Having little ones, especially two under two – did that, and lived to share about it – isn’t easy. As moms, fresh food is key, but convenience is often the name of the game when you’re in the thick of mom life. #momtruth
The convenient AND nutritious toddler meal game is changing, here in the US, thanks to the introduction of Little Dish, the number one fresh toddler brand in the UK.
Created by mompreneur Hillary Graves, Little Dish a line of fresh, preservative free toddler meals you will find in the refrigerated section in your grocery store. Every Little Dish is a complete, nutritionally balanced meal, made with mama love – just not YOUR mama time.
Hillary Graves created Little Dish out of a need to have better options for busy moms, herself included. Here, she shares her journey from problem finder to passionate, business-idea creator.
FYI No, this blog post does not mean I’m having a baby. However, if you would like to convince my husband we should 😊 I would not be apposed to the extra votes in the “yes, let’s-have-another-baby” bucket! (PS Below the kids and are are selecting which meal would be ideal for a toddler. Yup, guess where their votes go on the above predicament?)
How old are your kids? I have two boys. Monty, 12 and Ridley, 10.
When did you launch Little Dish? I launched Little Dish in 2006, while I was living in London. Before that, I was the Vice President of Marketing for iVillage in New York. I moved to London in 2000 to launch their UK business. While I was there, I met my husband and never left.
What “aha” Moment led you to launch Little Dish? I was pregnant with Monty and looking at baby and toddler food in the supermarket. I couldn’t believe the only options were shelf stable jars and pouches that could sit on the shelf for up to 2 years. It didn’t seem right that the food would be older than my baby! I wanted to create a range of fresh, just like homemade meals. Meals that were made from only 100% natural ingredients and kept in the fridge, not the cupboard.
What steps did you take to get your idea off the ground? We raised a small seed round of funding from family and friends, some of whom were in the food industry. They also joined our advisory board. It was very helpful to have access to people who had experience in chilled food and working with the UK retailers.
What was your biggest challenge at launch? How did you work through it? Our biggest challenge was to prove that Little Dish could meet the sales targets of our first supermarket trial, despite having a short shelf life. Therefore, we needed to raise awareness for the brand in local communities near the stores that were selling Little Dish. We visited local towns and distributed vouchers and hosted tastings. The response was very positive and the Little Dish trial was a success. Now, Little Dish is available in all UK supermarkets across the country.
What’s your biggest challenge right now? And, how are you planning to work through it? Recently, I moved back to New York with my family to launch Little Dish US. In this country, the fresh baby and toddler food is a relatively new category that not many people know about. So, in all of our Little Dish marketing communications, we make sure to say ‘Find it in the Fridge’ so parents know there is now a fresh option when they are looking to buy baby and toddler food.
What has been the biggest consumer shift since you launched Little Dish? The biggest consumer shift since I launched Little Dish is the rise of social media. In the early days, we had marketing volunteers across the UK who would spread the word about Little Dish to their local communities. Now, that kind of viral communication is mostly done online through Instagram and Facebook.
How is the US market different from the UK baby food market? The main difference is that the US baby food market is six times bigger, than the UK market! There are also a few new US baby food brands making fresh purees for 6-12 month-old babies, and that’s so exciting to see. Little Dish offers the next stage of feeding, chunkier meals for 12-month-olds through toddlerhood.
What’s your best tip for a mom who sees a problem and wants to launch a business to solve that problem? The first step is finding a gap in the market for something that people need and want. If you have the solution, then my advice is to put together a business plan to understand the economics of your idea. For instance, if any start-up capital is required and how to make sure the business idea is profitable. Also, I think it’s important that whatever the idea, it’s something you love and are passionate about. There are sure to be ups and downs and that will get you through the challenging times.
What does it mean to you to Hustle Like a Mom? Juggling a lot of things at once! Work and kids and family. I think every mom is constantly juggling, whether they work or not, and we hope Little Dish will help. Making it easy to serve fresh, healthy meals on those nights you don’t have time to cook.