BACK TO SCHOOL with Anna / @LUNCHBOX_MINI

– Hi Anna! Please introduce us to you and the fam!

Hi! I’m Anna, and these are my 2 kids, Mason, 7 who’s in Year 3 this year and Milla, 5 who’s just started Year 1. 

– Tell us a little about where you live! What are your 3 favourite restaurants to take the kids? Fave things to do?

We live in Wellington Point, in Brisbane’s bayside, a beautiful part of the world! To be honest we don’t eat out a lot! I much prefer a Saturday night in with good music, a few drinks, a homecooked meal, hanging out in our PJs. Yes, I’m getting old! You will often find us taking the kids out for a milkshake on a Sunday morning though, and our fav spot is Café Mila in Wellington Point. They do a spectacularly oversized blueberry muffin, and great coffee! With kids, generally any tavern/pub/bistro with a kid’s playroom or kid’s club is a winner in our eyes!

– We love Lunch box Mini! We would love to hear more about your journey! When did you realise that you wanted to own a business and be in the industry you are in? 

Funnily enough I never actually set out to own my own business. I had been a SAHM for 6 years – my husband worked long hours, 6 days a week – so we made the decision early on that I’d stay at home with the kids. My passion has always been cooking with whole, nourishing ingredients and trying to reduce the amount of sugar, preservatives and pre-packaged foods we were eating. The kitchen became my happy place and as the kids got older I was able to spend more time trying recipes and making from scratch my own versions of foods we’d normally buy in jars or packets. Over time though I felt like a part of me was missing – I needed a challenge and something to get excited about. For months I scrolled through positions vacant ads, franchisers for sale, business opportunities, and went to a few interviews, but nothing felt right. And then one night I came across Lunchbox Mini advertised for sale on Gumtree! The website was set up and it already had a social media following, but the owners didn’t have the time to manage it anymore. And with my youngest child about to start Prep, time was something I had! I jumped on it and now seriously pinch myself that I’ve landed the most perfect business venture for me.  

– What is a typical day like for you? And how you find balance each day with the business, life in general and kids?

As soon as the kids are off to school, I start the day with some form of exercise – a walk, cycle class, swim or a light weights session. It’s a habit I got in to when the kids were really young, and it was one hour I could just focus on me. If I skip a session now, I really miss it. After the gym I come home and for the next 4 hours I’ll be packing orders, responding to enquiries, putting together social media posts and email campaigns, recipe testing, photographing products, and maybe hang out the odd load of washing! The downside of owning a home business that you just so genuinely love, is that it’s always there and there’s always more to be done! I have so many things I want to do with the website, my social media accounts, videos I want to create, new recipes and products I want to research, test and share – that it’s sometimes hard to put it all away on a Friday night and just be in the moment with my family. It was definitely what was lacking in my life before, but I now need to work on achieving a better balance. The kids have definitely found it hard to adjust now on school holidays having gone from having my full attention, to now trying to work around me needing time to get work done. Christmas and back to school sales were so crazy this year – these holidays were a real learning curve for all of us!

– You don’t only sell lunchboxes, your site is full of the coolest pieces! What are the top 3 most popular items on your site now?

1. MontiiCo smoothie cups – they’re spill proof, dent proof, and insulated so they keep your drink cold for 24 hours. They also fit in your car’s cup holder, so great for kids and adults who run out of time for breakfast (totally my daughter!) and need to have it on the go. 

2. Reusable yoghurt pouches – Instead of buying single-use disposable yoghurt pouches, buy (or make!) your yoghurt in bulk and store it in these pouches. The bottom opens like a ziplock bag giving you a very wide opening to pour it in, and they’re dishwasher safe and freezer friendly. I make a big batch of banana smoothies, freeze them in these pouches and send to school with the kid’s lunches.

3. Stojo coffee cups – collapsible reusable coffee cups. Now these haven’t actually gone live on the website yet, they’re only days away, but they are HOT! A reusable coffee cup that folds down into the size of a disc so you can store it in your handbag. No leaks, no spills and it feels like a totally normal cup. Watch this space!

– What special items on your site do we all need in our lives?

1. Beeswax wraps – These really are amazing. Instead of using glad wrap which takes thousands of years to decompose, use these to cover your salad bowls, dishes, opened block of cheese, cut tomatoes, avocadoes etc. They stick to themselves and the object you’re covering giving a tight seal and they come in the most beautiful prints. To clean, you just wash in cold, soapy water, and they’ll last a good 1-2 years!

2. Kiddikutter knives – A knife designed for kids 3 years+ that won’t cut fingers. This was a cooking game changer for me. I would spend a lot of time in the kitchen and my kids always wanted to help. As soon as they got their KiddiKutter it meant I no longer had to hover when they were cutting. We worked side by side in the kitchen and I knew all of their 10 fingers were totally safe!

3. Silicone mould ice cube trays – If you’re still hand rolling bliss balls, you need to STOP! My kids eat these so fast it would almost bring me to tears when I knew I had to spend another half hour hand-rolling more! But now I just scoop the mix into the moulds, and put them straight in the freezer. They pop straight out into pretty shapes and everyone’s happy!  

