic t-shirt than two conventional cotton.

You have an incredible success story. Tell us how your business took off.
It was the perfect storm - first with all the recalls from China (Natursutten is made in Germany)- and then BPA in the news. At first I was retailing the pacifiers myself (having sold over 6,000 retail), then I became the exclusive U.S. distributor last August and landed my first big client with Babies R Us (they ordered pacifiers for their 300 stores nationwide.) The pacifiers are now available at Wholefoods and many small boutique across the US, including O Baby Organic in Winston-Salem. I work from home, and at this time, by myself. I hope to be able to afford some help in the near future.

How do you manage to juggle a busy household while running your business?
I manage, but barely. I do a lot of work in the few hours I have available but it is not easy.

What Smarty tips do you have for moms hoping to launch their own ‘mompreneur’ endeavor?
Be passionate about what you want to do. Don’t get discouraged.

Why go organic?
Though you may be unaware of it, growing cotton uses more pesticides and synthetic fertilizers than any other crop (50 million pounds of pesticides annually in the U.S. alone.) The pesticides used on cotton harm people, wildlife, and the environment. They can poison farm workers (especially in developing countries), drift into neighboring communities, contaminate the ground and surface water, and kill beneficial insects.

Do you always live the organic life, and if so, how?
I try but it's true that it's more expensive. You can find organic products at Harris Teeter and Costco, but in the end, I believe strongly it is better for my children and the planet.

Ok, now to less serious questions. What is your favorite family activity?
Going hiking in the summer.

Favorite “mommy time” activity?
Being silly and dancing.

Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
Mellow Mushroom

Favorite place to eat without the children?
Milner’s (Stratford Road, Winston-Salem)

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
The Internet.

What’s the Smartiest way you save money?

Best piece of baby/kid gear?
Sleepsack for my one-year-old

Favorite park?
Tanglewood (Winston-Salem)

Favorite birthday party venue?
My yard

Mini-van or SUV?

What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
Everything is five minutes away.

Thanks, Valerie for your Smarty answers!

Do you know a mom who goes above and beyond the call of duty for others, someone who does incredible work for her family and a charitable organization, runs a company or a marathon, or is simply living the daily grit of motherhood? Then email me here to send along your “Smarty Momination”!


Cory said...

Valerie is an inspiration! She started small with something she was passionate about. I think that measures true success! Congratulations!

Julie said...

I checked out Zoe B and I love it! Congrats to you and your success!

Anonymous said...

You are an inspiration! Congratulations to you and all of your accomplishments. Zoe B is great.

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