Discover the remarkable story of Mon Coeur, a New York-based environmentally responsible retail and direct-to-consumer kids’ apparel and fashion brand. Founded by Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya, Mon Coeur empowers children to make a positive impact on our planet while fostering a deep love for the Earth.
The Fashion Industry’s Environmental Challenge
The fashion industry, known for its detrimental environmental impact, particularly struggles when it comes to children’s clothing, which is quickly outgrown and discarded. Recognizing this issue, Mon Coeur offers a discount to customers who return their used items for recycling, encouraging a circular economy.
This commitment to sustainability has earned Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya recognition as one of the five most creative women working today, alongside esteemed figures such as Kamala Harris and Kate Hudson, according to FastCompany.
Birth of a Vision
Mon Coeur’s journey began with the birth of Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya’s son, Miran, in 2018. As a new mother, she searched for baby clothes that aligned with her vision of a world teeming with thriving flora and fauna. However, she discovered a lack of suitable options in the market.
Though not from a fashion or manufacturing background, Ulukaya had a passion for sustainability that guided her every step. She wanted her children, as well as all children, to wear a brand that embodied purpose and a shared vision for a better future.
Purpose Fuels Innovation
Ulukaya dedicated nearly three years to finding the right partners and processes to bring her vision to life. Her goal was to create sustainable children’s clothing that remained affordable and accessible to a wide range of consumers.
Keeping costs down, particularly during manufacturing, was a significant challenge. Ulukaya emphasized that purchasing organic products often comes with a premium. However, Mon Coeur managed to keep prices reasonable by offering onesies starting at around $23, kids’ joggers at $27, and hoodies at $45. On average, these prices are approximately 25 percent cheaper than designer brands like Ralph Lauren.
Achieving the delicate balance between sustainability, quality, and cost proved challenging, especially amid the pandemic’s disruptions to materials costs and supply chains. Nevertheless, Mon Coeur found the right rhythm, working with sustainable partners in Western Europe, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France.
A Commitment to Sustainability
Mon Coeur’s commitment to sustainability extends to its materials. The company exclusively uses organic cotton fibers sourced from reclaimed scraps found in adult fashion ateliers, workshops, studios, and factories. In addition, the brand incorporates ocean-friendly buttons, zippers, labels, and tags made from environmentally responsible materials.
The “soft and cozy” fabrics in Mon Coeur’s collection are made from 100 percent recycled content, specifically post-industrial recycled cotton (R-CO). By repurposing manufacturing scraps, the brand conserves resources and contributes to a circular economy.
The woven labels, decorative embroideries, and functional elements of Mon Coeur’s garments are all crafted from 100 percent recycled polyester (rPET) and recycled Roica elastane (R-EA). These materials utilize upcycled plastic bottles, ensuring a sustainable and circular approach to production.
Mon Coeur goes the extra mile by incorporating zippers made of 91 percent recycled content and buttons produced from up to 93 percent recycled paper and thermosetting fillers. These initiatives bring the brand closer to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality, reducing landfill waste, and conserving water.
Inspiring through Heartfelt Communication
While technology and sustainability play vital roles in Mon Coeur’s brand story, founder Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya understands the importance of connecting with parents on a deeper level. She believes that conveying the brand’s purpose should be engaging and relatable, rather than overwhelming or intimidating.
Mon Coeur’s external communications rely on a simple, optimistic, and playful narrative. The brand’s childlike visual style, complete with crayon doodles, enhances the experience. Phrases like “Earth-loving” capture the brand’s environmental mission without overcomplicating the message.
Ulukaya believes that the clothing itself tells the brand’s story, showcasing its cuteness, accessibility, and comfort. The sustainability aspect serves as the icing on the cake, adding an extra layer of beauty and purpose to each piece.
Shifting Consumer Behavior
While sustainability is a growing concern, Ulukaya acknowledges that the majority of consumers are not yet solely driven by sustainable attributes, especially when it comes to children’s clothing. As a mother, she understands the importance of comfort and style in the decision-making process. By positioning Mon Coeur as a stylish and comfortable brand first, sustainability becomes an added bonus.
Nevertheless, Ulukaya has noticed a significant shift in consumer behavior, particularly among parents. Many are now seeking environmentally responsible brands and are willing to invest in high-quality, longer-lasting garments. The demand for sustainable options has led to increased sales and a surge in retailers interested in partnering with Mon Coeur.
Parents are increasingly tired of fast fashion and prefer to make conscious choices, prioritizing longevity, quality materials, and ethical production. Mon Coeur not only focuses on materials but also ensures fair wages, safe working conditions, and philanthropy through partnerships like 1% For the Planet.
A Brand with Heart and Soul
Mon Coeur, which translates to “my heart” in French, holds a double meaning for founder Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya. The name reflects her deep love for her children, including her son Miran, as well as her commitment to making Mon Coeur the embodiment of her passion and purpose.
Mon Coeur is not just a hobby or a passing endeavor for Ulukaya; it is a brand built to last and evolve. She aspires to establish Mon Coeur as a lifestyle brand and a leader in sustainable children’s wear.
True to its motto, “Kids’ clothing that lasts, so the planet does, too,” Mon Coeur remains dedicated to creating a positive impact on our planet through every stitch.