Ali Landry: “I Really Just Want To Show Up & Support Other Women”
BY NADIA CARRIERE
Ali Landry is an actress, model and known by most as Miss USA ’96 or the “Doritos Girl”. The Bella star- who was named by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in The World – has since ventured into the world of fashion, design and marketing by creating her company Belle Parish. In an exclusive interview with Child Mode, Ali spoke candidly about her company, the visions she has for Belle Parish, her beautiful 2-year-old daughter Estela, Oscar fashions, beauty secrets, her favorite designers and a new exciting project with her husband writer/film-maker Alejandro Gomez Monteverde.
CM: Your beautiful new clothing line for children, Belle Parish just launched a couple of weeks ago and has already received such a positive response! What is the concept of Belle Parish?
AL: Yes, the response has been wonderful! It is definitely much harder work than I ever expected. The creating aspect with choosing the fabrics, the patterns, designs and concept for each collection is lots of fun, but the day to day is tough. Setting everything up, dealing with the manufacturers, the reps, answering questions picking up the fabrics which just came in from China. It’s taken over a lot of my time and that has been quite a juggle, however I am so grateful that I took this route and didn’t partner up with a larger company by writing up a licensing deal. The big picture has always been to build Belle Parish into a brand and lifestyle line, so its very important for us to keep that creative control.
The concept surrounds a little girl named Belle who lives in the world of Belle Parish. In each collection Belle will travel to a different country and the clothes will reflect that. We will also have a book to go along with each collection, where Belle learns about morals, values and the different cultures around the world.
I have been very blessed to travel and see amazing places, in fact it is something I have learned so much from as a person. I think travel is magical and the world of Belle Parish which we are creating is a magical place where there is adventure, lessons to be learned and where children are presented with different choices. So I really wanted the collections to reflect that. It also gives us the creative freedom to change up the design every season. We can play around with the classic children’s clothing, mix, match and experiment; that is kind of how I like to dress. When you travel you pick up a piece of jewelry from here, a shawl from there and it instantly brings you back to that place.
CM: This collection is full of classic cuts that are so hard to find these days! Where did the inspiration for these designs come from?
AL: It really began after my daughter was born. My mom started shipping us a box once a month filled with all of these beautiful outfits she made for Estela, using vintage patterns she had found in her local fabric store. When I saw these amazing pieces which I couldn’t find here in LA, a light bulb went off and it immediately clicked for me.
As I am originally from the South, I find most of the children there still dress in beautiful children’s clothing which is age appropriate. Living in the middle of a big city like Los Angeles, I see children dressed like their parents everyday which is adorable and there is nothing wrong with it, but she can wear those things when she is older and when its appropriate. Right now she is a baby and I just want to cherish these moments. Everything really changed for me after my daughter was born. People tell you, “They grow so fast, they grow so fast!” but you don’t get it until you actually become a mother! They change by the week and you think to yourself, “Oh my gosh where did my baby go?”
Because I received so many compliments for the way I was dressing Estela (in bonnets, dresses and traditional baby clothes), clothing was the natural thing to do first. Children grow way too fast as it is, why not celebrate each phase they are in. With society and the way things are, it is almost as if they want our children to grow up even faster. It is so hard to protect them from the media and everything that is out there. You really have to do the research and find the appropriate things for their age by seeking out the right kind of books, toys, games, movies and television shows.
In the future, we are planning on releasing a larger range of products including bedding, children’s books and dolls. We will be offering everything from layettes, play clothes and dress-up outfits, to special occasion pieces including Christmas outfits.
CM: Are you planning on expanding the line to include boys wear?
AL: Because I don’t have a little boy, I am just doing the girls line for now. You do what you know and I know little girls! The plan is to definitely going into boys however we want to stick to what we know and do it really really well without spreading ourselves out too thin.
CM: When will the first book be released?
AL: The first story is already written and we are just in the process of pitching it to publishers. It will probably be included in our Spring 2011.
CM: We’ve featured your adorable daughter Estella on our site a couple of times. She is already such a little fashionista! Does she pick out some of her own outfits?
AL: As a toddler she definitely has her own opinion! Her favorite pair of shoes are her Black Patent Mary Janes by Strasberg Children. They have a hard sole so she can get on her tippy toes like a ballerina, which she loves! She also has a pair of Disney Princess ballet flats with pink sparkles and a little bow which she really likes. Anything sparkly!
Estela also loves to be in the dresses 24/7. Definitely all about the princesses and ballerinas at this point. She loves anything she can twirl around in!
CM: As a mother, entrepreneur and actress, how do you balance your career and family?
