When we first heard about Zak, the dad who conceived of and launched Little Duck Organics, a healthy kid snack company started in 2009, we were so jealous that it wasn’t around when our kids were little. We’re so inspired that he saw a hole in the market–he wanted snacks for his kids that didn’t have pesticides, added sugars, and other crap, and went for it. Now his product is in over 6000 stores!
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?
The last 10 years of my life have been a whirlwind. I spent the beginning part of my 20s in the Coast Guard, working mostly in Central America and the Caribbean. I had my first daughter, Taylee, in 2006 when I was living in Alabama. Shortly after that, I moved back to New England, started working as a designer, had two more kids and started buying lots and lots of kids food. That process gave me some key insight into what kinds of products and brands were on the market at the time. I had been working with some food companies with my design work and decided, in 2009, to launch Little Duck Organics. Fast forward almost three years, and we’re now in over 6,000 grocery stores worldwide. Crazy to think back on how far we’ve come in such a short time…
How old are your kids?
I have three wonderful children: Oliver, 2; Ella, 4; Taylee; 7 (wow, is she really 7 already??)
Where do you live?
I live in Brooklyn, NY.
Do you work in a home office, and if you do, how do you deal with working from home (while parenting)?
We have an office in Greenpoint (Brooklyn), but we have some flexibility when it comes to working remotely. In terms of my kids and my work environment, they often come into the office and hang out with our team, color and get into the office supplies. However, when I am with them outside of the office, I try to be present–not on my computer, taking calls or checking in on emails.
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?
I love to cook, but I probably don’t cook enough. I’m sure you’ve heard this but apparently Brooklyn and New York City are not the best places to explore your own kitchen since there is so much great food here and so many restaurants to check out. BUT, with that said, making breakfast with my kids is one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday morning. We go to the store together, and I let them pick out whatever it is they want and we make a big meal of fruit, pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, you name it. It’s become a really special tradition. And…I’ve gotten really good at Mickey Mouse and butterfly-shaped pancakes.
What’s your weeknight family dinner routine?
Honestly? Pasta and meatballs with homemade sauce is a great go-to for the kids. When I’m not cooking for the family, I like to step it up by trying something new. I’ve been really wanting to get good at cooking muffins…with lots of fruit and a nice crispy top.
How do you celebrate the kids’ birthdays?
The kids are getting to an age now where birthdays are really memorable, so I try to make them as special as possible. For example, my 7 year old, Taylee, just had a birthday a few weeks ago. We spent it in the city at the American Girl store, and then shopping, and then out for dinner. Then, the next day, we went to a huge indoor carnival that Little Duck had sponsored. I know she had a blast and will remember it for a long time. At the end of the weekend we were exhausted…
Best kid purchase/bang for your buck?
Scooters — They give little legs more fuel in the city.
Any rules about TV/screens?
Everything in moderation. I don’t mind if the kids play on their iPods, as long as they are spending time outside. At the end of the day, sometimes it’s just nice to sit down and watch a movie, right?
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life? Preferred social media is….?
I’m really passionate about design so I read a lot of design-oriented emails. I’m on Abduzeedo almost every day. Also, love The Dieline, and From Up North for inspiration. I also read Gothamist for NYC/Brooklyn related news…
On Social Media, I prefer Twitter. I’m @ZakNormandin.
What’s a typical weekend like?
Weekends are my time for the kids. Over the past year, I’ve tried slamming them with as many events as possible, but I’m trying to get back to a simpler schedule now. I want to wake-up and just hang out as a family…without a schedule. If something comes up during that time, we’ll do it, but I don’t want to have times and schedules driving our weekends.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off?
Catch up on my emails. One day it will happen, it’s just not now.
Best family trip?
I recently did a photoshoot with a magazine in California for Little Duck and I was able to bring along my two girls. Not only were they included in the photoshoot (with make-up and everything!), but I got to take them to Disneyland for their first time. It was so fun to have them there with me while “on the job.” They felt so special, and I’m glad we got to make that memory together.
And what is something you just can’t live without?
Best dad advice you’ve been given or give?
Always be consistent. And make sure your kids know how much you love them–all. the. time.
Proudest moment in parenting?
Every moment with them is a proud moment.