Mother’s groups have long been a source of essential support and friendship for mothers in the early days of parenting. And for Beatrice Roy and Jessie Crockford, having their first babies and joining their local mother’s group led to not only a beautiful friendship but the invention of their baby-food business, Bouchee.
“We found ourselves facing similar challenges – one of those being mealtime”, says Jessie, reflecting on the genesis of Bouchee. “We knew we weren’t the only parents out there looking for a solution to simplify mealtimes, so there was our light bulb moment and the idea was born”, Beatrice adds.
As a working parent to little ones, also faced with the challenge of coming up with nutritious, tasty but *easy* meals, I was keen to sit down with the founders of Bouchee to hear all about the miracles of mother’s group, food tastings and starting a business with a baby on your hip.
Can you tell us a little bit about Bouchee?
Beatrice: Bouchee is a fuss-free finger food line, specifically created for the little people in our lives. If your mini human is a little too picky for your liking, or if you’re struggling to sneak in veggies and want to avoid the nasties – this is the perfect guilt-free, fuss-free solution for you. Our range currently counts five options to choose from (and lots of exciting stuff coming later in the year)!
As founders, we care about many things: the food our little ones eat, being Australian-made and owned, the planet and our impact on it and avoiding the nasties as much as possible. But most of all, we care about making life that little bit easier for our community of parents. Because we’re all on this parenthood journey together.
Where did the idea for Bouchée come from?
Jessie: It started with mother’s group in 2019. Together we began to navigate the milestones of motherhood and watched our little families grow alongside each other. We found ourselves facing similar challenges – one of those being mealtime. We were constantly in the kitchen experimenting and whipping up tasty food. Feeding our children is a simple concept on paper. We prepare it. They eat it. Right? But you know as well as we do, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
How did you take the business from idea to reality – what was that journey like?
Beatrice: We searched everywhere for ready-made alternatives that would be tasty and good for our kids – with no such luck. We knew we weren’t the only parents out there looking for a solution to simplify mealtimes, so there was our light bulb moment and the idea was born.
Finger food for kids is an established concept, but we wanted to reimagine it for the kinds of families we have – ones that really care but are equally as busy. We wanted to take the pressure off parents, just like us, to make mealtime fun again, without compromising on the good stuff our babies need to grow and thrive.
Over the last two years, we have worked hard to turn a spark of an idea into a business that does just that.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you have faced with your business?
Jessie: I think it’s safe to say that we underestimated what it meant to build a food business from the ground up – coming up with the idea was just the start of it. After the market research, the interviews and the recipe development (and recipe tasting – the best part!) we started to have a clear idea of the product we wanted to sell – the ultimate food that would make mealtime easier.
Then we had to tackle the logistics side of things – an area we had no experience in whatsoever. We went through multiple phases, each coming with its own set of challenges. What packaging do we need? Where do we source in from? How are we going to deliver to our customers? We had to learn every step of the way…
And what about your biggest achievements so far?
Beatrice: Our biggest achievements will always be directly linked to our biggest hurdles. From the beginning, Jessie and I have had the privilege to have each other to lean on. Every step of the way we’ve faced challenges together with a solution-driven attitude. We have established an open line of communication between us, and trust each other completely when it comes to decision making – this is something I am incredibly proud of and without a doubt the foundation to all our biggest achievements so far.
At what point in the business did you have kids?
Jessie: Beatrice and I met at mother’s group! Only a few weeks after our eldest children, Archie and Lulu were born – they are only a few days apart. Since then, both our families have grown, and we each welcomed a little girl in 2021.
*Fun fact: In 2019 we gave birth at the same hospital. So we were in the maternity ward at the same time before we even knew each other! We like to call it fate.
What impact did/does having kids play on you as an entrepreneur/founder?
Beatrice: It’s thanks to our kids that we have met in 2019. Who we are as a company and our mission is entirely tied to our identity as parents – Bouchée was born out of our struggle to step out of the kitchen when our kids started their food journey. We quickly realised that there was a lot of pressure on parents around mealtime and not enough solutions tailored for parents in need of an equally easy and nutritious option.
What do you find the hardest thing about being a working mum/parent?
Jessie: Running a small business, especially as parents with young children, can be relentless; it’s an endless succession of problem-solving with lots of highs and lows – but we would not change it for the world. We are always working towards finding a balance between our work life and our family life and are lucky enough to understand and give each other space when we need it.
What is the best advice you have for managing the #juggle?
Beatrice: Can we ever manage the juggle? I see life as a working parent as happy chaos. What helps me is to remind myself that nothing is ever completely under control – and that’s ok.
How do you find balance between being a mum/parent and a business owner?
Jessie: On a day-to-day basis, I try to make the most of my free time to get some work done, and the most of my family time to recharge my batteries. This is often easier said than done, and when things get busy we often end up juggling work with a baby in one arm – most of the Bouchée meetings have at least one of our babies attending.
Do you have any tips for how you manage/plan your days around work and kids?
Beatrice: As we have been through the parenting journey together, we have always managed to work around the kid’s schedules. Since we started the business, we have had countless “playdates-meetings” with our eldest who are close friends. Now they are going to the most beautiful childcare centre together (on the same days, of course) – so we try to set meetings during the babies’ nap time. It is a constant juggling act but we make it work!
What do you love most about what you do?
Jessie: We both love a challenge – this is something we have in common. No days are the same and we never get bored. The business also allowed us to thrive in different areas according to our respective strengths. I do the creative side of things (photography, social media) – and I love it!
What is that one self-care thing that you do just for yourself?
Beatrice: I love nature, and try to go camping twice a year, at least, to recharge the batteries. On a more regular basis when I need to relax, I will alternate between a Pilates class and a glass of wine.
Jessie: I also love a good Pilates glass to get my mind off things. But going out with family and friends is the ultimate way to relax for me.
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