Nearly 30 years ago, there was a massive influx of mothers who joined the workforce. And ever since, women around the globe have been trying to figure out how to bring home the bacon while living up to society's ideals of mothering. Ask any mom, and she'll tell you it's no easy task. It's a balancing act that, for many, is continuously being tweaked and modified in an effort to squeeze all of the day's tasks into a mere 24 hours. But striking a balance—while striking it rich and making a difference in the world—is totally possible. we've hunted down some of the most inspiring mompreneurs in the health food realm to find out how they've made it happen and the lessons they've learned along the way.
Lizann Anderson & Suzie Miller, Co-founders of Among Friends Baking Mixes
Among Friends Baking Mixes is the creation of two moms who love baking and being active and wanted to help people fill their kitchens with fresh-from-the-oven baked goods made from the best ingredients. (All of their delicious mixes are made with whole grains, non-GMO ingredients, and are totally gluten-free.) Lizann Anderson and Suzie Miller, the co-founders of Among Friends, first started their company when each had three children living at home. (OMG!) Instead of setting boundaries and then striking a balance between work and home-life, they blended work with play—and their business prospered. As the dynamic duo stir up new recipes, all six of their children (and many of their kids' friends) serve as taste testers. Some of them have even lent a hand at the company office during their summer breaks. This business approach has helped the team develop products that appeal to those with the pickiest of palettes: kids. "We knew if we satisfied our panel of six kid taste testers, we would appeal to lots of folks without sacrificing quality or nutrition," Anderson tells Eat This, Not That! And their efforts have paid off. Not only was the company named 2015 R&D Team of the Year by Food Processing, the company has also grown to nearly $3 million in retail sales. We can't say we're surprised; we've tried the cookies and they're amazing.
Genelle Chetcuti, Director of Marketing of RW Garcia
When Genelle Chetcuti first started consulting for RW Garcia, her family's additive- and preservative-free snack food company, she had three little children at home, one of whom was undergoing chemotherapy. After eight years of consulting, she stepped into the role of Director of Marketing. She currently has three kids between the ages of 7 and 14, which continuously presents daily challenges. "I think the balance of work and kids is the constant challenge for women in the workplace," Chetcuti says. "Running a successful business gives you some flexibility in work hours. But it doesn't change that much if that flexible time is then filled with the daily routines of the family. And children grow up so fast—you don't want to miss a moment. However, I think working for a company you believe in and have a passion for can help. It takes the edge off the daily stress."
Poorvi Patodia, CEO and Founder of Biena Foods
As a lifelong vegetarian raised by a mom who loved to cook and a nutrition-obsessed dad, Poorvi Patodia has always been on the hunt for protein-rich snacks that were truly healthy. After becoming frustrated with the options on supermarket shelves, she set out to package and sell a seasoned chickpea snack her mother use to make for her as a child. And with that, Biena Foods was born. As Patodia went to work bringing her idea to market, she was also raising her 2-year-old daughter, who was joined just a few years later by a sibling. "As an entrepreneur, I am a thousand percent committed to my business, my children and, family," Patodia tells us. "I'm constantly sharing the latest company developments with my kids and family. I also regularly get my kids' opinions on flavors, designs and other creative content. Kids are honest and direct by default. Their reactions to a new flavor, for example, are so truthful. When you're building a consumer-facing product, that kind of direct feedback is invaluable." Patodia goes on to say, "Having my own company provides a certain level of flexibility that I truly value. It has also allowed me to be a role model to my two girls in ways that I could never imagine!"
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Caroline Freedman, Co-founder of NurturMe
When Caroline Freedman was expecting her first child back in 2008 (she's now a mama of two), she wondered why baby food was still pureed, full of preservatives, and packed in heavy glass containers. After sharing her thoughts with longtime friend Lauren McCullough, the pair came up with the idea for a line of dehydrated, organic baby foods that reconstitutes itself with water, milk, formula, or breastmilk. (Drying fruits and veggies, as opposed to cooking them, helps lock in essential disease-fighting nutrients.) Another plus: The powder can also be mixed into kid's favorite foods like mac-and-cheese to add a dose of nutrition. Just 10 months after launching, NurturMe sales were off the charts and orders started coming in from national chains like Target, Babies 'R' Us, and Whole Foods. Now, just six years later, the ladies have expanded their product line to include quinoa cereals (far healthier than the rice variety). Gerber better watch its back—these ladies are creative!
