Small Business: Local mompreneurs deliver the munchies

Betty Dillard

Business partners Abby Flack and Brett Oliver fell into entrepreneurship after a hiatus between successful careers and motherhood. In June, the women launched Your Munch LLC, a Fort Worth-based e-commerce business that helps other busy parents tackle a problem they know all too well – lunch for their munchkins. The “munch bunch” delivers healthful, nutritious children’s lunches for busy parents who need a break. Your Munch works with local daycare centers and private schools without cafeteria services, providing fresh, chef-prepared lunches that are ordered online a week before. Munch was created by mixing Flack’s desire to help other overworked parents with Oliver’s passion for healthful eating and living. They hope to eliminate the time struggles for busy parents by providing the opportunity to turn lunch over to professionals. “We were those moms that thought we could do it all and quickly learned it wasn’t possible after having kids,” Oliver said. Both stay-at-home moms itching to get back to work, Oliver and Flack are typical mompreneurs, female business owners who are actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur. Mompreneur is a growing trend in entrepreneurship that allows women to sell products or services from home via the Internet rather than relying on foot traffic to a traditional brick-and-mortar store. In the United Kingdom it’s known as “mumpreneur.” “I bring to the table this need to help working parents feel a little bit less stressed about balancing work and family,” said Flack, 35. A native of Houston, Flack is a business graduate of the University of Richmond with a specialty in financial compliance. She and her husband enjoyed 10 years working and living in New York City, London and Amsterdam before returning home and settling down in Texas and starting a family. Although happy to be a stay-at-home mom to her now 26-month-old son, Flack soon discovered there are never enough hours in the day for a busy parent – and she missed working. “I wanted to get back to doing something. I wanted to work,” Flack said, “but I wanted to find how I could spend more quality time with my son versus rushing around from point A to point B.” Oliver, 34, grew up in San Angelo in a family rooted in healthful living and good nutrition. Her father had switched career paths from anesthesiology to wellness medicine. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in biomedical science and earned an MBA from Texas Christian University. Oliver spent more than 10 years in the corporate world working in sales and as a distribution specialist before deciding to take a break and devote more time to her children, an active preschooler and a toddler. Thoughtful about serving her kids fresh, nutritious foods void of additives and preservatives, Oliver wants to make sure other parents know how to eat and live a healthy life. “The idea for Munch came from helping give parents extra time,” Oliver said. “But my reason has been the nutrition.” Flack and Oliver, who had met through mutual friends, started tossing around the idea of a lunch delivery business after they discovered the same challenge and goal of making their kids wholesome, creative lunches. “And what can you make at 6 in the morning that will keep until lunchtime?” Oliver asked. The partners pooled their savings, had a website designed, did market research and conducted surveys to find what parents wanted in their children’s lunches. “All the parents said that healthy meals were their first consideration,” Flack said. “The feedback we’re receiving is that the quality of our food is very good.” The meals are prepared in a commercially certified kitchen by Joey Diomede, a Fort Worth chef and caterer who makes organic lunches for his own children. All the Munch menus offer a variety of fresh, creative foods, including fruits, veggies, salads, meats, pastas, sandwiches and wraps. Munch meals contain no nuts, no added nitrates, no high fructose corn syrup, no MGS and no artificial flavors, and the food is never fried. The lunches meet national standards, providing daily nutritional needs for children ages 2 to 13. Oliver takes note of what kids eat and won’t eat. Grilled cheese sandwiches have been added per request. “We’ve learned so much in the first month doing this,” Oliver said. “For instance, kids don’t like lettuce.” Registration is easy. Prices are affordable, too, at $5.50 per meal or $25 a week, including delivery. The website takes payment through Paypal. Meals are packaged in brown bags and labeled with the child’s name and a Munch sticker. The business currently delivers to Bright Horizons Montessori at Sundance in downtown Fort Worth and to Spanish Schoolhouse in Fort Worth. Oliver and Flack said five more private schools will come onboard in September. The owners already have doubled their business and have gotten calls from schools in Irving and Dallas for delivered lunches. “We’ve got that good feeling with this. Children are getting healthy meals and to have other schools reach out to us tells us we’re doing something right,” Flack said. Teachers, administrators and staff began clamoring for the meals so Your Munch will soon roll out adult-size lunches, with plans to add breakfast and after-school snacks, even possibly dinner items. Oliver and Flack expect to add deliverers this fall, and they hope to expand the concept to local hospitals and other businesses. “Our initial drive was healthy food for kids but like any business we’re going to have to adapt and go where the demand is,” Flack said. “But healthy food for children will always be our No. 1 priority.”