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Less than two years since it’s inception, Bébé De Luxe has already quadrupled their sales year over year, and delighted customers and influencers alike. Bébé De Luxe has been featured in Vogue, by Jillian Harris of Bachelorette fame, and on countless other family and lifestyle blogs.

Amanda Toth is the powerhouse behind the brand. She’s like a superhero really: By day she works full-time as a paralegal at a high powered firm in downtown Vancouver. In the evenings she’s a loving mother to her two year old son, Rian. And then when the rest of the city goes to sleep, she puts on her cape and runs Bébé De Luxe - a line of luxurious bath and body products for babies and adults.

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As you might imagine, the road to balance and success is paved with potholes. With so much going on, how does Amanda balance it all? And what happens when a copycat throws a wrench into her best laid plans?

What motivated you to start your own company, and this one in particular?

Amanda Toth: My son Rian has very sensitive skin and would often get red and patchy eczema symptoms, which would worsen after a bath with conventional baby washes.

I happened to go shopping with a couple of mama friends and our littles to a “fancy” baby store one day and saw a milk and oatmeal bath. That lightbulb moment of “I can make this” came on for me and I started researching right away.

I loved the idea of using coconut milk rather than cow’s milk since it is the fat content in the milk that makes your skin so soft, I figured I could get more benefits with the fattier coconut milk. Plus it has natural antibacterial, anti fungal and antimicrobial properties, it just seemed like the perfect base for a gentle, organic baby wash.

It was kismet actually because we later learned my son had a pretty harsh sensitivity to cows milk, including burn-like reactions topically. Had we made the original formula with cows milk, we wouldn’t be here today! I can’t say that I’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur but once I started, things just kept falling into place nearly effortlessly.

What makes your product unique?

Amanda Toth: I know most companies, especially small businesses, believe wholeheartedly in the products they make and I am the same. We use our signature Coconut & Oat Milk Bath blend for Rian’s bath daily, washing head to toe (including his hair) for nearly two years now. It is intended to be used as a replacement for conventional soap, some people feel weird about not lathering up with bubbles but my wildling child doesn’t stink so I’m pretty sure it works!

All silliness aside, our formula is especially great for babes and littles as the natural antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties of the coconut milk cleanse the skin while helping to soothe all sorts of irritations, diaper rashes (which are often fungal) and won’t strip the skin of their natural oils.

Because the formula contains no soap and no harsh chemicals, even when your little one has eczema or a severe diaper rash, it won’t sting like a soap or body wash would. We have had excellent feedback from customers using our signature coconut and oat milk bath for eczema, rashes, sunburn, and made into a paste it also helps to exfoliate cradle cap and can be used as either a face mask or facial scrub for mama.

How do you communicate that to customers?

Amanda Toth: The natural beauty industry is a growing trend that is beginning to really resonate with consumers. Recently a couple of trusted brands in the baby care business were discovered to have been less than honest and/or selling products which had known cancer promoting chemicals in their formulas. People are looking for natural products that they can trust, especially for their children. In nearly every social media post, article or marketing material we focus on the fact that our formula is simple, no-nasties, organic and made with food-grade ingredients.

How do you deal with copycats, or legitimate competitors?

Amanda Toth: I’m going to be honest here and hope that others can learn from my experience. The first copycat really stung and I called them out for it. It was a true copycat in that this person targeted me specifically and not only recreated my formula but the aesthetic of the brand I worked so hard to create.

Bébé de Luxe is my second child and I felt protective like a mother bear.

It was a great lesson to learn in my first year of business and I am grateful that I had those growing pains so early on to get them out of the way. I am now more confident that my own branding, formulas and passion shine through every aspect of Bébé de Luxe and allow all of these things to speak for themselves. The old adage is true, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While it may not ring true in the moment, know that if you have an imitator, you are a trailblazer and have created a product that inspires recreation. That is a beautiful thing.

How can you tell the difference between a copycat and a competitor?

