After leaving a grueling career in advertising, Katie Jesionowski, co-owner of MySuperFoods and our NJMOMpreneur of the week, hit the snackfood jackpot by creating a healthy snack food line kids beg for and moms approve of. Hello bright, playful packaging, clean ingredients, and superfoods in every bite. Not only is Katie making a huge dent in the way we look at ‘snack food,’ but she’s inspiring us with her ambition to end child hunger in the US once and for all. This self-proclaimed ‘recovering perfectionist’ sat down with NJMOM to chat about her 3am convo that sparked her business idea, her ‘do it anyway’ attitude, and some of her fave spots to visit around New Jersey with her daughters like the small-town movie theater in Maplewood and watching the sunrise in LBI.
Co-owner of MySuperFoods & NJMOMpreneur: Katie Jesionowski
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Katie: MySuperFoods make SuperFoods for SuperKids. All of our snacks are created to achieve nutrient density in every bite, we use high-quality ingredients like chia seeds and coconut oil that you don’t find in other kids’ snacks. We also really focus on fun and portability, because we noticed right away that our kids gravitated toward bright packaging and fun characters. Healthy food should and can be fun. Finally, we have a social mission that helps to end child hunger in the USA. We have five food bank partners that we work with to donate funds, products, and our time. We made this a focus from day one because we think every child deserves to have access to high-quality snacks, not just the ones that can afford a premium price.
There are a million reasons not to take the leap. Do it anyway. There is never a good time. Do it anyway. There are few people who will understand how or why you will be a success. Do it anyway. You’ll never regret giving it a chance.” – Katie Jesionowski, co-owner of MySuperFoods
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Katie: Silvia and I met in New York City when we were both pregnant with twins. I left a career in advertising when my daughters were born and she left a career in finance when her twins were 14 months old. We bonded over that shared life experience and found ourselves emailing each other at 3am with questions about homemade baby food. As our children outgrew baby food, we struggled to find high quality, on-the-go snacks. We realized that there were several companies doing great work in baby food(it was the beginning of the squeeze pouch era). Post-baby food still had a lot of room for growth. I really enjoyed that conversation because I had such a passion for food and found it to be fun and exciting to talk about creating something new. Silvia sent me a text that night that read, “do you want to do this with me?” I was shocked and not even really sure what she was talking about. We met for coffee the next day and the rest, as they say, is history.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Katie: I love brainstorming something big or seemingly overwhelming and then putting it into action with MySuperFoods. It’s so powerful as a business owner to be able to make decisions and act on them in the moment. Even if they are big decisions that massively impact the way things currently work. When you know a change is needed, you don’t want to feel stuck in a process of making change that takes too long. I remember feeling frustrated by that in my previous career. I always understood why it happened at a big company but always wished it were different. I love taking big action in the moment that it’s required and watching it ripple out immediately. That’s powerful.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Katie: I have a degree in Economics and spent seven years in advertising before leaving when I had my twin daughters.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Katie: I am most proud of pursuing something I am truly passionate about. I think you really get to know yourself when you follow your dreams. You don’t have to have all the answers, which is a healthy challenge for someone like me who generally likes to know what is coming next. You are always learning something new, which is something I’ve sought my whole life. You are molding and shifting and growing something that matters to other people and to yourself. It’s an incredible gift.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Katie: I struggled for a long time with perfectionism. I heard, “you have it made, you make it look so easy, nothing bothers you,” my entire life. I felt crippled by that feeling, and I was always trying to meet unrealistic expectations. There is a massive difference between “healthy striving” and “perfectionism”. I call myself a recovering perfectionist now. It’s not an easy process to unwind, but it’s been a total life saver.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Katie: Personally, I’m always working on self-care. I’m pretty good at taking time for myself, but I’m working on trying new things like getting out of the rut of just taking time, but really making it meaningful and different and impactful, surrounding myself with like-minded people, and saying “yes” more often. Professionally, working with Silvia to bring our dream to more people. I’ve been focused specifically on sharing our story more. It shocks me that people want to hear about who we are and what we do, sometimes as much or more than they want to hear about the products we make. But we really are the people behind the brand – real moms and friends working hard every day. Our authentic story resonates with people. One of my favorite things about this job is hearing from people who support us, the support is overwhelming.