What started as helping out a friend who was struggling with breastfeeding became a business idea for Jess Beveridge. At The Milk Pantry they create a range of nutritious food mixes for breastfeeding and pumping mums. They pride themselves on the quality and taste of their products and with their super easy mixes, they hope to make your breastfeeding journey easier. Passionate about sustainability, they also do their bit for the environment, using biodegradable satchels or biodegradable boxes to package their goods. Here Jess talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her business, winning a business award for sustainability, and the challenges she has overcome along the way.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I’ve always been passionate about breastfeeding and determined to breastfeed all my babies. Then when I was on maternity leave in 2015, having just had Darcie (my 3rd baby), a good friend of mine was about to have her second baby. She’d had so much trouble with breastfeeding her first baby and she’s not the sort of person to ask for help, so I made a dry lactation cookie mix for her to mix up at home.
We were financially struggling at the time, so I posted the leftover mixes on the local Facebook page and they sold out within a couple of minutes, and within a couple of days, I had people asking for more and asking specifically for me. The next week a midwife was wanting them and wanting to promote them. From then I’ve had orders every single day and it’s just taken off.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
The beginning was such a curve ball – I had never worked in the food industry before, I had so much research to do to make sure I followed all the guidelines and laws surrounding producing food. Plus, there are so many regulations around food labelling as well, so that kept me busy! Once all the official paperwork and training was complete, I then hired a local commercial kitchen and started producing my very own products.
I started with making simple cookie mixes, then within a few months decided to branch out and make different types of products – things that had never been made before and all designed by myself.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
In 2017, we won a business award for sustainability – this for me was such a lightbulb moment. Someone else recognised us for what we do, and I finally felt like I had a voice and could possibly make a difference not just to an individual mum’s breastfeeding journey but on a national and international scale too. We have since gone on to win other awards and love the physical recognition for what we do.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
As a single mother of 3 children, I sometimes find the work/family balance challenging. But I have created our manufacturing hours to be within school hours and with school holidays and weekends off to switch off and just be with our children.
I also employ mums that have the same hours and benefits so we can really enjoy our time when we work without the stresses of afterschool care or vacation care.
Because I can’t always get everything I need done in those hours, I will save my paperwork and emails until either early morning while the kids are asleep or later in the evening. This gives me the chance to be completely there for my kids as well as running a successful business.