In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
Meet Elke Pascoe (LittleOak)
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your business/ brand about?
I have two children, Olive born in 2011, and Freddie in 2013. As is the case with many families, my feeding journey wasn’t straightforward, with breastfeeding alone unable to adequately nourish my babies. Turning to formulas to supplement their breastfeeds, I found it a challenge to find a suitable option.
What got you started on your business?
I discovered very early on in my children’s lives that both Olive and Freddie were lactose intolerant – Olive was just a few months old and Freddie was closer to 1 year old. To complicate the situation further, the formulas I used to supplement their milk feeds caused skin rashes and digestive issues, particularly for Freddie.
When Freddie was just a few months old, and suffering from terrible skin rashes caused by the formula he was on, I decided to do something about it. And in 2016, while living in Singapore, the LittleOak idea was born.
Before you started your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
Before LittleOak, I worked in many countries across the world in the area of Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals and then later in consumer healthcare and nutrition, working for some of the world’s largest companies including Reckitt Benckiser, Wrigley, and Mars Foods.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
Parenting as either a single mum or as a couple is always challenging. Olive, Freddie, and I have a very close relationship and have been through so many things together that we are the strongest little team. The hardest thing about single parenting is accepting that you are solely responsible for keeping a roof over your children’s heads and being able to put food on the table. And at times the financial pressures were really hard – particularly when I first started LittleOak.
But like any parent, being able to juggle being the mum that I wanted to be, while also building and running a business, was at times incredibly stressful, but always satisfying.
Who inspires you?
I have always been inspired by my Dad. He always drove us to do our best, work hard, treat others with respect, and carry out all dealings with a healthy degree of humility and humour.
What excites you most about your industry?
In developing LittleOak and rolling back the layers of the infant formula industry, I have found a great opportunity to innovate and help children and their parents. In LittleOak I haven’t just created a product that people want; it’s one that people need. This is what excites me most.
If I knew back then, what I know now about cow’s milk and infant formula, I would have probably never put them on the formulas that I did. These formulas had skimmed cow milk, maltodextrin, synthetic taurine like that used in energy drinks, plus chemically extracted oils – and none of these things should be consumed by an adult let alone a baby.
LittleOak is made from whole Goat milk, which by nature, is closer to human breast milk than cow milk or soy, which means less processing and more natural goodness. It is naturally high in prebiotic oligosaccharides, more similar in protein levels to human breast milk, and low in lactose, which makes it perfect for babies and toddlers with sensitive tummies.
Many people assume that goat milk is a new option, but it’s actually the complete opposite. Dating as far back as 2,000 years ago, goat milk was once the preferred source of milk over cow milk because of its nutritional goodness. Cleopatra, after all, consumed and bathed in it for good reason.
What is your vision / personal motto?
The motto for LittleOak is From One Mother to Another.
I grew up in a family of lots of girls, with a twin sister and two younger sisters. We lived in a small town called Edithburgh in regional South Australia, before moving to Perth when I was older.
When I was eight years old, not much older than my son is now, I was visited at my small country town school by a community nurse who had just returned from Africa. It was the eighties, and the world was shining a light on the plight of famine in Africa. In her short talk, she shared her own personal account of her trip and recounted the stories upon stories of hungry, starving children.
It was a moment that stuck with me for life. At that moment, I committed to myself that I would do what I could to help children and mothers in need. Looking back, this was probably the very early seeds of LittleOak being planted.
Do you have any words of advice for other ladies who are starting their businesses/ starting to pursue their dreams?
You have to be passionate about what you’re doing-especially if you’re starting a company from scratch. Because it’s the passion that will override the desire to stop when it gets hard. And it certainly gets hard when you start a business. In my case, after starting LittleOak, there were times when I had no money to even feedback to my children, let alone other children. But I knew I was doing something so much better for children everywhere and each morning I would wake up knowing I was one step closer to making that a reality – because of that, it made all the stress, the sleepless nights, the empty bank accounts worth it.
I would also impress the importance of building a passionate, dedicated team. Look beyond their qualifications; focus on their cultural fit and shared values. LittleOak is the outcome of a fiercely dedicated team who have worked hard to show families that there are significantly better ways to nourish their children, particularly for mums who can’t or choose not to breastfeed.
What have you learned recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
Never compromise especially if it has to do with achieving your dream. Push forward every day and make progress, even if it’s just a small step forward. Small steps make a long distance if you persist each and every day. I would also say, never look back or over the shoulder at other people or competitors. If you believe in what you’re doing, lead from the front. I learned a great saying a long time ago: “Leaders lead, they don’t look back.” A great one to remember.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
Confidence is found from within but to have it, you must believe in yourself. And if you’re starting a business, you must fiercely protect your dream. If you truly believe in what you are trying to achieve, don’t let anybody knock your confidence. And that also means never take no for an answer. There is always a way to achieve something if you ask the right questions and look creatively for solutions. But always be kind and curious in doing so.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
My children and their willingness to support me through this adventure. They’ve spent so many years with a tired, stressed, and distracted mum and yet, they still wrap their arms around me and tell me how proud they are. LittleOak is for them.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
I love travelling with my kids and taking them to different places and exploring different cultures. It’s great to get them to understand how different people live. I wish I had more time to play golf.
Let us know more about what you do!
The LittleOak Company from New Zealand makes an all-natural range of formula and toddler milk from goat milk. We exist for one reason: to be the true home of the world’s best and most natural nutrition for infants and toddlers. We make products that care equally for little ones and the world they will grow into, and are proud to be the first formula in the world to be certified palm oil-free.
You may also find us featured on CNA938, Mummyfique, Australian Financial Review, The Australian, Daily Mail.
Most notably, LittleOak was recently announced as the winner of the manufacturing and consumer goods category of the prestigious Australian Financial Review BOSS Most Innovative Companies awards.
Connect with LittleOak!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at [email protected] or reach out to us via our social media.
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Margaret Wu, For Beloved One (Singapore)
- Nerissa Low, Liht Organics (Singapore)
- Maddy Barber, Madly Gems (Singapore)
- Dr. Menka Gupta, Nutra Nourish (Singapore)
- Lily Kew, Kew Organics (Singapore)
- Vikki Tear, SoyCraft (Singapore)
- Ezza Yusof, 2morrow Official (Malaysia)
- Julie Yim, Lilin+Co (Malaysia)
- Zairin Azman, UMMA (Malaysia)
- Liza Morales, Ecotecture Design Studio (Philippines)
- Lily Pham, Asiawide Business Consulting and Trading (Vietnam)