We were so excited to hear from Melissa and Maggie of Little Green Pouch– a reusable food pouch for babies, big kids and grownups (bonus: it’s BPA free, phthalate free, lead free, and dishwasher/freezer safe). Melissa and Maggie share with us a little about how LGP came to be and how they juggle life, work, cooking, kids, and more. P.S. Maggie and Melissa are giving away a starter kit to one reader- see details at the bottom of the page.
Give us a little background on yourself/what you do/how you came to it. How much did becoming a parent shape what your business is?
Melissa: I’m a mom, interior designer, entrepreneur and pinterest-lover I live in Oakland with my husband Ryan and my two daughters Bailey and Parker. We have a dog named Mattie Ross and a cat named Bo. I originally grew up in a smallish town (though its not too small anymore) in the Sacramento Valley called Woodland. Shortly after graduating college I realized I wanted to become a designer and when I was 23 I moved to San Francisco to back to school for a degree in Interior Architecture. In 2005 I started my own interior design firm that I continue to run. Though the majority of my projects are pretty contemporary, my own personal style is an eclectic mix of industrial, rustic & modern. The second company I co-created was a web-based startup that enables anyone with an internet connection to do their own interior design. And then in 2011 I joined forces with my good friend to start Little Green Pouch.
Maggie: After finishing law school in 2005, I worked at a large law firm in their litigation group. When the unrealistic billable hour requirements and office politics became too much, I left the firm and started my own, where I took on my own clients and did contract work from smaller, more family friendly firms. This relieved a lot of stress, and allowed me to spend more time with my children. Later that year I founded Little Green Pouch with my good friend Melissa Winn. LGP officially launched in October 2012. I created LGP because I am a parent. I loved the ease and convenience of disposable food pouches, but not the waste, cost and lack of variety. I thought to myself, someone should create a reusable food pouch to solve these problems. And then I said, hey, why not me?
How old are your kid(s)… names?
Maggie: My son Kelley is 5. He’s an old soul. Finnegan is 3. He is a wild man.
Melissa: Bailey Gray Carlson – 2 years and Parker Violet Carlson – 5 months.
Where do you live?
San Mateo, CA (Maggie) and Oakland, CA (Melissa).
Do you cook much–if you don’t, what are your ways around not cooking, and if you do, what are your go-tos–both for yourself, and for your kid?
Maggie: I do cook a lot. I’m a big fan of cooking double batches of food and freezing one batch for later use, which helps when things get crazy. Soups are great for this (and because my husband and Finney are big fans). I also like making big batches of healthy muffins and breads for the kids’ lunches, and just pulling them out of the freezer as need be.
Melissa: I NEVER used to cook before I had kids. In fact I thought I hated it. But when my first was born I decided it was time to start for two main reasons: (1) I wanted my kids to like to cook and (2) I wanted them to eat as healthy as possible. So I decided to have my nanny start later (10am) and end later (6pm) and I stop working each day at 5. This allows me to take an hour while the nanny is still there to fix dinner in front of the girls in a way that isn’t too stressful. Most nights Bailey joins me in the kitchen and I try to let her help as much as possible.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you?
Maggie: Absolutely photos! What I would give to have someone compile them from all their various places and have them organized and safe and secure. Someone should start that business.
Any small business advice–like what is something you wish someone had told you when you started your business?
Melissa: My advice on business is to quickly figure out what you are not good at and outsource it. I am terrible at bookkeeping and I learned that the hard way. For a long time I kept telling myself it was something I needed to do myself and I tried in vain to make it a priority. But things improved greatly once I finally decided to hire someone to help. I couldn’t live without dropbox. I save all of my files there and its not only an additional cloud-based backup, but I can access all of my files on any device at any time. They also save old versions of each file so on the occasions that I accidentally delete an important file or save over something, I can easily look back to a previous version and all is not lost
Maggie: 7 Layer Bars. Champagne. Sometimes together.
Best parenting advice you ever got?
Maggie: Teach your child independence.
Melissa: To be consistent about the things you say yes and no to. Bailey now knows that no means no because I don’t give in, and there is very little whining as a result.
What is your work life balance? How did you manage everything while creating a business?
Maggie: I think I’m pretty lucky in that area. Having a business partner in the same boat helps a lot. Melissa and I both have other jobs (I have a law practice and she has a design business). When things get really crazy for one of us, the other pitches in so we don’t totally drown (although it feels like we are often). I also have a lot of help from family, like my amazing mother and mother-in-law, not to mention my husband, who, although really busy himself, is respectful of me and what I’m trying to do. As for keeping it all together, I think being organized is the absolute key. I may have a bit of neurosis in this area, but it sure helps out.
Melissa: The only way I manage it is by setting a schedule. I’m with the kids until 10am and then I work. At 5pm I cook dinner and I’m with the girls until we put them to bed at 8… then back to work until I’m too tired. I am not perfect at it, but I really try to put away my phone and be present when I’m with the girls. Its really hard sometimes if things are crazy with work, but if you don’t make it a rule its too easy to work 24-7 and miss a lot of cool stuff from your kids.
We love that your product is reusable- it’s easy to feel overwhelmed that you’re not doing enough to be “green.” It’s all about balance of course, but do you have any other green tips/tricks you use at home?
Maggie: I just try to pick a couple of things to tackle and tackle them. Every little bit helps. For example, I walk my oldest to school. I drink water out of the tap (avoiding plastic bottles). And one thing that is a pain but that I feel strangely proud of is disposing of used batteries properly. Go figure on that one.
Melissa: We use cloth towels instead of paper towels, compost and recycle everything… but it still doesn’t feel like enough!
You have a great recipe section on your site– favorite recipe you’re using now?
Maggie: Yes, we do! I love all the great recipes our readers, friends and bloggers have come up with, which are posted on our site. As for a favorite I’m using now, we actually filmed some short cooking videos yesterday with our good friend Charlotte March – a roasted apple and parsnip puree. It’s a great winter treat and I’m going to try it out tonight
Melissa: Bailey’s favorite recipe is one that I made up a few months back (link here). Its great for breakfast on the go and full of protein!
Maggie and Melissa are giving away a Little Green Pouch starter kit!. Just send us a short description of what you’d make to put inside your Little Green Pouch to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pick a winner at random (and share your great ideas on our Facebook page!)