Whole Kids is an Australian-owned organic food company created by a real mum and dad, Monica and James Meldrum. From humble beginnings in a tiny rented house in Richmond in inner city Melbourne, the couple launched the first organic snacks in the Whole Kids range in 2005.
Since then, Whole Kids has grown to become the largest range of award-winning organic snacks for kids in Australia. Even with two busy and beautiful kids of their own (yes, we’re biased), Monica and James continue to create new and innovative healthy foods for kids while using Whole Kids as a way to stand up and campaign on important social and environmental issues, with the aim of creating a healthier, happier world for kids.
In their own words, here’s how Monica and James started Whole Kids…
The idea for Whole Kids came to us when we couldn’t find any healthy, yummy snacks to buy for our nieces and nephews (this was before we had our own kids Chloe and Sam). Our older brothers and sisters often told us how hard it was to find healthy lunchbox snacks for their kids to take to school. Almost every snack we found was full of junk. Most were poor in nutrients and full of unnecessary and potentially harmful food additives, preservatives and colourings. Far too many had high levels of sugar, fat and sodium.
What also worried us was the way so many foods were marketed and advertised to kids and parents as “healthy” when a quick read of the ingredient list and nutritional panel showed the product had very little goodness at all. It seemed to us at the time that food companies didn’t appear to care or listen to what mums and dads really wanted.
We didn’t want to face the same “lunchbox dilemmas” when we got around to having kids, so we thought there must be a better, healthier way to make yummy snacks for kids without all the junk.
With our love for organic food, we discovered that no one in Australia was making a range of healthy organic snacks for kids that also tasted great. Why not be the first?
But we also wanted to do things differently. We both had done the whole corporate thing with jobs in big companies, and we were a bit fed up with the stress, politics and lack of time for our family and friends. We also felt many of these companies focused more on the health of their profits rather than the health of their people or their products.
Surely there must be a better way to run a business, so we agreed that if we ever started a business then we’d like to work in one that really cared about what it did, the impact it made in the community, and was also a fun, friendly and fulfilling place to work.
With all the money we saved to buy a house, we manufactured our first run of Whole Kids certified organic products in 2005.
Our small rented house in Richmond was packed full of cartons from floor to ceiling that sometimes we struggled to find space to have dinner. As we looked at all the stock around us, we had a lot of sleepless nights. After all, we didn’t even have a single customer yet.
So we packed up our bags and exhibited at the first Organic Expo held in Sydney in 2005. We’d just spent our life savings and we were worried no one would even visit our stand. Thankfully, the response we got was overwhelming. Mums and dads really appreciated what Whole Kids was all about, and kids just loved our yummy snacks. Seeing so many happy, smiley faces at our stand, we decided to resign from our jobs the following Monday and jump into business for ourselves. Whole Kids was officially launched.
We’ll never forget our first sale:
A box of sultana snack packs to Andy who owned South Melbourne Market Organics. We were over the moon. Thanks for the support, Andy, we love you! (And in case you’re wondering, Andy, why we never cashed your cheque, we decided to frame it instead!).
Some people think we’re an overnight success or we’ve grown into some sort of big business. The reality is that we’ve been working day and night on Whole Kids for almost 15 years. We’re still a small, family-run business (the kind of businesses we like!) that competes each day against Big Junk Food companies with their fat marketing budgets and even fatter products.
Our philosophy at Whole Kids is simple. We believe in creating a happier, healthier world for kids.
We believe in unjunking our food and our lives. We only choose the finest quality organic ingredients we can find. No artificial colours, preservatives, flavours or other added nasties. Real food made by real people.
From our family to yours, we hope you and your kids enjoy our yummy foods as much as we love making them. Thank you.
Monica & James
(and in case you’re wondering, we’re still renting…)