A Change in Direction for Little City Kitchen: Food Entrepreneur Blog Series

As many of you know, this has been a tumultuous few months for me and for Little City Kitchen Co.  I wrote a few weeks ago about the struggle to make this a profitable venture, and after several months of weighing my options, I’ve finally come to a decision: it’s time to stop baby food production.

There will be additional details with logistics coming out for customers (some are at the bottom of this post), but in the spirit in which I started this blog, I wanted to share why I’ve come to this decision, and my process to get here.

Although I have been hesitant to share my doubts publicly, I’ve grappled for several months with where to take Little City Kitchen Co.  I’ve learned through this process that commercial-scale cooking isn’t for me.  Give me the microphone for a 200-person cooking demo any day, but keep me out of the kitchen!  Not only was the cooking physically (and mentally) draining, but to my detriment, it took me out of my entrepreneurial frame of mind.

Let me be clear, I do still believe that this type of baby food business can be profitable, and given the proper amount of motivation and support (both financially and with collaborative partners), this could still be a hugely successful venture.

It boiled down into two simple options for me: grow, or die.  And I decided that I didn’t have the infrastructure or the motivation in place at this time to grow.  There is certainly the possibility that I will re-launch the baby food at a later date, but not in the short-term.

A Little Heartbreak

The part that breaks my heart (just a little) is that I’m still convinced that 1) I’ve created a great product, both in look and in flavor, and 2) there is a dire need for this type of baby food on the market today, and 3) it’s not a product you can just put on the shelf and expect to sell; there is a large amount of education that needs to take place first.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my ego has taken a big hit.  I’ve always prided myself on being the one that can make anything work, so it’s hard to make such a dramatic change without some crap bubbling to the surface.  However, I’ve come to the conclusion that maintaining the “status quo” by continuing on this path is actually the weaker move.  The stronger move is to admit this isn’t working and to make a change.  So that’s what I’m doing.

My New Outlook

Somewhat surprisingly, I feel really good.  I still feel like I’m in the right place, surrounded by the right people, and have no regrets about any choice I’ve made to get me here.  My hope is that by not putting my energy towards that part of the business, I’ve made more space in my life to attract other, even better, opportunities.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself…over and over and over.

So, what’s next?  Don’t worry, I’m not out of the baby food business entirely!  I’m going to keep on writing and teaching, two parts of the business I’ve always loved.  Stay tuned for a four-part baby food cooking series in the next couple of months with more hands-on instruction.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of writing a book, baby food or otherwise.  I wonder if the title ‘Confessions of a Failed Food Entrepreneur’ is available??   In the meantime, there will be blog posts dedicated to lessons I’ve learned, and hopefully it will help both inspire and provide a realistic picture for other food entrepreneurs out there.

Read more about Little City’s direction…

Baby Food Orders for Customers

The next baby food pickup/delivery date will be Saturday, March 10 as you know.  The order form will be coming out in the next few days.  I don’t want to leave all my best customers high-and-dry, so there will be opportunities to continue ordering in April and May, but they will be limited to existing customers only.  So those of you who have just started ordering through Little City Kitchen Co., you should have plenty of opportunity to stock up on food if needed.

So there you have it.  Big news.  I don’t want to get too mushy here, but I do want to take a moment to thanks all my friends, family & customers for their amazing support over the last two years.  I’ve received so many incredible calls, texts, emails, etc… with kind words throughout this process.  It really has meant so much – thank you thank you!!

Wait, this is starting to sound like a goodbye.  I assure you, it’s not.  You don’t think you can get rid of me that easily, do you?

Jill Epner is the owner of Little City Kitchen Co. is a Bay Area company making handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist.  Follow us on Facebook, or sign up to receive our newsletter with information on starting solids & making your own baby food.

19 Comments to “A Change in Direction for Little City Kitchen: Food Entrepreneur Blog Series”

  1. [...] Baby Bites:  you guys already know about my two favorite baby food companies since Little City stopped making it ourselves.  They’re both available here [...]

  2. [...] few weeks.  The last four weeks have been monumental for me.  First came the announcement that Little City Kitchen Co. will stop producing baby food.  And now the next bit of big news that may come as a disappointment to some: I’ve decided to [...]

  3. [...] still actively working on a solution that will both personally & financially work for me, so continue reading about the recent changes in direction for Little City Kitchen [...]

