Renata shows us why at KYF, Mom knows best!!!

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Brinc Featured Founder Interview Series — We interviewed Renata, Co-Founder of Know Your Food (KYF). Read more to learn about her journey as a working parent, her secret to work efficiency and why she believes the professional world is shifting for the better.

KYF produces plant-based, frozen fast-food alternatives for children aged 9–17. They are the first in the market to create plant-based products that speak directly to a tech native generation.

 


 

It is inspiring that you have made the shift with your children to eat better. How did you start KYF?

As a mom, I got tired of fighting with my kids about eating better, so I decided to create better things for them that they actually want to eat. “KYF “ — aka Know Your Food — is our plant-based fast food brand that targets teenagers. We have set out on a mission to change the relationship that kids have with food. Our goal is to help kids be smarter about how they eat but on their own terms.

I am a mother, entrepreneur and marketing expert currently living in Brazil, and often based in New York and LA. I have two children — Alexander (19 years old) and Lila (17 years old), and now I have KYF, my third baby.

 

What was your journey like as a working mom?

I have been a working mom all of my children’s lives and started KYF 10 years ago. I became an entrepreneur and had my children at the same time, and continued to always observe the needs in the market — the opportunities and the gaps. Finally, I decided to start a business around food, which is a very important and essential part of our development. The way the food industry has developed has brought about a very unhealthy generation. I decided it was time to start changing and shifting that with all the knowledge that I had. So I decided to venture into food — plant-based food. And that’s where I am today.

 

Renata with her lovely children

Balancing work and family is a juggling act. As a working mom, what challenges have you faced along the way?

The biggest challenge is the guilt. I had to learn how to deal with it the entire time. The idea of following my career made me feel guilty about being absent with my children in many ways. Yet the thought of also not following my career would in itself rob me and my children from what our life is today. We have many conversations about this and often my children say that I was absent for a long period of time while they were growing up. That being said, they are still very proud of who I am today. They’re very proud of a mom who’s successful and has managed to fulfill her dreams.

I hope that my actions of pursuing my dreams is something that they can look up to. I also hope that they realise how incredibly important it is to believe in yourself and be passionate about your dreams. Prioritise your health first then on how you are focusing your time in the world.

 

What has helped you cope with the challenges that you’ve faced?

I got divorced at some point and suddenly I had 50 percent of my time for myself because half of the time, my kids were with their dad. It allowed a lot more time to work on myself.

Peer support was also super important. My friends are also working moms with children just a little older than my own. So, every time I started with “I don’t know, I’m feeling bad”, they would tell me to get over myself. They would say things like, “They’re going to grow up. They’re going to be happy that you’re taking care of yourself to provide for them and pay for their school.”

I also had extraordinary help from my parents. They were incredibly active during the upbringing of my children. This is very cultural as in Brazil, families are very close to each other. During my early phase as a mother, I asked my parents “Do you think this is right, that I’m out there working and you guys are taking care of the kids?” They responded with, “Of course! When you were young, we were out there building our lives and your grandparents were taking care of you and now it’s your turn to build your life while we help you take care of the kids.” It has always been this way throughout the generations, so my children are incredibly close with my parents and my grandmother, who is still alive.

I truly think that I ended up giving my children a broad range of understanding, to see different points of views across different generations. I’m very conscious and thankful for that.

 

With the new norm of working from home, how do you separate your time between work and family?

My kids are much more independent now, the ship has sailed to cook for them. I used to spend hours in the kitchen creating different things that they would barely eat. Hence, I created KYF.

On the weekends we always try to do something and twice a week we have dinner together. I tell them to stop whatever it is that they are doing, because we have a schedule and we do it as a family. We always go to the supermarket together. I negotiate with them a lot. I try to keep the lightheartedness to give them what they want while I get something in return, as we always joke that my kids are not interested in me anymore.

 

What is the most important advice you can give to mothers who are pursuing a career?

