Like many moms out there, Joanna Parker, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, was passionate about getting her kids to eat healthier foods yet struggled with the idea of planning and cooking meals her kids looked forward to eating. She knew others were feeling the same, so she posted on a Facebook mommy group offering to cook healthy meals for their kiddos. Though Joanna didn’t set out to be a big business entrepreneur, the overwhelming response she received made it apparent that it could be in her future. Enter Yumble, a healthy and delicious meal plan featuring organic ingredients and options to take the stress out of cooking for even the pickiest of eaters. But this isn’t any ordinary meal service—with Joanna’s touches like bright packaging, fun extras like stickers and tabletop topic cards, encouragement for kids to choose their menu, and a point system to redeem for cool prizes like toys and tickets to Disney World, littles up to age 12 are (literally) eating up these fresh, balanced meals. We chatted with this Englewood mom of three to find out how Yumble makes mealtimes fun, what advice she takes when she doubts herself, and the newest go-to in Bergen County for an indulgent treat.
Tell us a little bit about your family background. My husband, David, and I have been married for 15 years and have 3 children. Stanley, named after my husband’s grandfather, is 12. Eleanor, named after my grandmother, is 10. And our youngest, Jane, just celebrated her 8th birthday. We’ve lived in Englewood for the past 13 years, just blocks from where my husband grew up. It’s a warm, tight-knit community, and we’re fortunate to have friends here who genuinely feel like family. I also love that we can grab dinner in NYC and be home in about 12 minutes, but that’s only if it’s a zero-traffic sort of night, which doesn’t happen often enough.
Please share a bit about your career background, and what (if anything) about it has proven helpful in your business. I’ve taken a bit of a circuitous route getting to this point. I worked at Macy’s in product development before I became an early childhood education teacher, which I did for a few years. And then I was a stay-at-home mom for a bit before launching Yumble. I’ve always loved healthy eating and been very passionate about ensuring my kids eat well, but my former career has also helped with this business. Working at Macy’s taught me about research and product development, and working with kids in teaching gave me a deeper understanding of how they react to positive reinforcement and engagement strategies. The tipping point to launch Yumble was how difficult it was to come up with a healthy dinner that my kids would look forward to eating. I decided to post on a Facebook mommy group to see if parents wanted me to cook their kids meals, too, and was met with a resounding yes. That’s when I knew that people needed this and it would be well received.
What sets Yumble apart from other food delivery services, and what are some favorite meals? Yumble is the only kids’ delivery meal service that rewards kids for making healthy food choices. We’re convenient for parents and can help them rest easy knowing their kids will be eating healthy. But what makes us unique is we empower kids to make their own healthy choices by encouraging them to select their meals with their parents’ help. Kids love choices and feeling in control. We empower them to do just that, and it increases the likelihood of getting excited about food and eating it. As for favorites, since kids are crazy about things that they can pick up with their hands, the Pizza Pocket is high on our best-seller list. It’s hand baked, filled with cheese and homemade marinara sauce, and has broccoli on the side. And our chicken nuggets (healthy, of course) and mac and cheese are also on heavy rotation for most families that order.
What do you hope your children learn by seeing you run your own business? Most importantly, I hope my kids see if you think you can better the world in whatever way that is, you should go for it. I also hope they know that it’s essential to follow through on your commitments and that hard work pays off.
Please share a bit about the “fun” aspect of your business that makes it more than just the food. Because the premise behind Yumble is about empowering kids to make the right choices and getting them excited about eating, a large portion of our food is interactive (like dunking part of the meal into a dipping sauce), or the meals come with fun extras like sticker sheets or conversation starter cards to prompt for fun mealtime discussions.
What’s your go-to way to self-care? I like to start my day with exercise when the house is fully quiet so that I can have two hours of undisturbed time before the chaos. I’ve also been working on separating my mom hat from my work hat because those lines can easily get blurred, especially working from home.
Please share your favorite NJ businesses and what you love about them. As a family, we like to close out the weekend with our latest obsession, Bianco Nero Gelato, a new gelato place in town. I highly recommend the Belgian Waffle with gelato on top. Another favorite is Marcia’s Attic for Kids, a unique and special children’s clothing and accessories shop. The owner is so accommodating and always helps me find what I’m looking for, especially when I’m short on time, and it’s such a friendly neighborhood place. And The Gym is where I like to be at 5:30 every morning, surrounded by like-minded locals who want to push themselves hard. I feel a great sense of camaraderie and support there.
What are some of your family’s favorite activities or things to do in NJ? Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is a nature preserve and environmental education center in Englewood that has been a family favorite for a long time. When the kids were younger, we always went to the playground. Now, we hike there often and like to discover and explore new paths. It’s also the best place to skip rocks and idle away an afternoon.
Please share the best piece of advice on NJMOMpreneurship you’ve ever received and would like to share with other mompreneurs, too. You’re doing better than you think you are—that’s the best advice I ever got, and it came from an old friend who was a mentor to me. There will always be moments when you doubt yourself and feel like you’re not doing a great job on one or both fronts. No day will feel perfect, but when you look at the bigger picture, you’ll realize you’re doing a great job. Keeping that in mind, I’ve learned to push through those doubts. When you’re running a business and have a family, there will always be obstacles, hurdles, and challenges, but also so many highs, wins, and successes. Keep your eye on your passion—there is always a reward at the end!