We all want the best for our babies, and that’s what compelled Ariana Horry to create Milk & Honey Babies, a boutique one-stop shop in Englewood offering moms a personalized shopping service and curated eco-friendly baby products. Milk & Honey Babies’ products are more than just luxe – they help new mothers make the transition from pregnancy to motherhood seamlessly. Read on for Ariana’s inspiring story of becoming a new mama herself, how she started her business “on a wing and a prayer,” and her family’s favorite places to go in New Jersey including Frelinghuysen Arboretum Park when they finally get a weekend at home.
Owner of Milk & Honey Babies & NJMOMpreneur: Ariana Horry
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Ariana: New parents can be inundated with product choices for their newborn in today’s market. At Milk & Honey Babies, we really pride ourselves on customizing the shopping experience for our customers and tailoring the experience to their specific lifestyle. We’re not trying to sell you the latest and greatest. Often times, retailers lose their relationships with their customers because they make the sale more important than the relationship. We’re not interested in selling you things you don’t need. Today’s savvy customer will realize you oversold them and they won’t return. Often times, customers discover us after a disappointing experience with one of our big-box competitors. At Milk & Honey Babies, when we recommend a certain stroller, our recommendation is based on whether you live in the city versus the suburbs, if you plan on having another child in the near future, if you’re a frequent traveler, etc. We want our customers to get the most use out of the products they purchase from us.
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Ariana: After the birth of our first daughter we found ourselves relocating between three cities in two years on account of my husband’s career. With each move, I connected with fellow moms in the area either through “mom groups” or through my husband’s business colleagues. I was surprised to find that they shared the same frustration as I did with the overall baby market. At times, I found it challenging to locate one particular store that carried a selection of organic, eco-friendly products. I wanted to be able to pick up a baby bottle and know it was BPA-free or pick up grooming products that were free of toxic chemicals and hidden additives. This frustration helped me recognize there was a void in the market, and from there, the concept of Milk & Honey Babies was born.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Ariana: I have to say my absolute favorite part of Milk & Honey Babies is all the adorable babies I get to meet. Smiling babies are definitely a plus! But mainly, it’s knowing that I can help parents easily locate safe products for their babies in one convenient place. Knowing that I can pass on the word to parents about harmful toxins in an everyday product like baby lotion gives me great satisfaction. Babies are so much more vulnerable to the effects of certain toxic chemicals included in our everyday products. Many of these products include chemicals in the fragrances that can be linked to things like hormone disruption and we unwittingly use these products without a second thought. So, actively having a hand in curating a selection of non-toxic, quality products is definitely another highlight of running Milk & Honey Babies.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Ariana: I first started Milk & Honey Babies on a wing and a prayer. The only background I had in the business was being a mother and consumer of baby products. It did help me look at things from the customer’s perspective which I think has helped us nurture our customer relationships and propel us to where we are now.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Ariana: I’m most proud of the fact that I get to be a part of the conversation about the rise of concerns amongst parents over safer options for their newborns. There is a growing demand for products to be made with safer ingredients, period. More and more parents are becoming aware of the effects certain products can have on developing brains and the immune systems of infant and children. I’m proud of the fact that Milk & Honey Babies carries products that move this.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Ariana: Many people don’t know that I am one of six girls! I grew up with five sisters so there was never a dull moment in our house!
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Ariana: We have a pretty big move on the horizon. We’re actually relocating Milk & Honey Babies’ physical location to New York City. We have the pleasure of being one of the retailers in the new Hudson Yards retail community opening this time next year and we’re very excited about it! We’re so happy to be one of their new specialty stores while still keeping our boutique feel. It’s definitely a bittersweet experience because New Jersey is home and we’re not looking forward to moving away from all of our Milk & Honey Babies here in New Jersey.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Ariana: Charities that work with underprivileged children and those that serve premature, ill or impoverished newborns are ones that we care deeply about. Project Night Night works one on one with homeless children under the age of 12 to reduce trauma by providing literacy materials and soothing objects to children and babies during their time of upheaval and transition. Newborns in Need distributes items to families coping with an ill or impoverished newborn. Both of these missions are near and dear to my heart.
NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Ariana: My role model, hands down, is my grandmother. She worked and raised six children – four boys and two girls – after my grandfather passed. At the time of my grandfather’s passing my youngest uncle was two years old. She persevered and held down a home and a career which she went on to retire from at the age of 65. She’s the strong silent type. When she speaks it’s in such a matter-of-fact manner you have no choice but to want to take it all in. And on top of it all, she always wears a smile on her face that I consider infectious. She taught me the invaluable lesson of never wavering in the face of adversity, or giving up, and realizing at times that certain situations may seem insurmountable but never forget “this too shall pass.”
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice a role model ever gave to you?
Ariana: My father taught my sisters and me from a very young age that it was always more important to know how to find the answer than it was to always know the answer. He stressed that sometimes asking the right questions is more important than having a readily available answer. I did not come to value this advice until well into my adulthood, and this has helped me navigate the baby industry. Rather than focusing on staying “on trend” I’m looking for the next innovative product that will help sustain Milk & Honey Babies and keep us ahead of the curve.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
Ariana: This quote resonates with me because it’s a challenge to truly become comfortable in your own skin. It’s something I aspire to every day. Finding my individual authenticity and really being attuned to myself is a constant effort. But I’m finding the more I work on it the easier it becomes to find balance in my life and shut out the unnecessary noise. Staying true to my gut instinct has carried me this far without having to conform to the perfect business mold stereotype. Balancing motherhood and running a business is an ever-changing challenge.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Ariana: We love the Frelinghuysen Arboretum Park in Morris County. It’s just such a beautiful park to visit. The gardens are just amazing and they have interesting activities for kids as well. Funplex in East Hanover is a fun weekend activity for our little ones – it’s both an indoor and outdoor amusement park that is essentially right in our backyard.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Ariana: I’d have to say watching my girls’ personalities develop is the most rewarding. I especially relish that one-on-one time I have with each of my girls. It’s in those moments I truly get to see who they are becoming as individuals. It’s those moments when they say things that drive you up a wall, make you laugh (even when you shouldn’t), or they exhibit compassion and empathy for certain situations that you sometimes get a moment to sit back in awe of their innocence and candor, and I just love all that.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Ariana: My family and I are fans of Toast in Montclair and Houston’s in Hackensack. I also love Serenity Skincare & Body Wellness in Englewood. It’s such an oasis when I feel that need to decompress and have some “me” time.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Ariana: We reside in Parsippany and we actually enjoy our staycations. We love playing in the backyard, taking a swim, or roasting marshmallows on cool fall nights. My husband and I are definitely guilty of getting bogged down in the everyday hustle and bustle so when we get a weekend to stay home with our little ones in the off-season, that’s hands down our all-time favorite.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Ariana: I would advise my fellow NJMOMpreneurs to set realistic expectations, go with your instincts and build a supportive team. It’s easy to get down on yourself when you set up a goal as a moving target. Recognize and respect what you can realistically accomplish and aim for that. Understanding my limitations and finding people who can add value to the Milk & Honey Babies brand has helped me tremendously. We obviously can’t be great at everything, so find and surround yourself with people who complement your skill level and can help take your business to the next level. And lastly, don’t beat yourself up when things go left. Too often, we mompreneurs are too hard on ourselves. We’re constantly trying to find what can feel like an ever-elusive balance between our work life and home life. The lines will get blurred sometimes and that’s okay.