AL: Balance. That is a big word. I struggle like every other mom out there. It is something I try to figure out every single day. I wake up in the morning and try to be as organized as possible. I try to be the best wife I can be to my husband, the best mother to my child, the best daughter to my mother, the best friend to my friends, but I slip just like everyone else. Sometimes something will fall by the wayside and of course there is always the mommy guilt – I’m sure every mother feels the same way. Each day is a new day and you really have to just try and do your best.
CM: Who is your favorite designer at the moment?
AL: I was actually out shopping yesterday and your perspective really changes when you become a mom! With the business and everything else going on, I need really cute things which are comfortable and practical. If I am going to a meeting, playing at the park with my child or going out to dinner with my husband, they have to be transitional. I definitely try to be smart with my shopping. Especially if we do have another baby “hopefully”, most of my clothes will be going. When I was pregnant my feet grew like most women so many of the shoes I had before are a little tight now.
I love Zara and I am a big fan of J.Crew! I pick up a few pieces here and there from H&M and go to Forever 21 for more of the trendier pieces. Of course I love the big designers, Christian Louboutin shoes and the Chanel bags, but if I’m going to spend that kind of money I want classic pieces that I can pass on to my daughter, pieces that are going to last a lifetime.
CM: #1 Beauty Secret?
AL: Right now its definitely skin care. As I’m getting older my skin isn’t as firm as it used to be, I am starting to see the fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes. I take good care of my skin and use sunscreen every day. It doesn’t matter what kind of makeup you put on, if your skin doesn’t look good, it won’t look that great.
I try to drink my 8 glasses of water every day because I feel like that helps with everything. It helps with my skin, my metabolism, my digestion, everything across the board. Although I always took care of my skin in the past, after I had my daughter I noticed a big change, so I’ve definitely kicked things into gear by nourishing from the inside out. I have also become more aware of what I put into my body, take vitamins which I never took before and really trying to eat more organic produce.
Because I love to eat, I have always been a big fitness person. If I didn’t I would be in big trouble! To be honest after I had the baby, I just didn’t have as much time as before. I used to work out 5 days a week easy sometimes 6 or 7. Now if I am lucky enough to get one day in a week, I’m happy and if I could get two days in I would be really excited! It is definitely something I have to put more effort into, because although one day is good, it doesn’t quite cut it.
CM: What were your thoughts on the Oscars? Best dressed?
AL: Best dressed was definitely Sandra Bullock, I thought she looked amazing! Meryl Streep also looked incredible.
I wasn’t so excited about the Oscar fashions this year for some reason. I liked Penelope Cruz’s dress but I’m just so used to her taking it to the next level, she has always come out in the most gorgeous knock out dresses. I heard many people responded well to Jennifer Lopez’s dress but for me on camera it didn’t translate as well. It was beautiful mind you, but Jennifer Lopez usually comes out in these stunner outfits.
CM: I found they played it safe this year.
AL: I agree! I did think that Zoe Saldana took a chance. It was a beautiful dress but I think it was a little trendy as opposed to classic, Hollywood Oscar style. For me it might have gone too far the other way.
CM: We loved you in Bella, the movie directed by your husband Alejandro! Do you have any upcoming movies or other projects in the works?
AL: We are actually going to be shooting another one at the end of the summer. Its a World War II film directed by my husband called Little Boy.
Also, my agent is very excited about possibly doing a docudrama although I am still tossing the idea around. Everyone is so intrigued about the way I have been handling this business. They can’t believe that I’ve invested my own money into it, that I’m driving my husbands van to pick up my collection which just came in from the manufacturer, going to downtown LA, walking down skid row, waiting for my fabric to come in from China because it was late. Most people in the entertainment industry do a licensing brand with a company. If they fit the bill, you say yes to the designs and attach your name to the products. For me, this wasn’t something I wanted to do as you aren’t as “hands-on” as far as the creative and every day aspect goes.
The thing is, with reality you have cameras in your house all the time. It is something I really need to think about. If I did say yes it would be to support other moms who are interested in starting up their own business by shedding some light into this whole process with the work that goes into everything, my struggles, the vision and the patience we have to have to make it successful.
We turned the garage into office space for my husband and now I’ve taken it over. Estela is running in and out of the house, my husband is coming in and then I have to run out again. So in that way I feel that I’m just like any other woman who is passionate about something and is trying to start her own business. There are a lot of perks as it may be easier for me to get press but it is still a struggle just like anyone else starting her own company.
As a women I just feel this where I stand and what I am all about. I really just want to show up and support other women.
Photos: Courtesy of Ali Landry for exclusive use on Child MODE