Joanna Parker

Co-Founder, Yumble 

Mom of three

As a stay-at-home mom of three, it wasn't a straight path for her to become an entrepreneur and co-founder of Yumble. After graduating from Columbia College, she started a career in product development at Macy's, and eventually transitioned into teaching when her and her husband moved to Boston. 

After Boston, Joanna became a mom with her first two kids and decided to start staying home with them (two years later, they had one more). This is when she realized how frustrating and stressful it was to prepare, cook and clean up kids meals every day (especially times three!). 

Joanna knew there had to be a better way, but when she searched for a solution, she couldn't find anyone offering freshly prepared kids' meals that were ready-to-eat, delivered directly to parents, and healthy.

So. she started Yumble to help busy parents like her. Two years later, Yumble is in 27 states, aired nationally on Shark Tank, and has delivered over 1,000,000 healthy meals to kids across America. 

The Returnity Project: What inspired you to create Yumi, and what gave you the courage to leave your corporate job and start your own business?

 

Joanna Parker: 

I’ve always loved food and cooking! So when I was struggling with feeding my three kids I knew that other parents were struggling too. The courage to start Yumble really came from that personal pain-point. But the courage to continue really came from the stories and feedback I got in conversations with our early customers.

 

At first, I thought that pain-point was a lack of time to do everything in the kitchen to prepare healthy meals for kids, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In talking to our first Yumble Moms, I realized that moms everywhere carry an unseen and unspoken emotional weight of keeping track of everything in the lives of their families (meals, practices, classes, sleepovers, the list goes on). This is what’s really stressing out moms, not just mealtime. It then became clear to me that Yumble was not just about healthy meals for the kids, but also about reducing the stress of the parents, which also improves their health! Whenever I’ve had a tough day at the office, I reflect back on that thought and it gives me the energy to get going again. We’re helping the entire family have a healthier and happier life.

 

TRP: Many of the stories we’ve shared on The Returnity Project focus on both the challenges and beautiful moments of motherhood; specifically the return to work. What was the return to work like for you?

 

JP:

As a mom and a co-founder, I want to do everything perfectly. But when I started to balance family and work after starting Yumble, I realized this was a recipe for endless stress. Instead, I’ve had to let go and realize there are moments I’m going to miss at home and at work. I’ve learned to work with my Yumble team to set limits on when I can be reached (for example, I made Friday evenings off-limits for work and always have family dinner in my household, no matter what) and I’ve done the same for my three kids. It’s a hard trade-off to give my work my time and attention when I know that it might take away time from my kids, but I believe that our mission is so important that the sacrifice is worth it - and my family believes this too.

TRP: What advice would you give to other working moms?

 

JP:

Similar to what I said earlier, working moms really need to set limits with both their families and work teams. It’s really important to have conversations to make these limits explicit with each group. The more you communicate that to your family and team the more you can reduce communication meltdowns!

TRP: What are you most proud of?

JP:

Other than my three amazing kids?! :)

 

I’m really proud of the company that we’re building for parents. Parenting is extremely stressful, so when I talk to Yumble Families to get their feedback each week, I’m proud when I hear some of the relief that Yumble is providing in their voices. In fact, I just got this email from Yumble Mom, Anais, this morning that reminds me why we do this:

 

I had to write because you accomplished something I have not been able to as a mother... get my daughter to eat her pasta with sauce. I know it sounds simple and silly but after countless bowls of pasta with oil or butter, she ate her pasta with sauce. The Yumble Bowl of Yays was a hit! The inserts and incentives really motivated her to try new things. I am only one meal in with her but this is a victory that deserved an email.

 

From the mother of a picky eater,  thank you!!

TRP: Anything else you'd like to share?

JP:

Lifelong eating habits are established in childhood. I firmly believe that the younger we teach our children healthy eating habits the stronger that foundation is for them as grownups. Healthy eating habits don’t develop in one meal (just like a diet doesn’t work by refusing one donut), and parents must be both patient and willing to help their children on the journey of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Together we can make American children healthier and families happier, one meal at a time.