Serenity Carr wanted uniquely balanced and nutritious food for her newborn daughter. Instead of settling for traditional options, she stepped into the kitchen and took matters into her own hands.
Now, with help from co-founder/husband Joe and taste tester/daughter Della, Serenity is leading a baby food revolution. Made with real vegetables, healthy fats, and quality meats, every Serenity Kids pouch is crafted to help kids grow up healthy, happy, and strong.
Recently, we caught up with Serenity to learn more about her mission and hear her advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
1. Why did you start Serenity Kids?
My story, like most stories out there, begins with my mom. While pregnant with me and with the best intentions, she ate a vegetarian diet thinking it was the healthiest diet she could be on. Unfortunately, a vegetarian diet can lack many essential nutrients for fetal development. Plus, my mom still consumed a lot of sugar, wheat, and dairy. I suffered immediate health issues, starting with an ear infection at two weeks old. As I got older, I ate a lot of sugary, processed foods (shout out to any kind of doughnut & Cool Ranch Doritos!) which led to chronic infections, antibiotics, and terrible heartburn.
I never intended to go into the baby food business. I actually spent 12 years climbing the corporate ladder and then pursued my master’s degree in higher education. During grad school, I suffered another ear infection and started another round of antibiotics which just destroyed my gut.
I was tired and in so much pain. The doctor’s only solution was to prescribe a pill that I would take every day for the rest of my life. I could not wrap my head around the idea of having to be on medication forever. While venting my frustrations, my dad recommended that I read “Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson. I put his Paleo diet principles into practice and found I was able to heal many of the medical issues I was facing by just changing the way I ate! Because of this transformative experience, I decided to leave the tech industry and become a health coach to help others heal themselves through food which is how I met my now-husband, Joe Carr.
When Joe and I talked about having a family someday, we researched baby foods that aligned with our personal dietary standards — high in nutrients and low in junk and fillers. What we found was astonishing. And, frankly, it made me really angry! Most of the baby and toddler foods on the market contained high levels of sugar and minimal levels of actual nutrition.
With my history of illnesses stemming from eating unhealthy foods as a child, I was determined to create a better option for babies so they didn’t have to go through the same experience I did. Joe and I started our mission to create a different kind of baby food for our family and for others looking for nutrient-dense options. On August 5, 2018, we launched Serenity Kids which coincidentally was also the same day I gave birth to our daughter, Della.
Joe and I are dedicated to making the world healthier, one baby at a time, and my mission is to truly transform the baby food industry by developing innovative, nutrient-dense products.
2. What obstacles did you face along the way?
Honestly, when Joe and I first started the company, we were so excited! It was a new venture for us! Joe was an innovator with lots of ideas and no previous manufacturing experience. I come from an operations background, so I’m more cautious by nature. You could say that the two of us create a perfect balance. However, in this case, it caused a few snafus.
Joe was certain our manufacturing tests would work out, so we decided to take pre-orders of our products without a final confirmed product. We ran into unexpected manufacturing issues with the equipment so the products weren’t actually ready for over a year after we started taking preorders. By the time we finally had the products ready, many of the babies on our pre-order list had already aged out! It was stressful dealing with all the refunds, incorrect email addresses, and customer service inquiries.
I was also launching products while navigating motherhood for the first time. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone! I struggled to balance all my responsibilities — meetings, team management, breastfeeding, getting adequate sleep, and worrying about my daughter. (Is she eating enough? Is she sleeping okay? Is that gross stuff normal?!) Ultimately, we found a way to make it all work.
3. What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Hire good talent as soon as possible. Early on, I wore many hats and played multiple roles. Luckily, I had several advisors tell me that I needed to let go of some of the control and bring on experts in their individual fields to help manage all the growing responsibilities.
Take care of yourself first. Serenity Kids launched the same day Della was born. Imagine that! Becoming a new mom while also balancing a company and product launch. It got to the point where I couldn’t fathom running a company — sleepless nights caused me to miss some morning meetings. However, once I started setting boundaries, giving myself grace, and knowing my limits, I was able to get creative about my work schedule and keep our rocketship going.
Create a company culture that you want to work in and contribute to individual success. I’ve never run a company before. I’ve also never had employees directly report to me. Building a culture and team were totally foreign concepts. However, I have learned that founders should make their company culture one they personally want to work in. It’s why we provide flexibility for our team and why Serenity Kids is shut down between Christmas and January 1. It’s why we don’t have dress codes or work in a big industrial office with an elevator and sliding doors. It’s why we have maternity and paternity leave that I feel good about offering. We want our team to feel like when they’re coming to work, they are coming to an environment where they can feel comfortable to be themselves.
4. What’s on the horizon for Serenity Kids?
We have many fun and innovative products in our pipeline! We’re launching new formats that will expand our target age range. And, while doing that, we are going to challenge the biggest food companies in the world by showing them that companies can make nutritious, tasty products while treating their employees well and helping the environment. We want to change government policy so that all women, infants, and children have access to nutrient dense options.
5. How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Joe and I have created a culture of work-life balance within our company — one that benefits our employees as well as our own family!
We do our best to stop working at 5pm and to not work on the weekends unless there’s an emergency. After-hours work is the exception — not the rule — and we ask our leadership team to do the same for their teams. We value our out-of-office hours and we ask that employees use their unlimited PTO. We are truly out-of-office and not “occasionally checking our emails.” We model that for the team and respect it when they take time off.
As a mom, it’s hard to make time for yourself so I recommend building accountability into the process. Schedule something that brings you joy and with someone that holds you accountable, whether it’s going to your favorite restaurant with a friend, buying a concert ticket in advance, or working out with a trainer. Put it in your calendar and find a way to not back out.
I’m not going to lie. At one point, I thought about quitting — especially on those days when I needed a nap but also had a bunch of meetings. Then, the reviews started coming in. To this day, their positive feedback inspires me to keep pushing ahead.
- Meet the Founder