Agatha Achindu, Founder Of Yummy Spoonfuls, On Making Her Company A Household Name
Words: Anthonia Akitunde
Visuals: five arrows photography
Target stores, celebrity business partners, a Fortune feature... We catch up with this mater mea mom on her company's impressive rise.
In 2014 Agatha Achindu—founder of Yummy Spoonfuls, a line of organic baby and toddler food—had an epiphany about the direction of her business. After 10 years of working on Yummy Spoonfuls with her husband, Agatha was ready to level up her company.
She realized “it is time to grow the business and make it a household name,” she says.
Now Agatha’s closer to that goal than ever before: she’s brought on a team to help her grow, including Camila Alves (mompreneur and Matthew McConaughey's wife) as a business partner; Yummy Spoonfuls is now sold in Target stores across the country; and last year her brand secured coverage in publications like Fortune and People.
But how exactly does one do that? Agatha shared how her business saw the biggest leaps it has seen in years with us, and how she’s made peace with the growing pains that can come with growing your business.
You've now brought Yummy Spoonfuls into a whole new stratosphere from the last time we spoke. What were some choices you realized you had to make to make that happen?
I knew I needed funding to grow the business, and a partner. I was looking for just the right partner who shared the right beliefs and the same vision. I would get somebody who would come and they're all excited, but it [only] takes a minute to realize there's not the same passion. They’re excited about the possibilities of the business, not its mission of changing the way we feed our kids and their health.
One blessing I had with [Yummy Spoonfuls is that] babies and their parents fell in love with it on first taste. We also had a good celebrity following. I used to go to a lot of events and do demos and testing because I didn’t have the type of funding to pay for serious marketing. I met a lady at an event; her name is Sarah. She tried the product and loved it [in] 2012.
She said, "I don’t have any babies, but I have a grandbaby." I said, “I would love to send samples to your grandbaby.” The grandbaby loved the product, [and] we kept in touch. Just once in awhile she would call me, "How is it going?" and I would say, "Oh, please, just pray for me. I’m looking for the right partner."
So one day I got a random email from some lady, and in the email they mentioned, "I got your information from Hail Merry, [a line of healthy snacks]." I knew just one person from Hail Merry, which was Sara. I sent an email saying, "Somebody sent me an email wanting to partner with me." She's like, "Oh, yeah. I gave [Camila Alves] your information. She’s a mompreneur with a vision like yours.”
I was like, "Oh!"
In 2014 we met and we immediately connected. We decided to [become partners]. At that point, I was really looking to take the company to the next level and making our product more accessible. It was in Whole Foods, Dean & Deluca, and on Amazon, but it was almost like an elitist product. When I started Yummy Spoonfuls, I used to go around teaching moms how to make food, so I didn’t want the brand to just be something for a select group of moms. I wanted every mother to be able to have access to this food.
Target is perfect. We ended up with a good partnership with Target, and we have an exclusivity deal with them for one year.
You mentioned that when you were looking for partners, you found some who weren't the right fit. How did you determine that partnering with Camila would be a good fit for you?
We were both from a different culture. That was something for me. The fact that we understand what real food looks like. I never knew what processed food was until I was 23 and I came to America. Meeting somebody who had that same value, and that same connection to food made such a huge difference for me.
Don't give up. Sometimes it really takes a minute. You can't force God's hand.
It’s so funny. She would be talking about her childhood, and it's almost like I was the one speaking. "Oh, we used to climb mango [trees], we had avocados..." That's how I grew up! It was the right person to help me grow this company. It was the person with vision, the same idea of, "You know what? This type of food shouldn’t just be something for ‘special moms.’" Because it's almost like there are two sets of moms: the moms who have the time [to] sit at home and make all their food, and the moms who don’t have the time. Regardless of what it is, when it comes to food, you shouldn’t [get] an award because you're able to cook peas.
