We've always found being part of our local small business community incredibly valuable. But a certain global pandemic has definitely had an impact on our normal business networks. We were, therefore, delighted when we discovered that Marieke Syed, founder of SNACKZILLA, lives only a few streets away from us.
Not only have we teamed up for an Instagram competition (more on that later) but Marieke kindly took some time to talk to us about her business, her experience of lockdown and the importance of reading for her family.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to launch Snackzilla?
I’m Marieke, mum to boys aged 10 and 7 and the founder of SNACKZILLA, a new kids healthier snack brand. Up until 2018 I was the COO of London Craft Week, but my love of baking and branding took me on a journey to start up my own new business when I spotted a gap in the market.
With two constantly snacking kids I found there was a lack of healthy snack products that appealed to my kids age group but that were better for them than the high sugar junk food they craved. As a family that's constantly on the go I needed convenient products that could easily be chucked in a bag or lunchbox, and so with no exciting options on the market decided to do something about it!
Working with food scientists I took my Great Grandmothers oat cookie recipe and reformulated it to meet government healthy eating guidelines for kids. With 1 in 3 kids now leaving school being obese or overweight I set out on a mission to try and make healthier snacking options that little bit more appealing and easier. With 50% less sugar than other sweet biscuits, high in fibre (so good for gut health), nothing artificial and handmade in the UK, our soft baked oat cookies are the perfect lunchbox and after school snack.
What advice would you share about surviving and thriving during lockdown with kids?
We are definitely just surviving and not thriving during this lockdown! We have found it very hard, much harder than Spring last year. With my husband working full time too we have tried as much as possible to juggle the home schooling and work between us, but end up doing nothing very well! We have been lucky enough to be bubbled with my mum and we have tried to make lockdown as fun as possible. Lots of baking, movies, games, discos and outdoor adventures but we can’t wait until schools go back and we can get some decent uninterrupted hours of working time. Although probably I’ll really miss them and eat my words!
Why is reading particularly important to you?
Instilling in your kids a love of reading is one of the most important gifts I believe we can give our children. Getting lost in a good book when time seems to stop still is such a joy. With both my boys being reluctant readers to begin with I found that audio books were a great way in. Getting them hooked on a series, which then encouraged them to pick up the next book to continue the adventure.
What are your fondest memories of sharing books with your own children? Any particular family favourites?
I still read to my kids every night, a joint family book we all pick together. At the moment we are working our way through the Artemis Fowl series, the writing of which is amazing. We have also recently enjoyed the Kid Normal series and Katherine Rundell books.
From 8th-12th March 2021 Parrot Street Book Club and SNACKZILLA are running a joint competition on Instagram. Find out more and enter here.