Interview with Marisa Teiner, founder, Feel Better Pops, the first therapeutic ice pops for kids.
I’m excited to kick-off my Mompreneur Interview Series with Marisa Teiner. I first learned about Feel Better Pops on Instagram, when a mutual friend posted about the brand. When I saw that Marisa was a local NJ mom with a cool company, I naturally reached out to see if she needed a publicist. I had the pleasure of working with her to introduce Feel Better Pops to local media and have since been watching the company grow its distribution. Check the freezer section of your grocery store and you might just see Feel Better Pops!
Below, meet Marisa, a mom of two and culinary nutritionist. In our interview, she discusses the stress of being a mom boss, healthy snacks for moms and kids on the go, and why everyone should have probiotics in their diet. If you’re thinking about launching a frozen food business, you will want to hear what she has to say!
Being able to help small business owners and goal-getting moms like Marisa is one of the reasons I love being a publicist and I’m excited for you all to get to know her!
What inspired you to start Feel Better Pops?
Marisa: The inspiration for FBP is my son, Chace. Chace had a bad stomach virus and he was not able to hold food or drinks down for days. I had a newborn in the house who had been hospitalized at two weeks for bronchiolitis. I was freaking out that she was going to catch whatever Chace had. So, I needed to find him some comfort and put something in his belly that was healing for him. He loves ice pops. I whipped him up an ice pop with herbs, coconut water and probiotics. He was able to hold it down, he enjoyed it thus felt better. I thought maybe I have something here and thus the story became.
Starting any business has its challenges, but you started an ice pop business, which I imagine has its own complications when it comes to production and shipping samples. What are the three biggest hurdles you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Marisa: The three biggest challenges in starting an ice pop company is distribution, sourcing ingredients and cash flow.
I sometimes laughed at why my son pivoted me in a direction of frozen food. Like, why not something shelf-stable, like lollipops? Frozen foods are stressful. How do you get product to the stores and what guarantee will your product last from store to consumers home? How do you present samples for events and festivals? We spent a good amount of money early on, purchasing dry ice (we are experts in dry ice now). Then we invested in car freezers. We invested on generators for bigger shipments to store to store. Once you’re in the store delivering caseloads at receiving, you’re sweating thinking, “are these pops melting while I await to get checked in?,” especially when it’s a hot summer day!
As a small company you face challenges with suppliers. They want you to buy pallet sizes of ingredients, bucket load of products. It was hard to source and find companies that can supply us with what we can afford.
Always, the biggest challenge is cash flow. We need a walk-in freezer, a frozen food truck, ingredients, and marketing, marketing, marketing. We work with what we have. We try to make smart cost-effective moves and thankfully we have been blessed with people who want to help and want us to succeed. We work with people who understand the challenges.
Are you a one-women show or do you have help now?
Marisa: The idea is mine. I am the FOUNDER and CEO of the company and Chace will always be the face of Feel Better Pops. The company is a partnership and I have members who like me are the blood, sweat and tears of this company.
We have since hired a demo team and a broker to help with sales and marketing.
How do you balance work and family life?
Marisa: Balance is hard. How am I going to make dance for my daughter or a travel game for my son plus be sure there’s inventory for shipment? It’s overwhelming and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night freaking out. But I use breathing techniques and I walk a lot to sort through my mind. “Me time” is just as important as time given to my family and business. I also ask for help. I thankfully have a huge support system which is amazing. My family and friends are on this ride with me and I am forever grateful for the love and support I receive daily. And there’s always so much laundry to be done!
How many hours a week do you spend running the business side of your company and how many hours do you spend on social media promoting?
Marisa: Time just rolls over. Your mind never stops when you have a business. I’ll post something at 3 a.m. Friday nights are often my time in the kitchen making a new batch.
What is a typical day for you in the world of Feel Better Pops? How has your role changed as the company has grown?
Marisa: You wear lots of caps. One day I’ll be producing batches and purchasing ingredients, another day at a demo or doing a delivery. There’s always something to be done. Thankfully my team is resilient and can flow from one task to another.
What are your favorite healthy snacks or meals to feed your kids?
Marisa: I love giving my kids a hard-boiled egg with a dash of salt and pepper. Eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet. My daughter loves avocados. She will sit with a half of avocado with a spoon and just eat it up. Of course, a Feel Better Pop! We are an Italian household, so cheese plays a big role in healthy snack preparations. I often make a cheese platter with grapes and crackers and raw veggies with hummus when they arrive home from school. One of my favorite meals is to make is pesto. They have no idea I add in spinach, hazelnuts or walnuts sometimes even an avocado in the pesto.
