We spoke with Cinnamon Morrissey, the visionary behind the organic alternative to Vegemite, EveryMite about the challenges she’s overcome and the importance of finding your place in the market.
Hello, Cinnamon! Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to create EveryMite?
My professional background is actually in social work. When I think of what has become of EveryMite today I feel very blessed, as it is the first time I have ever had anything to do with business, and it has been a steep learning curve: I had always worked with people; a food manufacturing business is very different!
I created EveryMite after my third son was born with Down Syndrome and several digestive issues linked to numerous food intolerances, which we discovered at approximately six months of age. As a result of his food intolerances, he could not eat Vegemite or any of the alternatives currently on the market. After our second family holiday away where we struggled to feed our son as per his intolerances, he got terribly ill. I knew we had to strictly stick with him only eating his safe foods. This meant Vegemite was out, and I started to create EveryMite as a result over a few years of experimentation.
When did you realise an organic alternative to Vegemite was actually needed for more Australians?
We eat organic at home. To ensure the optimal growth and physical development of our son, everything has to be non-toxic – or low-toxic at least – and needs to enable maximal absorption of nutrients. We buy from organic stores, and we are involved in organic community groups. In addition to this, having a child with a disability and other genetic issues (MTHFR Gene Mutation) I am involved in many other groups that focus on food and nutrition. Within these realms, I discovered that many other people were having the same issue as ours. For instance, we learnt of a child with a food intolerance who was still eating Vegemite, since his parents couldn’t find another alternative that tasted as good and was allergy-friendly. By then I had realised I could actually go beyond my own home, and get started with what would then become EveryMite.
What is EveryMite made of, and how does it differ from the alternatives in the market?
EveryMite is only made with certified organic black sesame seeds, certified organic coconut amino Sauce, certified organic apple cider vinegar, and Himalayan rock salt. There are no hidden nasties. It is a clean, raw product which has nutrient rich ingredients. As it isn’t heated, the goodness of the natural vitamins and minerals remains intact. The traditional Vegemite alternatives on the market either have gluten, yeast, soy or grains in them. Some of them even have added sugar. Also, they are all fortified with folic acid. Prior to creating EveryMite, I discovered that there were a couple of organic Vegemite alternatives on the market, however these had soy and yeast in them, which are still not for everyone. EveryMite is the cleanest organic Vegemite alternative on the market that is also free from soy, yeast and folic acid. It is also the only one that has a 12 month shelf life.
What is the process behind the transformation of the efforts of a passionate mother into a national business?
EveryMite is still made in small batches by hand. We sell online as well as in almost 80 stores Australia-wide, and these numbers are growing every week. We have now started international shipping too, with New Zealand. I really had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to take EveryMite to market, and to keep the costs down I was stumbling along all by myself. It is a lengthy process that entails countless learning journeys. In a few months, I secured my food manufacturer license, which meant finding a commercial kitchen to rent and also doing food safety courses and setting up food business processes that I had no idea how to do beforehand. I invested significantly on food testing and reports to make sure EveryMite was safe and stable, designed labels and advertising material, developed websites, learnt how to book-keep – and still struggle with it! – and had to learn how to find the ingredients I wanted and consequently try and negotiate with the suppliers.
My 19-year-old son, who had just finished school and was off to university, deferred his studies and started to help me with the business. Together, we go into the commercial kitchen to make EveryMite. We then label it at home and package it and post it from there. My son will hand-deliver some of the wholesale orders. When we are really busy, my husband even helps with the labeling and packaging whilst I sit on the computer and register it all for freight and email customers to let them know it’s on its way. Without my family, I could not have got to where I am now. They are wonderful and I am very grateful to have their love and support.
Being a true inspiration as a mother and entrepreneur, it is worth sharing what was the biggest challenge you have faced while embarking on this journey, and how you’ve overcome it.
As a mother, the biggest challenge I have had is actually the guilt of a business taking away time and money from my youngest son who has high ongoing needs and is still so young. When I started, I did not realise how time consuming and how expensive it would be to start a small business from scratch. I started this business to help others with their food intolerance challenges. However, it has then taken away from my ability to continue to research and experiment with different safe foods for my own son at times. I know that this “guilt” is a feeling several other mothers get, and I know it is normal, therefore I am now learning how to better balance having a small business and being a mother of a high-needs child, and putting strategies in place to try and give me a little more time to spend with my son. I am determined that I can make both work.
What are the plans for the future and where do you see EveryMite going next?
We have added to our line of products a low-salt Australian Sea Salt EveryMite, which has been very popular. I have also developed a FODMAPS friendly EveryMite, which will come out in late January. This is an exciting addition to the EveryMite brand, and I already have people lined up to buy it. I am also currently negotiating with a large manufacturer, to see if they can make it on my behalf. We are not sure yet if this will work as the product is unique and we will have to do a trial run. In addition to this, I am not sure of the costings, which may impede me as a small, developing business. If third party manufacturing is successful, it will mean that I can then work towards my goal of educating people about EveryMite and building EveryMite, the allergy-friendly super spread, to a household name as the organic Vegemite alternative in Australia, and one day perhaps the world.