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A Mother’s Work:  Nicole Ledoux, CEO & Co-Founder | 88 Acres

A Mother’s Work: Nicole Ledoux, CEO & Co-Founder | 88 Acres

Meet Nicole Ledoux. She is the CEO and Co-Founder of 88 Acres, based out of Dorchester, Massachusetts.  

88 Acres makes craft seed bars, seed butters and seednola from simple wholesome ingredients.  Their products are free of nuts, dairy, gluten, soy, and a number of other popular allergens, which is pretty amazing for those who suffer from allergies, but the best part is that their products are absolutely delicious!!

Nicole co-founded 88 Acres with her husband Rob Dalton.  Both Rob and their son Emmett suffer from food allergies, which is why it was so important for them to create a company that makes allergen safe products.  

The story of how 88 Acres was born is amazing and I hope you will read on to learn more about this wonderful local business.  Also, don’t miss the coupon at the end of this post to take advantage of 20% off an order of 88 Acres products!

 

A Mother’s Work:  Nicole Ledoux | CEO/Co-Founder 88 Acres

Website |Instagram

I first met Nicole about 15 years ago when we worked together at a finance company in Boston.  We were ‘cube-mates’ and sat next to each other every day, all day for years!  Needless to say, we got to know each other pretty well.  Looking back on that time, I remember how Nicole always used to be the one bringing in delicious snacks that she had whipped up in her kitchen the night before.  If only we knew then what her late night kitchen tinkering would eventually become!  I’m so thankful to have had that time with Nicole and I’m so proud of the success she and her husband Rob have achieved with 88 Acres.   

Tell me the story of how 88 acres was born.
 
The story of 88 Acres is really a love story. My now-husband and co-founder, Rob Dalton, and I met on match.com back when that was the only way to meet online. On our 4th date, we were out to dinner and he almost died when his dinner was cross-contaminated with nuts. Rob is deathly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and I don’t have any food allergies. Honestly, I didn’t want to eat crappy “allergy-friendly” food for the rest of my life (and neither did he!). I started making him snacks in our tiny basement apartment kitchen that he and I could share together and 88 Acres was born.
 
What is the most challenging thing about running your own business and raising a family at the same time and how do you manage it?
There is basically no work/life balance, and I’m okay with that. I actually think that work/life balance is a mystical unicorn that doesn’t exist. We love what we do and we’re passionate about making 88 Acres successful. That’s not a 9 to 5 job. When we’re at the office, we are heads down cranking out as much work as possible before one of us has to leave to pick up our son Emmett at 5:15. Most nights he begs to go to the office before we go home. He’s obsessed with our team and loves coming to the office to help take out the trash, water the plants, and watch the commuter rail out the window. We go home, eat dinner and enjoy uninterrupted time together and don’t check cell phones or laptops until after Emmett goes to sleep. After we eat dinner, we usually do a few more hours of work before heading off to bed. It’s madness, but we make it work. I love that Emmett is exposed to our business and gets to see his mom and dad working their tails off. I hope it teaches him to work hard, take risks, and surround himself with passionate people.  
 
What’s the story behind the name?  
 
I grew up on an 88-acre farm in North Brookfield, MA, and the core tenets of the company and the brand today are an extension of that experience. 
 
What was your career before becoming CEO of 88 acres?
I spent a decade in finance before launching 88 Acres, in various trading and portfolio management roles. Before meeting Rob, I definitely never thought I would leave finance to start a food company!

When you were little, was there something specific you wanted to be when you grew up?
When I was little, my family used to tell me that I would make an excellent lawyer (let’s just say that I enjoyed arguing my cause from a young age…). At one point I wanted to be the first female president. I think I just wanted to be in charge of something, which I suppose, is pretty fitting.
 
