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MEET THE MAKERS: Passion for sewing prompts N.S. entrepreneur to launch baby line

Being an entrepreneur is in Melissa Fournier’s blood.

“I had always had an interest in entrepreneurship as a young child and had hoped to one day own my own business,” says the Westville, Pictou County woman.

Not only had her father owned his own business, but so too had both sets of her great-grandparents.

“It is definitely in my blood to be a business owner,” she says.

For Fournier, her step into the world of entrepreneurship began when she was pregnant with her first child. She couldn’t find the products and prints she was looking for when it came to baby clothes. Having decided to keep the gender a surprise, she realized finding gender neutral prints wasn’t as easy as she had anticipated.

That’s when she decided it was time to dust off her sewing machine.

Back when she was in elementary school, Fournier learned to sew from her nanny. With these skills, she even created her own prom dress. She had a passion for sewing and had the intention to one day make a living from it.

Melissa Fournier, of Westville, Pictou County, N.S., has always been a creative person and has taken her sewing and design skills to the next level, creating Liss & Landi, which predominately features baby products. - Contributed
Melissa Fournier, of Westville, Pictou County, N.S., has always been a creative person and has taken her sewing and design skills to the next level, creating Liss & Landi, which predominately features baby products. – Contributed

 

After many years of not touching her sewing machine, Fournier decided to start creating again and made many things she wanted to have when her baby arrived.

Then, when her son Landen was born, Fournier knew she wanted to stay home with him. She says her husband encouraged her to keep creating products for babies, saying that if they found these items useful, then other parents surely would as well.

Creating baby products would give her the opportunity to stay home with her son, while doing what she loved everyday as income.

Five years ago, Liss & Landi was born. Today, Fournier focuses on creating long-lasting quality baby products for her customers while also providing eco-friendly products for everyone in the household.

The name of her business comes from the nicknames Fournier’s best friend gave her and her son — Liss (for Melissa) and Landi (for Landen).

As the business was created before her daughter was born, she wanted to incorporate her in there as well, so the reusable line of products they offer is called Rayne’s Reusables, which is her daughter’s middle name.

Callum Sutherland models some of the items available through Liss & Landi. - Contributed
Callum Sutherland models some of the items available through Liss & Landi. – Contributed

 

This creativity has always been there, Fournier says, and she excelled in art class.

In Grade 4, she says she and three of her closest friends created a drawing club. They would get together and sketch figures of people with all different styles of clothing that they designed. Then, in Grade 6, she cut out scraps of fabric to sew baby clothes by hand.

“Looking back on it now, it seems like I was destined to be where I am today,” says Fournier.

She attributes her sewing skills, though, to having learned from her grandmothers, who she says both had great sewing abilities.

From them, at a young age, she learned how to use a pattern and all the basics that come with sewing. When she began sewing baby products, she says she would sometimes have Nannie Mint stop by and show her things she didn’t know how to do.

Most of her skills have come from learning from them, along with a lot of trial and error. She also learned much on her own, by just pushing through the frustration of not understanding something.

A child models one of the stylish hats that are available through Liss & Landi. - Contributed
A child models one of the stylish hats that are available through Liss & Landi. – Contributed

 

Growing the business

Fournier is proud of what she makes. She says her baby products are unique to what is in stores as they have been designed by herself as a mom to suit a baby’s needs.

As a mom to young children, Fournier says she knows exactly what fits babies, what will stay on, and how well the products will last. All her products have been designed to easily work for you and your child, she says.

As for her reusable products, including UnPaper Towel, nursing pads, and facial rounds, she says they are something you don’t see a lot of, especially in Nova Scotia.

“It’s great for people to have the option to buy reusable if they wish to,” she says.

Currently, she says her most popular baby items are the wrap booties and seam-free baby mittens. Both products are designed to not easily fall off.

The wrap booties have snapped cuffs to help prevent a baby from kicking them off. They are soft and comfy for the chilly weather that is coming.

The mitts have the same intention — they have cuffs to stay on tiny wrists. She says these particular mitts typically fit a newborn up to 18 months and are a great grow-with-me option.

She says they have been a game changer for most new parents, and she has been receiving plenty of compliments on them.

On the reusable side of things, her UnPaper Towel is popular along with her bamboo organic fleece cloths.

“These items are great for anyone and make for amazing gifts,” she adds.

With winter coming, Melissa Fournier, of Liss & Landi, knows how important it is to make outdoor face masks to keep children warm. - Contributed
With winter coming, Melissa Fournier, of Liss & Landi, knows how important it is to make outdoor face masks to keep children warm. – Contributed

 

But when deciding what to make next, she typically goes to customers and family for inspiration. She says she often has customers at the farmers’ market looking for baby or household products that they just can’t find in stores.

“They fill me in on their needs and I’ll look up some ideas, try out a few samples and see if it works for them. If there is enough interest in the item, I’ll add it to our product line,” she says.

She also plans on creating a wider variety of children and adult products and is currently working on winterized bonnets for babies, along with mittens for all ages.

“I have such a long list of products that I am interested in creating.”

There has been a considerable increase in custom orders in the last few months, says Fournier.

“It is thrilling to take on a new project and to see the end result, with the customer being excited,” says Fournier.

Earlier this year, Fournier had a woman reach out to her about possibly making some hemp bamboo face cloths for her spa. She was looking for an organic option for her customers and loved the cloths that she made and sold on Etsy. Fournier says they worked together to create a size that fit her needs, the owner sent custom labels to sew onto the cloths and ordered 250 of them. Her spa is located in Australia.

“It was so cool to have the opportunity to work with another woman in business who is located all the way across the world,” says Fournier.

Liss & Landi booties have snapped cuffs to help prevent a baby from kicking them off. As a mother of young children herself, Melissa Fournier says she knows what parents are looking for and what works with babies. - Contributed
Liss & Landi booties have snapped cuffs to help prevent a baby from kicking them off. As a mother of young children herself, Melissa Fournier says she knows what parents are looking for and what works with babies. – Contributed

 

Liss & Landi is Fournier’s full-time business. When not creating, however, she can be found spending time with her family. She also loves baking, reading, listening to podcasts and exercising.

To see and purchase anything from Liss & Landi in person, visit the Antigonish Farmers’ Market every week and the New Glasgow Farmers’ Market bi-weekly. They also have products in stores around Nova Scotia, including Hippie Chiks in New Glasgow, The Crafty Shore in Tatamagouche, Tummy to Mummy in Lunenburg and Momma Bears Boutique in Dartmouth.

Online they can be placed at www.lissandlandi.ca or on Etsy under two shops — either Liss and Landi or Raynes Reusables. Customers can also keep up-to-date on new products and launches through Facebook and Instagram.

Soon, Fournier plans to open a new shop located on their property in Westville where customers can purchase their products along with some of their favourite local products.




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