Jacklyn James is the owner of the Kiddies Food Kutter business, and the inventor of the Safety Food Peeler.
Having started this business over 17 years ago, she has a unique insight into starting a business from scratch, as well as developing products from idea to inception.
Here she answers questions around the highs and lows of business, and what keeps her going.
Q. What have been the major highlights for you regarding Kiddies Food Kutter?
There are six key highlights for me that I am really proud of so far as the owner of Kiddies Food Kutter.
Seeing Mums, Dads & Grandparents faces (when the delight is so obvious on the 2 and 3-year-old faces) as they can cut and peel safely and it works!
The disability aspect has been really very rewarding; observing blind children cutting and peeling safely (the independence and look of pride on their faces) – being able to do the same things just like their grown-up or big brother/sister. As well as autistic and fussy eaters getting involved, having fun and learning life-skills.
Getting referrals for orders from the likes of Sally Girvan – Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) in Melbourne has been great, so really helping other businesses to make a difference with kids who are fussy eaters, or have a range of other eating issues.
Wholesaling into Garden Kitchen Programs, where the children were growing the vegetables but couldn’t cut them – now they can! I love that it takes the pressure off the teachers, as the product is totally safe.
I love the fundraising aspect of the business – the fact that these are 2 useful products to help raise funds for kindergartens, child care centres and other community groups – instead of chocolates and cakes.
And finally I am proud of the fact that my stock is packed by the Montague Street South Melbourne Special School. This organisation has people with varying disabilities aged between 15 and 20 and this activity helps them with skills such as math, quality control and colour matching. They take pride in their work and enjoy learning new life skills.
Q. What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt so far?
That being a business owner is hard work! And also that I’m a bit of a workaholic and I thrive on continual progress, ideas and results. I had to realise that my goals and priorities are not everyone else’s and therefore some opportunities may have dropped away because of my impatience!
Q. How did you get started with Kiddies Food Kutter?
I have always been into healthy eating and fitness and was aware of childhood obesity/fussy eaters. There were blunt butter knives and plastic ones that broke. Then I found this product and thought, if this could cut pumpkin it could cut everything, even steak and sausages on a dinner plate!
I sourced the original Pumpkin Kutter from the U.S. in the year 2000 which is patented and I have the legal distribution rights for Australia and New Zealand. I would attend local markets and sell so many, I couldn’t believe it!
At the time, I was working full-time as a Corporate Accountant and so almost every weekend travelled to markets with just 1 small table and some posters (nothing like the setup I have today!).
I sent many samples out to Cooking Schools etc who said “oh NO, we couldn’t use knives!” and I kept plodding on and on.
Junior MasterChef started and of course, to be on the show you had to be 8 years upwards, with basic sharp knife skills.
Mums & Dads flocked to buy other knives which were sharp (but in pretty colours) and the kids cut themselves! It really opened up my whole business.
In 2011 I took the risk to leave my accounting job and concentrate on my business full-time, and though there have been MANY hiccups along the way, all is on track with my business plan!