When Laura Meemken and her husband, Michael, learned their children suffered from food allergies, conjuring different meals became a challenge.
"There weren't simple meal solutions for us in the stores at all, so we were cooking everything from scratch," Laura Meemken said.
That required Laura, then a full-time marriage and family therapist, to cook various foods, including bread and crackers, from scratch.
Over the years, though, what had become a daily routine for the Meemkens turned into delicacies they would share with friends and family. From there, the idea to make it a business grew.
"It became apparent to me it was something I could share with other people," she said.
In February, Meemken turned her meals into a business, creating All Clean Food for those in search of allergy-friendly dishes. She co-founded the company with her brother, John Moksnes, who helps with strategy and operations. Michael Meemken helps run the business as well.
Operated from the Meemkens' home in Minnetonka, All Clean Food makes ready-to-cook pasta meals. The company will add a vegan macaroni-and-cheese and children's snacks later this year. In just over a year, the business has grown to nearly $1 million in sales revenue, she said.
The pastas, which are gluten-free, can be found in local food cooperatives like Lakewinds and Harvest Moon, but this fall, will be available in Lunds & Byerlys, as well as Hy-Vee and Meijer stores across the Midwest, Meemken said. The items are also available inside the Brand Builders Market at St. Paul food hall Keg and Case, and Meemken is in talks to continue sales at Kowalski's Markets.
Meemken partners with a company in Michigan to make and package her products in an allergy-free facility. She continues to personally deliver cases of her products to local food co-ops.
For 10 years, Meemken worked as a therapist. With her new venture, she still has an opportunity to offer wellness support to others, she said.
"We have to eat well to feel well," she said. "If I can put something in a store that's a really good option for people, this is a way I can serve mental health needs from a different angle."
The Meemkens mostly bootstrapped All Clean Food, though they did receive funding from angel investors early on. Laura anticipates raising capital through a seed round later this year to hire a few employees and support marketing campaigns, she said.
New opportunities could provide additional funding for growing the business.
All Clean Food is a semifinalist for the 2021 Minnesota Cup, a statewide competition for entrepreneurs operated by the University of Minnesota. Finalists in the MN Cup share more than $400,000 in cash prizes.
Meemken said she was also recently selected for the Big Find, an international product search platform-and-pitch competition run by QVC and HSN.
Those picked for the Big Find will be able to pitch their products by videoconference to a judging panel composed of QVC and HSN merchandising executives, program hosts and brand founders for a chance to continue discussions with the QVC and HSN merchandising teams.