Amanda Toth: To me a copycat is someone who maliciously imitates your brand. A competitor is a fellow entrepreneur who has created a quality product that I am proud to have Bébé de Luxe next to on a shelf.

A few of my favourite competitors that I have mad respect for are - Herbivore Botanicals, Tubby Todd, K’Pure Naturals and Haven Living. These are all brands I recognize for their aesthetic, natural formula and ethics and I use products from each line personally.

Collaboration over competition is the key to success in a market saturated with start-ups and I am proud to work alongside some of the most collaborative and welcoming women.

Why do you think really understanding what makes your brand unique is important?

Amanda Toth: I think today businesses are a dime a dozen and new products and brands pop up on the daily. It’s imperative that you create a unique product or brand to stand out from the crowd.

Knowledge is power and understanding what makes your brand unique equates to power.

Our customers truly identify with the struggles we have had with my son’s skin and find comfort in knowing that our products are natural, organic and food-grade. Especially with handmade and local consumers, having an identifiable connection to the brand or product really hits home. Let’s face it, shopping handmade and local costs more than buying mass produced products at a big box store, people are recognizing the value in higher quality products and shopping locally but your product has to connect with them in some way before they will spend their hard earned money.

What’s more important: being passionate about your company OR making real money?

Amanda Toth: I believe passion is key and that the “real” money cannot be acquired or attained without it. There has to be something driving you to hustle harder than your competition when you feel like you’d rather get some shut eye or hang out with your friends. Sacrifices are a very real part of growing and grooming a business, you have to love what you’re doing or you’ll flounder.

Do you struggle balancing being an entrepreneur and a mother?

Amanda Toth: Of course. Women wear so many hats in society. Not only am I an entrepreneur and a mother, I am a wife, a full-time career-driven women (a career separate from my business that I have busted my butt at for 13 years and I am not ready to let go of). I am a sister, daughter, friend and so many other things.

It is the sum of all of these things that make me unique but also causes me to struggle at times in any one or more of these arenas. One of my biggest struggles is finding patience and stepping back to allow the little moments to unfold rather than micromanaging every aspect of a day. Being a busy mom, entrepreneur and also working full-time, I have a lot to squeeze into 24 hour but toddlers go at their own pace. I need to allow myself to enjoy the process rather than get frustrated that we aren’t keeping my usual pace. It’s a blessing really, as my usual pace isn’t sustainable so being a mom to Rian often forces me to slow down.

What makes you unique as a mother?

Amanda Toth: I don’t know that I am unique as a mother. I’m just an average 33 year old who doesn’t really feel like I know what I’m doing half the time.

I’m a big fan of winging it - motherhood, business and life.

While I have a ton of Type A traits, mostly enjoying the feeling of being in control, becoming a mom and an entrepreneur has shaken things up for me and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not really in control, ever.

I think being a mother has made me realize that it is a universal thing. Across any age, race, religion or economic status we all love our children above all else and none of us are experts. It has really opened me up to connection in a way that I have never been open to before. Insecurities always made me a bit of an introvert but now those same insecurities cause me to seek advice and commiserate with other mothers.

There is power, strength and magic in acknowledging that we don’t really know what we’re doing.

How does being a mother affect the way you run your business?

Amanda Toth: I would say that being a mother makes running a business more difficult but I don’t have any idea of what it’s like to run a business without being a mother.

And if I weren’t a mother, I wouldn’t have a business.

So to me, being a mother and running a business go hand in hand. Because my business is primarily marketed as a baby care company, I think it gives me the perspective of wanting the best for my child which translates into how we market and connect with our customers.

Is there any one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring lady bosses?

Amanda Toth: Find your passion. Don’t start a business thinking you are going to make it rich. It takes true grit and determination to make even the best products into a successful business.

It also takes so much more money, time and effort than you can ever imagine. Patience is paramount, even the little things will take longer than you expect but getting it right is worth it.

