We love to bake. Ok, let’s face it, we really just love to eat baked goods. Are you with me? Turns out, Galit Laibow and her business partner Sarah Michelle Gellar do too. When scouting the grocery aisles for a cake mix to make with their kids, they discovered that the boxes were labeled with a host of ingredients that were impossible to read and pronounce. The realization that there really weren’t healthy alternatives, the friends decided to make their own mixes and Foodstirs was born. Read on to hear how Galit and Sarah Michelle are changing the way we feed our kids, one mix at a time.
You launched Foodstirs, a line of healthy baking mixes with your best friend, Sarah Michelle Gellar. How did the idea for the brand come to be?
Foodstirs was initially inspired by our children. Our daughters love to bake and asked if they could have a baking playdate. When Sarah and I went to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients, we were shocked by the lack of quick-scratch baking mixes on the shelf. We were left with the choice between legacy brands, filled with artificial dyes and ingredients, or mixes that simply didn’t taste good. Where was a clean, organic baking mix that tasted delicious and contained the quality ingredients we could feel good about serving our children? When we couldn’t find one, we decided it was time to make it ourselves.
How do your mixes differ from other baking mixes on the market?
And of course, as busy parents, the convenience factor is always top of mind. All Foodstirs mixes can be made in six steps or less. Which means that in less than an hour you can connect with your kids in a meaningful (technology-free!) way, while creating delicious, homemade baked goods that everyone can feel proud of and enjoy together.
We love this focus on quality, organic and non-GMO ingredients in your baking mixes and kits! Congrats! Do you have any tips for making healthy choices for our own families while doing our groceries? We find the labels so overwhelming!
The less ingredients, the better! In doing our research, we discovered that salt was a predominant ingredient in other quick-scratch mixes. Salt dominating a sweet mix? It didn’t make sense. Red-40 was another ingredient that kept popping up. Why on earth would yellow cake mix require artificial red dye? As we started creating the mixes, we realized that truly quality products typically require very few ingredients. It definitely caused me to reevaluate a few items in my own pantry….
Another tip: Label certifications are also helpful. All Foodstirs mixes are certified USDA Organic, and Non-GMO Verified. These certifying agencies are scrupulous about ensuring that brands meet their requirements for certification, so doing a simple scan on the product box is always helpful.
We were left with the choice between legacy brands, filled with artificial dyes and ingredients, or mixes that simply didn’t taste good. Where was a clean, organic baking mix that tasted delicious and contained the quality ingredients we could feel good about serving our children? When we couldn’t find one, we decided it was time to make it ourselves.
You also have a subscription service where every shipment comes with everything you need to bake a dessert and turn it into a craft. Which one of you is the crafty one and why was this important to you when starting your business?
Our subscription kits were the first product we launched with and they continue to be an important part of our brand. As moms, we were really excited by the prospect of taking the guesswork out baking and creating a fun activity that allows families to connect in the kitchen. Even my own kids continue to look forward to their Foodstirs kit each month. We don’t reveal the craft until one week prior to shipping to maintain that fun element of surprise for our consumers. We love building our community and seeing our members finished product every month.
Sarah is definitely the crafty one and tends to lead the creative efforts. We make a great team because she’ll innovate these interesting, out-of-the-box ideas and then I’ll test them with my kids to ensure that that the “average” person can make a finished product that still looks Instagram-worthy. As a brand we’re really focused on accessibility. From our price points to our baking crafts, we want everyone to feel like they can bake sweet memories and create a finished product they’re proud of.
We love that you focus on family connections through the kitchen. What life skills do you feel are taught during these baking sessions with your kids?
From fine motor skills to math and science, there are a lot of skills that are naturally developed through baking. But it’s really the connections we make that continue to serve as the driving force behind our passion for this brand. I can ask my daughters how their days were and easily get a one-word answers. But the second we pick up a whisk and start baking together, they start opening up to me. Stirring, baking, and eventually eating together creates a unique bond that can’t be duplicated in any other way.
