Fassa, Lynda

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Fassa, Lynda

Career
Sidelights
Selected Writings
Sources

Founder of Green Babies, Inc.

B orn c. 1963; married Hossein Fassa (a companyexecutive); children: Layla, Mina, Nadia.

Addresses: Home—Westchester, NY. Office—Green Babies, Inc., 28 Spring St., Tarrytown, NY 10591-5025.

Career

W orked as a model after the age of 16, and inadvertising and marketing before founding Green Babies, Inc., 1994; first book, Green Babies, Sage Moms: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Baby, published by New American Library, 2008.

Sidelights

F ounded in 1994, Lynda Fassa’s Green Babies, Inc.was one of the first makers of organic-cotton clothing for infants and children. Since then, Fassa and her business-partner husband have carefully grown their venture to meet increasing consumer demand for safer, less environmentally toxic products. In 2008, she wrote her first book, Green Babies, Sage Moms: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Baby, a comprehensive how-to guide for embracing a greener lifestyle for mothers-to-be and new parents.

Fassa began modeling at age 16, and had a thriving career in Paris by the early 1980s with one of the top agencies, Ford Models. She later moved on to advertising and marketing, married Hossein Fassa, who was director of a well-known drama school, and settled in New York City. The first of their three daughters, Layla, was born in 1993, and Fassa soon realized how wrong her prenatal imagining of the blissful new life with a happy baby had been— Layla was a colicky newborn who cried often and for hours on end. Fassa finally figured out that her daughter was allergic to the cotton that was a part of nearly everything she wore. As Fassa wrote in Green Babies, Sage Moms, one day she came across a New York Times article “about Texas farmers reverting to organic cotton farming, working the land as past generations had. I learned about the perils of conventional cotton; how, unbeknownst to most folks, this great American crop was causing sickness in farm workers and devastating the agricultural landscape because of the amount of chemicals it guzzled.”

Fassa tracked down some of that organic cotton in knitted, fabric-bolt form, and sewed her first all-organic baby clothes by hand. She also taught herself to how to screen-print with art-store supplies, and began making rompers with colorful, bold graphics and clever sayings. One of her first successful items was a romper that bore the slogan, “Give Peas a Chance.” Initially, she made all the items by hand in the East Village apartment she shared with her husband and daughter, and sold them by visiting Manhattan baby-clothing boutiques. Eventually she found a family-owned sewing operation in one of the outer boroughs and began contracting out the work, which allowed her to design a full range of baby gear and children’s wear.

A few years later, after the birth of a second daughter, Fassa and her husband moved out of the city and settled in Tarrytown, one of the quaint villages of the Hudson River Valley north of Manhattan. Their business continued to grow in the late 1990s as consumers became more aware of organic farming and its short and long-term benefits, and Hossein Fassa left his job to help his wife run Green Babies full time. The business eventually grew too big for their home, and they set up an office in an old fire station in nearby Irvington, another Hudson Valley town.

The Fassas nearly went out of business, however, after the first dot-com boom of the late 1990s went bust, taking under a new online retailer that was one of their biggest accounts at the time. “I would definitely never ever do this again if I knew how difficult it was,” Fassa told Barbara Whitaker in a New York Times interview in 2004. A year later, however, Green Babies won an important new client, and one with an enviable track record: The thriving health-food grocery chain Whole Foods began to introduce apparel in its stores, and Green Babies was one of the oldest all-organic clothing brands it carried. Whole Foods’ expansion into apparel and accessories seemed to show just how much consumer tastes had changed since Fassa launched her business back a decade earlier, as Americans committed to eating organic began to embrace the idea of an all-organic lifestyle.

Sensing a hunger for even more information, Fassa wrote her first book, Green Babies, Sage Moms: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Baby, as a bible for new parents. Published in 2008, her how-to guide featured a wealth of practical information specific to pregnancy and protecting one’s child from environmental toxins, from the threats posed by prenatal hair-salon visits to where to find non-toxic crib bedding. She also included recipes for all-natural, pesticide-free baby food, and her advice was interspersed with contributions from other green experts.

According to Fassa, common household cleaning products pose just one of the dangers to everyone, not just pregnant women and newborns. In a situation similar to the baffling colic suffered by her first daughter, Fassa herself turned out to have a sensitivity to certain chemicals. She had long been conscious that she had an aversion to household chores, and even suffered headaches on heavy-duty cleaning days. “I know this sounds really dumb, but I did not associate it with what I was using,” she told David Schepp, a reporter for the Journal News of White Plains. “I just associated it with the act of cleaning.” In her book, she provides scores of recipes for safe, economical cleaning products made from vinegar, baking soda, and other common household staples.

Fassa is still committed to the same principles embodied by that first batch of organically grown Texas cotton she bought. She points out that organic farming may even bring a potential economic revolution in Africa, where a few progressive nations have returned to growing crops by centuries-old organic methods. Responsible, chemical-free farming is a rebuke to the large U.S. agribusiness giants, she notes, which peddle genetically modified seeds that require “synthetic pesticides and fertilizers; some were even genetically engineered to produce only sterile seeds,” she writes in Green Babies, Sage Moms. “The natural cycle of ‘grow, sell and save to replant’ was broken and farmers were forced to use their profits to buy more seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers from the same food giants year after year. Like sharecroppers, the farmers remained impoverished as they grew crops that someone else would profit from.”

Fassa and her husband have three daughters and are pleased that consumers are so much more knowledgeable about organic crops than back when they began Green Babies. The next step, she told Schepp, is to bring public policy in line with consumer awareness. “The green movement is the revolution,” she said in the Journal News interview. “This is the new Renaissance, and we need to be leading it, not just staggering along behind.”

Selected Writings

Green Babies, Sage Moms: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Baby, New American Library, 2008.

Sources

Periodicals

Booklist, January 1, 2008, p. 30.

Children’s Business, August 2001, p. 22.

Fort Wayne News Sentinel (Fort Wayne, IN), June 22, 2005.

Journal News (White Plains, NY), December 25, 2007.

New York Times, February 15, 2004; March 5, 2006.

White Plains Times (White Plains, NY), August 10, 2007.

Online

“A Clean Sweep,” Grist, http://www.grist.org/feature/2007/09/21/cleaning/ (May 13, 2008).

“Who We Are,” Green Babies, http://www.greenbabies.com/who_we_are.htm (May 13, 2008).

—Carol Brennan

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