Everyone imagines that being their own boss is this wonderful thing but there is something to be said for the security of a steady paycheck and being able to leave your work at the door when you clock out. Knowing your family is housed and fed by doing your 8 hours at the office is actually pretty amazing.

That’s is one of the reasons I’m not yet ready to let go of my career. I am a Taurus which means I need to feel stable and secure. Having a job with steady pay, benefits and a pension plan gives me those things without the stress of having to push more online sales or attend more markets.

What does the word “motherly” mean to you?

Amanda Toth: I think we all have an ideal definition, and it’s not always achievable. We read books and blogs, research and ask questions all before babe even arrives. Most of the things we think we know about being a parent go right out the window as soon as that baby is put into your arms.

At the core of being a good mother, we should be loving and patient above all else not just with our children but with ourselves too. We are hardest on ourselves, but if we were to ask our children what being a good mother means they would likely give us a simple definition of love, kindness and patience. We all need to be reminded of that. 

Being a good mother doesn’t mean only the best organic meals, having the smartest kid dressed in the best clothes. I think it is time we get back to basics with our children, who often learn more from our example than from our teachings. Slowing down and showing them we are patient, demonstrating true kindness and unconditional love will give them a good foundation to grow into a good human being.

Get your own, no-nasties Bébé de Luxe here!

Haley Campbell is the founder of Beluga Baby and creator of the ultimate bamboo baby carrier. She is a regular contributor to Motherly and is an avid advocate for entrepreneurs, and for the new generation of mothers making the world their own.

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Most nights as I put my daughter to bed, rocking her to sleep in the darkness, I find my mind wandering to all the things I need to accomplish once she's asleep. I can't forget to throw that load of laundry in the dryer. I need to make sure I finish that lesson plan. I really should mop the kitchen tonight if I have time. As a busy working parent, the mental to-do list is never-ending, and my mind is always taking inventory of all that I've accomplished, and all I've yet to get done.

But tonight as I rocked her, I looked down at my daughter's legs, which now stick out past my arms when I cradle her in the rocking chair. I recalled how my arms used to wrap completely around her tiny little body. She used to lie in my arms, swaddled tightly like a little burrito, and her entire body would fit perfectly in my arms. It feels like this was only yesterday.

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I blinked, and somehow my tiny, sleepy newborn became a sweet, but strong-willed toddler.

I stared down at her little face in the darkness, forgetting the list of things I wanted to accomplish once I put her to bed. I watched her eyelids flutter as she fought sleep, and I recalled all the sleepless nights we spent in this rocking chair.

I remembered rocking her back to sleep on that very first night home from the hospital, so overwhelmed with love and joy, but also plagued with exhaustion.

I thought of all the nights between then and now. The tough, sleepless nights—through growth spurts, teething, and colds—and those sweet, easy nights where she drifted to sleep effortlessly and slept the whole night through.

I watched her eyelids become heavy as she drifted off to sleep, and I snuggled her a little tighter and rocked her a little longer. The days have flown by since we brought this tiny little blessing home, and I know that time is never going to slow down.

I know that there will come a day in the not-too-distant future where my precious little girl won't want her mama to rock her to sleep anymore. She won't want to hear Goodnight Moon for the one-millionth time. She won't want me to kiss her forehead and wish her sweet dreams before tucking her into bed.

So tonight, I made sure to be present in the moment rather than letting my mind wander to the next item on my to-do list. I watched my precious girl fall asleep and I savored every moment of it. I rocked her and rocked her and then rocked her some more.

I stared at her sweet face, wishing I could freeze this moment and keep her my baby forever. But I know that the future will bring new and exciting things as well.

For the time being, I'm going to enjoy where we are right now and do my best to just be in the moment. Because the laundry will still be there in an hour or two, and if the floors don't get mopped until tomorrow, nothing is going to happen.

Right now, just being here in this rocking chair with my baby is the most important thing in the world.