For all the busy, working moms out there—what are healthy snacks we can eat while we’re on the go?
Marisa: I love KIND bars. They are my go-to snack: gluten free and tasty. I enjoy hardboiled eggs as well and nuts. I eat a handful of nuts a day. I enjoy fruits in the morning. The natural sugar is what I need to get my day started. We live in a world now of so many healthy options from Chickpea Puffs to Cauliflower Crackers – its easy now to go healthy!
Why is it so important to have probiotics in our diet and what’s the easiest way to get them?
Marisa: Probiotics are effective against various digestive problems, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea and IBS. They keep your gut in check. In addition, not only do they help with digestion, probiotics may also improve heart health, immune function and symptoms of depression and anxiety. The easiest way is to enjoy is by eating a FBP!
What was the scariest thing about starting your own company?
Marisa: The scariest thing about starting a company is thinking, “how am I really going to do this?” With every hurdle I get closer to a new goal achieved or a new lesson learned. I have never been afraid of challenges or risks. I spread my wings and smile. Life is to short to be scared. And there’s sometimes negative chatter…I’ve been called a dreamer and that’s okay. It’s my fuel. I think if you’re an entrepreneur you have to have thick skin and a strong attitude.
What advice do you have for other moms thinking about making the leap?
Marisa: Listen to your gut, find your support system and believe in your product or service. Believe so badly it becomes a child to you.
You’re also the spokesperson for Alkazone, an alkaline and antioxidant water. Before working with you on Alkazone PR, I knew that it was important for me to be on an alkaline diet, but I didn’t know there were so many benefits to drinking alkaline water. And Alkazone has selenium, a mineral known to play an important role in preventing and decreasing depression and anxiety. Can you speak about these topics for anyone reading who wants to step up their drinking water game and drink a water that can benefit their health?
Marisa: When the body is overly acidic, it creates an unwanted environment in which illness, bacteria, and yeast thrive. It also takes minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium from vital organs and bones to neutralize the acid and remove it from the body. Like everything else life, the ultimate goal is about getting the balance right. An over acidic system is fundamental to bringing the body back to vitality. As you know, the foods you eat have a powerful impact on your health. Eating foods that are more alkaline can be health-promoting, and overall these types of foods are
nutrient dense. These foods are fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables. Acidic foods are
meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol. A very easy way to balance your pH is drinking Alkaline Water. Alkaline water that has a pH level of 9.5 is safe. Also, what is the mineral composition? Does it include sodium? I always look for the addition of
Selenium. Selenium is antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body
and found in foods. They help defend your cells from damage caused by potentially
harmful molecules known as free radicals.
What’s your personal motto?
Marisa: For my kids – “If you put your mind to it you CAN do it.”
For me: “Without love in a dream it will never come true.”
What or who inspires you?
Marisa: My kids inspire me. I want them to be proud of me and what I have achieved.
I also have a special angel watching over me. He inspires me every day to not take any shit and keep going harder and stronger.
Where can we get Feel Better Pops?
Marisa: We are growing. We are in a number of Shop Rites, independent food stores and compound pharmacies. It’s best to check our store locator on our website www.feelbetterpops.com
About Feel Better Pops
Feel Better Pops are the first therapeutic ice pop for kids. Developed by Marisa Teiner (nutritionist, health supportive chef, and most importantly, mom) and Flock Food Solutions food scientists, Feel Better Pops are the only ice pops on the market that can support immune and digestive health claims. Ingredients include wholesome fruit, coconut water, a hint of herbs and GanedenBC30®Probiotic. There are no artificial colors, flavors, dyes, parabens or genetically modified or engineered ingredients. Every ingredient, including the sweetener, is chosen not only for taste but functionality and low allergen risk. Feel Better Pops are dairy-free and no gluten is used in the ingredients. Families seeking to support their wellness or enjoy a healthy refreshment can now purchase Feel Better Pops at select locations in NJ, NY and PA. For more information, visit www.feelbetterpops.com. Connect on Facebook (www.facebook.com/feelbetterpops) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/feelbetterpops).
Lesson learned from this post: Starting a frozen food business is especially challenging, but if you have the determination and team behind you, success will follow!
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