Founder of Ella’s Kitchen Paul Lindley explains why ‘growing down’ is as important as growing up
A huge part of our success at Ella’s Kitchen stems from the fact that we’ve been purpose-led from the very beginning. Just over 12 years ago, when I was mixing smoothie flavours at my kitchen table with my kids, I was driven by a desire to give them the best possible relationship with food – and to this day Ella’s Kitchen maintains that initial mission. We still exist to improve children’s lives through developing healthy relationships with food.
To do this, we’ve put ourselves in the little shoes of our customers – and this has set us apart in the market. Understanding what toddlers want and how they react to different flavours, textures and colours has allowed us to create innovative products and revolutionise baby food branding, packaging and quality. Some of our most popular ideas were inspired by my own children – for example ‘The Red One’ was named by my son, Paddy.
This ability to think like toddlers has been vital not just in our consumer research, but in creating a culture that has enabled us to take on industry goliaths. We’ve become the number one baby food brand in the UK, sold in over 40 countries, a leading purpose-driven business and a B Corp – the hallmark of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
All of this is humbling and an immense source of pride. It is testament to the toddler mindset that brought us the creativity, determination, ambition, honesty and playfulness of a child boldly taking their very first steps. This is what Little Wins: The Huge Power of Thinking Like a Toddler is all about – regaining the skills we once all possessed. As a toddler we learned to do new things, we pushed ourselves and when it didn’t work we tried again until we got it. We didn’t suffer from fear of failure, or the embarrassment of being seen by others to fail.
One of the nine steps to ‘growing down’ I discuss in Little Wins is to be creative. Creativity is a characteristic that toddlers possess in swathes. They defy convention because they don’t know what exists. There are no rules, no precedents, no limits, and they aren’t afraid to question the status quo. The Polaroid camera’s story is a great example. It was created when the inventor’s daughter asked why they couldn’t see the photo as soon as it was taken. This ability to think outside of the box and never take no for an answer is just one example of how we can learn from our younger selves. Toddlers teach us to dream big and never give up. Tapping into their mindset can give us all a fresh impetus and focus, both personally and professionally.
Paul Lindley is founder of Ella’s Kitchen and the bestselling author of Little Wins: The Huge Power of Thinking Like Toddler