I love that your business is a joint effort between you and your husband.  Tell me more about what it’s like to work with your spouse – the good the bad the ugly 🙂
Working with your spouse is definitely not for everyone. I actually love it though. Rob and I have very different, almost opposite skill sets and personalities that really complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Starting a business is such an all-encompassing endeavor and I can’t imagine doing this with anyone other than Rob. There’s no one that I trust more, and our marriage and business partnership requires that we sort out all our differences at the end of the day, so nothing from work can sit and simmer. We spend a LOT of time together though, so we try to make sure that we get some time away from each other every once in a while (doing yoga, going for a run, etc).
 
What is one of the best pieces of business advice that someone has given you?
Have a network of other entrepreneurs that you can bounce ideas off of, and vent to. It can be pretty lonely being the boss, and other founders know what that’s like. 
 
There are so many granola bars and seed butters on the market.  What sets 88 acres apart from all the rest?
Everything that we have created and launched started with tinkering in our kitchen – initially at home and eventually in our office R&D kitchen. We don’t create food in a lab based on a specific set of analytic parameters. We aim to create foods that taste amazing and meet an unmet need in a category. If it doesn’t pass the taste test with our team, family and friends, then it doesn’t make it in front of potential partners, let alone coming to market. We believe that we’re driving innovation across brand, protein sources and approachable, yet unique flavors. 
 
I’ve been eating your granola bars since the beginning, but your seed butter is new for me!  It’s delicious all by itself, but I’d love to hear your favorite way to eat 88 acres seed butter? 
This one is tough because there’s so many amazing ways to enjoy seed butter. I love to add it to my smoothies and bowls of oatmeal in the morning. I also love challenging myself to come up with interesting seed butter and jelly pairings for a killer SB&J sandwich (chocolate sunflower seed butter with jalapeno apple jelly is a current favorite). Our watermelon butter is an amazing base for salad dressings and sauces. But since we launched our seed butter in single serve squeeze pouches, you’re most likely to see me eating it straight up from the pouch. 

Is there a coupon code I can share with my audience?  

Yes, use the code SOULIAPHOTO  for 20% off the entire order, one use per customer)

    Website |Instagram  

Read more features from the A Mother’s Work series here!


Cara Soulia is a Boston Family Photographer who specializes in creating beautiful, natural images of families in a unique and artistic way.  See more of Cara’s work here or get in touch to find out more about scheduling a photo session for your family. 

Welcome Baby Quinn

Welcome Baby Quinn

Boston Newborn Session Cara Soulia Photography
Introducing Baby Quinn! On a gorgeous fall day in Boston, I got to meet this precious little one. Mom got in touch with me to schedule this newborn session for their two week old baby girl. Quinn was their first baby, and Dad was soon going to be deployed to Afghanistan. Mom wanted to be sure to get some beautiful family photos before he left.

Boston Baby Photography

When I met them, they were so sweet together and clearly so in love with each other and with their baby girl. I will be honest, it was hard to see them so happy together at such an amazing and exciting time, while in the back of my mind knowing that they must be feeling sad knowing they would have to say goodbye soon.

Boston Newborn Session Cara Soulia Photography Boston Newborn Session Cara Soulia Photography Boston Newborn Session Cara Soulia Photography Boston Newborn Session Cara Soulia Photography Boston Newborn Session Cara Soulia Photography

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Welcome Margot, 12 Days New!

Welcome Margot, 12 Days New!

Brookline Newborn Session Cara Soulia Photography

In late December, this sweet family invited me to their home in Brookline, MA for a newborn photo session with their brand new little baby girl, Margot.

Margot was 12 days old at the time of this session. She was so adorable and calm during the shoot but because she was a little older, she was very alert as well.

Margot’s mom and dad are first time parents, and I could tell upon meeting them that they were doing a great job. They were relaxed for just having just had their first baby. I remember being so worried all the time when I first became a mom, so I’m always impressed by people who seem to have their act together like this. Those first few weeks can be ROUGH, so it’s always great to see parents taking it in stride!

Newborn Photography in Brookline, MA

Dad called me after they had already had Baby Margot. He mentioned being a little last minute on scheduling a photo shoot but I always leave room in my schedule for newborns! It’s hard, especially the first time, to plan and think of everything for when the baby comes. Sometimes, it’s just unexpectedly early. I get it! So, I always save a little extra room on the books for people who need a newborn photographer and are trying to find one in the first few weeks.