– Tell us more about the growing trends for eco friendly pieces and what you have on your site! Ps. I have my eye on the GoGreen! 🙂

We live in a world where everything is so disposable. You can go into big department stores where everything is just so cheap so we buy for the sake of it. And when it breaks, we just go and get a new one. But the reality is it all ends up in landfill, and then takes hundreds of years to decompose. I want to encourage people to invest in quality, durable products that will actually last and at the same time encourage you to reduce your use of single-use, disposable plastics. Our large range of leakproof bento boxes (including Go Greens!) mean you can buy food like biscuits, crackers, yoghurt, cheese and dried fruits in bulk which will save on both packaging and money. They’re all airtight so keep everything fresh and in tact!

– Top tips for looking out for the best lunchboxes for your child? Different styles for different ages?

When I’m looking at a lunchbox for my kids I want to know that it’s completely airtight, easy to clean and easy for them to open and close. The type that’s best suited to your child will most probably be determined by the kind of food you’ll be packing and what kind of eater they are. If your child is a big eater, I’d highly recommend the Go Green Original which fits a massive 8 cups of food. If they like a sandwich or wrap every day, I’d suggest the Bento 3, Yumbox Tapas or Panino. Or if they’re more of a picker I’d recommend the Go Green Snack, Yumbox Original or Bento 5.

– Any tips for packing a lunch box that will come home empty? As in all the food is in our kids stomach! lol.

Make it fun! We have a fabulous range of sandwich cutters that can turn a very plain sandwich into a dinosaur, digger, unicorn, mermaid or even aliens! I use Lunch Punch Stix (a pack of 7 kebab-like sticks) in my kid’s lunchboxes all the time for fruit, cherry tomatoes, ham, pikelets etc – they love eating their food off sticks! Make sure there’s a bit of colour in there with the foods you’re packing so it looks appealing, but most importantly don’t put too much pressure on yourself, or them! 

– Do you prep all your kids lunchboxes for the week or do them daily? Tips to keep the boxes fresh please!

I always try to pack our lunches the night before. It doesn’t always work that way, but it makes our mornings so much more enjoyable if they’re already done! If you have a good quality, sealed lunchbox everything inside will keep fresh overnight. I use the MontiiCo Insulated Lunch Bags which are the best I’ve found and they keep the kid’s lunches cold and fresh all day. 

– We all love delicious and nutritious lunchbox ideas and we that your website is full of recipe! Got any new faves for mama who only have little time to prep?

Your freezer is your best friend! I always try to make a couple of staple snacks over the weekend and put them straight in the freezer for the week ahead. Mini quiches, banana bread, bliss balls, pikelets, scones and scrolls are always a hit here, and I’ll always have a stash on hand.

– Instagram has so many amazing pages full of lunchbox inspo with influencers and creatives making some next level creations! Has this trend made a huge impact to your industry over the last years?

Hard for me to say as I haven’t been in it for that long, but I think it’s definitely put the spotlight on bento style lunchboxes. I love that there are so many pages to follow and get inspiration from, and that it’s really encouraging people to think about creative ways to pack healthy, fresh food in their child’s lunchboxes. But I’d also hope that it’s not making people feel deflated or inadequate if they’re comparing these pictures with what they’re packing in their own kid’s lunchboxes. As you would know, a lot of what’s on Instagram, is just for Instagram. We all have time constrains, budgets and fussy kids! It’s not all celery sticks with hummus dip in the real world!!!

– You nail it at your insta stories, I love them! I need to jump on that and get in front of the camera more! Do you think it makes a difference when you can see who is behind the brand?

Yes, do it!!!! Totally makes a difference. We are a small, family run business that LOVES to make a difference in people’s lives and that’s what sets us apart from the big guys, so I think it’s really important that people get to know us! I love the relationship I’m able to build with my followers through stories. 

– Tell us one thing you have learned about the instagram in the last few months?

As Lunchbox Mini already had a good following before I jumped on board, and with very limited Instagram experience, I really had to learn on the fly! I’m always learning and trying to keep up, but the main thing I’ve learnt over the last few months would be to not chase perfection. It’s so easy to get caught up chasing the perfect image and perfectly worded caption, but at the end of the day that’s not what matters. It’s the genuine, honest and real-life moments that people want to see and connect with. 

– Do you do all your shopping online? I think the only thing I don’t do is my groceries! New 2019 goal haha!

I never used to, but in the name of business and research, I’m changing my ways! I’m now so conscious of wanting to support other Aussie-owned, small businesses that have some amazing products. It really opens your eyes to a whole new market place!  

– Favourite online store to buy kids fashion?

I am going to be completely honest and say my kids get so many hand-me-downs from family and friends that we actually don’t buy a lot of new clothes! But I have been eyeing off your SUPER cute smiley tees, and think we may need these in our lives. I’d also love to hear your recommendations! 

– Whats next for lunch box mini, will you be designing some of your own products soon? We would love that!

Ohhh now there’s a thought! To be honest, who knows!!! Video is a big focus of mine this year. I want to be able to show my customers the ins and outs of each product, how easy they are to use, to open and close, pack, wash, etc, as it can be so hard to judge by a few pictures. And I haven’t spent anywhere near as much time getting creative in the kitchen as I’d like, so I’d love to spend more time coming up with some new lunchbox friendly, healthy, kid friendly recipes this year. 

– Do you have any new promos coming? How can we stay in touch?

We have a couple of brand new products making their way to the website early this year which I seriously can’t wait to share! Best way to stay on top of our offers, product previews and news is by joining our email list here – https://mailchi.mp/d298948a92a5/signmeup

And you also find us on Instagram – www.instagram.com/lunchbox_mini, and facebook – www.facebook.com/lunchboxminiofficial 

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