My story begins in 2010 when I was diagnosed with a severe illness. I restricted my diet to try to get it under control. I lived off bone broths, pumpkin and chicken soup, pureed cooked apple and mashed up vegetables. Soon after I started trying baby food pouches as a convenient way to eat while I was out and couldn’t cook my own food. As a result I researched the contents of what went in the pouches, how fresh the food was, the nutritional value, and the amount of protein that I was getting.
What I found was astonishing. Even organic and seemingly healthy baby food pouches were always filled with mostly sugary fruit, or sweet vegetables like pumpkin and sweet potato. Rarely was the meat content above 10%. Every single yogurt pouch (even the organic ones) had added sugar, and there was absolutely no guarantee that the food in the pouches was even fresh. As we all know the longer a food is stored before eating, the less minerals and vitamins it has in it. They also use high temperatures to preserve the contents and that process decreases the nutritional value too! So I stopped eating the pouches, and instead froze my home made pureed food in ziplock bags, and I slowly got better.
When Ariella was born I was the happiest and healthiest I'd ever been. Not long afterwards, sheer exhaustion and the stress of being a single mum took its toll on me, and my illness came back with a vengeance. I was in and out of hospital for months and my disease was so severe they wanted to remove my intestines completely. It was a really scary time. I was in constant pain, I lost a lot of weight, my skin turned a dull colour, my hair started falling out and the surgeons kept telling me every day that the only way I could get back to my daughter was to have the surgery. I wanted to give in but I refused to be a single mum, with a disease, and no intestines. So I continued with my purees and broths, got my dad to bring a blender into the hospital and researched every natural cure for my illness from around the world. Eventually they discharged me from hospital and told me to call an ambulance when I was ready for the surgery.
At home with my daughter again, I was still making my own purees, soups and broths. I was freezing them and carrying them around in ziplock bags everywhere I went. I was also trying to increase the good bacteria in my diet so I started to dream of manufacturing a sugar-free yoghurt in a pouch. Once I had that initial thought I was then think- ing about Ariella and how great it would be to have beef casseroles that actually had mostly beef in them, or vege mixes with kale and other superfoods that were fresh from the farmers market and not sweet. I was convinced that making my own pouches would lead to better health for both Ariella and I, and that it would also make life so much easier than carrying around my frozen ziplock bags of food! One day I was pouring my puree out of a ziplock bag, I saw a supermarket pouch and the solution to combine the two just hit me like a cartoon lightbulb moment. Obviously it had been developing a long time in my subconscious but this is how my idea morphed from making my own food to making a container so all parents could make their own healthy food.
Having the concepts on paper was only the beginning though. With next to no money to my name, and in further debt after paying for food, extra medical expenses and day- care for Ariella on my credit card, together with my friends I sold old clothes I had gathered from my ex-modelling days. At those weekly clothes markets, I looked like a skeleton and it was difficult to even pick up Ariella let alone clothing racks. My friends kept trying to sell my Gucci and Chanel items for $10 each and although I was having a near heart attack at the time I realised clothes weren’t going to build my business so I sold as many as I could for whatever I could get for them! Slowly I gathered enough cash to fund the business, one small step at a time. I worked on it every single day often late into the night. By the time production started I had just enough money to pay the deposit and I had finally started getting better.
My concept for Little Mashies is for parents to be able to cook their own healthier meals and feed them in a handy on-the-go pouch that kids will actually want to eat from! Ariella used to throw food on the floor at meal time, but when she spies Little Mashies her hands fly up and the meal is devoured within minutes. It makes me smile! She even gives the character little kisses! Now that she is older I love that I can hide healthy food inside "snacks". I always sneak in extra spinach and chia seeds to her yoghurt and send frozen green smoothies to daycare. I believe it is very important to know what is in the food you give your baby, so I hope parent's out there experiment with their own healthy mashed up recipes, and enjoy serving it in a Little Mashies reusable pouch!