Natural healing

A natural diet has meant a life changing improvement for a provedore’s son…and a walk down the red carpet.

Kristen Morrison was a fashion designer when her son Gryffin was born with Down syndrome. Already committed to a natural therapy approach to her family’s health, so Kristen looked into what this diagnosis would mean for Gryff and realised the important role that nutrition would play in his development. Kristen learnt about which foods enables our bodies to thrive, and which foods are detrimental to our long-term health because they require so much effort in being digested. Kristen has subsequently applied those learnings, which were so instrumental in Gryff defying the odds, into the food she creates for the Organic Provedore.

“This plunged me into a new world of food and its power to heal,” Kristen says. “Gryff thrived, defied the odds in terms of health outcomes, and eventually I felt the pull of retail…and got into the food business!”

In helping Gryff to become healthy and strong, Kristen Iearnt the benefits of following a low-tox lifestyle, feeding him organic food free from all gluten, dairy and sugar. As a result, he hardly ever got sick, despite the pessimistic forecasts.

“Our doctors were astounded,” Kristen explains. “I began to realise that really, this is how we all should be living, and I saw room in the market for prepared foods – including treats – which promoted optimal wellness. Frankly, I wanted my son to be able to walk into a café and be spoilt for choice!”

“Get informed about the costs of start up BEFORE you even register your business name – R&D can take many years and many thousands of dollars and if you don’t have the right expectations or resources.”

Sustainability is very important to Kristen, who describes herself as a purist – something she’s resolved to despite describing this determination as “a pitfall in business” – and she set out to provide the best possible experience for our customers, in every way.

“We don’t use the ingredients that most food businesses do as vegetable / canola oil,” Kristen says. “We recycle our glass containers to minimise landfill (tens of thousands by now), and despite the very practical temptation to change to plastic packaging, we continue to use only compostable boxes for our take-away products.” Kristen’s reward for sticking to her guns on this is the fact that more and more of her customers are demanding these points of difference nowadays.

The success of Organic Provedore hasn’t come

overnight, with the business evolving over an eight-year period that has involved Kristen consulting her regular customers about every change and modification to the products and services she provides.

“It has, quite literally, grown organically,” Kristen says. “There is so much power in asking for, and listening to, customer feedback.”

The other piece of advice Kristen would share with others looking to start their own business, based on the challenges she has experienced on her own journey, is to get your figures right.

“Get advice from people who can genuinely help you put together a business plan,” Kristen implores. “Get informed about the costs of start up BEFORE you even register your business name. Research and development can take many years and many thousands of dollars and if you don’t have the right expectations or resources to bring it to fruition, you’re honestly better off just filing it under daydreams!”

Having worked through things to “get those figures right”, Kristen has been able to expand her offering significantly. The business, based in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern, produces take-home meals, cakes and treats in its organic kitchen, catering to a range of special dietary requirements including Keto, Low FODMAP, Vegan and Paleo. The business also offers event catering and home delivery, serving regional Victoria as well as Melbourne. And Kristen sees even more exciting times ahead.

“People are getting educated, taking responsibility for their own health outcomes and demanding better quality food,” she explains. “I have long-held dreams for this business, some of them I have tested, others remain untapped, but suffice to say there are exciting times ahead for us as the market is continually growing.”

Kristen had even more pressure on her time in the second half of 2019, but for all the right reasons. In 2018 Gryff landed a plum role in the movie Ride Like A Girl, the inspiring story of how Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to ride the winner of the Melbourne Cup, playing Michelle’s brother Stevie. Despite having Down syndrome, Stevie has been an integral part of Michelle’s success and was a key part of the team behind the horse, Prince of Penzance, Michelle rode into the record books on the first Tuesday in November.

This story first appeared in issue 27 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine.

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