Narelle Plap

Muesli-making Mum’s road to the big time

The rise of muesli as a feel-good-taste-good breakfast cereal over the past decade can be put down to many things, from greater health awareness to Narelle Plapp.

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Narelle Plapp is the energetic founder of the multi-million dollar Australian muesli empire Food for Health, which makes a lot of the mueslis, gluten-free muesli bars and muesli pods that you see on supermarket shelves.

Her story is one of inspiration, not least because she never aspired to run a breakfast food company, but because she attributes having children to being a better businesswoman.

In a recent interview with Business Mamas 52 week blog series, Narelle says she started Food for Health in 2005 but it wasn’t until 2009 when a buyer for Woolworths came into her life and that everything changed.

“She wanted to trial our product in some Woolworths stores. And of course I said ‘no problem’! I hung up the phone thought ‘holy crap!’ – I am still hand-mixing my products in my shop! But it was the best problem to have, and I decided to do something with it.”

That was the turning point for Food for Health, which now has products stocked in 3,000 stores and 14 countries around the globe.

As a working mum with two children, Jack and Millie, Narelle’s life is busier than ever but somehow more organised.

“I don’t hide from the fact that I’m a working mum – I took Millie to her first Woolworths review when she was eight weeks old. People are starting to embrace mothers in business now.  My kids will always come first.

“Until you have more than one you don’t realise how much things will change.

“I never really saw it as a challenge – I thrived. If I have nothing to do, I get nothing done.

“But if I have everything to do, I get everything done. Most women are like that, we can multi-task. Give a busy woman something to do and she gets it done.”

While she may sound a little like a superwoman, Narelle admits that she has made her fair share of mistakes, and by no means is running a business a walk in the park.

“Having your own business and raising a family is not easy, it’s hard work, it’s not smooth sailing, it’s late nights – but you have the opportunity to create your business around your lifestyle.”

What appears to keep her motivated is a firm belief in just having a go and as the song goes, “if you see a chance, you take it.”

“If you see an opportunity and you think it’s something you could do or something you would love, don’t be scared.

“You have to take that first step. Get good people around you who you can call and have a chat with and bounce ideas off, people who have been in business and can give you advice.

“I come from a family that has their own business, and whereas the rest of my family wanted to work for the family business I wanted to do my own thing.

“I stepped away from the family business and now Food for Health is our future, so who knows, hopefully Jack and Millie will be working in our own family business one day.”

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