Passionate about living a holistic lifestyle, especially since the arrival of her baby girl, Geena Kleinjan strongly believes in nurturing and nourishing the little people in our lives with wholesome foods during the most demanding and ever-changing season of their life. Like all parents, she wanted to give her daughter the best start in life and to nurture her rapid growth and inquisitive nature. Learning quickly that creating homemade baby food is a full-time job, she wanted to help other parents too. She launched Made Whole to provide wholesome, nutrient-rich foods for babies and toddlers that fit into busy day-to-day life. Carefully curated in small batches, they focus on quality over quantity and showcase the beauty of nature by using whole food ingredients full of flavour, full of colour and full of nutrients.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
WOW, where should I begin… Let’s start with the fact I love nourishing foods; I love intentional nutrition and knowing exactly what is in my food. Food is my love language and I really wanted to pass that on to my baby girl. Now when I say “food”, I’m talking about REAL vegetables and fruits, FRESH herbs, good QUALITY meat, no highly processed and chemically enhanced stuff, no outrageously long words or numbers on the ingredient list. I wanted my baby girl to glow from the inside out and enjoy our family mealtimes; I wanted to create an adventurous eater. Like every parent, I wanted to give my precious girl the best start to life and nurture her rapid growth and inquisitive nature. When Macie-Awhi was a few months old, I started a two-year part-time study into Naturopathy with a focus on culinary & medicinal herbs, food for disease prevention and holistic practices. I started that study as a hobby to further my knowledge and to benefit my little whanau. It has really enhanced my understanding and perspective, and it was just impossible for it to not spill over into everything I do. As we approached the starting solids journey, I learned quickly that our precious little people require nutrient-rich foods that are gentle on their delicate digestive systems. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our current infant and toddler foods on the shelves don’t meet those requirements and tend to be bland or full of sugar, which is the perfect recipe for a fussy eater and health complications… Long story short, our next generation deserves better. All the busy parents out there deserve better alternatives and peace of mind that their little ones are being nourished in the best way.
SO!! Tadaaa! I created a range of nutrient-rich puree blends, gentle on delicate digestive systems, made using whole foods with real herbs and flavours. I wanted our range of puree blends to be versatile in a way that they are perfect for starting solids but could also be used into the toddler years too. I think we have really achieved that. Made Whole was created to nourish our little people and really take the load off parents. Parenting is beautifully hard, challenging, rewarding, fulfilling and exhausting. It is one of life’s greatest blessings and we love it!
Made Whole is made to nourish both pēpi and parent.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Let’s just say it wasn’t the fairytale that aspiring business owners dream of hahaha. I had been working towards a launch for over a year already, while juggling being a mama and studying long distance – there are so many moving parts in a business launch, and this was no exception. There are extensive legal requirements: from the records that I keep per batch of baby food, to the wording that is used on my packaging, there is an art to it all that I learnt along the way and also got outside guidance to figure out. Don’t worry I am not going to bore you with the details, but I will say, if I had known what it would take to get this far, I would have doubted my ability and wouldn’t have ever started. I am so glad I didn’t know what it was going to take. I am so glad that I was blinded with passion and drive that I just did it and kept on going.
I have made mistakes along the way, I have questioned and compared myself to others, I have wanted to give up so many times, but I can’t stop because I cannot ignore the fact that there is such a massive need for great quality, nutrient-focused foods that are created specifically for infants. And I am sure there are so, so many parents out there who agree with that. I am so thankful for the help and support from a team of incredible women that believe in Made Whole and made it possible. I am constantly learning and adapting in this journey as I try to normalise whole food ingredients, nutrient-rich foods and ultimately create adventurous eaters!
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
We had a massive breakthrough when we found a way to widen our delivery radius to now be delivering to 150+ postcodes outside of the beautiful Mount Manganui and Tauranga area to now include Auckland, Waikato, Wider Bay of Plenty, etc. Delivering frozen goods has proven to be a major problem when it comes to reaching a wider audience and I often get messages from parents throughout the country asking when/if we can get our products to them. Because of the nature of our products and the ingredients they contain, I have to be so careful with the transportation times and methods. When we launched, I did the local deliveries myself but now, less than six months after launching, we are able to get our products to Auckland, Hamilton, Waihi, Rotorua, Whakatane, Waikato and so many places in between.
This as a small business is so incredible!
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Juggling being a māmā and wife while managing everything to do with Made Whole has been challenging. I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home māmā and that in itself comes with so many challenges, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! I adore the slow life when I am with Macie-Awhi and getting to watch her grow and learn in the lifestyle we have created, where I can show her what is important to us. I am not sure she realises just how busy māmā is before she wakes up, once she goes for a nap or when she goes down to sleep at night. That is when I get the majority of my work done on a daily basis and then on my kitchen days, she gets to have an “Oma day” (she spends the day with my mum) or a “Papa day”, so I can solely focus on the puree blends and record keeping. It’s busy and demanding and I would love a much smaller to-do list, but I have surrendered to the fact that it is just not my season for that right now. Yes, it is exhausting and overwhelming at times. It’s not at all glamorous and I don’t want to glamorise being busy or exhausted, but I also don’t want to minimise the time, effort, intention and passion that has gone into the setting up and running of Made Whole. I am so passionate about what we have created and being a part of nourishing our next generation.
There are a number of ways Jesse and I try to ensure as much of a work-life balance as possible, as well as things that help us feel rested.
- We prioritise our health and wellness, specifically with the foods we eat.
- We aim to be in bed by 9.30pm because sleep is life!
- Allow time to read before bed rather than scroll socials.
- Try to have minimal/no devices around our daughter and at family meals.
- We all eat dinner around the table as a whanau every night.
- Focus on what we can control and have faith the things out of our control will be taken care of.