Life

With American officials now cautioning that Coronavirus outbreaks are highly likely within the 50 states, experts are also urging schools and businesses to prepare for disruptions. If it comes to this, the United States can follow Hong Kong's model—where protests through the fall shut down schools and then the threat of Coronavirus led classrooms to shutter again through the majority of winter.

With schools closed and the city effectively on lockdown as the threat of Coronavirus touched all aspects of public life, students around Hong Kong have been forced to adjust to virtual schooling, and that means mothers have been forced to adjust, too.

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"Extending the class suspension has been a difficult decision. Yet as the WHO [World Health Organization] predicted, the epidemic will last for a while and the Bureau thinks it is the safest decision to ensure the physical well-being of students," said Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung in a press statement this week, announcing the decision to push back opening schools until April 20.

For American mom Arcadia Kim and her family, this effectively put their lives in Hong Kong on standstill even though they were all healthy. Rather than wait it out in Hong Kong, the family decided to "self-quarantine" in Hawaii earlier at the beginning of February which they were able to do as American citizens. As the family hastily packed up their lives with just one hour of notice, they included their digital tablets and laptops—which have since become not only their lifelines to home, but also the children's method for schooling.

"Online classes and virtual school look like 'ready player one,'" says Kim, who runs Infinite Screentime, which helps families strike a better balance with screens. "[It's like] some dystopian future where you are plugged into the matrix."

Although screen time is a stressful topic among many modern parents, Kim had a unique vantage point on the perks and pitfalls: A former chief operating officer for Electronic Arts, Los Angeles, she was closely involved in the development of some of the most popular video games in the world—and understands exactly how they were created to be addictive.

After being conscious of her children's screen time throughout their lives, it felt strange for her to encourage them to log hours upon hours on their computers in the name of school. "They are in front of their computers for nearly six hours a day," she says of her children's virtual schooling. "It looks crazy, but this is crazy."

Still, for being pushed into this new way of schooling that they didn't request, Kim was impressed by the way her children quickly adjusted. Whereas they could have lost one year of education, the Kim children now wake up across the ocean from their school, log on by 8 a.m. to receive their assignments and then get to work for the day—which looks like anything from the 13-year-old Skyping with a tutor who is a PhD candidate in microbiology, the 7-year-old assessing the symmetry of objects using a tablet, or the 10-year-old learning scratch programming.

To provide a counterbalance at the end of the screen time-rich school day, the family makes a point of getting out and exploring their new surroundings.

While the circumstances in Hong Kong may be unique, students, parents and educators from around the world are embracing online classrooms for a variety of reasons. According to a 2019 report from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), nearly 300,000 K-12 students in the United States were enrolled in full-time virtual schools.

However, experts from NEPC, a research organization based out of the University of Colorado at Boulder, expressed concern about the effectiveness of virtual schooling—which is still somewhat of an unregulated, "wild west" approach to education. Notably, the graduation rate from virtual schools is approximately 50 percent while the national average for public schools is 85%.

"Given the lack of understanding of what is actually happening in virtual education, policymakers should require that any virtual school operating in their jurisdiction be required to provide the necessary information to examine the effectiveness of the virtual education that is actually being provided," the authors suggested in the report.

Kim agrees the downsides to virtual schooling remain clear, especially because educators in Hong Kong had to scramble to offer this option on such short notice. "There are some things that seem better and more conducive to learning online than other things," she says. "Can a 7-year-old really understand the significance of the Day of Death by watching YouTube videos only? It would have been much cooler if they could have done the dress-up festival like the school had planned."

Yet Kim says her eyes truly have been opened to the possibilities that virtual schooling presents through this experience—even as she's looking forward to her children having the chance to go back to their normal classrooms. "This is going to be the future," she says. "[Online school] will force kids to be more self-reliant and motivated. Parents will need to be more flexible about what is to come."

News

Pregnancy is a naturally beautiful thing in a woman's life and the same should be true of the skincare products we use. But, that's not always the case. Did you know that just because a label says "gentle" or "all-natural" it doesn't mean it's non-toxic and pregnancy-safe? There can be a lot of sneaky ingredients that aren't so great for you, mama. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns that prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can be linked to cancer and reproductive issues later in life. The good news is that you can reduce exposure to toxic chemicals by carefully reading labels.

