Fact: The most important days of a person’s nutrition are the first one thousand days of their life.
Pediatrics dietician Carla Obando shared this with us her insight on everything baby food and nutrition as she stepped out of the hospital for a few moments to chat with us last week. Carla recently founded a fresh baby food company, Born Bright Foods in between shifts in the pediatrics ward at VGH. The first 1000 days of a baby's life are important in laying a good foundation for their health. This is her story of when nutrition means the most, and taking chances at something new.
Q: What was the beginning–the birth, if you will, of Born Bright Foods?
I started Born Bright Foods while working in pediatrics nutrition; where I’ve been for about two years now. I’ve done both adult and pediatrics but I decided to focus on the pediatrics side of things because there’s a lot more interesting, complex information to learn. It’s great to work in health care because you gain a really good understanding of what the gaps are in health and food–and pediatrics is a bit more complex than working with adults. I guess I like complicated?
This is where I learned about the importance of nutrition specifically in the first 1000 days of life. Babies are so complex. They’re tiny–the size of an avocado in the NICU. [In my unit, it’s our responsibility] to make sure they’re able to breathe, grow, and to thrive on their own before they’re discharged from the hospital.
The majority of my role in the NICU is making sure that the babies are well-fed, whether that’s through IV nutrition, breast milk, or formula; we support parents that way.
That’s where Born Bright came in, about a year ago. At that time my brother had just had his first child–my first nephew. And naturally, I wanted to get him the best of the best. We started offering solids at around 6 months.
Unfortunately, there are no fresh alternatives to the baby food that’s on the shelf. It’s an old industry that's never really changed, and there’s a huge gap in an industry for those first 1000 days when you’re essentially building the foundation of what a baby’s health is going to be; how they’re going to grow. Their brain almost doubles by the six-month mark, so what you feed them is what they’re growing with. And there are no fresh truly nutritious alternatives to feed them.
That’s where I had the idea of creating a product that was nutritious and also tasted good. I wanted to create something that babies would love not just because of its’ high fruit content like the majority of products you find that are sweet, and that’s why kids love them. I want to be able to introduce a product that babies would love for what it is–not because we’re masking it with high fruit, or sugar.
Also, the earlier you train [babies] to eat different foods, the more open they are to trying different things.
Q: Where is Born Bright available?
It is sold online and in two stores. I only want to focus on the local market and fulfilling that growth before thinking about larger production. It’s a new concept. We’re a niche product, but more and more parents are learning more about us now because there is a need.
Q: The vision?
Ultimately? I want to be able to get to a core number of flavours and be able to offer that in grocery stores. Or via grocery delivery service. It comes down to a source that’s easily accessible to parents. I also want to bring in other products for toddlers, because right now there aren’t a lot of healthy alternatives out there for toddlers, either. So that’s definitely an area that Born Bright Foods could tackle when we have a better grasp of our market in fresh baby food.
Q: What has your experience been like building a community for your brand?
I’ve had success finding resources and connections and reaching out to people locally in this community; I’ve found it quite easy, and people have been wanting to help.
Being a one-person entrepreneur is definitely challenging, and that’s why I am grateful to have my network of people and set of mentors that are experts in different areas of the business–to tap into their knowledge and get their ideas is so helpful. The challenge is broadening your network to more than just solo entrepreneurs, which can be a bubble.
My advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs is to just go for it and see how the market adapts to it. With Born Bright, I wanted to bring an idea that was a new concept to people. It’s hard because people are used to baby food being stable on the shelf, and mine has to be refrigerated or frozen right away. It’s been a big jump, but customers have ended up liking it. So always trust your gut.
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Tubify is a community-centric brand. Our relationship with this community is how we truly measure our company’s value and growth. So. we thought – why not interview some of the people who inspire our community impact? And so was born this series, #HumansofYVR.