Ali Landry is more than just a pretty face. The former beauty queen and Doritos Girl has hung up her glittery gowns and tiaras to become a hands-on mompreneur. The down-to-earth “girl from the south” opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her princess-loving 2 ½ -year-old daughter Estela (who will not be encouraged to enter showbiz or beauty pageants), her hopes to welcome a second child soon, and her passion to spread the good word about Belle Parish. “For me, the clothes represent what I’m about: Family values, good manners, relationships, kindness and a world of simpler times.”
CBS: Tell us a funny story about Estela.
AL: “Right now she is in the total princess mode. It’s making me crazy a little bit. She wakes up in the morning and puts on the crazy Disney princess dresses and gowns and wants the glittery shoes. She wears it all day long! If they’re dirty and in the hamper, she wants to get them out. It’s funny because we don’t go around saying ‘You’re such a little princess.’ We can’t call her any other name but Princess Estela. She calls me ‘Your Heiness’ which I don’t like, I have to say! She pretends she is a ballerina princess on her tip toes. That is the mode she is in! I don’t know what to do. I want her to wear her other clothes!”
CBS: Is Estela bilingual?
AL: “Yes, she speaks Spanish fluently, along with English. We’ve always taught her Spanish. I’m probably the only English speaking person in my house. My husband, his student that he is mentoring and the nanny all speak Spanish. All of my husband’s business partners speak Spanish, so she hears Spanish the majority of the time.”
CBS: We see you’re a regular on Twitter.
AL: “I’m a late bloomer with technology. But I’m loving Twitter! Before, I’d have to call 5 or 6 girlfriends in Louisiana and ask their mommy advice. Twitter is so instantaneous. I instantly get responses from other moms. It’s a really great mom support group.”
CBS: We were following you on Twitter and saw Estela was sick. How is she now?
AL: “She’s good now. Once they start preschool, it’s always something. It’s been a reoccurring cough that got so bad at night she would vomit. We’re waking up 2 or 3 times a night to change her and change the bed. She’s a trooper though and she’s fine now.”
CBS: Does Estela like preschool?
AL: “She’s loving school. She’s always been a very inquisitive child. I felt like she was really bored at home. So I started going with her when she was 1 ½ . She had to be potty trained so we got her out of diapers before she was 2. This semester she’s doing a ballet class and a pixie class where she can make wings and wands.”
CBS: Last time we chatted, you were hoping for Baby No. 2. Would you like to make any special announcements?
AL: “It is god’s will and we are trying very hard. If I could get my husband to be home for those special few days every month, and if he could be home and not working nights and finishing a script on a deadline, it might actually happen! If we could be in the same city, we might actually make it happen! So that’s my biggest struggle right now. He keeps saying ‘I want a baby, I want another baby,’ and I say ‘well you have to be in town to actually make that happen.’”
CBS: Are you hoping for a boy this time?
AL: “A boy would be great. But all I know now is girl, so I definitely wouldn’t mind another little girl. All men want that little boy, and I’d love to have a mama’s boy. Although, I have so much great girl clothes, I’d hate for them to go to waste.”
CBS: Speaking of great girl clothes, how is Belle Parish going?
AL: “It’s going great. It’s been such a learning process. I feel like every other mompreneur out there. I’m figuring it out and doing it out of the garage in my house. We have a manufacturer – we’re not actually doing the sewing ourselves – but we do everything else ourselves. We package our orders. We tag it. We answer the phone calls. We’re calling all the boutiques across the country. I drive to downtown Los Angeles to get my fabric from China. We do everything.
We’re about to go on a tour! Belle Parish all about community, connections, values, manners. We’re so excited because we really came from nothing and to see it grow has been a joy. I’m absolutely loving it. I offered to do personal appearances in any boutique that sold x-amount of dollars. So I’m about to go on a tour in May to places like Alabama and Texas to connect with the people and see their responses.”
CBS: Where can we buy Belle Parish?
AL: “We’re in about 60-70 boutiques across the country. We’re not available online yet. But because of the demand, we’re thinking that by June we’ll be selling Belle Parish online.”
CBS: Why would a fancy celebrity like you turn into a mompreneur?
AL: “First of all, I’m not fancy. I’m just a small-town girl from Louisiana that just happens to be on television. I just try to be the best friend, mom, wife, daughter I can be. I’m struggling just like every woman out there.
I’ve always wanted to get into this. Marketing has always been a passion of mine. I put myself through college by selling skin care products in my mom’s beauty salon. I love people, I love new concepts, I love brainstorming. I just really love business. I’ve always been busy with acting and hosting that I just never had a break to put some focus on this passion of mine.
After I had a child, my vision became clear. I saw what was lacking in the marketplace and I knew how I wanted to dress my child. That’s how this whole thing started. I didn’t know I would start with children’s clothing, but it’s been a great fit.”
CBS: What niche is Belle Parish filling?
AL: “My buyers are telling me what I felt was missing when I was shopping for my daughter. I live in Los Angeles where everything is cutting edge and very trendy. When I first had my daughter, my mom sent me my old baby clothes and I kept asking her to send more and more.
