BY NADIA CARRIERE
Actress Ali Landry is most famously known as the “Doritos Girl” or Miss USA ’96 – however just recently the 36-year-old model ventured into the world of fashion, design and marketing by launching Belle Parish, a boutique style children’s clothing line. The Bella star, who is a big fan of Celebrity Baby Scoop sat down for an exclusive interview with us last week and spoke candidly about her new clothing line, the hopes and dreams she has for the future of Belle Parish, how she disciplines her adorable 2-year-old daughter Estela, her marriage to hubby, writer/film-maker Alejandro Gomez Monteverde and their eagerness to expand their family.
CBS: Congratulations on your new clothing line, Belle Parish! What inspired you to start a childrens clothing line?
AL: Thank you!
It all started after I had my daughter Estela. My mother started sending me packages filled with all these gorgeous hand embroidered, cotton batisse clothes she saved from when I was a baby as well these beautiful outfits she made using vintage patterns. Pajamas with pinch pleats and french lace, beautiful little rompers, just gorgeous things. I dressed Estela in those clothes every single day.
Its funny because I always thought I would be the kind of mother who dressed my kids in the typical “hip” and “cool” clothes which are so common here in LA, however motherhood really changed my perspective. When my daughter was born and I saw that precious, little, innocent baby, I thought to myself, ” My gosh she is going to grow so fast!”. Children in our society grow up so quickly, partly because of what they are exposed to. I wanted her clothing to be age appropriate, celebrating her childhood and decided then and there to start this line. It was also a way for me to get involved into marketing and branding; something I have always been passionate about.
As soon as I vocalized the idea people started coming into our lives from point A to point B, I met my wonderful partner [Annie Kate Pons] and everything just fell into place. Her and I clicked instantly!
I met Annie 3 years ago because at the time, her husband was helping to promote my husband’s film. We’ve been involved in every single aspect of this company together; my weaknesses are her strengths and vice versa. We make a great team.
CBS: What is the concept of Belle Parish?
AL: It is based upon a girl named Belle who lives in Belle Parish. She travels each season. For the spring 2010 collection Belle visited Paris and the South, for fall she will be traveling to the United Kingdom and then for the 2011 Spring and Summer line she will be traveling to Latin America and we will have a “Cha Cha Cha” collection.
We used a lot of pinks and whites for the first line, it is very pure, innocent and simple, a celebration of bringing the baby home.
Next it will evolve into play sets for fall, party dresses, Christmas pajamas (which have always been a favorite of mine growing up), robes, etc.
The plan for the future is to include a book for everywhere Belle travels and then eventually, a doll. We will have one outfit per collection for Belle and her wardrobe will grow accordingly.
CBS: What kind of response did you receive at the ABC kids show?
AL: It was amazing, we had an incredible response!
My parents flew in from Louisiana to help with the set up and it was sweltering the first day! The air conditioning wasn’t working and it was 110 degrees in Vegas.
We were in the building every day by 9 a.m. and then out again at 7 p.m. From selling the products, to writing the orders, we did everything ourselves.
You know people were saying, ” Don’t expect to make any sales! Most people write their sales after the show”. We did so well that I cried at least 3 times while I was there, we couldn’t believe it, no one could believe it. After working so hard on something that is such a personal thing and putting your own belief system out there as a parent, you aren’t sure on how people are going to react, so to have everyone respond the way they did was amazing.
CBS: Are you planning on expanding the business? What are your plans for future projects?
AL: We are planning on branching out in the future as the vision has always been bigger than what we have going on at the moment.
We did sell some bedding at ABC but eventually we want to branch out into everything from bedding to furniture and kitchen utensils to gardening tools.
The whole goal for Belle Parish is for it to become a lifestyle line providing products that really support women in every aspect of their lives. I really feel a calling and a passion to support women. When you find the path your supposed to be on everything falls into place.
