In a sea of wellness brands, PlantBaby, a plant-based company focused on supporting children’s nutritional journey from infancy to adulthood, has carved a highly unique niche. Founded by husband and wife Alex and Lauren Abelin, PlantBaby is on a passionate mission to reinvent children’s food, beverage and supplements by sourcing sustainable, organic ingredients and supporting regenerative agriculture.
Its first product, Kiki Milk, launched in 2021 as the “world’s first” organic plant-based milk designed specifically for kids, and achieved sell-out success at Thrive Market and beyond. Now, the company is looking to revolutionize macadamia milk with Mac Nut Milk – an organic, clean-label product it describes as “wildly delicious” and nutritionally superior to most competing brands.
We spoke to Co-founder Lauren Abelin about PlantBaby’s innovative portfolio of products, Kiki Milk’s runaway success, and the company’s vision for transforming individual and planetary health by increasing access to real foods.
Can you tell us more about PlantBaby – how did the company get started?
PlantBaby is a future-forward nutrition movement developing a portfolio of clean-label, organic, plant-based foods, beverages, formulas, and supplements to support children on their nutritional journey from infancy into adulthood. We founded PlantBaby in 2020 with the goal of helping restore harmony in our food and agricultural systems by supporting regenerative agriculture and sourcing climate-friendly crops.
“We’ve seen exponential growth over the past year, consistently selling out”
During this time, we celebrated the birth of our son Alakai, and learned soon after of his dairy and soy intolerance. This is when we developed Kiki Milk. I [Lauren] originally made it in our kitchen for Alakai from raw local coconuts, coconut water, local bananas, sprouted pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and oats.
We saw a white space in the plant-focused children’s market and had many families share this was also a product they had been looking for. PlantBaby launched Kiki Milk in Original and Chocolate flavors, and has since been working to expand its portfolio. We’re proud to partner with Farmer’s Footprint and Planet FWD, two organizations committed to building a healthier Planet Earth.
PlantBaby debuted Kiki Milk, a plant-based milk for children, in 2021 – what has the consumer response been like?
The customer response has been absolutely incredible! To date, we have over 1,400 5-star reviews on our website from people all over the country expressing their love and gratitude for Kiki Milk. From taste, to nutrition, to how this product has changed their lives, we’ve heard it all. Parents have messaged us about how this milk is the only milk their child can drink due to allergies or chronic illnesses they are battling.
“[T]he products we are developing are impactful and powerful beyond measure”
Business-wise, since launching in December 2021, the brand has been bringing in six-figure revenues and consistently selling out due to demand. Between the customer feedback and the numbers, we can surely see there was a need for a clean-label product.
In addition to D2C sales, Kiki Milk debuted on Thrive Market last year – are you currently in any other retailers?
Yes! In addition to direct-to-consumer on KikiMilk.com and Thrive, Kiki Milk can also be found on Amazon Marketplace, in Erewhon Market, and in a plethora of mom-and-pop stores across the country which you can find at https://www.kikimilk.com/pages/find-us.
We’ve seen exponential growth over the past year, consistently selling out, and we’re incredibly focused on becoming more accessible for everyone.
Plant Baby recently launched Mac Nut Kiki Milk made with macadamia nuts – what inspired you to choose a macadamia-based product?
Since launching Kiki Milk in December of 2021, we’ve seen a consistent rise in demand for products that are free of gums, inflammatory oils, and fillers while boasting whole-food and nutrient-rich ingredients. When we were given a bag of local mac nuts from a friend’s Big Island farm, we naturally made some mac nut milk and we were shocked at how incredible this milk tasted, especially when compared to the common macadamia nut milk you can find in many stores. It’s creamy, a little nutty, a bit buttery, a tad sweet, and actually tastes like real macadamia nuts.
We realized no true, all-organic and real-tasting mac nut milk has existed on the market so we wanted to change that and create a wildly delicious and nutritious product free of gums and fillers for everyone to enjoy.
Looking ahead, what is your long-term vision for Plant Baby?
We’re focused on inspiring behavioral change around health along 3 main avenues:
1. Ingredients & Nutrition. Our most important pillar is the quality of our ingredients and nutrition facts. We want people to stop buying brands that lack nutrient density and include unnecessary, harmful ingredients, and buy Kiki Milk instead if they have the option financially. At the very least, we want people to have an awareness of what to avoid.
2. Product. We started PlantBaby to design the first USA-made plant-based infant formula. We are still very committed to this product, but it was naive of us to think that we can just make an infant formula and get it to market off a pre-seed round of funding. Infant formula is one of the most highly regulated products and the FDA is deeply involved. While that is still very much on the horizon, we have broadened our vision and developed a product portfolio that includes formulas, beverages, tinctures, foods, and supplements.
3. Planetary Health. We want people to understand the connection between food and soil health (e.g. why we 3rd-party test our oats to ensure they aren’t contaminated by glyphosate). We want them to understand carbon neutrality (our certifications and partnership with Planet FWD) and how we make decisions about the ingredients we decide to use and where we source from.
Our point of view is: CPG products aren’t going anywhere and we want to challenge the industry to do better.
In addition to Mac Nut Milk, are there any other innovations in the pipeline?
Absolutely! Kiki Milk Original, Chocolate and Mac Nut are just the beginning. We can’t say much now, but what we can say is that we are so much more than just a milk company. We have big plans to expand our portfolio and make organic, clean-label products more accessible, affordable and mainstream (for lack of a better word) because we believe that health is something everyone should have access to.
Our team has been getting really creative with ways we can offer our products in totally new and unexpected ways. We can’t wait to share more soon!
Mac Nut Milk is now available for US shipping on Kiki Milk’s website.