Self-Start Mums showcases mothers who have created their own self-employed business. I’m very happy to share my interview with Monique Treder, Founder of Happetite Food.
This series includes sponsored content.
Monique Treder Interview for Self-Start Mums
1. Tell me about yourself?
I’m Monique, mum of three young boys (aged eight, six and almost two), foodie and founder of Happetite Food.
Life is hectic and hilarious and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our house is full of noise, friends, footy boots and lots of food. My family has played an important role in the reason why I started up my business and is the motivator to keep me going.
2. Tell us about your self-employed business?
I started Happetite Food three years ago. Happetite delivers comforting homemade meals as gifts during times of celebration or sadness. New baby, bereavement, illness, new house, moving house and just thinking of you. I know how good it feels to receive the gift of food and I want to share that with others.
I come from an Italian family where food and meals are shared and made with love. I wanted to recreate this with my Happetite packages. Bringing back a community of people looking after each other with meals and sweet treats.
3. How did you transition to working for yourself?
Three moments in my life made me take the leap to start up Happetite Food.
- I was living overseas at the time when my second child was born, 13 months after my first. It was a very challenging time for me being away from family and friends support network and struggling with post-natal mental health issues. Someone I hardly knew turned up at my door with a home cooked meal and some baked treats and I was blown away. A bit overtired and very emotional I ended up in tears. I was overwhelmed at the impact a gesture like this could have on me. This memory has stuck with me forever.
- The second moment was when one of my friends who was also living overseas at the time was running between her home and a hospital – due to her husband experiencing heart failure, fighting to hold onto his life She was exhausted trying to be there for her husband during this time while also keeping it together for her two young children. She was falling apart and as I was not there I felt useless and wanted to be able to help – I wanted to send her food so that she could take the time to nurture herself and remain strong to support her family, but there was just nothing available out there that offered that. I wanted to provide something that was practical, and at the same time, something that would help eliminate the daily stresses often experienced during tough times.
- When I moved back to Sydney, my grandfather passed away and I witnessed my grandmother’s house overflowing with flowers and wreaths – as if it were a florist rather than a home. I remember seeing vase after vase, wreath after wreath. There were just so many flowers. But when I opened her fridge, it was empty. Coming from an Italian family, not having food in the fridge was shockingly foreign, I knew first hand from my family and experiences that nourishing food was the one thing my grandmother needed to get her through this time of mourning. That was the pivotal moment when I knew I had to transform Happetite Food from a dream into a reality.
I had no idea what I was doing (and still don’t most days!!) but I felt passionate about starting up Happetite and helping others going through similar situations and just decided to give it a go.
4. What was your previous career?
Previously I worked in the commercial property industry. Nothing to do with food or gifting but after having my second child I realised this was not what I was passionate about. I decided that I really wanted to make a difference and combine two of my favourite things in life, Food and gifting. Happetite was born.
There have been plenty of uphill learning curves and challenges during the last few years while juggling children, a home renovation and moving houses but the feedback we get from our customers make it all worthwhile. To know that our meals help people out through really hard time in their life is a really special feeling and keep me going.
5. Describe a typical day in your working life?
Up early, exercise, home to organise breakfasts and kids lunches and get the kids to school and kindy. My working hours are limited so I set tight routines to keep on top of tasks and try and remain focused and task orientated. I have my notes folder that I carry with me at all times and each morning (workdays) I set myself the tasks that I need to achieve that day. I turn my emails off, don’t check social media and don’t take personal calls. It seems a little extreme but it is the only way I can get my tasks done.
I set myself a time for each task, set the timer and aim to get it done in that time. After the timer goes off I get a break and start the next one. I find it works well for me and helps me be more efficient as I know how much time I can lose surfing the internet and unfortunately I don’t have this luxury.
6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?
I work between 10-20 hours a week on my business. This tends to vary depending on kids health, school holidays and family requirements. I try really hard to have focused work days and then family days.
