There's a popular game played at baby showers guaranteed to elicit both gagging and hoots of laughter. It's the baby food guessing game, and it's simple. Guests are given samples of baby food and they have to guess what it is. Is it peas; carrots; peas, carrots, and chicken; or something else entirely? It's difficult because most baby food is cooked and pureed beyond recognition, with no thought given to seasonings. And why bother? It's for babies. What do they care?
Whether you're a parent or not, you know that babies actually care a lot about what they eat. They aren't shy about letting you know when they don't like something. Unfortunately, they can't tell you when something isn't very healthy.
This was the problem Agatha Achindu found when she became a mom. Coming from her native Cameroon where farm-to-table food is the norm, the look, taste, and shelf life of products in the American baby food aisle shocked her.
Knowing there was a better way, she started cooking fresh, minimally-processed recipes for her son and freezing the extras. Before long, she felt compelled to help others and found herself teaching cooking classes for new moms at a nearby hospital. When moms reported back that they loved the recipes--but didn't have the time to cook them--she cooked the food for them.
And like many businesses, the transition from a side project for friends to an actual business sprung out of a logistical problem. Her customer base had grown from a few friends to 300 moms. The constant traffic this produced in and out of her small subdivision became a concern for her husband and neighbors. She needed to move her operation to stores.
Not knowing where to start, she got advice from the local small business office. With help and encouragement from family, she found herself pitching her products to Whole Foods within a couple of months. As luck would have it, the company representative sampling that day was a new mom, and she was immediately hooked. Agatha decided to call her company Yummy Spoonfuls.
Sales grew from there, and Yummy Spoonfuls went on to win a nationwide taste-test sponsored by a popular parenting magazine. Agatha realized she'd need to up her game in packaging from the homemade labels she'd been making for years to a more polished, professional brand. After Yummy Spoonfuls got its brand makeover, she was able to expand to Target stores across the country.
As a mom myself, I appreciate Agatha's approach and determination to bringing babies and toddlers healthier, more appealing food. She feels called to do this work, and has resisted suggestions from outsiders to tinker with her recipes. Adding preservatives, for example, would increase the time the product could sit around before being sold, but it would compromise one of her core commitments to serving only fresh, natural foods.
Agatha's advice for other moms and entrepreneurs is simple and compelling:
- Start small and think big.
- Trust the fact that you're an expert. If you've put the time and effort into doing the research and developing a product, know that your perspective is valuable.
- Find something you're passionate about and willing to work hard on to make a difference.
- Look for opportunities to provide something that no one else is doing right now.
- Be patient and don't cut corners when selling high-quality products.
Agatha believes that, rich or poor, we all share a deep desire for our kids to be happy and healthy. Just because some parents don't have the time to cook for their babies, they shouldn't have to buy baby food they wouldn't eat themselves.
Agatha is a vibrant example that the American dream is very much alive. After immigrating to the United States, she identified an unmet need in the market. That need sparked the idea for a business that she then pursued with persistence and passion until it became the success it is today.
As she focuses on expanding her business to grocery stores across the country, she also wants to encourage other would-be entrepreneurs to try and to never underestimate the power of wanting to help others.