Meet The Mumpreneur: Babyfood Creator Aisling Hanley 5 years ago

Meet The Mumpreneur: Babyfood Creator Aisling Hanley

Aisling Hanley is the creative foodie behind Keenwah Quinoa Organic Babyfood. She lives in Headford, Co. Galway with her partner James and their children Caoímhe (15), Saoirse (12), Bríanna (10), Scarlett (5) and Jacob (2). 

"The five words that sum up my business are: Alternative, Organic, Innovative, Exciting and Healthy.

Organic Quinoa Babyfood hit the shelves in Galway supermarkets in November 2016 but I have being working hard on getting it there for the last 2 years. It's an excellent alternative to baby rice and an ideal first food for babies. Our's is the only 100 per cent organic quinoa instant babyfood in Ireland or the United Kingdom.

I am at the exciting start-up stage after going through the process of gaining Organic accreditations, import licenses, intensive food-testing to enter the babyfood market and outsourcing processing to an organic BRC-accredited gluten-free facility here in Ireland.

There is a growing global trend driven by the USA for quinoa babyfood. I did my customer development and market research before I embarked on this food adventure. As a mum of five, and having already owned a food business (I started my first food business, Aisling's Artisan Bakery, in 2008), I knew it inside out.

The one thing I wish I’d known before opening my business is how long it would take. My initial timeline of having a product on the shelves within six months went out the window when I had to face challenging issues such as importing legalisation, organic licences, packing and food safety testing. A massive learning curve!

The advice I'd offer another entrepreneur would be that your first port of call should be your local enterprise office (LEO). They provide mentoring, support and motivate you to run your own business. I received an innovation voucher, which I used to have my product tested in a food laboratory. I am also part of ACORNS (Accelerating the Creation of Rural
Nascent Start-ups ), which provides networking and advice to develop business ideas and
positive female models who give women the confidence to succeed.

A 9-5 job did not suit me. I wanted to work from home with flexible hours while raising my young family. It meant no traveling to and from a workplace and I am in full control of my working day, even if it means emailing at 1am in the morning when the kids are in bed.

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My youngest daughter started school this year, which means I now only have my little demolition expert Jacob at home with me. Childcare is very much a family affair with my husband, mother and older kids mucking in. Also a bit of Peppa Pig / Fireman Sam have being life savers when no one else is around.

Working for yourself can be a lonely place as there is nobody to discuss problems and solutions with, hence I am guilty of a lot of work talk with my husband and not switching off. That is why the likes of LEO and ACORNS are a lifeline for me. They are a wealth of information and give me the support, advice and confidence to succeed.

I feel I am a positive female role model to my five children. They see the hard work but also the deeply satisfying results and are very proud of what I have achieved. I would encourage my own children to have the confidence to go for what they want. One my own daughters did the Junior Entrepreneur Program (JEP) at School and got a real buzz out of making a profit, which the class spent on a trip to Tayto Park.

If you have an idea in your head that will not go away just go for it. Scary “what if’s” will frequently creep into your head: 'What if I fail?', 'What if people judge me?' Don’t let fear hold you back.

My plans for the future include a line of complementary Quinoa products... and a new baby on January 17!

Photo: Martina Regan