Lulu Cohen-Farnell, founder of Real Food for Real Kids and No. 53 on the 2016 W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs, explains why she started her company, how her husband got involved and what she does to keep her business and marital partnerships harmonious.
I started Real Food for Real Kids because I was shocked to find what they served to kids in daycare centres.
“It was 2004, and my son was getting ready to go to daycare. It just made sense for me that kids should eat healthy food, delicious food, and that we should create healthy eating habits at a young age.
“I brought some of my food in and very shortly after was asked by the daycare to help them revamp the menu and figure out something that was healthier. So I brought some ideas to the table. I created an organic snack program I’d deliver once a week, as a pilot program. They loved it. Six months later they decided to expand that program to 12 more childcare centres.
“It started as a little project, something I cared about. I had a full-time job and was really busy with my own kids. I was really busy, I was a new mom, but it was so important to me. But when those 12 centres signed on, I thought ‘This could become much bigger.’ I had no idea how big it would become or how it would work.
“When I started, my husband, David, got really excited. He said, ‘Let’s get a truck—I’m gonna help you.’ He’s just like me: He likes to troubleshoot and fix things.
“It was definitely a risk to go into business together. The key is not only having good communication but also understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We decided early on who fills what role: I am the ‘why’ and the ‘what’; David is the ‘who,’ the ‘how’ and the ‘when.’ It works well.
“We do have clashes, but we’ve been coached on how to handle that. We have brought in a mediator when we didn’t agree, which really helped. And we try not to talk about certain issues at the dinner table. But we don’t set definitive boundaries.
“It’s hard to say, ‘Tonight we’re not going to talk about work.’ What we do is an extension of our lives. And we love what we do.”