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Jessica Harris and her son Jonah, who has severe allergies, laughing and cuddling in matching white and blue striped jumpers in front of a green backdrop
/ Career Conversations
/ Career Conversations

“How my son’s allergies led to an unexpected career in food”

Sometimes the best ideas are born out of necessity, and that is exactly what happened for Jessica Harris, Founder of Little Bandits.

Her journey into the food industry began when her son was diagnosed with a severe allergy to cow’s milk.

She had never worked with food before but was driven to create her own products after being disappointed with the free-from range that was on offer for children at the time.

In this episode of the Career Conversations podcast series, recorded in front of a live audience at our Inspiring Careers in Food event, Jessica tells us she was driven by a feeling that she did not want her son to feel excluded.

The ultimate guide to setting up your food and drinks brand

Little Bandits makes yoghurts which are free from the top 14 allergens, low in sugar, and free from additives.

But Jessica says it is not just about making free-from products, her aim has always been to make them tasty and convenient.

One of the big challenges was making sure the yoghurts were available in supermarkets, so parents could buy them as part of the weekly shop.

Listen to the full episode to find out how she got the business off the ground, and how she managed to beat cancer and raise a child all at the same time.

Useful organisations mentioned in the episode:

Bread and Jam – a community of emerging UK food and drink brands

Big Idea Ventures – a venture capital fund supporting start-ups

Jessica Harris, Chief Bandit and Founder, Little Bandits

Jess formerly worked in the international development sector directly raising and managing income of over £80 million during her 22-year career.

Prior to launching Little Bandits, Jess ran her own consultancy for five years and before that was a Director at Restless Development, responsible for a global team of 16 and accountable for partnerships, strategy and investments doubling income from £5m to £9m under her tenure.

Little Bandits has been inspired by her son Jonah’s food allergies and the lack of healthy, allergy-friendly products available.

Determined that Jonah and children like him, shouldn’t miss out on fun, tasty treats Little Bandits was born and launched into 157 Asda stores in July 2020.

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Jessica Harris

Contributor

Chief Bandit & Founder

Hungry Little Bandits

When I was looking for investment, I was trying the angel routes and the VC routes. But actually what I also really wanted was some support.

Jessica Harris