There is always a little bit of overlap but I have found that the to do list with a start-up business is overwhelming and even if I worked 12 hour days I would still never get everything done but in doing this I become exhausted and my family is negatively affected. So, I try and keep some balance and realise that as just one person there is only so much you can achieve in a day and that’s ok. My kids really need me at this age and I want to be the best I can be for them.
7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?
At this stage I am part time work and full time mum. We have allocated this time while the kids are young to focus on growing the business and hopefully by the time the kids are all at school the business will be able to supplement me with a small income to assist with the household bills and feeding three kids!.
8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?
My two older boys are at school and my youngest is at preschool two days a week. My husband is an amazing support and helps out with all areas of the kids, house and cooking. He does have a full time job that requires long hours but when he is here he is very focused on being with the kids and helping out wherever he can.
It is a juggle but we both just chip in and get it done. Some days we just have to ignore the washing piling up and messy house and enjoy time with the kids instead.
9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
So many challenges, so many things to learn and so many hats to wear.
I won’t sugar coat it, it is not easy and it has to be a passion to keep you going through the tough days.
At first, I had to educate myself in the world of food regulations, transport and risks. So many people told me not to do it, but I am a strong-willed person and had a fire burning inside of me to get this business up and running and that motivation and pure adrenalin got me through it.
I struggle on a daily basis with the many different areas you need to be knowledgeable in. IT, websites, food, regulations, risks, insurances, social media and accounts just to name a few. Talk about many hats. Some of the best advice my dad gave me was to figure out what you are good at in business and do that. It was really valuable advice and I can slowly put some of that into place now but in the beginning, starting out on a shoestring budget you need to be the expert in all areas. As the business starts to grow I can now outsource certain parts of it that I don’t enjoy (ahem bookkeeping) to someone else who is much better and much faster at it than me so I can focus on the areas I am better at. There is still a long way to go with this.
10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
I love the creativity it allows me. I have the freedom to create new packages, try new marketing ideas, reach out to new customers and watch and see how each of these little projects grows and develops. I love that I can create a business that is fluid, personal and responsive to our customers.
I love that my business allows me to be there for my three boys. I am really lucky that I can attend music concerts, awards ceremonies, reading groups and sports carnivals. I get to walk them home from school most days and hear all about the days up and downs. I feel really lucky that I have a business that I love and also be very involved in my children.
As my own boss, I can set my own hours, meet and collaborate with amazing and inspiring people and make decisions that make a positive impact on my business, family and customers.
11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?
Do your due diligence. Who are your competitors? What is your offering, how are you different, how long can you afford to not make money for?
Get a great support network. I have tapped into a few different mentors along the way and they have been and still area amazingly helpful.
Set goals – what does success look like? Set little goals and celebrate when you achieve them. I recall meeting a friend who acted as a mentor for me and shouted me lunch when the website launched. He said, “many people have the ideas but only a very few actually get to this stage in the business, celebrate it”.
Network – starting up a business can be challenging and lonely. It is great to hear about other business mums that have been through or are going through similar challenges to you. It makes you feel better to be around people you can relate to and help out along the way.
12. What’s next for you and your business?
My goals for the next 12 months include:
- Expanding interstate: we currently deliver to Sydney, all through NSW and ACT. Our customers have been asking about delivering into Queensland and Victoria so I am working on the logistics of this and finding the right partners to make this work
- The other area of growth is into single-serve packages: our meals are more suited to family sizes and we have found from feedback from our customers that they would also like packages that can be suitable for elderly people on their own or friends living on their own. We are trailing some new meals and packages to suit this market
Are you a self-starter mum? Read more interviews with self-employed mums here.
To chat about taking part in this series and sharing your story, contact Mim here
- Read more Self Start Mums Interviews!
- 10 Home Business Ideas for Mums
- Is Mum Guilt an Inevitable Part of Running your Own Business?
I hope you’ve enjoyed my interview with Monique Treder of Happetite Food.