The Cosmetics Database has a list of good-for-you ingredients if you're ever unsure. And, to get you started, these are our favorite all-natural, pregnancy-safe beauty products:

Acure prickly pear + fig extract shampoo

Acure shampoo

Free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, petrolatum, silicone, and just about anything that could threaten you or your baby, this is one of the most accessible shampoos on the market that actually works wonders for pregnancy and postpartum hair loss. It increases hair's elasticity and aids in preventing breakage after a few uses. Their masks also make great self-care treatments both before and after your little one makes their arrival. Trust us, you'll have earned a little pampering!

$8.27

Amareta brightening gel cleanser

Moon Light Brightening Gel Cleanser

Wouldn't it be great if a skincare line had products for every stage of pregnancy and new mom life? Wish = granted.

This lightweight daily face wash cleanses, balances and brightens your skin throughout your hormonal cycle. Plus, you won't find chemicals, synthetic preservatives or harsh acne treatment ingredients, but you will find lots of vitamin C to brighten and hydrate even the dullest skin.

$48

Beautycounter hydrating foundation

Beautycounter hydrating foundation

Beautycounter is a mom-founded company that has been making waves by pushing the FDA to enact stricter rules about what is allowed into cosmetic products in the U.S. They hold themselves to a high standard, banning 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals from all of their products—without sacrificing on quality.

Our favorite product includes the hydrating foundation that's perfect for light to medium coverage, and it includes sodium hyaluronate, a natural moisture magnet, to promote smoother-looking skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

$42

Belli anti-blemish facial wash

Belli anti-blemish facial wash

Sometimes pregnancy can do not-so-beautiful things to your skin. Since most anti-blemish treatments contain chemicals not recommended for pregnancy, we love Belli Skincare as a safer alternative. While all their products are free of parabens, gluten, artificial dyes and fragrances, their anti-blemish spot treatment and acne wash is great for pregnant or nursing mamas battling problem skin. Plus, it feels and smells super luxurious.

$22

Erbavia stretch mark cream

Erbavia stretch mark cream

No one deserves a little spa treatment more than pregnant mamas. But in case you don't have time for an afternoon away, we recommend Erbaviva's line of organic and chemical-free beauty treatments.

For a little nightly belly pampering, we loved combining the stretch mark cream (non-greasy so you can dress right away!), stretch mark oil, and belly butter. All three products feature the same earthy, spa-like scent and pair beautifully for a deep hydration—take that, third-trimester itchiness.

$30

evanhealy sea algae serum

evanhealy sea algae serum

When searching for pregnancy-safe products, you can't go wrong by starting with nature. Evan Healy's line of skincare products are all-organic and plant-based, leaving out synthetics or other toxic ingredients. We're super into the sea algae serum that's made up of sea buckthorn oil, seaweed, algae, hyaluronic acid and CO Q-10 to tone and beautify skin your entire pregnancy.

$45.95

Naked Truth Beauty lip + cheek stick

Naked Truth Beauty Lip & Cheek stick.

Naked Truth Beauty is a beauty company firmly rooted in safe products and ingredient education. Even their packaging is made from recycled ingredients and can be recycled or composted after use.

While they carry an assortment of bath and beauty items, our favorite is the Lip + Cheek stick. It's easy to apply, the color blends perfectly and they have a fair variety of shades for different skin tones. Plus, who doesn't love a product that pulls double duty—just like you, mama.

$26

W3LL People nudist lip butter

W3LL People nudist lip butter

What happens when an elite makeup artist, a cosmetic dermatologist and a tree-hugging entrepreneur team up to create a beauty line? Safe product magic.

That's the story behind W3ll People, a company firmly rooted in non-toxic formulas and minimalist makeup looks. Every product contains premium natural ingredients and skips fillers, propylene glycol, petrochemicals, and petroleum by-products, meaning you'll look as good as they make you feel.

