What inspired you to start your business?
It all began with a diagnosis of breast cancer. After making it through chemo and radiation, I decided to “live my best life.” While anyone could agree that I deserved to eat whatever I desired, it quickly caught up with me. I hit a high on the scale and other points of my health were starting to suffer. My doctors scared some sense into me by explaining that if I didn’t get my eating habits under control, there was a higher chance of the cancer returning, in combination with these other issues becoming more problematic.
With the help of a RD + nutritionist, I discovered a world of primarily plant based ingredients. As an Italian Mama I took to my comfort zone, the kitchen. I made my own version of black bean brownies (now known as our All Day Brownie). After consulting with my RD + nutritionist I was able to eat 1-2 per day. In less than a year, I lost 50 lbs eating at least a brownie a day. I wanted to start a company with my daughter, Angela. She challenged me to create more products that followed the same structure of (our now All Day) Brownie if we wanted to start a company. About 26 recipes later, as a woman of her word, Angela agreed to embark on the adventure together. Pure Batch was born and I like to say I made lemonade out of lemons!
What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
I soon realized that the challenges I faced were not only as a woman, but as a 56-year-old woman in an industry of millennials who had no experience in the food industry other than cooking in a kitchen. Sure, I knew how to create nutritiously delicious treats, but that was the easy part. I often asked myself, is anyone going to take me seriously as this Italian Mama trying to break into the snacks industry with refrigerated cookies? Now, that’s a challenge in itself, even before learning how to stack a palette.
Other challenges came along with learning and understanding how to grow a business at retail without a business education or experience. I came across successful entrepreneurs that all were connected in some way to this industry – I was not and neither was my daughter/partner, Angela. We like to say Angela is the business and I am the baker. I quickly had to learn how to build out and run a commercial facility while at the same time complete certification applications. The organic certification application for 20+ products became a textbook. So I overcame many of these challenges by doing lots of research, asking lots of questions and having the stamina to continue figuring things out and keep up with the millennials. Now I am still trying to figure it all out, but having Angela by my side along with her experience has made us the perfect partnership. We Don’t Fear the Treat or the challenges at Pure Batch.
What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?
I have to pick two… The way traditional grocery is tracking towards more refrigerated space and less in-aisle/shelf space is incredible. We like to say cold is hot. Alongside that would be the plant-based product movement. As a breast cancer survivor, when we decided to start this company, one of the most important, if not the most important, was to use only organic, plant-based ingredients. I also refuse to use chemical aids or preservatives in our formulations since there is more than sufficient data linking chemicals and preservatives to cancer and other diseases. I believe the organic, plant-based and preservative-free trends will continue growing in leaps and bounds in the food industry.
What three traits define you?
I am an absolute perfectionist, which is both a blessing and a curse. Organization and attention to detail (whether personal or professional) is what I am always seeking.
I am as passionate as they come – in my opinion it’s the most essential ingredient for a healthy, happy and successful life.
Sincere authenticity is all you’ll get from me - what you see is quite literally what you get. I’m also loyal to a fault, but unapologetic about it!
So perfectionism, passion, authenticity and loyalty.
What do you love about being a business owner?
There is nothing better than running this business with my daughter as my partner. I trust and respect no one more than her. The bond is deep and the banter is so fun. It makes the day to day so special.
As a business owner, I love that I am able to answer exclusively to myself and appreciate the independence of making my own choices and decisions.
What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?
The hardest part about being a business owner is finding a work vs. life balance. I am deeply passionate about Pure Batch so there is rarely a time (…or conversation) during the day that does not lead down the Pure Batch path. I consistently work on not having the lines blur – especially since we’re family-owned and operated.
What are you reading or listening to now?
I thoroughly enjoy listening to my entrepreneur podcasts on my drive to our production facility. My favorites are How I Built This, NOSH’s Taste Radio and the Food Founders Podcast (which we were actually recently featured on!). There is a lot of great advice on these podcasts and it is so interesting to hear the stories behind so many successful businesses. I find it comforting to know the challenges you face as a business owner were (or in some cases, still are) faced by some of the most successful entrepreneurs out there.
How do you unwind after a long workday?
After a long day when I walk in the door, I am first greeted by my loving dog, Frosty, for a little playtime. A quick meal with my husband and a glass of wine or my favorite kombucha soon relaxes me and we try to keep the conversation light and thoughtful. Aromatherapy helps to clear my mind while lounging on a soft pillow before bed. Since I have always been an early riser, around 4:30 am, I usually fall asleep earlier than most!
Fill in the blank:
When I face a challenge, I… dig into problem solving and research if needed.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself… to stop sweating the small stuff.
The one thing I couldn’t live without is… the love of my family.
By this time next year, I will be… celebrating my 60th birthday with my loved ones on a beach.
The best thing that happened to me last week was… watching the most orders ever come through our website due to an affiliate program started by my daughter!
To get my creative juices flowing, I… read magazines like Bon Appetit/Healthy-ish to consider all the trends and flavors/food and how I can incorporate them into both my daily life and Pure Batch.
Motivated by her experience with breast cancer, Mama Millin spent years developing more nourishing versions of her favorite sweet-treat snacks without ever compromising on taste. Pure Batch services a modern wellness lifestyle where each batch is designed to give your body a healthy dose of good, whole foods. The mother/daughter's refrigerated, raw and baked goods company is disrupting the snacks industry with its preservative-free line of organic, plant based, low-glycemic treats. They are 100% women owned, WBENC-Certified and registered dietitian approved! Don’t Fear The Treat!™