Three years ago, Queensland mum Cinnamon Morrissey was sitting at her kitchen bench in despair. Her little boy William, now five, was suffering from severe food allergies and was in constant pain. If he ate vegemite toast for breakfast, he would get a bloated belly and couldn’t walk or engage with people. “It was absolutely horrific [to see him in pain]. It was also quite isolating because people didn’t understand how serious his food allergies were,” says Morrissey of William, who has Down syndrome.
Morrissey, a social worker and mum of three, made William’s bread and crackers from scratch, but couldn’t find an allergy-free alternative to vegemite. Wanting her son to be able to have a vegemite sandwich at school, she developed her own whole-food organic spread called EveryMite. She spent three years perfecting the recipe in her kitchen – focusing on the colour, consistency and taste. Once she’d nailed the saltiness, word of EveryMite spread quickly between her friends and family. “I discovered there were numerous people who couldn’t eat vegemite due to food intolerances,” says Morrissey, 42.
Because there was such a demand for the product, Morrissey went part-time at her job as a social worker and enlisted the help of her middle son Blaine with the manufacturing and production. Without any experience in business, Morrissey had to learn on the fly. “I did my own market research, developed the brand, made the labels, negotiated contracts, created the website, hired a commercial kitchen and got my food manufacturing license,” explains Morrissey, who launched the product in a few local health food stores a year ago.
In the last year, Morrissey has upgraded from her commercial kitchen to a handmade allergy-friendly manufacturer who makes EveryMite in bulk (luckily, because the brand is now stocked in 154 stores around Australia). Despite being an absolute boss, Morrissey still doesn’t think of herself as a businesswoman. “I still don’t identify as a businesswoman – I’m a mum and social worker. But I think I’ll get there,” says Morrissey, who credits her business success to asking for advice. “I’ve been extremely diligent about getting advice and have spent around $10,00 getting assistance from experts in advertising and legal protection.”
From her own experience, Morrissey’s biggest piece of advice to other businesswomen is to be realistic. “No-one is perfect and you can’t be expected to know everything all the time. You need to be fair to yourself. If you make a mistake, your business won’t end, you just need to fix it and keep going,” she says. “Believe in yourself, listen to your gut and stay positive.”
Now when Morrissey sends William to Kindy with an EveryMite sandwich for lunch, she feels a sense of pride. “William has EveryMite every day,” says Morrissey, who has been overwhelmed with positive feedback. “I’ve had strangers ring me and say, ‘Thank you so much, we’ve been really struggling with our diet and now that we’ve found EveryMite it’s made a difference to our life’.”
It’s just the beginning for Morrissey who wants to see EveryMite on the shelf next to vegemite one day. “I want everyone in Australia to know about EveryMite and to have a organic alternative to vegemite,” she says. Here’s hoping.