Exclusive: How This Company Is Revolutionizing the Baby Food Industry
You may already recognize her as the bewitching and impossibly glamorous wife of Hollywood powerhouse Matthew McConaughey, but model and budding entrepreneur Camila Alves isn’t resting on her husband’s laurels. Forging her own path in the food industry, the Brazilian-born mother of three has been focused on creating a healthy lifestyle for her family for years, and recently she has been busy building an organic baby food brand. Called Yummy Spoonfuls, the healthy brand launched in 2014 and is now exclusively sold at Target.
But knowing that motherhood is a daily endeavor, Alves has also launched Women of Today, a lifestyle site where she features helpful posts on food recipes, DIY crafts to do with your kids, and more. For some gleanings on Alves’s healthy lifestyle tips for busy moms everywhere, we caught up with the entrepreneur. Read on to learn what inspired her to go into the field of frozen organic baby food, how she instills healthy eating habits in her children, and more.
MYDOMAINE: You are a busy woman living life in the public eye. How do you stay so grounded?
CAMILA ALVES: My number one priority is my family. I believe that if I keep my priorities straight and keep my family unit tight, false drama won’t be able to get in.
MD: What are some of your favorite aspects of being a mom? What do you find most challenging?
CA: We try to keep the family together as much as we can. Whenever my husband has to be on site for a shoot, the whole family goes along so we can ensure that we have enough time as a family unit. I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. I love watching my kids grow and take new steps in life on their own. Keeping everything balanced is the biggest challenge—I try to make sure that I spend equal time being a mom, a wife, and a businesswoman.
MD: What advice do you have for women juggling both a career and mommy duties?
CA: It is not perfect—it will never be perfect—but we will keep on trying day in and day out! Regardless of what people tell you, it is possible to do it all. You just have to have a supportive community to help lift you up.
MD: You created a lifestyle site earlier this year, Women of Today. What was the motivation behind this endeavor?
CA: For years, I have been working in the lifestyle world with a lot of great people and TV shows, including the Today show, Rachael Ray, The Chew, The Talk, and more. I realized that I did not have a hub for all these projects I have worked on, so I decided to create Women of Today. More importantly, I wanted to create an online community where women can share things that they have learned that make everyday life easier.
MD: What tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve to maintain a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family?
CA: I think that instilling healthy eating habits in each of my kids right from the start has helped them become healthy, adventurous eaters as they grow up. I don’t “hide” fruits or vegetables in other foods because I want my kids to genuinely enjoy the taste of the fruits and veggies on their own, and I don’t force them to eat anything. I give them options and encourage them to give each food a try. I’ve found that when I don’t make a big fuss over my kids eating their veggies, they usually end up eating them on their own!
MD: Tell us about your work with Yummy Spoonfuls. What inspired the launch of this brand, and what is your role, aside from being co-founder?
CA: I grew up on a farm in Brazil eating fresh food every day. When I had my first baby, I realized I wanted to feed him nothing but the best. I could never find a brand I could trust—there was always some ingredient I didn’t recognize or couldn’t pronounce. With each of my three kids, I would spend countless sleepless nights making my own food, surrounded by bowls of pureés and a messy kitchen.
With my last baby, I thought to myself, There must be a simpler way to provide fresh, homemade food for babies and kids. After doing some research, I was surprised to find that no one was doing this as a business. I was determined to start a company where I could help parents who felt the same way I did.
In 2014, I met Agatha Achindu, a fellow mom and entrepreneur with a similar mission and a similar background. She started Yummy Spoonfuls in her Atlanta kitchen back in 2006, and after three hours spent talking over tacos in Malibu, we shook hands and became partners.
Together, we wanted to make Yummy Spoonfuls a brand that could redefine healthy eating for a new generation and make it easily accessible to more families. We developed unique new flavors, most of which were inspired by the meals Agatha and I grew up eating in our home countries. We make Yummy Spoonfuls just like you would at home: We start with fresh ingredients, gently cook them, and then flash-freeze them to lock in nutrients, color, and taste.
Agatha and I are both heavily involved in the company. From recipe creation to packaging design to production to quality control—we do it all. We are a small but mighty company. For the first two years, it was only Agatha and I; we were the only employees. It’s been so fun to watch this brand grow and be a part of it. In June, we officially launched Yummy Spoonfuls in Target stores nationwide. It was a milestone that both Agatha and I are so incredibly proud to accomplish.
MD: How did you go about structuring the concept behind Yummy Spoonfuls? Do you have any advice on producing a quality business plan?
CA: Bringing our baby food to the masses was the core of our partnership. We wanted to grow our brand for all the busy moms and dads out there who don’t have the time to make food on their own but still want to give their kids the very best. We want to be your kitchen away from home.
Finding the right national retailer to sell our product was extremely important to us. We wanted one that promoted healthy living and could offer the products at an affordable price point, which made Target the perfect fit.
MD: What were some of the biggest challenges of starting this company? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout the process?
CA: Never take no for an answer. Agatha and I hit many roadblocks while we were trying to get things right. We both knew that we never wanted to compromise in order to cut corners to save time or money. We never wavered. We were steadfast in our mission to bring the freshest product to parents nationwide.
MD: What are some of your favorite meals to cook for your family? Any creative tricks on getting kids to eat their veggies?
CA: Since it’s summer, I’ve been making lots of banana “nice cream.” It’s a healthier take on ice cream that is both delicious and good for you—it’s also so fast and easy to whip up. First, freeze four to five bananas, then pureé them in a blender or food processor until they’re creamy. And that’s it! It tastes and looks just like ice cream. My kids love it. I also usually add some other flavors, like cherry and coconut, for some variation.
Getting kids to eat fruits and veggies can be tricky, but I think it’s all about getting them involved with food early on and making healthy fun. With my oldest son, I got him started with smoothies. It allowed him to be the chef and mix and match different flavors to find out what he liked. He would get super excited to try new creations and show off what he made.
MD: How would you describe your daily morning routine? Any tips on how to get out of the house when in a hurry?
CA: Pick out your outfit the night before! I look at my schedule for the day and decide what I am going to wear; then I set it out the night before. I do the same with my kids, whenever I can. Mornings are hectic, and setting out our clothes means one less decision we have to make in the morning. I also pack the kids’ lunch boxes the night before and set up everything for my morning tea so it’s ready to go.
MD: How about when you’re traveling?
CA: Since we travel a lot, I have also found that packing light is key. We aim to only bring one carry-on for each kid—even on long trips. We bring several key staples, and then mix and match outfits each day. Once we’ve laid out the clothes, I roll everything to maximize space.
MD: What’s one thing the public doesn’t know about you?
CA: We cook at home every day and rarely go out to eat. I also personally test every recipe before I share it on Women of Today.
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