How many people do you have working for your company and what do you look for when making a new hire?
We are a small but powerful team of 12. The ability to be resourceful and a positive attitude are two key qualities we look for in everyone we hire. As a start-up, we need people who are able to go beyond their job and look for out-of-the-box solutions to help make stuff happen. And positive energy is infectious. We’re in the midst of building a brand so everyone’s contribution is critical to our success. We work long hours and a lot of weekends so we need people who are as excited and invested as we are. And to be honest, it’s often those late nights that make us the closest and help generate our most creative ideas. We’ve definitely become a family at this point.
Do you have a company mantra or set of ideals that mean something to you? If so what are they?
We’re on a mission to disrupt a sleepy category and upgrade the modern pantry. If we do our job right, Foodstirs will make high quality sustainable, and delicious quick-scratch mixes available to everyone.
As a brand we’re really focused on accessibility. From our price points to out baking crafts, we want everyone to feel like they can bake sweet memories and create a finished product they’re proud of.
We’ve always heard that starting a business with a partner is the way to go, but involving friendship with launching a start-up can be tricky. What advice do you have for working with friends? Do you do anything special together to maintain your relationship?
Sarah and I are definitely #WorkWives through and through, and for us, our previously established friendship helped us build a solid working relationship. Creatively we balance each other out which has proven helpful in enabling us to take on different responsibilities and aspects of the business. We respect each other’s opinions and have made it a point to maintain open, honest communication at all times. And through the long working hours and especially the time spent on the road, we manage to have fun! Having a co-pilot to experience the high’s and lows of startup life make the entire journey that much more worth it.
What is the best advice you’ve received? What advice would you give to other mamas wanting to start a business?
Surround yourself with experts. Our success wouldn’t have been possible without the candid advice and feedback of trusted colleagues. You’d be surprised how many people aren’t just willing, but truly eager to help.
Being surrounded by delicious baked goods must be tempting! How do you stay fit while launching a business and raising your family?
Everything in moderation! All of Foodstirs baking mixes are made with premium, high quality ingredients so you get that dose of sweetness in one cookie or brownie without needing to eat a high volume of it. I definitely don’t deprive myself. One of my favorite things to do is “taste test” all of the recipes on our recipe page.
Do you have any non-negotiables with the balance between work and family?
Family dinner! Regardless of what I have going on each week, I make it a critical point to sit down as a family and have dinner together at least 3 times per week. Sometimes that requires me to leave the office mid-project and resume late at night once the kids have gone to bed, but I wouldn’t trade that precious time for anything!
You’re a self-proclaimed profession juggler (ha!). Do you have any other hidden talents we should know about? What are your tried and true ways for lifting your spirits?
Haha- I do have that on my Instagram description. My juggling skills are reserved for life skills only—motherhood, work life, family, etc. Sometimes it feels like a circus act but I won’t be auditioning for Cirque Du Soleil any time soon. I have learned to not be so hard on myself and be content with the present while also looking ahead for future successes.
As simple as it might sound, laughter is the tried and true secret sauce to lifting my spirits. At the office, we’ll be in the midst of a stressful moment and all of a sudden someone will crack a joke, or pull up a funny video on YouTube. The second we’re able to laugh, everything instantly feels better.
From fine motor skills to math and science, there are a lot of skills that are naturally developed through baking. But it’s really the connections we make that continue to serve as the driving force behind our passion for this brand.
3 pearls of wisdom
Appreciate the small moments. As humans, we’re often focused on big lifecycle events or experiences. But it’s those everyday connections that really make me appreciate my life as a mom.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Some of the best parenting wisdom I’ve ever received came from friends and family members. Having an open, supportive group of friends to share my own mom “fails” and “wins”has been incredibly helpful.
"Guilt is a wasted emotion. Don’t give into it.” No one is perfect 100% of the time. Give yourself a break. We’re all doing our best and trying to figure this out together.