We've been fan-girling for a while over Miriam Cooper, of Mimi's Bowl. Miriam is mum to a little girl and a baby boy, and cooks modern baby and toddler recipes from her home in West London. She blogs and posts daily about what they eat at home and shares her honest experiences of cooking at home for her family; whilst offering parent cooking hacks and recipes.
When she shared that her mission is to end “babyfood panic”: an anxiety about how to feed your baby and what to feed your baby - we pounced at the chance to share her story of juggling entrepreneurship and motherhood.
1. We'd love to know - what were you doing before having children, and how did you make the career shift you've made in the time since?
Before having children, I was a womenswear fashion buyer for Harrods Ltd. I loved my job, but my life could not have been more different. I was beautifully dressed in an immaculate wardrobe and I was travelling constantly for work and buying appointments. I planned my life and diary around the major fashion weeks. I was rarely home to cook and would often pick up my supper in the Harrods food halls, on my way home! Today being a mum of two and cooking for them from scratch has seen my life and career shift more than I could ever have imagined.
I would say though that I have always been a creative and driven person, I didn’t hesitate when I saw a gap in the market for Mimi’s Bowl. I knew I wanted to share my family’s food journey and also create a much more modern and realistic take on family cooking. My background in business has been a really helpful foundation for me: there are core learnings which I draw on daily.
2. What came first - your children or your entrepreneurial spirit? How has motherhood motivated you to start your own business?
I would always have described myself as being a hard worker and ambitious in my nature. However since having children I have more confidence in myself and my abilities. I am also much more aware of my weaknesses; I know when to ask for help. I have definitely learnt how to juggle my time and prioritise what needs to get done. I love working with other parents too (for the same reason), they work so efficiently. Raising children is a wonderful challenge but any time you choose to take away from your kids or family, needs to be worth it.
3. We love all your recipes and advice for weaning, and for parenting in general. Why did you decide to start Mimi's Bowl? How did the idea come about, and how has it evolved (if at all) in the years since?
I wanted to reach out to other parents, who felt as I did about weaning. I felt totally overwhelmed and unprepared. I had just about established a sleeping routine and now there was the next challenge: food.
I had two goals when I started Mimi’s Bowl: end “babyfood panic” by talking about it. (By “babyfood panic” I mean an anxiety about how to feed your baby and what to feed your baby). Secondly, I wanted to really re-think babyfood and family food for a busy modern parent. There are so few relatable parent voices out there, and even less tried and tested parent-friendly recipes. Only a parent, who has been there, understands the determined rejection given by your baby, toddler, or child, when they squirm at the sight of food, you have lovingly made for them. I have been there.
Today, I post and write about children’s food to try and make it easier for parents who want their kids to be eating more healthily, with less hassle.
4. How did you find weaning your daughter, and how has it changed with your son?
I struggled when it came to feeding my daughter solid foods. I searched high and low for a relatable parent-voice sharing realistic recipes for babies, toddlers and young families. I just couldn’t find one. That was the beginning of my business: I unconsciously began making lists of how I wanted to do things differently and recipes that worked for us. Those lists and recipes grew into an online presence with an Instagram feed.
The immediate response from other parents/ or carers of children, who felt similarly, was really exciting and humbling. Soon a wonderfully supportive parent community grew into Mimi’s Bowl. I hope it’s a place where parents feel heard and can find useful information and ideas about children and eating. Feeding kids isn’t always straight forward, I want to pool our experiences.
With my second child, and a lot more know how under my belt, my weaning experience was brilliant. My son loves food and I love cooking for him!
5. What's your favourite part about providing this amazing blog and service for families?
I’m very inspired by the other parents I come into contact with, through my work. Their strength, creativity and passion are incredibly inspiring to me. Whether they are focusing on being amazing parents, building new businesses or managing existing ones. I have always wanted Mimi’s Bowl to be an effective tool and resource for them.
6. So much of what you do comes out of your own kitchen and own home, and that's part of what people love - how genuine your blog is. How do you find balance when your work is your family to some extent?
I might have to come back to you on this one! Balance with two small children isn’t easily achievable. It is a work in progress for me and I try every day to walk the tightrope of getting it right… I am not very good at prioritising myself and my to do list can get on top of me. I would feel I was doing other parents a disservice to say it isn’t tough juggling work and family, because it really is. But I choose to do what I do, as I believe in my work and that is a key driver for me.
7. Do you think there's value for your children to see their mother working and running her own business?
Both my husband and I run are own companies, we have a shared work ethic. It is one of the strengths of our relationship. We both very much hope that is a gift we can pass onto our children. Being passionate about what you do is a gift.
8. We've loved seeing Mimi's Bowl evolve over the years - what's in the works?
I have so many hopes and plans for Mimi’s Bowl, the key thing is juggling my ambitions, with the demands of two very small children who need me. I hope in the immediate future our online community continues to expand and grow. This year I want to share more topics through the feed, that feel relevant for my audience. Everything from lifestyle advice, such as organising your home, to living with less plastic, to the importance of self-care for parents.
Finally, my long-term goal has always been to publish a book, for parents to buy when they start their own baby eating adventure. The printed voice, with realistic recipes and ideas that I was looking for myself, four years ago.