With a shared love of gentle parenting and their combined skills and experience with children, Rachael and Lorren launched The Food Tree, where they offer practical, research-based, nutritional solutions to support your children’s eating habits. Here they talk about their inspiration for starting a business together and the challenges they faced along the way.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Rachael and I (Lorren) met at a Nurture People parenting class. We share a gentle parenting approach and connected over the trials and triumphs of parent life. At the time, my little person was having some challenges with eating. She was born small for her gestational age with IUGR and after starting solids had been quite ill, resulting in a feeding aversion. She just did not want to eat and meal times were super stressful!
I was feeling under pressure to make sure she didn’t lose any more weight, but the more anxious I became about her eating, the less she would eat.
Rachael is a paediatric dietitian and has trained with the world renowned Ellyn Satter institute, considered the gold standard in child feeding. Having someone with a genuinely respectful approach to parenting, who is also one of New Zealand’s leading specialists in child nutrition, to guide me was a total lifesaver! Now my little person is so confident with food. She eats everything from chicken curry to parsley by the handful.
This journey from absolute stress and worry, to complete confidence with feeding my child was so powerful. I wanted other parents to have that same support, so we started The Food Tree. Access to evidence-based support and guidance, delivered with kindness and compassion.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
We launched with our first workshop: ‘Find peace at the dinner table: raising children to have a good relationship with food and their body’ and it sold out within 5 days! Parents were hungry (bad pun) for this type of professional support with their child’s eating and body image.
There had been some really concerning statistics around disordered eating and body confidence issues for children as young as 5, so we were really feeling a strong demand amongst parents to have access to trustworthy information to help them and their children avoid the heartache that comes with those concerns.
We have now taken our workshops around NZ and recently had an overseas tour to Dublin, Kilkenny and London. We offer 5 different workshops for parents and professional development for teachers, and are about to launch our book, online courses and webinars.
As well as being a registered dietitian, Rachael also has a background in mindfulness and body image coaching. I’m an ECE teacher with a passion for learning through nature and play, so throughout what we offer, we tie in a holistic approach to health and happiness. Supporting people to learn about their body, each other and the world around them.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
We’ve had some really amazing moments, it’s hard to choose just one! Big opportunities like speaking at venues like the Hello Fresh headquarters in London, or moments of absolute human connection such as a 1:1 consult with a parent who really just needed someone to listen.
Every single message we’ve had from a parent saying that their child is now eating more than 5 foods or that meal times are actually something they look forward to now, just fills our hearts.
Now more than ever, in a world filled with so much misinformation, disconnection, and stress put on on families to have perfect ‘instagram worthy’ meals, there is so much pressure to look, eat and be a certain way. People are struggling mentally, physically and socially. They want to know where to get the right information, but they also need health professionals who are willing to take the time to listen and understand their situation. To think holistically, and support them to make decisions that are right for their family. Knowing we play a part in helping people find peace and joy, there is nothing else like it. It’s an awesome feeling!