Photo courtesy of Kendra Conroy

The next mom team we’re featuring from The Local Moms Network (TLMN) is the fantastic pair behind Ridgefield Moms, Michele Moonan and Ashley Ellis Forte. Michele has a background in luxury fashion and marketing, and three kids: two daughters, ages 6 and 4, and a son, 1. Ashley was an elementary educator for 14 years and a high school basketball, volleyball and soccer coach, and has a step daughter, 15, boy-girl twins who are 4, and a daughter, 2. Together, these friends have joined forces to launch Ridgefield Moms.

Michele just moved to this beautiful Connecticut suburb this past summer from Greenwich, CT. “I wanted to build the site based on my organic understanding of these new resources I would need for my family,” says Michele, who brought Ashley into the TLMN loop. “With Michele being a new resident to town, but with loads of marketing experience and my strong town roots, our collaboration has created a well-rounded and successful platform for our audience,” says Ashley.

Ridgefield, a historic (settled in 1709), close-knit community, is known for its culture, including art museums and theaters, and coveted school system. This family-friendly town is located just a one hour drive from NYC. If you’re thinking of relocating to or simply visiting Ridgefield, you don’t want to miss Michele and Ashley’s recommendations below.

Ashley and family

Favorite restaurants (without kids)

Baileys Backyard, Gallo 

Favorite restaurants (with kids)

850 Degrees Wood Fired Restaurant“Great gourmet pizzas, outdoor seating and live entertainment in the warmer months,” says Michele. Ashley adds Red Rooster Pub and The Hideaway to this list.

Hotel they recommend to friends/family:

“In Ridgefield, a quaint Inn is West Lane Inn…it is right in downtown Ridgefield and combines charm and convenience to our beautiful town!” says Michele. Ashley also love West Lane Inn, and gives Hotel Zero and Ethan Allen, located nearby, as alternative options.

Go-to drink spots:

The Village Tavern (Michele) and Red Rooster Pub (Ashley)

Ridgefield Moms’ go-to coffee spots:

“I searched high and low as I am an avid coffee drinker. Having lived in NYC for several years with my husband, I missed the coffee most after moving to CT. KAFO CT has the best coffee in Ridgefield!” says Michele. “Tazza on Main Street has delicious chai tea lattes for mom and super yummy mini muffins and scones for my kiddos,” says Ashley.

Favorite stores:

 “Bahr & Co is a beautiful new lifestyle & apparel store in town that I love. My kids love shopping at the Toy Chest & AR kids!” says Michele. Ashley has other go-tos she’s come to love over the years: “Bella Home: You will not find a more welcoming and helpful group of ladies running a store. For last minute specialty gifts or planning ahead for the special someone or occasion…Bella Home has always exceeded my expectations. Audrey Road and AR Kids have wonderful treasures for mom, teen and children await in these two stores owned by, Danielle, a fabulous community member who always has that perfect something for your closet. Ridgefield Running Co….what a gift to have this store nestled into our Main Street storefronts. Megan [the owner] is an inspiration to all from her personal drive, business success and willingness to educate her patrons.”

Where they go to have fun as a family:

“My house! We bought our home for that reason exactly!” says Michele. “Ballard Park for a family outing that includes a walk on Main Street, beautifully manicured gardens, an up-to-date playground for the kiddos, gazebo for lounging or a peaceful spot to read and wonderful weekly concerts in the park during the summer that bring so many Ridgefield families together,” says Ashley.

Our mission is to give moms the gift of time. What are your best time-saving tips/resources as a mom?

Michele: With three young kids at home I am always planning and prepping. From prepping food to meal planning I also have my kids pick out the next day’s clothes and have backpacks ready to go the night before. I am always trying to get ahead of the game and incorporate that into my daily routine!

Ashley: Plan, plan, plan! I am a huge fan of being ready for whatever the day throws at us from last minute get-togethers, the morning rush, the bed time “witching hour”, tubby time, etc! My greatest piece of advice for any mom, new and old…make time for yourself. Self-care will actually make you more productive, happy, positive and successful in each of your days.

More more great interviews with inspiring moms, go to our Profiles section. 

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