"Starting your own business isn't always planned"
When I left school to work, I never envisioned that one day I would be running my own company with my husband. It just didn’t seem like the thing that I could ever do. But, now here I am doing just that, and here is how I got to this point in my life and career.
When I was trying to decide what to do when I left school, I came across a course to be a dental surgery assistant, and I decided that this was what I’d like to do. I did a two year course at Leeds Dental Hospital in England, and passed all my exams to be become a dental surgery assistant. I started work in a private practice but to be honest it soon became apparent it wasn’t for me. I missed the dental hospital ‘vibe’ and working there. However, distance wise it was too far to travel every day so I started to think about what else I could do, and had a total change in career. A opportunity came up to work in a children’s day nursery, and I jumped at the chance. I love working with children and had always babysat during my teenage years. When I started working there I was with the “Tweenies”, that was age 1 - 3, such a fun age to be around. After a few months I was asked to run the “baby room”, that was looking after babies from 6 weeks to a year. I said yes, I mean who wouldn’t want to spend all day with babies! It fitted my personality too as I am a bit of a perfectionist, so the room was always super clean and organised, just how things need to be with babies around. I loved working there, my co-workers were great, the parents were lovely and the babies … so adorable. We cared for and played with the children, and fed them at their feeding times, we had a rather large chart with all the names and feeding times on. At that time the parents would bring in their own food for the children and we would heat it up, if needed and feed them. Maybe this was the beginning of my journey towards myFoodDays and I hadn’t quite realised that yet!
While I was at the children’s day nursery I got married to the most wonderful man in the world, my best friend and soul mate. What a wonderful day that was, so many happy memories - Oops - just drifted off down memory lane for a moment, but I’m back now! Anyway, I always knew I would have children one day and was hoping that I would have them while young so I had lots of energy to run around with them. Two years into our marriage, our first child arrived and as soon as I held them in my arms I knew I wasn’t going back to work anytime soon. I’d enjoyed working at the day nursery but now it was time to focus on my own family and spend my time and energy on nurturing and looking after them. Fast forward 3 years and baby number two arrived. I loved being at home with them, those early years were my favourite times, and hold many special memories. We’d paint, play, make all sorts out of cardboard boxes, walk out in nature - stopping to collect leaves, and cook and bake together - making sure they all ate good food that was nutritious to help them learn and grow.
When it was time for them to go to nursery, we would send our own food with them for snacks and lunchtime. But when they started school full time, the lunches were cooked and provided by the school, with the children taking it in turns to be servers, which they really enjoyed. This was how it was for me too growing up, we could have the school lunches or we could take a packed lunch. During their time at school, I got involved with the parent group and helped out where I could with events, school shows, school trips, etc. But not lunches as that was totally handled by the school.
Life continued and in 2001 we decided that we would move to America, just for 3 years, as my husband had a fabulous job offer. It seemed like a fun thing to do and we were excited about going though somewhat apprehensive. It meant leaving our families behind and going out on our own - we were soon to realise that this adventure would bring us all so much closer together as we navigated the new territory. We had no idea how things worked in America, could they be that different from the UK? Apparently so.
We had no idea about the school systems here and what that would mean for our children. At this time the children were 9 and 5 and saw this as an adventure. My youngest declared that they were only staying for two weeks though!
We arrived on American soil in September 2001, just 9 days before 9/11 happened and that was so scary and really threw the start of our lives here into turmoil. Everything that had been so straightforward and easy to obtain just a week before, soon became one hurdle after another. Buying a house, getting driving licenses - these became long trips to Motor Vehicle Agencies and lots and lots of paperwork to get a mortgage. The one thing that I could do was to keep as normal a life as possible for my children. That was to get them into school so they would have a routine each day. BUT that wasn’t straightforward either. To get them into a school we had to have a house and getting a house at this time was rather difficult. Eventually after a month of home schooling them - we eventually found a house that we could get a mortgage on and that meant we could enroll them in the local school - Phew!
So, off to school they went, and I have to say they settled in really well. But it left me at the house all day. I cleaned and painted everything! But what could I do? I wasn’t allowed to work on the Visa I had but I couldn’t stay in everyday either, after all once you’ve painted everything, there isn’t actually anything left. On one of the many trips into school with all the paperwork that had to filled in, the secretary at the school told me about the PTO (Parent Teacher Organisation) and that there was a meeting tomorrow and I should go along. So the next day I arrived at the school for the meeting and the secretary kindly introduced me to the PTO President, who was so kind and welcoming. I sat and listened to the meeting and took in all that they were doing. Afterwards I asked what I could do to help and found myself signing up for lots of different committees, one of which was the lunch program. I didn’t know it at the time but this was to be the start of creating our own business.
At the school there was no kitchen facilities so the lunches were bought in by the PTO using local food vendors. I didn’t know at the time how much work was involved in the whole program but I was soon to find out... Next week you can follow my journey from volunteer to having my own business.
What started your journey to where you are now?