Named after her granddaughter’s confusion about whether to call her grandma, mum or Jo, Joanne Mckee’s first business comes in the form of granola.
The tight-knit family moved to Sai Kung from the Middle East in 1997 and quickly fell in love with the town’s community spirit. Even university abroad couldn’t keep this family apart, her two children returned to live in Sai Kung and start families of their own just a few years ago.
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When her husband suffered from a stroke in 2016, the family did everything they could to help encourage him to improve his lifestyle and have a more balanced diet, starting with the most important meal of the day. “It took a long time to get the recipe right but my granola turned out to not only be a great start to the morning but also a perfect snack during the day,” says Mckee.
After a few years of perfecting the recipe, Mckee knew from the first crunch that she’d done it. “I had a feeling from the first bake that this was going to be something special.” With her son-in-law’s encouragement, she set up MumJo’s.
Baked fresh in a local bakery, MumJo’s classic granola is free from additives or preservatives and uses honey as its only form of sweetener. “One of the other things we noticed was that many of the granolas on the market were very sweet. It was important to us that this one had a better balance,” says Mckee.
But starting a business amid a pandemic wasn’t ideal. “We originally planned to launch at several local markets last year and even produced our first batch in anticipation for the winter markets. But when all of them were cancelled due to the change in regulations, we had to change our tactic,” she says.
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Utilising her family’s skills, Mckee decided to focus on selling online via her website (mumjos.com) instead. While many find working with family challenging, Mckee believes it’s the easiest part of the process.
“We all have our strengths. My co-founder and future daughter-in-law Melissa works in graphic design and marketing so has been invaluable to the company. She’s designed everything from the brand, including our packaging and media platforms. My son-in-law already worked in the food and beverage industry so was able to put us in touch with the necessary contacts. He helps with the business side of things and ensure we had all of the necessary accreditation in place before we launched. Lastly, my daughter Charlotte is a certified accountant and handles the financial side of the business,” says Mckee.
While it is not a full-time project at the moment, Mckee hopes that with more awareness she can turn the business into a full-time endeavor for the whole family. “We’ve had lots of interest in grab and go options so we are planning to branch out into snack packs for taking to the office, gym, school or just out and about.”
Tips for aspiring business owners
- Do your research
- Take the time to do things properly
- Have a good support team around you
- Create a to-do list and tick each item off as quickly and efficiently as you can
- Don’t be afraid to get started