Moms Who Made it Big: Shazi Visram of HAPPYBABY Food
These days, baby food is more than just pureed peas in little jars that may get eaten or spit out. And despite the fact that the birthrate in the United States is down 2.6 percent, one woman decided to enter the baby food arena anyway. After just a few years, HAPPYBABY products now grace shelves in more than 7,500 stores.
Ironically, Shazi Visram, CEO and founder, wasn't even a mom when she launched HAPPYBABY.
"I have always been passionate about health and wellness and eating right, and I had a lot of friends who were moms," Visram tells AOL Jobs. "Through their eyes, I saw a need for baby foods that were less processed and more nutritious."
But now, her son Zane is 13 months old. Babies have him, as well as the staff of HAPPYBABY, to thank if the food tastes good.
"We test our products on everyone. Babies should love everything, but so should mom and dad," Visram says. "We know we have a winner when our office manager, Andre, has eaten all of the online store inventory!"
Warning to Gerber?
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, baby food is a $1.25 billion industry in the United States. Three companies -- Gerber, Beech-Nut and Heinz -- control more than 95 percent of the market; Gerber alone leads with more than 70 percent.
When HAPPYBABY started, Visram was looking to create alternatives to traditional jarred baby food. Many of her products come in screw-top pouches, which are arguably easier to carry than glass jars. Other products include cereal, yogurt melt snacks, and the top seller, "puffs." All of it is organic, but typically more expensive than jarred baby food.
HAPPYBABY may be a premium brand, but it's soon to be on shelves in more than 1,000 Publix stores in five southern states.
Never just 9 to 5
Visram says if she's traveling for work with overnight travel, then the entire family comes along. Zane has already taken 30 trips by air. But she does try and separate being a mom and being the boss.
"I try to focus on the task at hand and work hard when I am at work and be a great mommy when I am with Zane," she says. "It sounds simple but is sometimes very difficult to do."
Any parent knows that you're never off the clock but it's important to claim time for yourself. For Visram, that means picking up a paintbrush. Bigger plans include learning to dive with SCUBA and seeing the Great Barrier Reef.
First, she's got babies to feed. Her mantra? "Dream big and never give up."
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