It’s almost like how they shame mothers who don’t breastfeed. It's the same thing with food. For any mother who wants to feed their baby homemade baby food, they should be able to do it, whether they have the time or not to cook it themselves. That's why it was so important to make Yummy Spoonfuls the same way I make food at home. Not overcooked, nothing extra added, just food. Pear is a pear, peach is a peach.
How do you and Camila work together to execute the vision you have for Yummy Spoonfuls?
We are hands deep into everything. In 2014 when we started, it was just Camilla and I. Today, we have an amazing CEO Alastair Dorward. The pressure on us is reduced because we have somebody in charge of this amazing brand. But we're there. We work all the time.
I assume Yummy Spoonfuls is like your baby. How does it feel to share that baby and that vision with someone who wasn't there from the beginning? Did you have any anxiety about that?
No. I don’t know if it’s because I prayed so much. It’s like you birth a child and your child has grown up. You've spent all these years with your child, putting in all the foundation and hard work, and you're just waiting. It's almost like sending your child off to college. Even though you have that funny feeling in your stomach, you know that’s it the right thing.
How did you guys land on partnering with Target?
That was the same question people used to ask me about Whole Foods. People used to ask me, "How did you manage to get into Whole Foods?" It’s so funny: Every time the dream gets bigger, the question is the same.
The opportunity to offer all parents easy and affordable access to Yummy Spoonfuls had always been a priority to me. Target and Yummy Spoonfuls share the same vision of providing families with the best option at an affordable rate, and the national reach made them the perfect partner for us.
Getting into Target is just like getting into any other major retailer. It took a lot of hard work and lots of meetings. You do your presentations, they taste the food, they like the food or they don't like the food. There’s really not a shortcut to getting into any major retailer.
I remember when I went to Whole Foods, they tried the product. The presentation that I did, I never [got to present it]. They just tried the product and they loved it. [They] couldn’t believe the vibrant color and homemade taste. Same with Target. They were so in awe of how vibrant the color of the food [was]. We did a spoonful of Yummy Spoonfuls peas and they were just like, [stunned]. It really, really tastes so good.
What kind of adjustments have you had to make now that you have a partner after doing Yummy Spoonfuls for so long?
It is a relief to finally have some help! [Laughs]
We have an amazing CEO, we have a COO, we have a PR team, we have a marketing and brand director, we have a food scientist. It just feels good to finally feel like you don’t have to be everybody. For years and years and years, it was just me and my husband. It was a 24-hour job, which isn’t the easiest thing. It's a wonderful feeling.
The biggest growth is that I've moved from 30 stores to 1,500 stores...
That's amazing, congratulations! What's next for Yummy Spoonfuls?
Our focus is [on] creating awareness. We’re looking to expand into healthy, wholesome snacks, into teenager food. The whole idea with Yummy Spoonfuls is we want to take everything out there and [make] it healthy.
Has this change in your business affected your family dynamic?
It’s been interesting in a way, but I know it’s going to get better. Since January , I’ve been in LA [or New York] every week, which makes life a little bit challenging for my husband and the boys here. I go on Monday and I come home on Friday, because it’s just that much work. But then when I’m home, we really just try to spend as much quality time [together as possible].
Parenting hasn't changed. I try not to feel guilty. I'm trying to live my purpose. It’s challenging, but the benefits are there. It's what I'm teaching my kids, that hard work does pay off. And that’s a wonderful legacy to leave them.
I know that you're a woman of faith, but how did you see yourself through the challenges of working on your company for 10 years before experiencing this type of growth?
Don't give up. Sometimes it really takes a minute. You can't force God's hand. It took us almost 10 years, but look at where we are.
Whether it's my old Instagram page or my new page, my journey is there. This is God's work. I tell people all the time, “God has a purpose for each and every one of us. Sometimes all we need to do is stand still and just listen.”
It took everything I had. I can't tell you how many times I prayed. I would fast. Because I knew this day would come, because I have that much faith. I also got to a point where I just had to trust that I can't force God’s will.
My mom would always say, "God's time is the best." Sometimes you have to wait. When you trust in God, and you commit into His hands, he delivers all the time. I am a testimony of that love. He never fails.