Family traditions, recipes become family business

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Three sisters found the perfect recipe for turning a family tradition of made-from-scratch, natural foods into a family business.

Bebo Naturals of Hilliard prides itself on making a local, all natural baby food for central Ohio parents, according to owner Ariana Ulloa-Olavarrieta.
Ariana, Cinta and Tania Ulloa were all born in Mexico and moved to Ohio at a young age with their parents after their father accepted a position as a physics professor at Ohio University.

After pursuing other careers around the country, the three sisters chose to relocate their young families back to Columbus, so they could all raise their kids together.

“We were raised to always cook with fresh ingredients. Everything was always homemade and even leftovers were incorporated,” Ulloa-Olavarrieta said. “Right about when we were all getting ready to have kids, we made the conscious decision to raise our kids together, so we all moved back.

“We were talking about how Cinta would spend all day Sunday cooking food for her first child because she was having a hard time finding baby food that she felt good giving him to eat. That’s when I said, ‘you should start a business,’ which soon became ‘we should start a business.’”

According to Ulloa-Olavarrieta, the sisters were all working full-time jobs and spent their evenings and weekends testing recipes, using themselves, their kids and their friends’ kids as taste-testers.

“We knew we were onto something because the other moms were noticing there was a big difference between what their kids were eating and what her kids ate,” Ulloa-Olavarrieta said. “We did a lot of taste-testing with friends to get our recipes just right and then we launched officially in September 2010.”

Bebo Naturals are available via Green Bean Delivery, at several area farmers markets and through the Celebrate Local store at Easton Town Center.

One of the company’s keys to success, according to Ulloa-Olavarrieta, has been taking the time to plan things and not growing too big too fast.

“We had been approached early on by grocery stores but decided to wait until we felt we were ready to expand into that market and deal with those demands and setting up bar codes, etc.,” she said. “We’re now at that point, so we’re in talks with some local grocery stores to get in there.”

Ulloa-Olavarrieta said finding mentors to model a business after is important to success.

“I think it’s important to take it slow and do your research — like with the bar codes: If we’d bought them off the secondary market, we might not have been able to work with the larger grocers who will only accept your product if you have your own bar codes,” she said. “We’ve tried to surround ourselves with good mentors for advice like this — other small-business owners that we’d like to model ourselves after.”

Being a part of the local economy is very important to Bebo Naturals as well, according to Ulloa-Olavarrieta.

“We mostly buy local, sustainable ingredients, and we’re always looking to convert more of our ingredients to local goods through meeting new people and asking. We don’t pretend to know everybody, so we’re always on the lookout for other local producers,” she said. “ We all have to work together at this to get business in here and get the economy going again.

“If we can play even a small part in that, we want to. We want to keep doing this because we truly believe in it.”

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