mother + maker : fran + jo from franjo’s kitchen

Last week the exhaustion of long-term breastfeeding finally hit and I’ve been flabbergasted ever since. Much like the malaise of the first trimester or the sheer intensity of contractions, I had forgotten how all encompassing this tiredness actually is. No amount of sleep can cure it; I am bone weary personified.

I’ve been here before – twice, in fact – and I know that the only really cure for this is to wean. But I can’t…not just yet. So I turn to my other bag of tricks: tonic from my naturopath, early nights with an alluring bedtime ritual, plenty of water, a diet full of protein and good fats, coffee and milk-boosting cookies and crackers.

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I’ve been eating Franjo’s Kitchen Tanker Toppers (yep, they’re biscuits for your boobs!) since Percy was a wee one. And they work….within hours, in fact. How? Well, they’re made with a range of goodies that help your body produce milk. The key ingredients are galactagogues oats, brewers yeast and flaxseeds along with coconut oil, chia seeds and buckwheat flour. Each biccie offers vitamins, minerals and good fats to support you and your baby by:

  •  increasing milk supply : brewers yeast, oats and flaxseeds are renowned for their milk-boosting properties
  •  enhancing your energy : due to the abundance of important B group vitamins and iron found in brewers yeast and oats.
  •  improving appetite control and reducing sugar cravings : due to the high amounts of the nutrient chromium in brewers yeast which helps to balance blood sugar levels.
  •  promoting better bowel habits : fibre and good fats help to promote good poo that is easy to move (magical words for those who have ever torn during childbirth).

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Franjo’s Kitchen recently launched Fennel and Fenugreek Crackers and they’re a mighty fine addition to the pantry for those who prefer savoury over sweet. I top them with avocado, hummus, tomatoes, rocket, tuna – the perfect gluten-free option for quick lunchtimes. And if you’re pregnant there’s a special range of Belly Bump Biscuits and Crackers to support your changing body and growing baby.

I recently chatted with Fran and Jo about Franjo’s Kitchen, supporting new mums and juggling work, motherhood and social media. They’ve also offered you $10 off orders over $40 with the code: “simply” – valid till September 1st.

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l-r: Matilda, Margot, Florence, Fran, Jo, Charlie and Phoebe

PS: Why biscuits for boobs?

Fran: At 4 months old my daughter Phoebe was not gaining weight and was dropping down the charts. My maternal health nurse was putting a lot of pressure on me to introduce formula to help her gain weight. I really wanted to be able to breastfeed her so I started googling how to naturally increase my milk supply and stumbled across a recipe for lactation biscuits. Around the same time, I met Jo literally on the corner of our street. We were both out walking our babies. Jo is a naturopath and was also working on a healthy biscuit range – Kookas Natural. I’ve always been a bit of a hustler doing lots of different projects and a few weeks after meeting Jo I just got the idea of Franjo’s Kitchen. I knew that Jo would be able to improve what I was making (which was basically just unhealthy biscuits with brewers yeast and oats!) and I saw a gap in the market for a product like ours.

PS: How do you juggle the day-to-day of parenting small children and running a (rapidly growing!) business?

Fran: With difficulty! Jo has three children under 4 (Florence and Charles are 17 months and Matilda is nearly four) and I have Margot who is 13 months and Phoebe who is three-and-a-half so it has been really full on the last few years with pregnancy and small babies. Neither of us have family close by, either. We work really hard and try to get as much support as we can through outsourcing childcare a couple of days a week but it is definitely a major juggle. We had to accept our limitations in the first year after having Florence, Charles and Margot and just do what we could. We also brought in a few people to help with the business which has freed us up to work on growing Franjo’s Kitchen.

PS: Social media is a necessity for small business but it’s quite relentless too. How do you find balance so you don’t burn out?

Jo: It’s a hard one. We try, try, try to put rules in place and not be online constantly but it is a battle. Our customers expect responses immediately so we definitely feel the pressure. Weekends are family time and we do our best to put our phones down and be present and likewise on the days that we have the children… but it’s definitely tricky!  

PS: Your products are made by mothers, for mothers. Have you enjoyed the community aspect associated with Franjos Kitchen?

Jo: Absolutely, it’s wonderful. We actually get quite emotional when we receive testimonials and hear from our customers. They get us and our products and that makes it all worthwhile. We have also met some fantastic and inspirational working mothers through this journey doing their own thing. Pretty much everyone who helps us with the exception of our accountant and manufacturers are mothers running their own small business. We love being able to support them and really enjoy creating a team of likeminded women. It’s empowering.

PS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of Franjos Kitchen and in the same breath, what is the most challenging?

Fran: To have created something from just an idea that genuinely helps people is just the best, as is building a creative and fulfilling job where we can also be at home raising our children. It’s the dream right? We feel very lucky. The most challenging is probably a combination of trying to do this while our children are little – although it’s getting easier. There’s also the constant self doubt that accompanies running your own business…

PS: Where to from here?

Fran: Taking over the world! We have so much in the pipeline including an amazing new range to complement our current products. We cannot wait to introduce them! We are also entering new countries – we are just about to launch in Singapore and hope to get our products available globally. Definitely watch this space!

This is a sponsored post. Thanks so much for supporting the businesses that so generously support me.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Catherine
    Reply

    Hi Jodi,

    I am always so interested reading your posts about Percy, as my son Elroy was born almost on the same day. So many things you mention happening are happening with me too. Like you, I’ve been hit with the exhaustion of breastfeeding, and I am unsure about what to do. I am only feeding three times a day, but I also work three days a week, which means spending every lunch hour holed up in windowless first aid rooms at work expressing. It is not good for my mental health but at the same time I feel guilty sending him to daycare or leaving him home with his dad or my mum without a bottle of my milk. I feel very torn about what I know I probably need to do to allow my body, and mind to recover.

    I hope you will start to feel better. Those biscuits do sound so good!

    • Jodi
      Reply

      You’re not alone! I can’t offer you any expressing advice because I’ve never done it – sorry! Thankfully Percy has a great appetite for food (Che and Poet didn’t until they weaned) so the exhaustion isn’t quite as bad as it was with them but at the moment Percy will feed about 4-5 times during the day and about 3-5 times (sometimes more) at night so yes, it’s significant. My only advice is this: don’t get so exhausted that you can’t see your way out of breastfeeding. I’ve done that twice before and it’s really not a good place to be (mentally, emotionally or physically). Maybe you could start cutting down that one feed when you are at home so that on the days when you’re at work he doesn’t miss it? x

      • meli
        Reply

        Hello Catherine – sorry for chiming in here but it sounds like the simplest thing to do would be to stop expressing and let drink another kind of milk when you’re not there – he may not even notice, and he can catch up when he sees you again. I’ve always gone back to work when my babies turn one and never expressed, but they have continued to feed (frequently) whenever I am around. They never took a bottle, just went straight to drinking from a cup or a sippy cup. I just weaned my daughter who is two because it really was getting too much (two hourly or more overnight and quite a lot during the day too). I loved breastfeeding her in some ways but it was definitely getting too much.

  • Ariella
    Reply

    Breastfeeding is such a complicated journey. I’m ten weeks postpartum with my third and I’m falling into that stage where the hormone high has ended and the sleep deprivation is catching up with me. So unpleasant and so very hard to turn around when you’re in a rut of bad habits with self care. I don’t have milk supply issues but the thought of something that would give me energy and cut down on sugar cravings seems too magical to be true.

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