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Katie: All of our food bank partners are members of the Feeding America Network. As a mom, one of the most tragic things I can think about when it comes to kids is being hungry. I know how my own kids suffer or behave differently when they are hungry. And let’s be honest, they have never been that hungry. There are 16 million kids in the USA that face food insecurity. Those same kids are often fed less nutritious food, more sugar and artificial colors and flavors because that is what is available to them. We can do better. As a food company that prides itself on making high-quality snacks with nourishing ingredients, we feel responsible for sharing those snacks with all kids, especially ones that don’t have access to them.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Katie: I admire anyone who is vulnerable enough to be themselves, especially when that means that it goes against what everyone around them thinks they already are or should be. It’s such an admirable moment to see someone being totally themselves, and it’s that kind of person I’m raising my daughters to be. It’s also very entrepreneurial, if you think about it. When you are an entrepreneur you get very used to people telling you how “it won’t work, ” over and over again. But you keep up the work because you connect with it and believe in it. I try to be the most honest version of myself in my relationships and my work.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Katie: My mom always says, “show me your vision and I’ll show you your future.” Silvia and I are big believers in charting our own course. Naturally, you can’t anticipate the curve balls, but if you can envision what you are building and put words behind your dreams, you are halfway there. I’ve had so many moments in my life and in this business that is supported by this thinking, that our vision matters. It’s undeniably powerful.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
“Don’t Stop. People say, “don’t give up” but sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes giving up is the best next move. Just don’t stop. Keep going.” – Phil Knight
I think it’s true of building a business, a brand, and a life. Don’t stop. I just read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. He writes these words at the very end of the book and there weren’t enough highlighters in the room for me to use to capture that quote. I have always loved quotes and even wrote one in every yearbook entry that I wrote my senior year in high school. But they have different seasons, some are more meaningful now than they used to be. I’m always on the look out for a quote that I connect with.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Katie: Fall is my favorite season, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of my favorites in New Jersey. We love a good family hike and have had great days at Merrill Creek Reservoir, anywhere along the Deleware River like Lambertville or Stockton – they’re adorable little towns in the middle of a beautiful natural environment. New Jersey has so much more to offer than people realize.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Katie: The best part is that feeling you get when you see your child do something they love, just the pure bliss. Also, they are such little teachers. I noticed recently that the things that I struggle with the most as a mom are the moments that I feel my children are struggling with something I struggle with. I just want to save them from it. But actually, it’s an opportunity for me to help them realize that who they are and whatever they feel is okay. Finally, I’d say, I love the way they really blossom into their own people. Every year is different and that felt frustrating and challenging in the early years. But once I realized my job is not to make things easy for them but to just guide them, it was fun to watch the changes. Watch them become who they are meant to be.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Katie: I love taking the train to Sterling and walking over with my family to The Stirling Hotel in the summer. They have a great beer garden in the back and my kids can run and play with their friends while we have dinner and drinks. In town, I go to Boxwood Coffee almost every day. I love a great cup of coffee and they have a great space to sit and talk to a friend or have a quick company meeting. We love a great small movie theater and often visit Millburn or Maplewood on the weekends. Afterward, we will go to Arturo’s or Abril Cocina in Maplewood or The Hills Tavern in Millburn. For a date night, we love Common Lot, The Summit House, Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, and Agricola.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Katie: I live in Summit and vacation every summer in LBI. We’ve gone down for one day, a long weekend and this year, for the first time, stayed for a week. I didn’t grow up in NJ so going “down the shore” in the summer wasn’t something that I grew up with. Beach Haven in LBI is such a little treasure. We go with Silvia’s family once a year – it’s become a fantastic tradition. I love the beach days, walks to The Chicken or the Egg, yoga at Yoga Bohemia and visits to the Barnegat Lighthouse. I’ve watched the sunrise on our last morning with my daughters for the last three years and this year I got our family and Silvia’s family out there together – definitely a highlight for me. There is something truly magical about watching the day start, everything seems possible in that moment.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Katie: There are a million reasons not to take the leap. Do it anyway. There is never a good time. Do it anyway. There are few people who will understand how or why you will be a success. Do it anyway. You’ll never regret giving it a chance.
To learn more about MySuperFoods, follow along on Facebook and Instagram.
Do you know of an awesome #NJMOMPreneur we should feature in this series? Send your suggestions to Erika at firstname.lastname@example.org.