BY: DIJONNA WAGNER | Fresh Kids + Generation Fresh 2017 Intern | University of Virginia Darden School of Business
I work for the co-founders of Fresh Kids, an independent, woman-owned, mission-driven healthy snack food company for kids. I hope you’ll enjoy the story of how I got here…
I tried for years to be happy at home with my kids.
I have three kids at home. The twins are 4 y.o., and the “baby” is 3 y.o. now. I am committed to teaching my kids a healthy, balanced lifestyle, full of adventure, and rich in experience. So is my husband. He is a great partner and one of the most involved Dad’s I know. Despite this awesome support, I tried for years to be happy at home with my kids…
When they were growing so fast as babies, there was immediate gratification, enough to sustain my interest, I suppose. But I always had some professional venture on the side, like military orders. (I went into the reserves for a few years after leaving active duty.) I also tried three times to earn a master’s degree through remote stay-at-home programs. (I have a collection of college sweats and hoodies to prove it!) Eventually, I came to grips with a scary thought: I can serve my kids (and my husband) better as a mom who is also a working professional.
The kids were on my team too.
So I studied for the GMAT and enrolled in a high-ranking MBA program. My husband got behind me in order to see it through. The kids were on my team too. As I was required to travel every few months for school, the kids – even at such young ages – encouraged me and agreed to “take care of Daddy” while I was gone.
But, there is still that sinking feeling, the twinge of guilt, when you’re networking and applying for jobs. Especially when it gets tough, and the world seems to be totally uninterested in what you can bring to the table. Meanwhile, you’re manning the stove top, making school lunches, and solving life’s problems with your little ones. At least at home you know your skills are needed, even if not always appreciated.
This is just the way mom’s think.
There is another important consideration. Now that I’m a mom, whatever I do outside the home has GOT to be worth my time and energy away from my kids. Whatever it is, it’s got to make the kids, me, and my husband happier, better people. This is just the way mom’s think.
Enter: The purposeful, mission-driven workforce of today. I found out about Fresh Kids while researching companies like those certified as B Corps, as well as value-based start-ups. It was obvious that Fresh Kids’ mission came first. The company began its work in NYC, the largest, densest “food desert” in America.
What an awesome mission.
The co-founders of Fresh Kids strongly believe that all kids should have access to healthy and good food. What an awesome mission. I’ve often explained to my own kids just how lucky we all are to have nutritious and wholesome foods on our table and in our lunch bags each and every day.
When I met Susanne, I saw an opportunity to extend these blessings to other families. At the time, Fresh Kids had just begun a product roll out with a major big box retailer. At first, I didn’t quite understand how this fit into Fresh Kids’ mission. But I quickly caught on.
Fresh Kids supports everything local.
Fresh Kids builds a community wherever it goes. Fresh Kids products are a means to this end. The co-founders see each new retailer as an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness for local organizations that are working to teach kids about fresh foods and healthy living. Through donations and project opportunities, Fresh Kids supports everything local.
Fresh Kids stays true to its mission by avoiding unnecessary profit margins and keeping prices well below competitors like General Mills Annie’s and even the stalwart, Newman’s Own Organics. In this way, Fresh Kids reaches low-income families with natural, whole grain, clean ingredients, especially when the prices for truly healthy foods are cost-prohibitive elsewhere.
I can admit that this is what I want to be.
Several years later, I am now nearly finished with my degree, and perhaps the most important thing I learned is this. I can be a professional and a mom. Actually, I can admit that this is what I want to be. The purpose I felt in staying home with my kids at the time trumped the purpose I felt for staying in the military and living a dual-military life. (My husband is military also.)
Now with the kids well on their way to becoming decent human beings, I (we) have found another good and worthwhile mission in my work with Fresh Kids. We are building a sustainable global community, we’re teaching children about healthy living one school garden at a time, and we’re getting clean ingredients into lunch bags for all children everywhere.
For all children everywhere.
To learn more about Fresh Kids Pretzel Stix product launch at Sam’s Club, click here. If you’d like to understand and see how you can help address the problems of food deserts, childhood obesity, and child hunger, click here. To celebrate just a couple of the many organizations that are doing wonderful things in our communities, click here and here and here. And if you have any comments, would like to be a guest blogger on the Fresh Kids Community Page, or just want to say hello, Like us on Facebook or send us an Email.