So my mom took up sewing and would send me a new box of clothes every 4 months based on vintage patterns and classic designs. People were stopping me and asking where I bought the items. So I thought, ‘I should just do this.’
For me, the clothes represent what I’m about: Family values, good manners, relationships, kindness and a world of simpler times. Where I’m from, there are no strangers, there are gentlemen and ladies. For me, it’s about the informal sophistication that feels like home. That’s the world of my dreams and that’s the world I’m trying to create for my child. I think that most parents want to raise their kids in that kind of world.”
CBS: Will we ever seen Belle Parish in Canada or worldwide?
AL: “That is the plan. We’re doing it slowly, but that is our goal. Another exciting thing we’re doing is a fashion show during Fashion Week in New York in September. We’re preparing for that and doing a couture line of dresses – eight party dresses – that are Shirley Temple-inspired from the 40s, 50s and 60s. We’ll also be debuting a child and baby jewelry line there.”
CBS: Are we ever going to see you on the big or small screen ever again?
AL: “Yes! Part of the reason why I started this company was because when I became pregnant with Estela, I took about a year off, besides doing press. I know that I want to have more children, so for me this business is something that I want to do for the rest of my life.
But absolutely, I’ll be shooting a film at the end of the summer. We’re talking about doing a docu-drama television show. There’s a book series with a television component that we’re discussing with Belle Parish. There’s big plans.”
CBS: Being a former beauty queen, do you also want Estela in beauty pageants?
AL: “No! I’m from the south and it’s part of the culture there. Each town promotes a certain festival. It’s engrained in the culture. It wasn’t like a foreign thing for me to do that. All my friends did it and I begged my mother to let me participate.
Here in Los Angeles, I don’t want to put emphasis on beauty. I think there’s other ways for a child to express herself. In Louisiana, I didn’t have as many options, so it was a really good outlet for me. But here, she has so many other opportunities. If she is interested in pursuing – not pageants – but something else, we’ll be open. I don’t even know if we’ll let her get into acting because her father is a director and I’m in the business. We’re just going to navigate it as we go along. But she won’t be going into beauty pageants.”
CBS: Do you have a nanny?
AL: “We have a nanny but if we’re out of town, it’s always a family member who stays with Estela. Preferably my mother or his mother. My mother lives in Louisiana and his mother lives in Mexico and they don’t see her as often as they’d like. I don’t feel as guilty knowing that they’re getting quality time with their granddaughter when we’re away. And she absolutely adores them! When they’re around, me and my husband are invisible. It’s good all the way around!”
CBS: What kinds of traditions to you keep up with?
AL: “I can remember when I was a little girl my mom made me the greatest Easter baskets ever. We had to go and find them in the yard because the Easter bunny left them. This year, I felt now’s the time to start doing these special things. So I did the Easter baskets, I got all the fun stuff, I hid it in the garden. We got together with friends – since we don’t have family here – and barbequed and did Easter egg hunts over the weekend. All of these things we’re trying to experience and expose her to. And we’re raising her Catholic. She’ll probably go to Catholic school.”
CBS: You recently said you’re in the best shape of your life. Tell us about your fitness regime.
AL: “I got in shape for an ABC special on celebrities and athletes paired together and I knew there were going to be cameras pointing in certain places. So it really forced me to work out, which I hadn’t since Estela was born. I remember thinking ‘Will I ever get back into shape,’ ‘Will I ever get my body back,’ ‘Will my stomach ever go flat?’ I started working out with a trainer and I got on top of my diet and I really feel great!
For other moms out there, it’s absolutely possible. I struggle too. If you watch my Twitter, you see that I’m not the kind of person that loves salad and protein everyday. I have chocolate and I have late night cravings. It’s a balance. Sometimes I go off the other end, like most people, but I get back on the horse and try my best to be healthy.”
CBS: Your fourth wedding anniversary is coming up soon. Any big plans?
AL: “Yes, we’re headed to Napa and then directly after that my mom will come into town to be with Estela and we’re going to Israel. We went last year and we have another opportunity to go this year. It’ll be such a great experience for us.”
CBS: What’s the secret to a successful marriage?
AL: “I’m trying to figure it out like everybody else! It’s balance. It’s easy for us to put all the focus on our children. They’re young and really need our attention. My husband needs my attention as well. It’s all about finding the balance in our relationship and giving him what he needs, and communicating. Having these getaways is important, whether it’s a date night or dinner alone or quiet time together.”
CBS: Are you working with any charities? We recently saw you at the Make a Wish Foundation event.
AL: “Our dear friend Kevin James and his wife Steffiana hosted the event.
But for us, we don’t feel we have to belong to any specific organization. I feel like most people want to give, but they don’t know who to give to. My husband and I have the mentality to look around and give back and help wherever we can. If there’s a wonderful organization like Make A Wish, and so many others, we help out. But I also think it’s important to look to your neighbors, community and church and see what’s needed there. Maybe even just a friend that needs a helping hand.”View Slideshow »»