We chat to Brighton mama Alecia Whitelaw who, as a working parent of a busy toddler, struggled to find a convenient yet real and nutritious family friendly ready-made meal. So she made her own and Gourmet Juniors was born!

Alecia tell us a bit about you and your family. How old are your daughters?

I am lucky to be married to Tim, my very supportive husband and together we have two girls, Camilla is five and Evie just turned three. I’m passionate about good food and fitness and I love throwing a party.

What were you doing before you had kids?

Before starting Gourmet Juniors, I had a wonderful and diverse role in marketing and events. I worked across three businesses, an insurance brokerage, an AFL football club and a youth charity wearing many hats, from running large scale fundraising events to supporting corporate Boards. I met some wonderful and incredibly inspirational people who were amazing to work with and who inspired me to start Gourmet Juniors.

Obviously Gourmet Juniors started from you making your own meals to freeze for when you needed them. How did this grow into a fully-fledged business?

Indeed it did, as life become more hectic with my return to work after maternity leave I relied on being super organised to maintain the wholesome diet I had introduced to Camilla. However it was time consuming and a little stressful so I yearned for a convenient and nourishing ready meal that I could trust when time just got too tight. The more I spoke to people the more I realised that this was a common problem. Parents wanted to nourish their children with the best food but often life got in the way. I saw an opportunity to help and then my entrepreneurial side and passion for good food took over and Gourmet Juniors was born six months later.

At what point did you decide it was time to quit your day job and focus on Gourmet Juniors?

Strangely right from the start I had a goal of developing the idea as much as I could before taking the leap of resigning and then launching the brand. I was really drawn to running my own show and the flexibility it afforded especially with a young family. During the development phase I did lots of testing on family and friends and when I saw the amazing response I was getting to the meals and how they were changing many peoples lives for the better my passion grew and I knew this was the business I wanted to be in!  So I took a big breath of courage, resigned and dove right in!

Tells us a bit about the range of meals you produce. What’s in them and what makes them great.

Gourmet Juniors are a range of 100% natural, dietician approved frozen ready made meals for kids. Suitable for all ages from six months old, they are made by hand in small batches with local organic produce and locally sourced free-range meats. Our team of parents, dieticians and chefs expertly create every meal to pack in the most nutrients and flavour into every spoonful.

What’s your fav thing about being a mum?

The love! I love loving my girls, nurturing them, nourishing them and seeing them love their life. Seeing them grow into the beautiful little personalities they are becoming makes me feel very lucky.

What do you like most about what you do?

I’ve always loved nourishing people, cooking for my family and friends is one of my favourite things to do, so I love hearing how our Gourmet Juniors meals help people nourish their little ones easily and simply.  I also love the flexibility of owning my own business, although flexibility during the day can often means working after the girls go to bed but I love that I can be there for them more than I could if I had a ‘traditional’ role.

What’s your favourite local spot for coffee and a snack with the kids?

We are so spoilt for choice in Bayside! I love coffee and the guys behind the machines at Oli and Ari, Tom Wilson and Superrandom truly make the best coffee in Melbourne. I’ll be found at one of their cafes with the girls every day of the week!

We are talking a lot about fashion and beauty this issue. Where are your go to’s for a new outfit and some pampering in Bayside?

That sounds like the perfect day! The girls at Skin Essentials in Elwood are amazing therapists- the best spray tan in town! Church Street Brighton is so convenient with so many choices- Eco D is a favourite as is SALT.

Any advice you can give to aspiring mums wanting to branch out and change careers, start up a business?

Follow your passion and give it a go! If you have found a true need for your business idea, gather your knowledge and courage and dive in. There’s no denying it’s hard work and relentless but the journey is worth it.

And finally, care to share with us a funny parenting story?

Hard to pick one, but I always have a good laugh at the funny little sayings and honesty of my girls. I was trying on a dress not so long ago and I asked Evie (then 2 years old) if she liked it, and she responded “not really!” That dress was a no go!

You can purchase Gourmet Juniors online at www.gourmetjuniors.com.au and instore locally at Gumtree Good Food Albert Park, Brighton Grocer, The Leaf Store Elwood and Scicluna’s Mentone.

Find more amazing mama interviews here!