Known best for her four-year run as Melissa Steadman on the TV series Thirtysomething, Melanie Mayron has branched into directing in recent years, but her latest passion has nothing to do with showbiz. Together with her chemist father, David, she has created a natural, organic baby-care line built around a diaper cream called Mayron's Good Baby, an idea that was 13 years in the making.
Not only were her own kids, now 10, eventual guinea pigs, Mayron conscripted friends and even some celebrity test marketers, including Rosie O'Donnell. "I gave her some for her first kid," she recalls. "He's now a teenager. That's how long ago it was."
With babies on her brain because she was trying to become pregnant, Mayron noticed a lack of high-quality, natural baby skin-care products on the market. "I either didn't like the scent, how quickly they dried, how they felt or how they were packaged," she says. "Some were in jars, and the minute you put your fingers in you contaminate the entire jar." But it took many years of research, development, and trial and error before she was satisfied with her product.
The formula evolved as elements found to be harmful, such as parabens, were eliminated. Mayron also thought the packaging was important for practical and marketing purposes, to set the product apart from others on the market. "I know that new moms are always trying new things and looking for something better. I wanted a flip top so you could hold the baby with one hand and open the tube with the other," she says.
Opting to remain in control rather than approach a big company for backing, Mayron fortunately found steady directing work on the TV shows In Treatment, Tell Me You Love Me, Greek and Lipstick Jungle (in which she acted twice), enabling her to purchase tubes, boxes and manufacture the product. Launched in October at mayronsgoodbaby.com and select boutiques, the line is about to expand.
"In the next eight weeks we're going to be manufacturing baby oil, body milk and a head-to-toe shampoo," says Mayron, who also plans to add bubble bath, sun block and "a sleepless night cream" to the mix as she works on getting the products into specialty chains like Whole Foods, Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware.
But the signature item is the diaper cream, which is made from zinc oxide, beeswax, vitamins and essential oils, and is, surprisingly, of use to those well past diaper age. "It's a good, natural ointment for any kind of rash, chafing, hemorrhoids, urinary tract infections, spinning classes, too many horseback or bike rides," Mayron points says. "It's a moisture barrier and very soothing."
Her new entrepreneurial role has been an education, she says, expanding her business and social circle but most importantly giving her the chance to work with her dad, who lives in her hometown of Philadelphia. "We talk every day," she says. "I treasure that time."
A single mom to children Olivia and Miles, Mayron, 56, lives green at home. "I'm a fanatical recycler. I've always been," she says, fondly remembering a childhood when milk was delivered in reusable glass bottles, moms used cloth diapers, laundry was hung outside to dry and old towels were cut up for rags. "We didn't have paper towels," Mayron says. "With recycling, we're just trying to get back to that."
She's excited about the groundswell of eco-friendly items now on the market and eventually plans to sell gift baskets online, made up of "wonderful green products, ours as well as others."
But as attention-consuming as her company is, Mayron still gets a thrill from showbiz. "Once an actor, always an actor," she says, though directing is her bread and butter these days. Currently working on an episode of 90210, she brings her actor's point of view to the job, as well as her photographer's eye. "I've been a photographer forever so I get to do everything I love at once," says the self-described jack-of-all-trades. "It's all really fun."