When Angela Sutherland and Evelyn Rusli launched Yumi, a nutritious, subscription-based baby food company, their hope was to access an untapped market of parents who wanted convenient, nutrient rich baby food, but didn't want the hassle of preparing their own - think Blue Apron for babies. The team was able to raise $4.1 million in funding and launched to the California market on June 13th. We sat down with these badass entrepreneurs to find out what inspires them, their biggest challenges, and what they would want if they could have a super power.
*To celebrate their achievements and bring their (amazing! Seriously, we've tried it.), we have teamed up with Yumi and are including a complimentary week of food to any California resident who orders the Tired as a Mother Kit.
What has been your biggest obstacle when it has come to starting your business?
Angela: The biggest obstacle has always been myself. I think we all have to learn to get out of our own way sometimes.
Evelyn: I would argue that taking that initial, scary leap is the biggest obstacle. It’s easy to succumb to the doubts. You have to be a little crazy to consciously decide to build a startup. You’re up against a lot. One, you know that most startups fail and many investors will remind you of this along the way. Two, you’re very aware of all the things you’re not qualified for. In some ways, I made the decision pretty quickly with Angela. But I also remember several long, anxiety-filled nights, wondering, “who was I to believe I could tackle this enormous undertaking?”, “who was I to give up a career I had spent a decade building?” Ultimately, I put all those questions aside, and thought about the regret I would feel if I didn't do this. That made the decision really easy.
What would you tell women who want to start their own business?
Angela: Surround yourself with people who have skillsets and experience that you don’t have. Have an honest conversation with yourself about shortcomings and areas where you still need to learn. Stay firm on your vision and mission, but be open to letting other people help you. Starting a company is a humbling experience. The most successful people I know are acutely aware of the limitations of their knowledge and actively seek out people who know more than them. Also, you never know where those conversations will lead. You’ll be surprised how far, “Can you help me with…” will take you.
Evelyn: Own your accomplishments. I’ve seen brilliant women shy away from owning their success. Yes, it’s important to realize the contributions of the team and to be magnanimous in giving credit, but dammit, sometimes you have to own it.
What is a piece of advice you have for working moms?
Angela: I think it’s important to find a way to give your kids’ a window into your career. My daughter is young but I often tell her why I work and that I hope she is also lucky enough to be able to work on something that she truly loves. I also try to relate going to work to her going to school and try to bring her to work once in awhile, so she can see where I work. Will she remember those conversations years from now? Perhaps not word-for-word, but I hope she recalls how happy her mother was at work and draws inspiration from that.
Where do you draw strength?
Angela: My children. To be honest, it’s hard to spend time away from my family as a working mom. My daughter, who is 3, can now articulate that she misses me and when she asks, “Mom, why do you have to go to work?” with those giant brown eyes, it literally slays me. My heart breaks into a million pieces. But, I know that what I’m putting out into the world will make them proud when they are older. Balancing a career and pursuing your dream while managing a family is a constant struggle, it’s never easy, but I always think about the example I’m setting for them in the long term.
Evelyn: It’s amazing how small moments can provide such potent fuel. Every day, we get messages from parents who tell us how Yumi is helping them in their lives and how good they feel to be nourishing their babies with something they actually feel good about. When days are crazy and things feel out of control, a positive, encouraging note from a customer always brings me back to center. It’s a great reminder of why we do what we do. Startup life is hard, you have to savor those moments.
If you had 30 extra minutes a day, what would you do with them?
Angela: SLEEP! Or 30 minutes more of uninterrupted, quality time with my kids and family. But, if we’re being completely honest here - SLEEP!
Evelyn: As an office, we are all pretty regimented about working out and keeping up healthy habits. For instance, we do 8:30am yoga together as a team. But it would be amazing to have an extra 30 minutes to meditate and clear my mind, so I can start (or end) each day with a more peaceful mind and clear focus. This is forever on my list of things I NEED to do, but actually NEVER do.
What do you do the second you get home?
Angela: Change into comfortable clothes, and put my kids to bed. It’s a tradition and near sacred to me. I try to always carve out this time to unplug from the day and be truly focused on them. They know this is our time. I love giving them baths, reading to them, and just spending time with them as we all end our day.
Evelyn: I take my perfectly derpy dog Raja for a walk, and if my fiancé is home at the same time, we enjoy cooking dinner together or maybe going out to eat if we’re feeling ambitious. It’s not too glamorous but those are the good nights. Since he’s also an entrepreneur, there are definitely nights when we both get in at 11pm and just pass out. We’re a very fun couple.
Do you have a nightly routine? If so, what is it?
Evelyn: Dry brushing before I go to bed, a slightly too-hot shower, and a small army of facial creams and ointments including the Bright Eyes under eye cream from Goldfaden MD - it works miracles.
How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Angela: Sleep has been elusive since I’ve had my first child! I try to exercise every day to de-stress and decompress, but as many parents will say, I no longer make my sleep schedule.
Evelyn: Minimum 5. Maximum 7.You don’t want to see me on 4.5 hours, it’s not the best look. I wish I could force myself to sleep more but my body refuses after 7 hours. In days of yore, I used to be able to sleep till 10am on Sunday and it was bliss, I guess this is what happens after too many years of adulting.
What do you wear to bed?
Angela: I wear long sleeves and pants- I get cold!
Evelyn : A mix between my fiancé’s vintage oh-so-soft T-shirts and simple over-sized slip dresses. Soft and loose fabrics that are lying around are my go-to but lately I’ve been wishing for something a little more sophisticated like the Lunya Silk Set.
Is there anything you would change about yourself?
Angela: I am often over-analytical. I’m sure my colleagues at Yumi would laugh and say that’s an understatement.
Evelyn: I wish I was more naturally extroverted. There’s a part of me that will always be an awkward, geeky elementary school kid who had a so-so grasp of the English language. I was a journalist, but in my heart of hearts, I am a forever introvert.
What is your biggest vice? Be honest.
Angela: Fried foods. I’m a Midwestern girl, so I’ll forever like a fried…anything.
Evelyn: I can sit in chaos for a little bit longer than I should — in other words, my desk is a mess.
Who is your inspiration?
Angela: My mom has always been my greatest inspiration. She was an entrepreneur and until the day she passed she was always my biggest supporter.
Evelyn: My fiancé Dan - he’s relentlessly optimistic and has been such a pillar of support. He was the first to whisper in my ear that I should leave journalism and become an entrepreneur. I think one of the best things a partner can do is to always expect more of you, to expect greatness of you, even if you don’t quite see it in the moment.
What is your greatest ambition?
Angela : With Yumi, we hope to push an antiquated industry forward. Regardless of the financial outcome, success will be if we have changed the way parents think about nutrition for their kids and if we can reshape an industry. I hope the whole market will move towards healthier, more nutritious options.
Evelyn: Angela says it best. The goal has always been to create positive impact at scale and move the needle on nutrition. My family’s history is checkered with diabetes and obesity, so I know firsthand how poor health can impact a family and quality of life. To help as many families as possible is our greatest ambition.
What is your biggest fear?
Angela: My biggest fear is that my own limitations will prevent this company from reaching its potential.
Evelyn: Not evolving fast enough personally to help support the growth of Yumi. And heights, ugh, still waiting to outgrow that one.
What superpower do you wish you had?
Angela: Being in two places at once
Evelyn: Reading people’s minds, though there is that risk of knowing too much.