Do you have a founder spirit? We'll tell you how one amazing mom managed to start a business while on maternity leave.
Just three months after finishing her maternity leave Helene Facchini launched her company SmudFood. And how was she able to do this you ask? I was acutally thanks to our Sleepytroll Baby Rocker 😍
During the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in Oslo in the spring of 2023, our COO, Anne Gude-Dye, got to talking to an interesting woman. The entrepreneur, named Helene, was so excited to meet someone from Sleeptroll, and wanted to give us a big thanks.
By using Sleepytroll to rock her babygirl in the stroller while on maternity leave, Helene was free to develop her company, helping busy families put homemade and delicious dinner on the table in just 15 minutes. How cool is that?
“We know Sleepytroll gives freedom to parents, as they don’t have to rock their stroller, crib or car seat by hand. But, that it would make such a big difference in someone’s life that they could found their own company, that’s pretty cool to hear,” Anne says.
How it all started
So, how did Helene go from a demanding leadership role in marketing & communications, to launching her own company in the food industry?
“I’ve always loved food and cooking. I used to spend hours in the kitchen everyday, making new recipes from scratch,” Helene tells.
As her husband Andrew also had a demanding leadership role in an IT-security company, their lives were pretty busy.
“Then we had a couple of kids, and suddenly home cooked meals were out the window, and replaced with ready-made and ultra processed food,” she says. “I felt really bad about what I was eating and serving my kids. But, I just did not have the time or energy to cook from scratch anymore.”
The spark that lit the founder dream
While Helene was on maternity leave, she realized something had to change. She researched the alternatives.
“Food boxes was a no, because the quality of food wasn’t good enough to my standard, and I didn’t like all the extra packaging. It’s not sustainable,” Helene says. “Then I discovered food prep, but eating chicken, rice and broccoli five days a week was also not an option I liked.”
Since she didn’t find a solution that fit her needs, she created her own.
“I made a weekly menu with five different dinners each week, ensuring I had at least two vegetarian meals. Then I made a prep recipe, and used one hour to prep the food on Sundays.”
During the week Helene took out her very own “ready-made” meals from the fridge, and had homemade dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes.
“My husband loved it too, because there were hardly any dishes for him to do during the week,” Helene says.
Then, family and friends started asking for recipes.
“Everyone said the concept was genius, so that’s when it hit me - I can sell this!”
However, lots of people also warned her, combining small children with being an entrepreneur is not a good idea.
“That made me so angry. Nobody would say that to a dad! But, I didn’t let it stop me. My mom started her own business when I was young, and she has five children. If she could do it, why not me? Besides, freedom has always been important to me, and there is no bigger freedom than being your own boss.”
So, when her boss called her to let her know she would be promoted on her return to Director of sustainability & communications with a spot in the leader group, Helene declined.
“I worked towards that job for 8 years, but when the offer finally came, I didn’t get the rush I imagined. But thinking about SmudFood got my energy flowing, so I knew it was the right choice.”
The secret to combining maternity leave and running a start-up.
From her first maternity leave Helene remembers constantly being out on the terrasse rocking the stroller.
“It was almost impossible to get anything done, because if the stroller was not in motion she would not sleep.”
Just after having her second babygirl, she met with a few other new moms and one of them had a Sleepytroll.
“She just put her baby in the stroller, turned on Sleepytroll and her baby drifted off to sleep. I had never seen it before, but we all agreed that it was genius! The next week we all had Sleepytrolls,” Helene says. “Sleepytroll changed my second maternity leave. My baby got quality sleep and I had time for all the things that are important to me as a person; exercise, cooking and planning my start-up. With Sleepytroll rocking the stroller I had enough time to plan and cook to be able to launch my start-up just 3 months after my maternity leave ended!”
Her youngest daughter is now almost two years old, and they still use Sleepytroll.
“The other day she was sick and it was my turn to take care of her. So I pulled out Sleepytroll, so I still got some time to get the most pressing work matters done. Brilliant!”
Any last tips for moms and dads playing with the idea of starting something for themselves?
"If you have an idea or a dream – go for it! The only thing you’ll regret is what you don’t do!" Helene says.
Every week you get 5 recipes, a grocery list and instructions for Sunday prep. SmudFood is a monthly subscription service. All you need is one hour every Sunday and you will have food on the table every weekday – in just 15 minutes.
- You always have the answer to «what’s for dinner?»
- More sustainable eating, with 2-3 vegetarian meals and one fish meal each week
- The food is made for adults, but adapted to kids with kid friendly tips and own serving pictures
- No ultra-processed ready meals
- Less food waste because the menus are planned to link together ingredients that god bad, so you use what you buy
- Flexibility to trade the ingredients you don’t like something, or have allergies (because you shop yourself).
- Less dishes to clean during the week, because most of the cooking is done on sundays
- More time to do other stuff, bbecause making dinner only takes 15 minutes.