Built with a mission to preserve the planet, Mon Coeur (meaning “my heart” in French) is a new, earth-friendly children’s clothing brand that produces sustainable, absolutely beautiful clothing (my son is living in this sweater). All of their fabrics, labels, embroideries, zippers, buttons and hangtags are derived from recycled and up-cycled materials using the latest innovations. They’re sold at Maisonette – basically the Net-a-Porter for children wear – and stock joggers, shorts, sweatshirts, dresses, tees and more for infants to 9yrs.
And that’s not it.
While they’re a premium brand, Mon Coeur has a “New Again Program,” that allows consumers to send their used Mon Coeur clothes back in exchange for 40% off their next purchase. The used clothes are then up-cycled or down-cycled to close the circular economy loop and to make sure the brand reduces waste. It’s a truly great brand with an amazing mission and founded by a mum entrepreneur, Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya.
If that name sounds familiar Louise is not only married to the founder of Chobani, but her father is the famed Chef Jean Georges. After her son was born, Louise sought to create Mon Coeur as a way to connect families with high-quality items and impactful solutions for sustaining the health of our planet. Pulling inspiration and knowledge from her father and husband’s experiences, she created Mon Coeur.
We chatted with the inspiring Mama to find out more.
Momtastic: Can you tell us a little bit about your background before becoming a mom?
Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya: I studied finance while I worked with my father, who has been my biggest role model. I’ve witnessed him being an esteemed leader that people always look up to with respect and admiration. His presence gives everybody a sense of “everything is going to be ok.” I attribute a lot of my entrepreneurial success to him.
Prior to launching Mon Coeur, I opened two restaurants under the name Chefs Club along with establishing the Food Dreams Foundation with my family, which is very close to my heart and ensures that we continue to help students have access to education and jobs within the culinary industry.
Momtastic: Can you tell us a little bit about your business and how being a mum inspired it?
Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya: After I welcomed my son, I decided to launch Mon Coeur. I noticed when I was shopping that there weren’t any sustainable brands existing within the children’s wear space – maybe in accessories, toys, plates etc., but no company was making children’s clothing, while prioritizing sustainability like we do. This can be attributed to the fact that it is not an easy process, it is not cheap, and/or it is simply not important to a lot of brands out there. The environment means so much to me and especially creating a healthier planet for our children.
Momtastic: It’s not easy to balance running a business with being a mum – any tips or tricks?
Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya: Launching in the middle of a pandemic has been a unique experience, but I didn’t allow anything to stop me. My biggest piece of advice for both running a business and parenthood is to practice patience. A tip I would give to everyone is to work hard but say “no” sometimes! Also, be open minded yet set boundaries- as we started wholesale for the next collection, we got lots of opinions on looks, colours, patterns and more. I take feedback openly and embrace it because sometimes when you start a business there are so many areas to focus on that the feedback can give you more ideas. However, I learned to listen yet not apply all feedback, because at the end of the day everyone has an opinion.
Momtastic: What have been some of the biggest challenges when it comes to the business?
Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya: I come from a hospitality background, so the fashion industry was, in some ways, a completely new world for me. Especially during the pandemic, navigating manufacturing and sourcing materials required extra effort. I stand behind the motto “you can do anything you want, if you work hard.”
Momtastic: At any point did you think about giving up? If so, what kept you going?
Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya: With any new business, there are bound to be challenging moments. Add in a global pandemic where we aren’t able to execute in-person fittings and were challenged to coordinate a virtual photoshoot and the challenges are amplified!
Doing things the right away is not always the easiest nor the fastest path, however it is my pledge and my vision to make cute clothes that are both sustainable and comfortable. My two littles ones also keep me going and I want to ensure we are doing everything possible to create a healthier planet for them to grow up in.
Momtastic: Can you tell us, in general, some of your favourite parenting must-have items?
Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya: While designing the nursery for my newborn baby, Leyla, I wanted to make sure that I was buying sustainable and non-toxic products, which is a top priority for me! I love Babyletto, which makes sustainable wooden cribs, as well as naturepedic mattresses, which are made from 100% organic cotton. I am in love with our Design Dua bassinet, which on top of being beautiful and super comfy for newborns to nap or just rest, are handmade and sustainable. Finally, my Elvie breast pump, which I absolutely love since it allows any busy mum out there to be able to care for other children, work, and workout – all while enjoying complete freedom while pumping.