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Small Business Snapshot: Organic Kids L.A.

Small Business Snapshot: Organic Kids L.A. Credit: Organic Kids L.A.

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Lisa Rotondi, CEO and founder of Organic Kids L.A., explains how this image represents her business.

Organic Kids L.A. is a school lunch company servicing private preschools, elementary, middle and high schools throughout Los Angeles. We serve organic and non-GMO foods, such as grass-fed beef and free-roaming chickens with no GMO in their feed. Our food is made mostly from scratch, from our sauces and doughs, to our freshly baked cookies and sweet treats of the day. 

I worked as an actress for 20 years and then had a child. The first year of my son's life, I traveled for work three times. While a couple of those jobs were rewarding creatively, they were far from lucrative and I needed to find something else that inspired me and was reliable. 

My son's father is a trained chef, so we started making baby food and selling it to friends and at local farmer's markets. We then began a home delivery service for babies and toddlers. When we split up, I took over the entire operation. Some of our (very few) customers asked if they could pack our meals in their kid's lunch for the next day. Thus, began the journey of Organic Kids LA. I knocked on doors, did all the administrative work, and did all the cooking.

I quickly realized what toddlers and preschoolers liked to eat. I had a toddler and lots of my friends did, too, so I figured out that bits and bobs and yummy little finger food was key. This began our signature bento box, pictured above. Lots of places have bento boxes, but ours is a mix and match, make your own cold lunch box. We have more than 40 items to choose from and it's all built into our web system making ordering easy for busy parents. We also offer four other meal options: meat; vegetarian; plain buttered noodles with a side of veggies; and a complete meal salad.

One of our biggest challenges to date is keeping the quality to our high standards as we scale. Four years ago, we were doing six lunches a week, and now we are between 4,500 and 5,000. I would love to take our company to other cities, but there needs to be people in charge who care as much as all of us do. So, the challenge in scaling is finding those people who will go above and beyond, do whatever needs to be done and hold everyone accountable to the high bar of Organic Kids L.A.

The other challenge is getting our program into lower income areas and public schools in general. This is a deep passion for me but I know it's not an easy path. It's one area I see spending more of my energy on as we take our company into more U.S. markets in the coming years.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.