The first real baby in the family is their dog Rascal. I loved when he stood up on his hind legs to peek into Baby Margot’s crib, reaching his paw in to give her a little pet. It was an adorable moment between siblings. Rascal was such a good boy and very curious about the new little addition to this perfect family. They’re all so in love with this new little baby girl!

Everything about this home, from the red and white crochet baby blanket to the giraffe-patterned cover in Margot’s crib made this family so much fun to capture on camera. I loved all the little details, including and especially the beautiful new necklace Dad bought for Mom with Baby Margot’s birthstone.

Boston Newborn and Family Portrait Photography with Cara Soulia

I love coming down to Brookline Village for any kind of photo session and these guys live right near it! They live right next to a wonderful park where they will soon be out walking their little girl. I’m so happy for them and I’m SO glad they asked me to come into their home and capture these wonderful moments. The smile Dad had on his face while holding his baby girl and how Mom held her so close, not wanting to let go, it had me absolutely melting! Such a beautiful family and I wish them all the joy and happiness they can handle as they watch little Baby Margot grow up.

Looking for a Boston Newborn Photographer?

Thank you to this wonderful family for inviting me to capture their newborn photography session. If you are expecting a new arrival and are interested in getting more information about scheduling a newborn photo session, please make sure to contact me! As a mother of three, I know all about how fast these moments can fly. While the nights are long, the years are short. Please click here to fill out a contact form and I will be in touch. And, of course, make sure to check out my other recent newborn photography sessions in Brookline, Boston and beyond!

 

How to plan a wall gallery in 6 easy steps!

How to plan a wall gallery in 6 easy steps!

Do some of the rooms in your house look just like they did when you very first moved in?? (ie they’re blank!)  

Have you had “hang some pictures!” on your to-do list forever?  I know it can be overwhelming to work on a project like this.  That’s why I wanted to write you a step by step tutorial on how I plan wall galleries in my own home.  ( spoiler alert:  it’s really not as hard as you think!)

Boston Family Photographer: Advice on Hanging a Wall Gallery

I had a small vertical space in my living room next to the chimney that was just big enough for three framed 11×14 photos. I chose to go ‘matchy matchy’ here with thin gold frames!

Step 1.  Procure the artwork.  The first step is pretty obvious:  you need to pick out what you want to see hanging up on your walls every day!  The photographs you choose don’t have to be perfect-smiling-everybody-look-at-the-camera images!  Pick the ones that remind you of something amazing you did with your family or just silly ones that make you smile every time you look at them!  I recommend printing at www.mpix.com where the print quality is near-professional and the prices are reasonable.

Don’t forget you can include things besides just photographs in your wall gallery!  How about that really neat Jackson Pollack-esque painting your preschooler brought home last week!  These kinds of items can truly make the best points of interest in your wall gallery!

In my son’s room, I used frames with similar (but not exactly matching) natural wood finishes and I combined drawings, photographs, and a special ceramic print of his hands when he was three years old.  This wall gallery is bright and colorful and each element has a story that we love.

Step 2. Procure the frames. Decide if your style is more  ‘matchy-matchy’ or ‘mix and match’.  Either one can really work well.  If you’re not sure, do some searching on Pinterest for “wall gallery ideas”.  The options are truly endless!

Pottery Barn has frames that are very nice quality and work well for the matchy matchy type of wall gallery.  Alternatively, you can mix and match all different frames types and patterns by looking at places like Home Goods or even a consignment shop or your local swap shop!!

In my older son’s room, I used multiple frames that were all different shapes, sizes and colors and I spray painted them all a dark navy blue to give it a cohesive look.  My son loves to draw and we picked a number of his favorites to display over his bed!

Step 3.Make a plan!  This is the fun part!  Measure your wall space.  Lay out all your frames/artwork on the floor.  A good rule of thumb is too keep (more…)