We loved the lip butter for natural shades that work on any skin tone (plus a slight tingly that plumps your lips). This powerful lip butter also provides SPF 15 broad-spectrum protection for mamas who love the sun.

$13.99

Ilia limitless lash mascara

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

Infused with a hint of organic shea butter and keratin to help boost and enhance lash condition, this lightweight and nourishing formula is just what the doctor ordered for a classic, black finish. You'll also find a blend of organic bee and carnauba waxes to weightlessly condition each lash, while still keeping them lifted throughout the day.

$28

Pleni Naturals cleansing oil and exfoliating mask

A little goes a long way with this face oil. While the price might seem initially steep, when you're using only a few pumps a day this bottle can last longer than you might expect. Plus, it's two products in one.

We love this certified non-toxic and vegan formula for being super gentle on your skin and pregnancy safe. You can use this in your everyday cleansing routine—leaving your face feeling clean but not tight or squeaky—or you can leave it on for up to 10 minutes as a mask to get the exfoliating benefits from the papaya enzymes to help you gently dissolve dead skin cells. It's so great, you might want to consider keeping it in your routine beyond pregnancy, too, mama.

$48

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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As a dentist and a parent, I know getting kids pumped about dental care is not always easy. Especially when quality time with the toothbrush means an inevitable tantrum, as it does for some toddlers.

While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a visit to the dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than your child's first birthday, establishing a few simple habits before your toddler's first dental appointment could be your best bet for an easier first time in the dentist chair.

Here are five easy ways parents can prepare their toddler prepare for the first dental visit.

Start brushing early

I know how important (but tough) it is to get kids into any sort of routine—let alone a dental one. We began our children's dental routine as infants by cleaning their mouths and gums regularly with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Between 12-18 months, we started a brushing routine with non-fluoridated toothpaste.

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The earlier children fit toothbrushing into their daily routine, the easier their first dental visit will be. Just like adults, children should brush their teeth twice daily for 2-3 minutes, ideally early in the morning and before going to bed.

Schedule your child's nighttime brushing before they get too tired. For example, if your child usually nods off at 8 pm, have them do their nightly brushing and flossing at 7:15 pm. We're all a bit more cooperative before the Sandman comes knocking.

Make it tasty

Finding a gently-flavored children's toothpaste your child likes to brush with can make brushing a lot more enjoyable—and may make that first dental visit go more smoothly, too. While mint flavored is a good go-to for adults, bubble gum or chocolate-flavored toothpaste may be more appealing for the little ones.

Parents can begin brushing their children's teeth with a tiny pea-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste as early as 18 months. Once your child learns how to spit (around 2 years old), switch to fluoride toothpaste to protect against dental decay.

Avoid surprises

Most kids don't particularly enjoy bad surprises—and who can blame them? Showing up to a strange, sterile place like a dentist's office, with loud, scary noises and "a big person" putting their hands in your mouth? No, thank you!

The best way to prepare a child for the dentist is to tell, show and do:

Tell: Start by spending some time telling your child about the dentist and why it's important to visit.

Show: Demonstrate for your child what the dentist does by reading a children's book (and explain why it's not scary!).

Do: Bring your child on a quick field trip to the dentist and let them see, touch and experience the office before their first visit.

Play pretend

Before the first visit, try play-acting "trip to the dentist" with a stuffed animal. Encourage your child to count and brush teeth, floss between their chompers and have fun taking turns in a pretend dentist chair.

Use praise + positive reinforcement

Visiting the dentist is a new and sometimes scary experience for children. While starting and prioritizing a brushing routine helps in the long run, no amount of prep can guarantee a perfect first time dental visit.

Praise and positive reinforcement helps kids become excited to care for their teeth. Rewarding healthy habits and your first dental visit with a trip to the park, smiley stickers and big hugs makes the process less frightening for kids—and less troublesome for parents.
Learn + Play
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