As a new company, we want to have a personal relationship with all of the buyers and our clients. If someone buys a certain amount i will personally fly myself out no matter where it is and launch their store with Belle Parish.
CBS: Thats a huge undertaking!
AL: I know but I can’t do this any other way, it is all or nothing for me. Once you find that passion it’s easy to expand. The sky is the limit!
CBS: Your recent dive into fashion design is quite the change from your career in the past. You are still best known as the “Dorito’s Girl” or Miss America 1996. Speaking of Doritos, do you always keep a bag in the house?
AL: Growing up, Doritos have always been my favorite chip! Most people think I would have a lifetime supply but the truth is, I never received a single box or bag after the commercials aired (laughs). You can always find a bag of Doritos in our house, although these days I prefer the baked version as they are a little healthier.
CBS: Your little girl Estella just turned 2 back in July. Is she going through the terrible twos?
AL: All in all I wouldn’t say its so bad right now but I do notice that she definitely has little phases that she goes through.
She just went through a “hitting/kicking” phase. In the morning, when we would all lay in bed together she would kick my husband and I. I would read one of her little books that said ” Feet are not for kicking. Hands are not for hitting” and she really grasped the whole concept. The books helped tremendously.
We are pretty consistent with discipline, I’ve always been pretty firm with her. If she misbehaves, I have always sat her in the corner. I don’t care if I’m in the mall or in the French quarter of New Orleans, I will sit her in the corner. I might get crazy looks from people passing by, but it works and consistency for us is the key.
My friends always say, “Are you kidding me? She is so little, she doesn’t know any better.” But no, my child knows when she is doing something wrong, she definitely knows!
CBS: What are some of her favorite things?
AL: Lately she tells me every single day that she is either a mermaid or a princess. She goes back and forth between the two. Although I did buy her the Little Mermaid DVD, I’ve never said to her, “Oh your my little princess”, so I don’t know where she gets that from! (laughs)
She also loves the color pink, baby dolls, books, balls and sunglasses. Those are her favorite things at the moment.
CBS: I’m assuming she will be either a Mermaid or a Princess for Halloween?
AL: Actually this year, I figured I would put something together with what she already has in her closet. Everyone is going through this economic crisis right now, even people in the entertainment industry.
Estela has this little red tutu so I’m putting some black pom-poms on it and then I’m going to put some little antennas on one of her hairbands. Pair that up with black tights and her little red shoes and she’ll be my little lady bug!
CBS: Is your husband very hands on? How do you work together as a couple?
AL: He is! I think the reason why we originally bonded was due to the similarity in our cultures. He is from Mexico and I’m from the South. We both come from large families that put each other first before anyone else, so in that respect we are totally in sync.
I think the way we are is mostly because of our parents, we had a very similar upbringing and our parents are both still together after all of these years. I told them recently that it is the greatest gift they could have ever given me. To see my parents so in love and together all the time really played a major part in my life. Although I’m sure they argued once in awhile, they never did in front of me and that in itself gave me so much security as a child.
Its hard for me to be in LA because you know I don’t think it really supports families. You can go in the suburbs which are nice but its not like in other communities. It is especially difficult with our jobs, so many marriages have been torn apart by not prioritizing. We are really conscious about the situations we put ourselves into and tend not to take part in most of the big parties and events going on.
Work is what we do but our family is our number one top priority. If there is anything going on with Estela or with her school, we are always there.
That is who we are ultimately.
CBS: Are you and Alejandro planning on expanding your family?
AL: He is begging me every single day! He tells me, ” I’m not getting any younger. What makes you think it will happen right away.” I think we are going to start trying again pretty soon but I’m nervous to go from one to two as I know how hard it is with just the one. I’m in L.A, my parents are in Louisiana and my husband’s family is in Mexico, so not having family close by is definitely hard when you’ve had that support system growing up.
My dream would be to move one day but obviously it can’t happen right now. Hopefully, one day.