Model and entrepreneur Natalia Vodianova on being a mama-of-five and why she’s invested in baby meal delivery service Little Tummy
Q How did you come to work with Little Tummy and what made you want to invest in the business?
A This business decision has some very personal roots actually. As a mother of five children, I’ve gone through choosing and selecting baby food a good number of times in my life. As a matter of fact, I’ve always found myself at the same conclusion: there is no baby food available on the market that even barely matches what I would prepare for my children at home. When you feed your baby, you become more and more conscious that the food they start tasting today is the foundation of their future healthy habits. Fresh and organic become essential criteria.
You can’t ignore that most of the baby food available on the supermarket shelves (whether organic or not), is older than your baby itself and was possibly there before you even got pregnant. Furthermore, shelved baby food is cooked at high temperatures, which is known to destroy nutrients as well as natural flavours and textures and to increase the sugar content. Which is also pretty bad, considering that childhood obesity is on the rise. Little Tummy is exactly what I’ve always thought was missing on the market.
As an angel investor, I clearly saw the potential of the business to become a little daily revolution for parents. I also strongly believe in the project’s two amazing founders and their vision: Dr Sophie Niedermaier-Patramani and Nadine Hellmann. I immediately loved Nadine’s energy, passion, and attention to detail, plus the professional expertise of Sophie as a paediatrician. The ambition that Little Tummy is not simply to create a great new product to sell, but they aim to become a point of reference for a fast-growing community of mothers. That’s why, on top of being their lead investor, I am also very happy to work hands-on with them providing my vision, my insights, and my experience, both as a mom and entrepreneur.
Q Do you cook at home with your children?
A I actually take over the kitchen only with my children! I like cooking when it becomes a fun playful experience to do all together, like when we do Pel’meni, the special Russian ravioli we all love so much. Neva has much more patience than her brothers. They are easier to engage with desserts like cakes, cookies and cupcakes: whatever we can decorate together and have fun with! Cooking together as well as eating together is the perfect moment to start a conversation around food and to establish the first healthy habits for our children.
However in the reality of the daily routine, I know how hard it can be for working parents to make it happen as often as one would want. A recent study has confirmed that parents now have less time than ever, but they are still increasingly returning to home cooking methods. It’s like we’ve rediscovered the need to personally cook a healthy meal for our family, right when we felt we were losing the possibility to do it.
Q What’s it like being a mama-of-five? And did you always want a large family?
A It’s challenging. Constantly, unstoppably challenging, but of course full of joy. Every day something new happens, every day someone discovers a new thing, every day everybody is different from the day before… it’s exciting! The age difference of my children also brings me to live at the same time all the phases of growth, from childhood, through preadolescence, to the full teenage years. All phases have their own dramas and their own achievements so I can definitely say that there is a lot going on under our roof!
I’ve always loved the idea of a big family but most of all, I’ve always loved babies. I like the honest and direct connection they are able to build with others, I like their enthusiasm, their open way of sharing love, I just can’t imagine my life without them.
Q What’s it like bringing children up in Paris?
A Paris is an incredible city. It’s both cosy and international. It has the personality of a metropolis without being frenetic. I think it’s a great city to raise children. There is always something new to do together and they never get bored. Plus, I like the fact they have the chance to make friends from all over the world. I’m pretty thankful to Paris because I know my children are really happy here.
Q Best and worst bits about motherhood?
A Becoming a mother, especially at a young age, can also mean making some big sacrifices. I never really had a chance to focus on myself or had time to myself or neither I had really worked out my individuality. But, each of my five children has brought something more to my life, not something less. I am not going to say it is not complicated, it is. But the fulfilment it gives me when I kiss them, when I listen to them, when I hug them or even when I miss them, has no equal. It’s the most exciting feeling in the world.
Parenting is also a personal journey of self-improvement. You become a better person every day, it’s part of your growth as an adult. But I know from my own experience that the biggest enemy to a mother is time – all mothers need more of it! That’s exactly why I am so happy to invest in Little Tummy, to make motherhood the wonderful experience it deserves to be.
On top of putting all my energies into Elbi, my platform supporting charities at a global level, more recently I’ve become the first female board member at Flo, a women’s health tracking app and the world’s largest female community online where women can find the support they need in taking care of their own health.
Now, with Little Tummy, I really felt it was time to help mothers, providing them with the smartest solution to receive the very healthy, fresh and organic baby food they cannot prepare themselves at home. That’s exactly my focus: pushing the agenda for women, mothers and children through investing in female-centric businesses, where technology can not only support their lives but offer to them a space where they feel more and more sustained and represented.