At the age of 26, Katie Jones is running an award-winning company, selling cookies to increase the milk supply of breastfeeding mums. Boobbix lactation cookies have been endorsed by mums up and down the country. We talk mornings, breastfeeding and motherhood…
Katie Jones, 26, lives in a small village just outside of Windsor with her husband Ian and their daughter Savannah who has just turned two.
What’s your home/home life like?
At the moment we live in a not so child friendly fourth floor flat in a Georgian building with no lift, but we are trying to sell it so that we can have a garden and a lot less stairs. It used to be a really lovely adult flat but now it’s total chaos! Every room is filled with Savannah’s toys and my cookie leaflets and boxes.
What time are you up in the morning?
What wakes you up?
Normally a tiny hand in my face or foot in my back.
How do you feel?
I really hate getting up and I’m always tired. But I like being able to sneak away for half an hour of quiet time.
What do you do first thing?
Turn the kettle on and check my emails.
In three words, describe mornings in your home?
As soon as Savannah is up, mornings are kids’ TV and sofa whilst me and Ian try to do a little bit of work. Then trying to get her to eat and get ready whilst she tries to run away from me. So: TV, work, eat.
What’s for breakfast?
Savannah and Ian will normally have porridge with berries and honey, but I’m not a big breakfast person. I always have a cup of tea, and I’ll have a cookie if I’ve had a long night of feeding.
How might the rest of your day pan out?
Because we both work from home, we’ve not got a lot of routine at home which is great because Savannah won’t sleep a lot, so we tend to work around her as much as possible. Most days I will bake some cookies, and then reply to emails, and then swap with Ian so he can get something done and I will play with her till he’s done.
It was about a year of planning and working really hard before we started selling
We like going to a café in Windsor for a little bit to get out of the house and then if the weather is nice, a park or my nan’s house so Savannah can play in the garden.
I cook the dinners most of the time and Savannah will try to help me by mixing or moving things I need. We all sit down to eat dinner together so it’s a bit of a nightmare trying to eat mine and get her to eat but I prefer it that way so that I can give her the same food as us. Ian will give her a bath whilst I sort the house out a bit and then I get her ready and put her to bed. She doesn’t sleep till late so sometimes I fall asleep with her, but if I manage to stay awake I’ll go and watch some telly and relax a little. I love trashy programmes like the Kardashians and this is pretty much the only chance I get to watch them.
What’s your workspace like?
I don’t really have a set workspace at the moment; for baking we hire a commercial kitchen, which is, nice, but for paperwork and orders I will do it wherever and whenever I can. If I can get her to sleep and the sun is out I love sitting in my nan’s garden and getting work done.
Where is Savannah when you’re working?
Generally trying to sit on me or press the computer buttons. Savannah hasn’t quite got the personal space issue yet, and as I still breastfeed her she will choose the most awkward time to demand a feed, or that I draw with her. I’m lucky that Ian is able to take her out for a couple of hours, and if he’s busy, then my mum and nan are so close to us that they will help out.
Tell us about your business…
I came up with the idea of Boobbix just after I had Savannah. I found it really tough to pump any milk off because she fed on the hour, every hour, and because of that no one else could help me feed her. I looked online for ways to increase your milk supply and came across lactation cookies, but sadly they were only really available in the US and they were really expensive. I did order a bag, but when they came in they tasted awful and so I didn’t want to eat them, even if they would’ve helped me.
I decided to try and make my own, but the first few times I tried they also tasted awful! I’ve always loved cooking and baking so I kept tweaking the recipe until I got it just right, and I was amazed at how well they worked. I figured that it couldn’t just be me that wanted something like this, and so I started asking my mum’s friends that had stopped breastfeeding why they had stopped. As I’d predicted, the majority of them said that it was fears of low milk supply, and lots of them said that they would’ve happily have tried cookies if they helped.
I then trialled them with lots of mums – who loved them – and this gave me the confidence to start a business. I made sure that as much as possible the cookies were made from organic ingredients, as diet is very important for breastfeeding and pregnant mums. The idea that the cookies are a natural way of increasing milk meant that the ingredients had to be as good as possible to fit in with our ethos.
I didn’t really have a lot of experience in business, but I also didn’t have a great budget, so Ian took pictures and helped me design the packaging, and I did the website, and contacted bloggers to see if they wanted to try it. It was about a year of planning and working really hard before we started selling, and we launched in December 2015.
I graduated from Royal Holloway with a first just before having Savannah, and I had every intention of getting a job once she was about six months old, but when it came down to it I didn’t want to leave her, so luckily having Boobbix meant that I could work from home as well as being with her.
I love what I do, and I truly believe in our products, so I keep working hard and trying new things so that we can build our business
Although we’re still only new, we’ve had some great successes and have recently won a gold award from Loved by Parents for our cookies. I’m really happy with the way things are going at the moment as we are building a future for our family.
What’s the greatest challenge when running your own businesses?
I think the biggest challenges for me are all concerning trying to work and look after Savannah. I get a lot of mum guilt when I’m emailing or baking and she wants my attention, but she also has a lovely little life and lots of people who dote on her so we do everything to minimise the effect on her.
What makes it all worthwhile?
I love getting good feedback from customers, and even though we get a lot more now that more people are buying from us, every single message means a lot to me. The best ones are always mums who have struggled with breastfeeding and not had a lot of support, but have felt so much more confident and able to continue feeding because of the cookies.
Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others; do you enjoy, for instance, the creative side but not the accounts?
Ian takes all of the pictures because he’s an amateur photographer and he needs to justify having as much kit as he does! My brother helps with the packing and postage and my nan packs them ready for shipping. I do the baking, paperwork, and day-to-day bits. I probably enjoy the social media side of things most because since I have started doing it, I’ve met so many great people who have been so helpful with starting a business.
Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
I quite like being on my own because I am so easily distracted! I’m better being able to work at my own pace.
What’s the secret to career success?
I wish I knew! I think it’s passion and belief in what you do. I love what I do, and I truly believe in our products, so I keep working hard and trying new things so that we can build our business. It’s difficult because lactation cookies aren’t very well known here, unlike in America and Australia where they are popular and used by loads of women. I have to make sure that we are always present on the internet for women that search for breastfeeding problems, as they are a lot less likely to search for lactation cookies.
Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing motherhood/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
It is a real struggle with motherhood and my relationship with Ian because Savannah is so full on! My mum has her one day a week, and that’s really important for us. After I’ve got some work done, we can spend some time together, and eat a meal out without little fingers poking our food.
I always seem to have a massive to-do list that I never get through, which means when I do get me-time it’s generally spent doing things that are long overdue.
I don’t see my friends as much as I would like, but I do speak to them almost every day and that makes it easier. I’m quite a home body so I’m not too bothered about not going out, but being a mum and working at home can be quite lonely.
Describe an ideal weekend?
I like chilled weekends. Ideally, I would love to see my family for a bit and let Savannah play in the garden whilst I can drink a hot cup of tea. Apart from that, it would be a lot of relaxing and not a lot of work.
If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Miami. In a super king size bed. We used to go there every year before Savannah, and I loved the weather, the food quantities and being able to just get in the pool whenever you like. We went earlier this year, but because Savannah is so young it just wasn’t quite as relaxed as it used to be.
Any future ventures?
I have just launched a pregnancy cookie, which we are trying to promote, and so that is the next few months for us. But after that, I would really love to get our cookies onto shelves, and make them more known with breastfeeding mums and health professionals.
Have you tried Boobbix lactation cookies? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below…