james & kylie from mama-p organic
Choc Mint Truffle, Snickers Surprise and Peppermint Crave: not the names of desserts that sound particularly healthy, however, one newly established company – Mama-P Organic – has made them just that.
Mama-P Organic was started over a year ago by husband and wife team Kylie and James Pheils. After having two children, the pair began looking for healthy snack alternatives they could feed their boys to try and cut out various chemicals, preservatives and processed sugars from their diets. However, Kylie and James found the search challenging, particularly with one of their sons having various food intolerances.
“Even when you think you’re getting healthy stuff, it’s actually not even healthy,” says Kylie. “Also, our youngest son is dairy- and wheat-sensitive, so of course that makes it even harder when you’re trying to find something.”
Already a keen baker of raw truffle balls, it didn’t take long for family and friends to notice the tasty creations coming from the Pheils’ kitchen. Starting off as a small supply going to one of James’ friend’s cafes, word of the tasty treats soon spread and Mama-P Organic was born.
Mama-P takes what we would normally consider not-so-healthy foods and transforms them into treats that are full of nutrients our bodies need, wholesaling them to local cafes. “We’re all about trying to make health food taste awesome because, stereotypically, if something is good for you, it generally doesn’t taste that nice.”
While Kylie’s focused on packing the sweets with as many healthy ingredients as possible, the partnering with her sweet-tooth husband, James, ensures every single product always tastes amazing.
James says: “Kylie’s a big health nut, and I’m not, so I say if it doesn’t taste good, it’s not going out. She’ll say ‘try this’ and I’ll be like ‘Sorry, love, that tastes like cardboard’! But that’s why it’s become so popular, because people get that sweet fix and not realise they’re not getting that processed sugar, they’re actually getting natural sugars from all the good food.”
Kylie says: “Our main sweeteners that we use are maple syrup and dates, and we also use a lot of nuts and seeds, so your body registers what you’re eating and so they’re very filling. It’s not like a normal chocolate bar where you eat it and you just want more.”
Not only do they taste good, they also look like delicious pieces of art. “It has to look good, because we know that we do eat with our eyes,” says Kylie. “You can’t call something Snickers and it doesn’t taste like Snickers,” adds James.
Our society is currently more health conscious than ever before. People are much more aware of food, what it can do to our bodies and how it can make us feel. More and more people have allergies and are choosing to go gluten free, dairy free or follow specific diets, meaning there is a big market for alternative foods. With Mama-P’s products right on point for that market, James says their business has grown faster than either of them ever expected.
“I didn’t think we’d both end up working full-time in it straight away, which we have, and it’s been great. Cafes are starting to get smarter about how they buy as well, because a lot of them don’t really like making all their own stuff - it takes too much time.”
Having just purchased a refrigerated van so they can extend their delivery range, and recently taking on a full-time chef so Kylie can dedicate more time to expanding their customer base, the couple are well on their way to achieving their overall goal of supplying their nourishes cakes and desserts Australia-wide.
If you’re now keen to get your tastebuds on some, pop into a few Newcastle, NSW, locals, such as: Blue Door, Ground Floor or Table 1 Espresso, just to name a few.
by Amy Theodore
Is food something you’ve always been interested in?
Kylie: Yeah, I’ve always been into food and I do have a food background; I’ve managed restaurants and owned my own café many years ago. I’ve just had 10 years in the radio industry as a presenter and producer, and I do still present on a Saturday morning, but food is something I always come back to. I’m always cooking, trying to cook healthy stuff, and always experimenting in the kitchen.
Run us through a typical day in your life…
K: Because we wholesale, we’re usually working on production. So our typical day will generally start at 9.30 after we drop the kids off at school. Every day is a bit different, but we’re mainly in here processing, making up whole batches, especially with desserts because you have to do them in layers, so we’re all just in here doing different layers and levels. It’s production, getting orders together, deliveries, going and seeing new potential business, ordering stock, that sort of thing. It really changes everyday.
James: But it’s good fun. Doing something you like doing is always more fun than something you don’t. I was a computer programmer before and eventually I was like ‘I don’t like sitting at computers anymore, I hate it’. Now this is great, I get to go out and drive the van around and deliver good healthy food.
K: Yeah, you meet different people doing different things, and there’s lots of room for creativity as well, making up new desserts and sampling new things.
What has been the hardest part of starting Mama-P?
K: The main thing for us is juggling time, because we’ve got two kids. James has left his full-time job and I’m the same. But I guess one of the toughest things is that it’s actually been so popular that every month we have to change our business plan because it’s just expanding so quickly. That’s sort of been tough in that we had a goal, well, that goal has already been blown out of the water, which is good, but I guess that’s been challenging.
J: We have good problems.
"We’re all about trying to make health food taste awesome because stereotypically if something is good for you, it generally doesn’t taste that nice."
What advice do you have for someone thinking about starting their own business?
K: I say just do it. It’s really funny, because I’m the real doer and James is the real thinker. Sometimes you can think too much and you can never give something a go. You do have to be smart and you have to do a bit of research, but don’t go crazy because you’ll scare yourself out of it. Start small, so if it does go down you’re not losing your life savings.
J: If you’re going to fail, you need to do it quickly. Serious, you’ve just got to get it done, just make that call, fail, then get over it, then go again. You’re going to do lots of failures, it just happens. But you’ve got to have a passion for it, and there’s got to be something in it for you to do it. That could be anything, whatever your trigger is, and that’s going to be powerful enough for you to keep doing it. It can’t be just wanting to make money, because that’s not a trigger for anyone. It can’t just be because you want more time, because that’s not big enough.
K: Because that comes through. You see people who do something just because they want to do it for money, well it doesn’t work because there’s no love, they create no culture in their business, they don’t offer their staff anything because they’re not really in it.
J: Or they try to turn their hobby into a business. I fell victim to that. I turned my hobby into a business and then I found I just didn’t like it anymore because I actually took something I was using as a refuge and turned it into my daily.
K: But you don’t know unless you give it a go. Do something from the heart and I think you will succeed.