Every week on The Primer we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to Little Angels founder Heather Baker whose used her expertise as a postnatal nurse to make healthy, easy-to-prepare food for babies.
ONE: How did Little Angels start and what was the inspiration behind it?
As a mum and postnatal nurse, I knew there had to be a better option for parents than the mass-produced baby food you see in the supermarket. I used to cook up batches of baby food for my clients because many were relying on jarred food as the main source of nutrition for their babies, which I couldn’t bear. I can survive on coffee and dark Lindt bars, but babies need the best start to life possible.
TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting Little Angels?
Babies and food are my main passions in life, so it was an easy decision to blend the two. I take risks – not always calculated ones – but I seem to always land on my feet (or knees).
THREE: How have you used your expertise in infant nutrition to formulate Little Angels baby food?
Every ingredient I use is chosen for the health of the babies eating it. I don’t use outdated data supplied by big food companies or corporate sponsorship to try and trick parents into making decisions based on fear. My recipes are based on a combination of World Health Organization data on babies’ nutritional needs and tried-and-true traditional recipes from around the world. Babies need around 20–24% protein in their diet and that’s what we give them with Little Angels – not the watered-down, nutrient-void food you still see on supermarket shelves.
FOUR: How/where do you source your ingredients?
We use local organic ingredients wherever possible, but if we can’t always get what we need organically, we choose the freshest local options. We source from farms and suppliers that I have established relationships with and who share the same ethos as Little Angels.
FIVE: What cooking methods do you use to create your product?
You can’t beat good old steaming, roasting, braising and slow cooking. There’s nothing fancy in our kitchen – there are certainly no high-heat processing machines. We’re regularly approached by manufacturers who think they can do a quicker and more efficient job of making our products. They try and impress me with fancy packing machines and high-heat cookers, telling me they can make it cheaper and faster.
But Little Angels is always about the best nutrition and taste for babies. Cooking using high-heat methods damage heat-sensitive nutrients and changes the flavour and texture, so we stick with traditional methods that parents can use themselves. The one bit of machinery we get excited about is our blast freezers. We can freeze our products in less than an hour which locks in the flavour and nutrients in ways normal freezing can’t.
SIX: Little Angels products are sold in snap frozen packs. What’s the reasoning behind this and how do parents go about preparing them?
The small portions offer the ultimate convenience for parents – they can just get out one little cube at a time and put the rest back in the freezer. We spend more time getting the food into little portions than we do on cooking, pureeing, mashing and freezing. While some might see this as eating into their bottom line, Little Angels was founded to make it easier for parents to feed their babies nutritious food. That’s why we exist, and that’s why we continue to snap freeze our products in small portions.
SEVEN: Do you have any other plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?
I’m always planning something new and luckily I’ve got a brilliant support team with next-level organisation skills to help turn my dreams into reality. One new product I’m working on at the moment is an all-natural, dairy-free infant formula.
EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now.
Have you heard of Pure Delish? They make grain-free cereals that are out of this world. They’re not cheap, so I have to hide them or my kids will knock them back like rice bubbles. They started small (Pure Delish, I mean), and I really like it how they don’t make a big song and dance about their products. Their beautiful-tasting food speaks for itself, and they’re now in almost every main supermarket.
Spinoff’s business section is enabled by our friends at Kiwibank. Kiwibank backs small to medium businesses, social enterprises and Kiwis who innovate to make good things happen.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.