Involve your children where you can. I used to cook a lot with my children and I guess this is why I’m so focused on food because they love to cook too. In the future, when they are some place else and away from me, they will remember and think about me. Especially since they tend to call to ask about why a recipe isn’t working.

I would look at moms and dads and tell them to cook with their kids. Spend time in the kitchen with them because a kid has got to eat. So cooking is a simple way to stay in their lives and in their minds a little bit more.

 

 

There are many different views about working moms. What do you think are the main misconceptions? Do you have any guidance you can share?

Personally, I want to believe that people don’t think this way anymore. I want to believe that a lot of people think like I do. That moms are really efficient and courageous warriors that are able to break down walls to get things done. That moms are really deserving of investment, both financially and time-wise.

But I do think that a lot of people believe that once women have children, they are not capable of focusing on their work tasks anymore. Some people believe that work becomes secondary to their children and to their lives, but it is not a competition. It should never be one because of course everything else in the world is secondary to your own children. That goes without saying. However, this in no way means that the work needs to suffer.

I think that it is actually the other way around — working moms have much more to add. The problem lies in where one doesn’t know how to manage their time. We’re all learning to be smarter about things. I believe that there is an incredible shift in the professional world right now, where the world is becoming more female-driven and female doesn’t just mean women, but men too — with all of the feminine qualities. Qualities like compassion, team effort, team leadership, understanding, diversity, and acceptance, are all qualities often associated with females only. These same qualities are now taking on leaderships of organisations, so I believe that with those changes the opportunity for mothers is going to grow tremendously.

There is a book I love called the Athena Doctrine that explains this incredibly well. I highly recommend that every mother reads it because you will feel so empowered and realise how all of the qualities you have as a woman and as a mother, make you a more powerful and nourishing leader. We all need that kind of leader. For busy moms I recommend getting an audiobook so you can listen to it on-the-go while walking or in the car.

 

What skills have you learned from being a working parent and raising children? Do you think that has helped you in your workspace and can help other moms pursuing a career?

When I had kids I actually became 10 times more efficient. You learn how to organise yourself and prioritize your tasks. You learn how to get directly to the point. Your mind just focuses and you become so much smarter. Even when you have ‘baby brain’ and forget things, you’re still much smarter and much more efficient — guaranteed.

To me, working with moms is fantastic because of that. There will be times when there are emergencies or screaming kids to deal with, but if you can departmentalise and say “go take your time and go do what you need to do”, they come back 10 times more efficient than before.

There are specific tools that I have studied from Tony Robbins, but time management is the most life-changing skill. Everything I need to do in a week gets organised by projects. I have my deliverables set inside one of these projects and the deliverables are the 20 percent of the work that I have to do that is going to generate 80 percent of my results. So I’m always looking for the 20 percent that will give me the 80 percent. Therefore I prioritise that 20 percent within each one of my projects and spread out the time during my week to work on those 20 percent pieces, while always leaving empty blocks of time in between what I do for buffer.

It’s wonderful, you always feel accomplished instead of feeling that you didn’t do everything you had to do. When you have a giant to do list and you only get through 3 things, you live your entire life feeling that you’re not doing enough. You’re always carrying this feeling and anxiety of needing to do so much. If you only have 2 or 3 things that you need to do in the day, you feel free and successful once you are done. Moms need to feel successful and free. They need to feel accomplished.

 

Do you have any final words to share?

I have learnt one more thing that was a real game changer: keeping a little note on my phone called magical moments. Every time something special happens or I meet somebody nice, I just write it down on my magical moments list. On Sunday, before I allocate my tasks for the week, I read my magical moments. It makes me stop and remember all of these little details of things that happened that were special. These would make me realise that all of the hard work that I did that week also brought all of these magical moments into my life. If you don’t register the magical moments, all you end up thinking about are all the tasks you have to go through the next week. It gives you that gratitude that really changes your mood and the attitude towards the work you have to do in the week ahead.

 


 

You can connect with Renata at Renata@Kyfbrand.com or @renatalix. For more founder stories, check out Brinc’s blog.

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