During the novel coronavirus pandemic, Christine Elfalan and Dana Ark wanted to offer parents an alternative to buying baby food in jars or spending lengthy amounts of time in the kitchen cooking by offering freshly made baby food delivered from a Redondo Beach kitchen.
Joju baby food was launched in April during the early months of the pandemic, while parents started homeschooling and parenting in general became more of a challenge.
“We thought, how can we help parents have an easier parental life, spend more time with their kids, as opposed to spending more time cooking, but give their kids the nutrition that they deserve?,” Elfalan said.
Joju is named after their children, Elfalan’s first-born daughter Jordan and Ark’s second child Julia. The entrepreneurs are passionate about fresh and nutritious food for their children and store bought was not good enough.
“You realize at some point that the food in the stores is older than our babies,” Ark said.
There was also an issue of the blandness of baby food so the pair wanted to introduce international spices.
“We started talking about this idea of being more palate-developing with food for babies,” Elfalan said.
So Joju offers single-ingredient classic flavors for babies new to solids and “foodie flavors” that are multi-ingredient purees that feature everything from grains to herbs and spices, including Korean and Mexican, focused on palate development, according to its website.
Julia and Jordan became early taste testers for the company that was named after them.
“They seemed to like it,” said Ark of their recipes. "So we incorporated another baby friend who also seemed to like the food and we just kept developing things we didn't typically see in the stores.”
Elfalan added, “They were tasting everything. There were some things that they loved and you can tell because they would just keep eating it. And then some things that just they refuse to eat.”
Elfalan said they brought in advisors, nutritionists and a pediatrician to help develop the food and to make sure the children were getting the nutritional value they needed.
They also offer the “Milkman Model” of delivery to be environmentally friendly and reduce waste. Their delivery comes in reusable coolers, cold-packs and jars, which are picked up at each delivery and sanitized for reuse.
Joju cooks every Friday at The Kitchen Terminal in Redondo Beach where they rent space. Then, on Saturday morning Elfalan and Ark drop off each delivery at the customer’s front door.
In March as shelter-in-place orders were being announced, Elfalan said they debated on whether to launch Joju.
“We knew it would be more challenging in that we both lost our child-care, new sanitation processes would change our kitchen operations and our marketing strategy with day cares, Mommy and Me's, and other baby-centric places were no longer options,” Elfalan said. “But we had a long conversation about it and felt that parents needed this more than ever, so we kept going.”
For more information, visit jojufoods.com.