Baking was never my forte. I prefer eating other people’s baked goods rather than make my own. But that all changed when Teagan came along. Now? I love baking but what I really love is baking with my daughter. Teagan really gets excited about helping out in the kitchen. She loves to stir, whisk, pour and of course eat our yummy creations. I have to admit that many of our baked goods have come straight out of the box but I think it’s more about the process than the product. Right now it’s about sharing, growing, team-work and having fun! Fortunately, my coworker has a BIG binder of recipes that will help me improve my baking skills.
One box mix that stands out above the rest is Zebra Mix! They offer all-natural and organic baking kits. Zebra Mix lets “Kids Have Their Cupcake and Eat It Too!” Each kit comes with a Safari Baking Map and easy step-by-step instructions. There are three kits- chocolate chip cookies, brownie bites and cupcakes. Zebra Mix was founded by husband and wife team Brian Aim and Lisa Burgess. The duo are committed to building healthy kids both inside and out.
Teagan and I tested out the chocolate chip cookie kit with our friends Alice and Willow. Us moms gathered up the tools, ingredients, map and kit. The girls were focused on the steps and took turns mixing the cookie product. The map is double-sided. One side of the map is for non- readers and the other side for the older kiddies. Willow and Teagan are both almost 3 years old, which is a little younger than the recommended age for these kits (4-12). That didn’t seem to matter. The girls had a great time and enjoyed the images on the map and took instruction beautifully!
Initially, Alice and I were a little worried that the mix looked different from what was pictured on the box. The cookies on the box showed typical light brown chocolate chip cookies but the mix we came up with was much darker. I asked Zebra Mix to clear up my confusion and I learned that there are lots of variables that can vary the color of products: humidity, oven temp and flours can cause color changes. See, even moms can learn something.
The girls were anxious to try the cookies at the end of the day. Eating them is what’s really important, right? We had a few bites and…the cookies were excellent! They were light and not overly sugary. The cookies had a natural taste and great texture. Mission accomplished! We all had a great time exploring, creating and eating. I can’t wait to try their other mixes. Zebra Mix also offers Activity and Tin Baking Kits. What great gifts or fun theme for a birthday party! Zebra Mix can be found online at Zebramix.com, Borders Books and Nordstrom. I appreciate the thought and dedication of the people behind Zebra mix. Life with kids can be a zoo, so why not embrace it and eat!
Check out the girls in these pictures. I think the images pretty much sum up how they felt about Zebra Mix!
– Tee and Teagan
We wanted to learn a little more about the woman behind Zebra Mix.
Thanks to Lisa Burgess for her time and thoughtfulness.
What do you love about your mom?
My mom was an entrepreneur and a great model on how to juggle family, business and civic responsibilities. Now that I am working to do it all, I have no idea how she did it! She continues to be a great encourager for me as I work to maintain a balance and she reminds me that it is not all going to happen at once. You have seasons of exceptional success with career and family but you may not be able to maintain the clean house so do not kill yourself, count your blessing and maintain your expectations.
What do you love about being a mom?
Being a Mom is the absolute greatest venture I will ever do. I love everything about it, even the hard moments. My two daughters are amazing; they have gentle, kind and compassionate hearts, they are empathetic and have unique passions they pursue and they have become very flexible.I love that kids are immediate, if they have a question they want an answer immediately and that requires me to live in the present. My kids bring out the best in me and make me a better person.>
What or who inspired you to start your own business?
My kids inspired me to start Zebra Mix!
Zebra Mix is a line of Kids Baking Activity Kits that empower kids in the kitchen. We developed Zebra Mix because our girls wanted to bake “real” food in a “real” kitchen and I could not find anything in the marketplace that was smart, fun and all-natural that provided these opportunities. When Kellan was 4 and Haley was 2 our baking projects generally ended with a big mess and because the girls could not read I ended up just “telling” them what to do, I wanted them to figure it out on their own.
So my husband and I would draw pictures of each step and assemble little bags of ingredients for the girls to follow. The end result was electrifying – Haley would follow all the pictures and Kellan started reading some of the sight words, they even did the dishes (step #12). But what was totally amazing was that they did it on their own and they were so proud of their accomplishment! As parents and teachers we live for this moment of engagement and knew we had something worth pursuing, so now 4 years later and 100,000 kits sold we are still Stirring Up Fun in the kitchen.
I think so many parents start smart businesses because in our pursuit to be better parents we discover products that would make raising kids better, smarter and more fun!
What advice do you have for women who are afraid to start their own ventures?
I think it’s critically important to have a real sense of how much time and resources you will need to invest in a company before you have a return, whether your return is measured in dollars or in accomplishments. For me, my goal was to create a product that built self-confidence and smarts in kids and at the same time I needed to replace my income.
We did lots of consumer research to make sure we were spot on with the product and it was time well spent! In addition we had a very comprehensive financial model so we knew what milestones we needed to reach to make a profit. Even though those milestones and expectations are dynamic it is important to know what it is going to take.
My husband and I were extremely hard workers before starting Zebra Mix and we still underestimated how much it would take! Starting, thriving and accelerating a business takes a very focused drive and in our case since we did not have the capital to hire a team we pretty much do everything. We have exceptional partners; a top of the line co-packer and sales partners. Still it takes every waking moment.
We still love what we are building and the challenge, but the greatest reward comes from our customers experience with Zebra Mix. Recently, one mom wrote “I did not think my daughter could read and we were very worried about it, she read the entire Zebra Cupcake map and had a wonderful time- thank you for such a great product”. That drives me to keep building smart products!
I will add that as a mom who wants to stay very involved with my children, who are now in elementary school, the business has taken precious time away from them which has been hard.
I would be happy to talk to anyone who is contemplating a business if I can be of help. We have had tremendous generous helpers along the way!