Health-conscious mom Jennifer Giorgianni spent much of the lockdown searching the internet for a pancake mix that would be suitable for her baby to eat and remembered being shocked that this did not exist.
“I thought, 'Wow, someone should really do this,'" said Giorgianni, owner of Riley's Kitchen, a business designed to help moms provide healthy food for their babies.
The Riley's Kitchen’s story started in early 2021 when Giorgianni struggled to feed her 11-month-old daughter solid food. After doing 'baby-led weaning' for a few months, she started looking at pre-packaged options to make cooking a bit easier.
“I was looking for a pancake mix that was healthy and didn’t contain any sugar so that I could give it to my daughter and save myself the hassle of always making them from scratch.”
But then Giorgianni realized she couldn’t find what she wanted.
“Essentially, everything made to make cooking a bit easier contains added sugars or salt, which are inappropriate for children under 12 months.”
That’s when Georgianni started to make her own mix in bulk so that it would be easy for her to make on busy mornings.
“I began to share my mix with friends who quickly became dedicated customers.”
A few months later, Giorgianni’s idea took on a life of its own and now is available in local stores in and around Barrie, including Serenity Birth Studio, Oh Beehive Eco Goods, Blueberry Moon, Nicholyn Farms, Sobeys, as well as online at rileyskitchen.ca.
Riley's Kitchen offers pancake mix and muffin mix. Each mix is made from organic, plant-based ingredients and is sugar-free and salt-free.
Giorgianni said the overall reviews are positive, and people seem very happy to support a local business.
“I am always excited when I get a message from a new customer saying how much they love the product.”
Having worked as a cashier at Sobeys at the age of 14, Giorgianni feels like things have come full circle to now have a product at markets and at Sobeys in particular.
Giorgianni also worked at a farmers' market stand as a student, which is one reason why she feels very strongly about the environmental impact of the foods we eat.
“I think Riley's Kitchen is filling a hole in what is currently out there. People are looking for more whole-food products with simple ingredients to feed their families.”
Looking back, Giorgianni says the feedback from her older sister, also a mom, played a significant role in her decision to start the business.
“I knew she wouldn’t hold back and would be 100 per cent honest, and she is also a bit of a skeptic. When she gave me the green light and loved the mix, I felt confident to go forward with it," said Giorgianni.
While raising her daughter, now two years old, and her nine-month baby, Giorgianni looks forward to the next steps in her business.
“I am hoping to roll out a cookie mix that is ready for retail stores in the next year. I am also hoping to expand into more stores across Ontario.”