Love, Loss, And Travel – A French-American Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Opens Up About Her Life In Washington D.C.

Love, Loss, And Travel – A French-American Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Opens Up About Her Life In Washington D.C.

by Lucie Leblois

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Lucie Leblois

Lucie Leblois opens up about her early years in France and her family life now in Washington D.C. 

 

I was born in Paris, France and moved to the United States when I was almost 10 years old.  

As a young girl, I lost my mother to breast cancer.  I was almost 5.  As I get older, I find myself finding out more and more about her and it has been a true gift.  Unknowingly, I have been following in her path almost exactly. We love the same things. We have the same laugh, people tell me.  The same smile.  She had an entrepreneurial spirit. She was the glue of our family. I found out a lot about that more recently.  Even little things like her love for real estate, a field she worked in, in Paris. I love real estate.

A Mother’s Love

It is also recently that I have better understood her loss, not for me, but for her.  As my children, in particular, my daughter, turned the age I had been when she passed away, I couldn’t help but look at her, thinking that she must have known she was dying – and with that, must have known she would lose me.  This understanding has turned around so much of how I have felt all my life, the sorrow and loss I thought I had faced when in the end, perhaps it was her – her loss, her sorrow, that she understood all too well.

My father remarried a woman, my step mother, who has treated me not only as her own, never differentiating me from my three brothers she would have with my father, but never letting me forget my own mom.  It is the greatest gift she has given me my whole life, something I realize deeply and emotionally as a mother myself today.  

French-American entrepreneur and philanthropist with her familyWith all of that, I have been so lucky to have been raised in a wide array of cultures.  Instilled in me since I was very young has been the notion that compassion is one of the most important elements in life – beyond a religion and more so as a way of life.  Across cultures, places we visited, places our family comes from, compassion has been at the foundation of it all.

Ambitions and Adventures

I spent time in Wellesley MA, off to college in Connecticut, one year in South Africa, before settling down in Washington, D.C. following college.  In this city, I established the beginnings of my career.  My first job was working at washingtonpost.com, establishing the online presence of The Washington Post.  I quickly developed a passion around journalism, technology and how people accessed information.  This would lay the foundation of years in the sector where I eventually launched my own business, Crumbdrop – a business that would eventually lead me to be BébéVoyage, building “trails” around the world!

More recently and as my children have grown, I have found myself going back to some of my roots – peeling layers from an incident I came across at my children’s school: A peer of theirs was hungry, went home hungry, came back to school hungry and I thought – why?  What can be done to help this student, this 2nd grader – what is being done with so many of the kids in this city that are deemed “food insecure”?  It quickly became apparent more could be done and I dove in.  With two other amazing women by my side, mothers like me, I launched DC Food Project, a non-profit aimed at reducing food waste in schools while improving access to healthy food for students in DC throughout the weekend.

I recently was talking about this new endeavor with my father and step-mother – and, without hesitation, both exclaimed: “Your mother would have done the same thing!”

A Family At Home In The World

Speaking of children!  I have two children: my daughter recently turned 7 and my son is turning 10 TODAY, March 9th!  As a mom, the double-digits birthday is definitely a huge deal.  Just this morning I saw a young couple pushing their toddler on his little bike and I stopped watching, thinking how much I would love to them to enjoy every minute because it just goes so fast!family life in Washington D.C.

My husband, Ramsey, and I, with our two children, have stayed and continue to live in the heart of DC and love all aspects of this city – from its international roots to the overall intellectual curiosity.  Between the typical soccer and basketball games, ballet and birthday parties, we love to go hiking (well, we do, after much convincing efforts for our children to join!) and try new foods in all the different restaurants this city has to offer.  

But, as much as we love DC, we also love to explore the world!  We return to France every summer to visit family, including my grandmothers, my children’s great-grandmothers – along with uncles, aunts and cousins.  Family remains ever important to us so we feel extremely fortunate to be able to do this every year, instilling in our children the importance of family, returning to our roots and making sure those connections transcend to future generations.

Beyond France, some of our most memorable trips have come around my recent siblings’ weddings –visiting new places, meeting new people, eating new foods, smelling new smells.  There’s nothing quite like it!  Off to India we went in November of 2018, a traditional Indian wedding followed by a 2-week family adventure throughout Rajasthan!  The beauty and diversity of this country is breathtaking.  The honking sounds of the streets, cow bells as they roam freely, chants as prayers begin – the magic of India will always stay with us.  

For me, personally, India is one of those places where you are reminded that generosity comes in so many ways – and living in the western part of the world, particularly, a country like the United States, how quickly we forget that a beautiful smile, so simply, can go a long way.

Greece was the next stop – this past summer – with its endless plates of food, dancing and laughter.  Its history is remarkable.  Its joy of life even more so.  Dancing the nights away became our nightly routine, toasting to all around us became the norm – and with the waves crashing in the background, my second brother got married, white handkerchiefs twirling in the air, happiness felt all around.  

Lucky for us, my third brother gets married soon – off to France we’ll be going in summer 2021!

Sitting here recapping a little bit about me, why I work with Bébé Voyage – I can’t help but smile thinking about the community of like-minded, open-minded, parents who, without knowing each other, somehow are connected by the appreciation of what this world has to offer, what people can teach us, our children, what values we can all learn from.  

I have followed Bébé Voyage’s journey since the beginning, having known Marianne, the co-founder, since we were little girls – our dads friends since high school.  It’s Bébé Voyage that reconnected us in the end and I’m so much better for it.

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