A solution to mealtime struggles with toddlers has assumed the form of small plastic food pouches that hold purees, yogurts or smoothies.
And if there’s something Maggie Crawford and Melissa Winn agree on — besides that Woodland is as capable of producing aspiring businesswomen as anywhere else — it’s that these pouches certainly save mothers a headache.
“It was the sort of thing where I’d go into the grocery store shopping with my kids and quickly grab some of those (products) in an aisle to give myself some time and sanity,” Crawford said. “They’d just sit there enjoying them. I thought it was great. But there were some aspects I didn’t like, one being that it was disposable, not recyclable.”
Crawford thought a reusable alternative to buying and throwing away these pouches, which cost several dollars each, would be preferable. Her solution? To make a product of that sort herself. Thus, she began developing what became known as Little Green Pouch in October 2011.
That’s around the time she approached Winn, a friend from when they both lived in Woodland. Winn helped Crawford organize a manufacturer for the product, finalize its design and bring a website online. Together, they released Little Green Pouch after a year of development.
“We were the first reusable food pouch, in the form that we have, on the market,” Crawford said. “Quickly thereafter, there were many companies that followed. … We’ve done well so far, and gotten some interesting and exciting press.”
But the women struggled to get their product noticed over the copycats because each has other obligations that keep them busy. Crawford has her own law office in the Bay Area, while Winn oversees two companies that she launched before this one — an interior design firm and a design-related website, sproost.com.
The goal for the duo, then, is to either hire enough employees to run the company without their constant presence, or scale back their other professional responsibilities. Given the shared business-mindedness of Crawford and Winn, the latter option seems less likely.
“I do think that growing up in Woodland was a big part of that,” Winn said. “My grandpa was a beekeeper, and worked for himself, and my uncle Mel owned Winn Ditch Liners. On top of that, a lot of friends’ parents owned farmland or small businesses related to agriculture, and it was always something I admired.”
The Woodland natives have heavily marketed the affordable, renewable and eco-friendly aspects of Little Green Pouch. In addition to being dishwasher-safe, the pouch promotes infant self-feeding.
Winn said parents who use Little Green Pouch say they enjoy knowing what their kids are eating. Winn herself had an anecdote that spoke to this:
“My daughter Bailey loves fruit, but she’s never been great at eating veggies. From early on I had to get creative,” she explained. “There are quite a few recipes on our website that I make for her that are packed with ‘hidden’ veggies.
“I give her yogurt from a pouch every day with an ounce of spinach or kale that I have previously pureed and frozen for her. Despite her boycott of all vegetables, she gets a good serving of one or more with every meal.”
Besides it being a conduit for healthy foods for babies and young children, adults are interested in the product as well. Crawford said athletes have considered using it as a way to eat protein food supplements on the go.
“People are excited to hear that we’re two moms that did this ourselves,” she said. “In return, they like to offer feedback to improve the product. It has really been a collaborate experience with our customers.”
The company website, littlegreenpouch.com, lists online retailers through which the product can be purchased. Nugget Markets, a local grocery chain headquartered in Woodland, also stocks Little Green Pouch on its shelves.
“We’re profitable and sales seem to be increasing,” Crawford said. “That’s a great place to be. We just want to continue to grow, and maybe get in some more major retailers. People are still finding out about us, and excited that we exist.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett