You never know when the entrepreneurial bug will bite you. For Canton parents Jordan and Alexis Takas, it happened at the Baltimore Farmer’s Market.
You see, their search to feed their toddler well-balanced meals led them to one conclusion: their desire for convenient and nutritious meals was being capitalized on by the manufacturers of processed foods. They wanted a convenient and cost-effective way to give their daughter a nutritious meal on-the-go.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. Thus, EZ Squeezees was born.
What is EZ Squeezees? A refillable, reclosable and reusable pouch that looks similar to the fruit puree containers you find on every grocery store shelf. Except this is one where you can add your own puree. BPA-free and compliant with CPSIA standards.
Having recently launched their website, I caught up with Jordan and Lex over email to find out more about their new venture — and being Baltimore parentpreneurs!
Tell us a little bit about EZ Squeezees. How did it come to fruition?
As every parent knows, the older your kid(s) get, the crazier life gets. Life with our daughter Barrett has been no different. Pre-filled pouches became our saving grace most days – so much so that we found ourselves throwing up to 4 pouches in the trash PER DAY! The cost of the pouches and the amount of garbage we were creating pushed us to create a budget- and environment-friendly alternative: EZ Squeezees. An added bonus is that, in using EZ Squeezes, you have complete control over what your child is eating. It took a while to figure out exactly what we wanted EZ Squeezees to look like and find someone that could manufacture our pouch – but we did and now here we are!
Can you tell us a little bit about a day in the life of the founders of EZ Squeezees?
We try to start our days together with a family breakfast, but sometimes overnight business trips can interrupt that schedule, so it is always appreciated when we can pull it off. After that, Barrett and Alexis usually spend the day at CrossFit Harbor East, where Alexis is a coach. I’ll get right to work on EZ Squeezees – filling orders; speaking with [potential] retailers; answering questions sent in via ezsqueezees.com, Facebook and Twitter; and working on designs for future EZ Squeezees products. Most people say, “thats great, an internet company.. You just fill orders when they come through” that is so not the case. Ive found that if the day looks like an easy one, that just means that your schedule is open for you to have some sort of business emergency that you will need to deal with all day long. Even with the long days that turn into long nights, its a blast- We are having fun creating something that we know people like to use.
You’ve got a unique product that has the look and feel of the disposable soft food packages we’ve all come to love the convenience of — but of course, yours is reusable! We know of a few other similar products on the market. What makes your product different than say the sili squeeze?
EZ Squeezees are the only refillable pouch on the market that look and feel identical to the pre-filled pouches that your child is used to using. Our spout is in the same location and is the same size as the pre-filled pouches, which may not seem like a big deal to you, but kids are picky…a spout on the side or thick rubber pouch is not going to go unnoticed by your child! Our side gusset makes life easier too; the gusset is large and allows for a wider opening to fill the pouch, a wider base on which to stand the full pouch on and most importantly, an opening that you can clean your pouch thoroughly through. The number one question is: how do you clean it? When people see that you simply open the side zipper and you can see the entire inside of your pouch, most people say “oh, that’s simple…”
We’ve got a newborn on the way and I can’t wait to give EZ Squeezees a try when he starts solid foods since we plan to make so much of his baby food ourselves. But I know the cap is the first thing I’m going to loose! Any tips?
It takes a moment to adjust to not disposing of the cap and pouch (as you would a pre-filled pouch), but once your brain gets used to it you’ll find it’s a routine to take the used pouch, attach the cap, wash the pouch, and put both away in the the cupboard. For convenience, we keep a cup in the cupboard, next to our pouches, where we toss our clean caps. Worst case? You can buy packs of replacement caps on our website- the 10-pack of new caps will usually hold you over for a while.
Speaking of baby food, I’ve been somewhat obsessively stalking the recipes you guys have on your website. Was there a process for coming up with them? Any particular must-tries?
A lot of the recipes are ones that we’ve used for the last year with Barrett, but the new ones (like Creamy Paleo Chicken Soup) were fun to test while we were doing diet modifications like paleo and whole30 (ways of eating clean organic foods). Alexis and I were the primary testers, with Barrett giving the final seal of approval for posting on the website. We are fortunate that our final tester doesn’t often turn down food, so we rarely wasted anything. Our favorite right now is BRIGHT PURPLE PUREE: Barrett and I love to get beets at the Baltimore’s Farmers’ Market and eat them all day on Sundays- and what better recipe for the Ravens run to the SuperBowl!?
You just launched your website — what’s next?
The success of ezsqueezees.com has exceeded our expectations for only just launching last month. Right now we are talking with several local and national retailers about stocking EZ Squeezees. Our mission to keep pre-filled pouches out of landfills matches the mission of a particular national retailer with whom we hope to get a trial run soon. No signature on the paperwork yet, so I can’t say who it is, but you’ll know as soon as the ink is dry! We think that once people realize that they can save time, money AND the environment with EZ Squeezees pouches, it will become a staple in a household with children, much like having a couple sippy cups in your cupboard.
Love that your product idea was born out of the Baltimore Farmers’ markets. Any particular favorite spots — or stands — you shop weekly?
Baltimore farmers’ markets are awesome – we are so lucky to have access to such a tremendous variety of fresh produce, organic and grass fed meats and eclectic products- where else would you see a smoothie vendor that blends your drink using bike power?? Our weekend routine is to his Fells Point Market as a family on Saturday, if Alexis is coaching down the street, she always comes down to hang out for a while in between classes. We are always stocking up on Noni’s Spaghetti Sauce, the pickles (they’re sugar free!), and ANYTHING that the guys from Peter’s Inn are selling! On Sundays Barrett and I cruise the Baltimore Farmer’s market, while Alexis has some much-needed time to herself, which usually simply means a shower in relative peace and quiet. Barrett and I have a route through the market: we start at Zeke’s Coffee, get her a Pumpkin roll that she will suck all the frosting out of, then hit South Mountain Creamery, Gunpowder Bison, The Mushroom Lady, and finish at my favorite vendor: Truck Patch Farms- if you haven’t eaten their pork, you haven’t lived. A little time spent hula-hooping for Barrett while I sip some Zeke’s never hurts either…
Obviously, nutrition and convenience are high priorities for your family (like most of our readers). On those crazed-have-to-figure-out-dinner nights, what your go-to meal?
I should say that we have no financial interest in Truck Patch Farms — but they do have one in us!! We have a freezer full of pork chops, pork loin and chicken from them. The freezer is located in my home office, so usually one of us will take a peek inside every morning and grab something to thaw for dinner. We have worked with local farms to source large quantities of meats, like a 1/2 cow or 1/2 pig- if you can get it in bulk and have freezer space, you can get local, grass fed, organic meats for the same price as the national grocery store chains charge for their version of the same. When all else fails, the Whole Foods Salad and Hot Bar can be a great last minute option. Quick, easy and we trust the food that they put out. Like I said before, we are very fortunate that our 19-month old will eat just about anything that we put in front of her, so dinner is often pretty easy even if we are scrambling.
If you had a whole un-planned day in Charm City, where would we find you and your family?
That’s such a great question- there are so many places we love.. The day would most likely revolve around food and it would start by walking the entire crew (including dog-Brian) down to THB (Towson Hot Bagel) in Canton. Tony and the THB staff are so welcoming, they watched Barrett come in from when she was about 3 days old and they treat her like a little sister. Assuming it was in season, we try to find time to make Orioles’ day games. If we we were talking “the perfect day”, we would have to hit up Cross Street Market for some shrimp and a Boh before we walk over! A much needed nap for Barrett (and maybe us) and we would end the day at Langermann’s in Canton. The back section is very kid friendly and the food is awesome! After dinner with Barrett in bed, a drink on the roof-top deck with the baby monitor in hand, is usually how it would end. How long until summer!? I may just plan this day…