Elyse Oleksak, Owner of Bantam Bagel
If you're a Shark Tank fan or Starbucks devotee, you've likely heard of Bantam Bagel. The husband and wife team behind the donut hole-sized bagel company struck a deal with "Queen of QVC" Lori Greiner on season six of Shark Tank—and swiftly secured a deal to sell their better-for-you bagel product in Starbucks locations across the country. Not to mention, this all went down while Elyse was pregnant. "As I continue on this wild journey, people constantly ask me how I strike a work-life balance as a mom," says Oleksak. "Anyone who is a working mother knows that the idea of 'balance' is more of an aspirational—almost mythical—notion for fiction enthusiasts who have never had a child of their own. As a new mother, I've come to terms with my own interpretation of creating a work-life balance by following this mantra: Do what you can when you can and just make it work." And if you ask us, Elyse is not only making it work, she's kicking butt and taking names. "Working from the delivery room was only the beginning of my balancing act," the 30-year-old mom tells us. "While nursing around the clock, I began to find ways to merge my baby's needs with my own. I found that catching up on emails during middle-of-the-night feedings was actually a very efficient way to catch up on my inbox. My baby loves to nap in his stroller, so I took to scheduling conference calls during his walk in the park. It's a beautiful, quiet environment where both my baby and I could do what we needed to do. My 'balance' became giving the baby a nap, getting some exercise, and tackling business meetings all at the same time."
Carol Bernick, Founder of Mrs. Dash
Whether or not you're trying to cut back on your sodium intake, you've likely heard of Mrs. Dash, the salt-free seasoning and marinade company. The idea for the product line was dreamt up by Carol Bernick back in the 1980's, who (at the time) was a marketing executive at the Alberto Culver Company—and a new mama to a baby boy. After tweaking the recipe for the Mrs. Dash Original Blend in her very own kitchen, she pitched her idea for the product line to Alberto Culver—and they bought it. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Brooke Griffin, Creator of Skinny Mom
After living out her childhood dream of being a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and stealing the title of Fitness Universe Champion in 2009, Brooke Griffin decided to hang up her professional running shoes and settle down. Soon after tying the knot, she gave birth to her son Easton Jack, and subsequently put on a great deal of weight. After hopping back on the health and fitness bandwagon and shedding the baby weight, Brooke felt inspired to share her journey and help other women lose weight, too. So, she cashed in her 401K and started the Skinny Mom website and brand, which is now a destination for millions of mothers trying to live healthfully. She's since authored the cookbook Skinny Suppers: 125 Lightened-Up, Healthier Meals for Your Family and her website SkinnyMom.com has been acquired by SheKnows Media. There's no stopping this motivated mama!
Keri Glassman, Celebrity Nutritionist & Founder of Nutritious Life
Keri Glassman, a nationally recognized celebrity nutritionist, registered dietitian, healthy cooking expert, and published author, started her business when she was pregnant with her son. "I don't know how to parent without also working, and I don't know how to work without also parenting," she tells us. "And my business is sort of my third baby. I love my first two kids most, but this third 'baby' is a love as well. One thing I do to strike a solid work life balance is take care of life, family, and kids first—and then deal with business. So, for example, if you have to pick up a birthday gift for your child's friend and also have three playdates and a doctor's appointment to schedule, cross those things off your to-do list first and then focus on work. Knowing you've tackled tasks for your family makes you feel better and that makes you work better. I also always take a look at my week on Sunday and make sure I plan for downtime with my family. It could be Friday movie night or an afternoon at the park—it doesn't need to be major but making sure you have definite down time planned makes you less stressed about a late night at work or a missed school activity." We love it!
In 1984, when their daughter Jerra was just four years old, Gayle Tauber and her husband co-founded the Kashi Company. Together, the duo overcame the challenges of raising a family while simultaneously growing a flourishing health food business—and they did so with gusto. Fast forward to 1999, the company generated $25 million in sales, just one year before selling their beloved company for $33 million to Kellogg's, the largest breakfast cereal maker in the country.
Lauren Bush Lauren, Founder of FEED & World Food Programme Honorary Spokesperson
Lauren Bush Lauren, the niece of former President George W. Bush and new mama to baby James, learned firsthand about the communities struggling with malnutrition in Cambodia, Chad, and Guatemala when she worked with the World Food Programme. Inspired by how one meal a day could make an enormous impact in the life of a child, Lauren used her background in fashion to launch the FEED line of accessories, most notably the bags available upon checkout at Whole Foods Markets. Each FEED product is stamped with the number of meals that will be provided to children in need with its purchase, and the bags are made by local artisans, providing sustainable income to their communities.
Mareya Ibrahim, Founder of EatCleaner
A few weeks after her youngest son was born, Mareya Ibrahim's father was diagnosed with prostate and bladder cancer. She's reportedly said that his recovery was a partly a result of early detection and a diet filled with clean fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. Feeling inspired by her father's recovery, she set out to create a product that makes food both cleaner and safer to eat—all while raising her young family. Enter: Eat Cleaner, a tasteless, odorless, lab-tested line of food wash and wipes. According to the company website, they're up to 99.9 percent more effective than water in cleaning wax.
Hillary Mickell & Andrea Cutright, Co-founders of Foodily
Prior to launching Foodily, a recipe-sharing network that allows users to discover, share and store recipes from friends and celebrity chefs all in one place, Andrea Cutright and Hillary Mickell were executives at Yahoo. Both of them were working mothers—and at the end of each night, they'd often ask each other, "What are you making for dinner tonight for your family?" Using their daily conversations as inspiration, they both decided to leave the corporate world and launch Foodily (which stands for "Food I Love You"). And their leap of faith paid off when internet mammoth IAC bought the company for an undisclosed amount.
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