When business and friendship mix: The winning recipe

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Alisa Latto and Danni Crews have been friends for more than 25 years. While their careers initially took them down different paths, they always shared an interest in health and wellness – and a desire to go into business together.

After they both started families, they began developing organic products for their kids. They soon discovered the marketplace was missing something: a single range offering all of the organic kids’ products they considered “essential”.

Brand offering all organic kids products. 
Brand offering all organic kids products. Credit: Supplied.

In 2016, the pair launched 123 Nourish Me, encompassing everything from organic foods to natural sunscreen, mosquito repellent and an award-winning sleep balm: “It’s the things that parents reach for daily,” says Alisa.

The products are not only Australian-made, but also tested on their own kids.


Setting boundaries was key to nurturing their business while maintaining their treasured friendship. Right from the start, they introduced an unusual tool: a code word to help them keep their personal and business lives separate. Before any private chats they’d simply utter a single word: “personal”.

The pair have worked hard on their communication over the years. “A business partnership is like a marriage – you have to let stuff go all the time,” says Danni.

“We realised the most important thing we can do is be honest with each other, and for the other person to be open to those comments. And we talk about things quickly, so that frustrations don’t build up.”

The women also clearly defined their roles within the business from the beginning, recognising the complementary differences in their personalities, skillsets and management styles. In general, Alisa says she’s quite conservative, while Danni is a more of a risk-taking, full-steam-ahead person.

If the two don’t agree on something, neither of them has the authority to make the final decision. Normally they compromise, but when they find themselves at a stalemate they have a trusted group of experts they can go to for advice. “We trust ourselves a lot but there are definitely times we need to call on outside opinions,” explains Alisa.

They’ve also built up a trusted community on Facebook and Instagram that they can turn to. According to Alisa, the value of this feedback is enormous, but if you’re turning to customers for their opinions, you have to be prepared to listen to them: “The ability to let go of your own ego is vital. Because we all get it wrong sometimes.”

At crucial moments, the friends turn to the great outdoors. “We make some of our best decisions when we’re not in an office environment,” says Alisa, “so we’ll head out to the ocean or a park and just talk as we walk. We also used to spend a lot of time in Bali – without the pressure of having family around we found we were able to make big decisions much more easily, and our creativity would just flow.”

Travel to Bali is obviously out of the question for now thanks to the global pandemic, which also forced the partners to make some major changes to their business.

“We had to work really hard and really fast, particularly during the early stages of COVID,” says Danni.

“There was a big pivot for us. The organic manufacturer that makes our products suddenly found it challenging to source ingredients and raw materials.”

Understanding it would be the end of 123 Nourish Me if they didn’t act fast, they sourced other suppliers for packaging that was no longer available and teamed up with a local distillery for the alcohol to make their hand sanitiser.

They discarded products in favour of others they knew would be in high demand given the new COVID-19 reality, and then placed an order four times larger than normal. It was a huge risk, but their innovation, hustle and courage paid off.

As did the decision to start working with online retailer Amazon Australia. “We wanted to be able to market to the public on another channel,” explains Danni.

“We’ve been really fortunate because Amazon Australia provided us with an account manager who’s working with us on a program called Amazon Launchpad. We’re also on Amazon’s Shop Local store, which is incredibly helpful, especially during this tough year.”

Throughout it all, their brand values and mission – to encourage connection and reduce the toxic load on kids – have really resonated with an Australian public looking to make healthy decisions for their families at a time when everyone’s spending more time at home than ever before.

Amazon.com.au is putting small Australian businesses front and centre through their ‘Shop Local’ store in the run up to their massive shopping event, Prime Day and beyond. Head to www.Amazon.com.au/shoplocal to shop products from hundreds of Australian small businesses.

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Source: Thanks smh.com