  4. Nicole Armstrong says:

    Jill – You are an amazing woman and I know that whatever venture or endeavor you put yourself into, you will do it 110% and be successful. I have enjoyed seeing you at the Farmers Markets on Sundays (and even getting together socially a couple times – speaking of which, can we get another date on calendar some time this year?!?!) and will miss seeing you this coming season! You know how much we all loved your food (and when I say we, I am talking about the adults in this family too) and I swear if people didn’t look at me too strangely, I would eat your baby food all the time! :) Much love and I’ll see you soon, Niki

  5. [...] interesting thing has happened since the last blog came out (where I announced my decision to stop making baby food); I’ve received several calls from startup baby food companies around the country showing their [...]

  6. Emily says:

    Whatever you decide to do, Jill, I know you will do it with aplomb. You really are a star!

  7. Grammy Ruth says:

    Dear Jill, I had a good friend who was Dean of a high-rated college who told me that his grandson once asked him what made him so smart. He replied “experience makes one smart”. The boy then asked him, “but how do you get experience, grandpa?” and the reply was “by making many mistakes” my boy. you have become much smarter than when you began,Jill, although I don’t think you made any mistakes. Your experiences will certainly guide you well. Love, Grammy

  8. Not a failure at all! Lookat all the people that you have helped in so many ways. You have inspired me to get better about blogging (still working on that) and presentation, among other things. Changing tracks sounds like the smart choice. Gotta love most of what you do, in my opinion.

    Your honesty is refreshing! You have my support!!

  9. Anni Minuzzo says:

    You are one of the sharpest knives in the drawer, Jill, and I am honored to have been there for your
    “infancy!”. Keep me posted on your next steps as I am certain our paths will continue to cross. Hugs, Anni

  10. Wendy Roe says:

    I applaud your courage and I know this is just one step in the long MASTER plan!! Love You!

  11. Alexis Robin says:

    Your honesty and transparency is so courageous. You have so much to offer in terms of your business savvy, knowledge and passionate drive any venture you take will put you on the right path. That being said, it’s time to become a food coach, and teach all of the horrible eaters how to transition to eating well. Books, magazine articles, tv shows, blogs, group workshops. Imagine changing the hearts and minds of eaters everywhere. You are brilliant and if I was a big organic company I’d snatch you up. ;0 Thanks for the unvarnished truth. I’m excited to see where you go next.

  12. Darling Jill, You are terrific and will be a sucess at any new career you follow. I look foward to seeing you soon in NEW York. All my LOve, Grandma Harriet

  13. Sarah says:

    You made my life immeasurably easier and my son’s life much more delicious! You will be missed. Best of luck in the future!

  14. Vicky Tequame says:

    Best of luck in the future, I have been following your blog ever since. You are inspiration to the likes of me who are struggling to make it in the food industry.
    Best wishes

  15. Kathleen Poston says:

    Thank you, again, for sharing your thoughts on this obviously difficult decision. Continue to follow your heart Jill – I’m very excited to see where this venture will take you next.

  16. Sandra Simpson says:

    Because of you I have an 11 month old grand daughter who has only been fed home made baby food. Emily enjoys making it and has been amazed at what foods she likes. Now that she is eating more, Emily is getting a small taste of what it is like to “mass produce” the food in order to keep up with her needs.

    I know what ever direction you take you will be true to yourself and those you serve. Excuse the puns here.

  17. David Horton says:

    Robert Kiyosaki Interview (Author of “Rich Dad Poor Dad”)

    LH: What has been your best investment advice?

    RK: My best investment advice was from my rich dad was to make mistakes. He said that if you want to get ahead you have to make more mistakes than your competition. So, most people, you know their culture is, you know I don’t care where you are in the world, the educators sort of think mistakes are bad. But if you look at the way we truly learn, we learn by making mistakes. I learnt to walk by falling down and standing up, I learned to ride a bicycle by falling down standing up, I learned to be a pilot by going down a couple of times and coming back up again. So, we learn by trial and error. Except our families and our school systems teach us that mistakes are bad. Whereas if you look at it, the reason that people aren’t successful is they haven’t made enough mistakes yet (LH: Or they haven’t learnt form their mistakes, right?) That’s correct, or they pretend they haven’t made them “I don’t make any mistakes”, or they say “I’m always right” and they lose.

  18. summer says:

    Jill, you are an amazing teacher! I know you will continue to inspire in this new direction! You have to do what’s best for you. And the love you have for what your doing shines through.

  19. Torie says:

    Best of Luck to you in your new direction, Jill. You really do shine while teaching. If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know!

Leave a Reply