This story is a living proof that when we follow our dreams and passion, anything is possible.
In 2005, a newly married couple James & Monica decided to put all their life savings on the line and followed their dreams and passion. They wanted to create a food business that really care for kids’ health and develop programs to assist children in need.
Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, they successfully created Australia’s first range of certified organic snacks for kids, which are all natural with no junk, no artificial additives, colourings or preservatives.
In 2011, they went on to establish a non-profit organisation called “One Per cent for Our Kids”, where they donate one per cent of their total revenue to fund projects to help improve kids’ health, their communities and their environment.
Here’s their story….
Esther: How did Whole Kids actually get off the ground?
James: In 2005 we took the money we were saving to buy a house and used it to manufacture our first run of Whole Kids organic products. Most of the time our small rented house in Richmond was packed so full of cartons that we sometimes struggled to find space to have dinner. At that stage we didn’t even have a single customer yet!
We later packed our bags and set off to the inaugural Organic Expo in Sydney to see what would happen. I remember when the expo doors finally opened, we were both very nervous. We had spent our life savings and thought no one would even visit our stand.
But we made a promise to each other, if we got a few smiles and encouraging words from mums and kids about our products, we would toss in our proper jobs and devote all our energy to Whole Kids.
Well, we were totally blown away by the response. Parents really appreciated what Whole Kids was about and the kids themselves just loved our yummy snacks. We were over the moon.
After the Expo we made true to our promise – we gave up our jobs as soon as we got back to Melbourne. Australia’s first range of organic snacks for kids was officially launched and we were off and running.
Esther: What were the major obstacles you had to overcome in the beginning?
James: In the early days it was just the two of us. We would do everything from packing and delivery of orders to sales and managing finances. Time was the thing we lacked most.
We never could have predicted what was around the corner though. About 3 months after signing the lease on our first warehouse in Melbourne, we had a torrential downpour that caused the roof to collapse and flooded the whole warehouse.
Most of our stock and equipment was damaged and even though we had insurance, the delay in getting everything back up and running was so long that we really thought Whole Kids would be out of business just a few months after launching it.
Because we had belief in what we were doing, we somehow found a way through all these problems. So far we haven’t looked back!
Esther: Tell us about the range of organic snacks that Whole Kids produce
James: We produce a range of certified organic snack foods for children, which include dried fruits, popcorn, fruit bars, corn chips, fruit juices and smoothies.
Esther: What is your business philosophy?
James: Our philosophy is quite simple really. We believe in helping kids experience a healthy life and a healthy world. Everything we do is driven by this fundamental belief. Health and environmental sustainability are two of our core values.
We believe in nourishing and nurturing our children and our world in a way that is respectful and responsible. We achieve this by striving to create the highest quality, most wholesome, naturally nutritious and best tasting products available for children.
We also believe everything we do in some way impacts our relationship with each other and our environment. We are a small family business with big ambitions and aim to make a real and positive difference to children’s health and their environment.
Esther: What is it about the organic lifestyle that is important to you?
James: Organic food contains more of the good things our bodies need like vitamins, nutrients, minerals and essential fatty acids without any of the nasty things we don’t need like synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, artificial additives and genetically modified organisms just to name a few.
Our children are at greater risk from pesticide residues for two reasons. Firstly, they ingest more food and water per unit of body weight than we do, so their exposure is greater in proportion to their size. Secondly, their vital organs are still developing so their immature bodies may have limited ability to remove these residues.
Now that we have our own little girl Chloe, we are even more driven and committed to create healthier food and a healthier environment for kids everywhere.
We strongly believe living an organic lifestyle also provides an opportunity for all of us to reconnect with the natural world and allows us to teach our children the benefits of a healthy natural way of life.
I hope you have enjoyed reading James & Monica’s story. I hope you have been inspired to keep following your dreams and passion…anything is possible!
Dr Esther Lok
(NB: Transcript for the extended interview can be found in Chapter 4 of the “Go Natural” book)
Disclaimer: All advice may not be construed as medical advice or instruction and is not meant to replace the advice of your medical practitioner. Information has been compiled from the author’s personal experiences and own research into multiple existing public references and previously published scientific studies. While all care is taken, information is not warranted as accurate and The Organics Institute and Dr Esther Lok cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions.