What was the inspiration for Bitsy's? What inspires you daily?
We’re moms, and while that may seem like the obvious starting point, the inspiration for Bitsy’s came long before we had kids. We worked together for years in nonprofit and education, and shared a passion for inspiring kids about things that matter—like being healthy.
In 2005, we helped to create and run what was one of the first federally funded after-school programs to address childhood obesity in grades K-8. What set us apart was our belief that in order to effect change, healthy had to be fun, and kids had to be empowered as agents of change. It worked. Over 90% of the kids in our programs changed the way they were eating—and beyond that, they had a positive impact on the health of their families, their communities and their schools.
So, on a mission to make healthy fun for kids across America and to create products that are truly good for kids (not just “not bad for you”), we started Bitsy’s Brainfood. In late 2012, we launched our first line of alphabet-shaped Smart Cookies and this year, we launched a line of organic fruit and vegetable cereals, built around our core principles that healthy bodies and healthy minds are connected, and learning to “eat smart” should be fun.
If you want to sum it all up—who we are and what we’re about as moms and as people—there is one simple phrase that we’ve used every day since we started working together over ten years ago: “It’s all about the kids.” Always.
What have been some critical moments along your road to success?
We joke constantly that the text message chains between us would make a brilliant comedic novel. There have been so many moments and bumps along this road when one of us has earnestly asked: "Is this for real?" And as for the metaphoric road to success—it’s safe to say we’re still very much trying to navigate that road. The truth is that so often, the best moments are linked with the worst—those times when we look at each other and all we can do is laugh. And so ultimately, we try not to get too overwrought by the highs or the lows. They’re both central to this journey, and it’s all about the big picture.
When it comes to highlights, we’re grateful for the chance to work with an incredible team who share our passion for kids and making healthy fun. When you work with kind, smart people who you genuinely enjoy, it makes every day great. Because let’s be honest, not matter what the situation—the people you work with can make it or break it.
Describe a mistake you made early on. How did you fix it?
We've run headlong into so many hurdles, been surprised with so many curveballs, and just decided at every pass that it simply is not an option to fail. And that’s the honest truth.
When we started Bitsy’s, were we totally in tune with the seasonality and availability for bulk purchasing US grown organic vegetables? Uh,no. So we learned early on that in order to meet our ingredient requirements, we had to get super buttoned up on our supply chain. Of course, that took us the other way, in fear of shorting orders, we ordered a rather enormous surplus of high-quality delicious organic carrots, and we , well, over-forecasted. I think we still have those carrots… Any takers? Ha, ha.
What's your vision for Bitsy's Brainfood in the future?
We hope our products will change the way kids define “yummy” by creating tastes rooted in the naturally delicious flavors of organic fruits and vegetables (versus the typical sugary, empty calorie snacks and cocoa-flavored everything).
We also want to bring our products to kids everywhere, especially those in under-resourced communities with little choice when it comes to healthy foods, and we’ve struggled with the notion that in order to build a viable natural brand and a company of real value, it at times seems critical to focus on selling healthy foods to healthy people. There’s been some real pressure to stay within the natural channel, rather than freedom simply to focus on bringing great food to all kids, everywhere. That’s the non-profit side of us, we guess, but it feels like all of us need to work together to address the health crisis in our country. Changing the way so many kids out there eat is just so important; it’s kind of a crusade that we all need to be in on together.
What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?
Staying up late reading and/or watching TV—it feels so good, but we know we’ll pay the price!
How does the Bitsy's crew work to make a difference in the world?
We love donating our products to schools and youth organizations in need through our Giving a Bitsy Back initiative, which was born from our own experiences working in schools and nonprofits and our firsthand understanding that it's actually insanely hard to get delicious, healthy foods into the hands of a lot of kids when you are dealing with major budget constraints. So we try to make this simple. We're still small, but this is so central to who we are, and we'll continue to invest in kids, schools and communities in this way.
When we were working together in non-profit, an opportunity arose to start a school. We pondered it pretty seriously and someday, it’s something we think we might like to pursue: Bitsy Elementary!