Meet Angela Sutherland and Evelyn Rusli, co-founders of Yumi, an organic baby food delivery service that makes finding healthier alternatives to regular baby food extremely convenient, giving one less worry for on-the-go parents. Yumi utilizes only natural ingredients in their products, eliminating any added sugar and preservatives normally found in generic baby food while offering exciting flavors such as Kiwi Chia, Cranberry Squash Soup, and Ratatouille (our children are eating better than us!) We asked these extraordinary women the biggest challenges they face as entrepreneurs and for Sutherland, how to balance being a mother full-time as well.
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What inspired the concept of Yumi and how did you go about creating it?
Angela: During my pregnancy with my first child, I found myself – like many new moms—obsessing about this new life, just wondering how I was going to take care of her. I wanted to understand my pregnancy on an almost molecular level, and, as such, I wanted to know how best to nourish my daughter. In my research, I came across the concept of the “First 1000 Days.” Researchers and doctors have identified this period – from in utero to age 2 -- as the most important period in a human’s life in terms of nutrition. I soon realized that despite the critical nature of this period, the baby market didn’t reflect its importance. Most baby food products were high in fruit sugar, low in nutrition, and older than my baby. As a working mom, I was forced to choose between two bad options: compromise at the grocery store, or feel pressured to cook every meal. I was convinced that there had to be a better way and felt compelled to create a product that provided a healthy, convenient feeding option for parents.
Evelyn: When Angela told me about the first 1,000 days and the sad state of the market, I was initially skeptical. I couldn’t believe in this day and age, when nutrition is on the forefront for so many people, that such a large and important market could be so broken. After doing my research, I was blown away by both the compelling nature of the science and the lack of fresh, nutritious options in the market. It was immediately clear that we had an opportunity to build a company with a big mission -- to change the conversation on infant and child nutrition. Like all too many people, I’ve personally seen the impact that metabolic and cardiovascular disorders can have on family members and their quality of life. I come from a family in healthcare; my sister is a doctor, and my father was a pharmaceutical engineer. Yet despite our knowledge, several family members have struggled with largely preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
How do you manage being a mother and a businesswoman?
Angela: With a new company to grow at work and two young kids to grow at home, my schedule is often very hectic. As I plan my week, I try to anticipate where I will be needed most, and I prioritize my time accordingly. If I have something time-consuming on the horizon for Yumi, such as a big deadline or a work trip, I squeeze in quality time with my family beforehand. If I have a time-consuming activity on the calendar for my kids, I adjust my work schedule accordingly. Really, I just try to tackle one day at a time and enlist help from others where I need it.
Is there any advice that you can give to other busy mothers?
Angela: Don’t be afraid or feel ashamed to ask for help. I think so many women feel like the greater they sacrifice themselves for their family, the better they are as a mom. I don’t agree that we have to be martyrs to be great moms. I believe, as someone once told me, that people should invest their time in whatever activities give you the most energy - if you love being a stay at home mom and spending more time with your kids, do it! If you feel energized by your work and career, and that gives you more power to be a better mom at home, do that! Life situations permitting, I encourage parents to pursue their passions and be open to having other people help them achieve balance in their daily lives.
You can tell us - do you occasionally sneak a bite or two of Yumi when it's baby's meal time? If so, which is your favorite flavor combination?
Angela: I absolutely pilfer my 1-year-old son’s stash. One of my favorite flavors (..and his!) is our Razzie Chia, which has Coconut Milk, Quinoa, Chia Seeds, Banana, Dates, and Wheat Germ Oil.
Evelyn: Taking a jar of Yumi on the go for a quick and nutritious breakfast has become a huge life hack for me! My favorite is the Mango Tango, which has Mango, Sweet Potato, Coconut Milk, Banana, Buckwheat Meal, Date, Chia Seed, Ground Flax, Cinnamon. It’s delicious!
Do you have any words of advice for your children as they get older?
Angela: My advice to my kids would be to find and nurture their passions. Nurturing passions takes time, dedication and ongoing, deliberative practice, but the only way to achieve true mastery is through and pursuit of true obsession.
Any fun bedtime or morning rituals you have with your children? (or any rituals in general?)
Angela: I have routines for everything with my kids! Having children has made my life very structured. They wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, and that kind of regularity sort of begets routine. After waking up together as a family, the kids get dressed and fed and then play in my room while I get ready. During this time, we usually turn on some upbeat music and dance. It’s a fun way to start the day!
What is the most rewarding part of being a mother?
Angela: It’s so rewarding to know that through my work, I’m setting a positive example for my kids. I want my daughter and son to see that if you love what you do, you will be both happier and more successful because of it. My mom was an entrepreneur, and I was raised to see that women are capable of doing anything they wanted. I aspire to set a similar example for my kids.
“Kids say/do the darndest things”: What is the funniest thing your children have ever said or done?
Angela: My daughter was 2 when my son was born, so she witnessed and was aware of my pregnancy. She learned that having a belly meant that a baby was coming. About a year and a half postpartum I must have put on a few pounds because my daughter lifted my shirt and said, “Yay! Mommy is having another baby!” When I told her I wasn’t, she asked sincerely, “Then why is your belly bigger?!”
What were the most challenging aspects of starting your own business?
Angela: The biggest challenge in building a company is building a team. One of the best things that ever happened to me was meeting my co-founder. Setting the right foundations with our team has proven time and again an invaluable part of this job. We continually grow and add people, so the work of setting a positive work environment is ongoing. Management is hard work! Making decisions and problem solving is easy; getting the best out of every employee is less easy - but can be a fun and interesting process.
Evelyn: Entrepreneurship is really hard, and it takes work to cope with the stress. Before I owned my own company, it was easy to imagine any one task a founder might face -- such as navigating first hires or defining a company culture. I quickly realized that as a founder, you’re not just facing a steady stream of decisions; you’re facing an avalanche. Until you experience it firsthand, it’s impossible to truly comprehend the weight of a thousand decisions. Beyond Angela, my “work wife”, I’ve relied quite a bit on friends who have gone through the entrepreneurial experience. You need a network to help keep everything in perspective and to understand that despite the rosy headlines and glamorous tile, entrepreneurship is hard but incredibly rewarding work.
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+ GIFT WITH PURCHASE +
Yumi has been an absolute godsend for our very own Lisa Hsieh, Mien's designer and founder. A full-time business owner and mother herself to a growing toddler, Greysen (he’s almost two years old now!), like many busy moms, she's concerned about the quality and nutrition of the foods she feeds to her son, but her hectic schedule sometimes prevents her from being able to spend the necessary time to prepare healthy meals. That's when Yumi’s weekly subscription service lends a helping hand with delivering foods that are created from real, organic ingredients in exciting and flavorful combinations that are also incredibly easy to take on the go for any busy parent! This holiday season, we are so excited to announce that we are partnering with Yumi to give away $50 gift cards that can be used towards your first Yumi subscription purchase! Each $50 gift card is free with every $100 Mien purchase*, while supplies last!
Learn more about Yumi and their subscription services here
*Terms & Restrictions may apply. Yumi currently delivers across California and parts of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Offer has no cash value. While supplies last.