Pom Pom Paddock: 'If cauliflower can become pizza, you too can do anything'

Pom Pom Paddock: 'If cauliflower can become pizza, you too can do anything'

Pom Pom Paddock are turning the humble cauliflower into super foods that are full of nutrition and free from gluten, refined sugar and artificial nasties! Unleash your culinary creativity and be inspired to make wholesome, sweet and savoury foods without the guilt thanks to the newest innovators in the wellness and food space. I spoke with CEO and founder Lorraine Sarayeldin all about her journey to launching Pom Pom Paddock, her biggest and best career lessons and why cauliflower if such a rock star ingredient!

Hi Lorraine, lets start with a bit about you, your personal and professional background and experience...
I am a mum of an (almost) 7-year-old daughter, who inspired my entrepreneurial pursuit to create PomPom Paddock. I also have a very supportive husband who doubles up as my in-house lawyer! When you are starting up your own business, every accessible skill set is a plus! Having a Eurpoean background, I was introduced to delicious, wholesome home-made food from a very young age. Food was a form of social connection, bringing family and friends together. It was always fresh, with quality ingredients, took a lot of time to make and was always made in abundance! These experiences have had a long-lasting impression on me and have influenced where I am today, pursuing my passion and appreciation for good quality & great tasting wholesome food.

Professionally, I have always been highly driven and motivated. I’ve had over 18 years’ experience at international property group, Lendlease, holding a number of senior roles - from Project Director of a new master planned community, to my former role as Head of Experimental Projects, Innovation Lab. In this role, I spearheaded the testing and validation of new ideas in the market. My role heading up the Innovation Lab fuelled my inner entrepreneurial spirit further and I found myself looking for something that would motivate and challenge me even more and therefore set out to find a problem to solve. I never thought it would be outside of my industry! The penny dropped while I was making cauliflower pizza bases and ‘rainbow’ cauli rice for my daughter who would expect them on a weekly basis. The time and mess associated with it motivated me to find a simpler way to get nutrients into our diets without the mess. I set out to see if we could create a pantry staple that achieved just that. After some research I found most gluten free products were devoid of any nutrients, especially flours. They also weren’t a direct cup for cup plain flour replacement, and you needed to purchase other flours to mix it with for performance.

Throughout your career journey you have had some amazing senior roles from Project Director to Head of Experimental Projects and leading an Innovation Lab! What would you say are the top 5 things you have learnt along the way that have helped you to flourish throughout your career journey and lead you to where you are today?
Be open to exploring industries outside of yours: Don’t let a new industry or even a new position deter you. In my corporate career, I found I was being offered new and more challenging roles every two years, as I was promoted into new areas that I hadn’t experienced before. You just need to believe in yourself, because when you do you will find a way to flourish. Embarking on PomPom Paddock, in a new industry altogether, I started with virtually no contacts. Having had a wide network of connections in the property industry, it was daunting to think of starting over in a new one. I quickly realised that all you needed was to start with one trustworthy, equally passionate person in that new field/ or industry. I found that person, who is now PomPom Paddock’s food technologist, and he subsequently connected me in with his network within the industry, which was great as I was then being referred to likeminded people who shared the same values as me.

Getting it out there: My business involved introducing a new gluten-free flour into the ever-expanding gluten free market. By the time I launched in November 2019, that market was certainly crowded with products. There was also a lot of noise around gluten and nutrition generally. Added to that, I had zero experience in the food industry and virtually no contacts. Probably my biggest challenge was getting my message out there and in particular why my product was unique and worth buying. It has not been easy although with help from some great people and sheer grit and determination, I’ve been able to finally have people notice my new product. One of the most effective strategies I’ve found for my product is social media and in particular Instagram. The image-based platform allows my customers to show off their culinary creations with my new product which provides the best endorsement a company could ever wish for.

Surround yourself with mentors and people who inspire you: I have always been a strong believer of having a quality network of approachable people you can reach out to that can guide, support and inspire you. Throughout my career, I ensured I held a very diverse network of people with a range of experience around me. I purposely set out to surround myself with people who had a ‘can do’ attitude and positive energy.

Build a team that have different skill sets to you: I am a strong believer in having a multi-disciplinary team that serve the skill sets you lack. Rather than waste time trying to figure something out, ensure you have a good diverse mix of skill sets in your team or network that you can lean on and keep you moving.

Time management: This was another big one for me. I started my business trying to hold down a full-time job and look after a young family, so I effectively have three full time jobs. Fortunately, there is plenty of great advice out there regarding time management and one piece of advice that worked for me was Richard Branson’s mantra of “delegate and elevate.” While it feels like you are doing absolutely everything in a new business the reality of course is that you cannot physically do everything with your limited time. I quickly learnt to find the right people and trust them with tasks that they could do in a fraction of the time it would take me to do personally.

It is super interesting that you completed the design thinking bootcamp program offered by the prestigious Stanford University d. school in 2017. What was this experience like and what were your key learnings?
It was an amazing experience, one that will live with me forever. Attending this program was truly a turning point for me in my career. The energy of the Professors running the program, the students from all over the world sharing their passion to learn and create products and services that solved real problems was inspiring.

I was selected to attend the program so that I could learn about the design thinking methodology and bring back some tools to my organisation to help our business quickly validate ideas in the market. After attending the program I wanted to do more and wanted to bring back a piece of d.school to Australia. This lead to me leading a partnership with the d.school Professors where we co-designed an accelerator program for Lendlease. The global program helped fast track the validation of ideas within the market in weeks. I learnt a lot from the d.school program. The highlight was getting your ideas in front of customers as soon as possible, as this is when you actually start to learn about your offering and whether you have solved the problem. The following statement always resonates with me, ‘You want to create a pain killer for your customer not a vitamin supplement that’s a nice to have’. So, for me the whole idea of solving the problem by empathising with the customer, taking action NOW and not spending months planning, perfecting and spending a lot of money on an assumption that has not been put in front of a customer is key to getting ahead and refining your offering.

Let's talk about your ah-mazing business, Pom Pom Paddock! Tell us the super cute story behind the name and how it came to be....
The name PomPom comes from my inspiration, my daughter, who as a four-year-old would shout ‘Pom Pom’ at the top of her voice pointing at cauliflower as we moved through the local greengrocers. Inspired by my daughter’s love for cauliflower, including my cauliflower pizza bases and rainbow cauli rice, it naturally became our star ingredient. We also associate ‘Pom Poms’ with celebrations, so let’s celebrate what comes from the Paddock!

What is Pom Pom's mission and values?
PomPom Paddock is a family owned business, proudly manufacturing all of our products in Australia. We’re committed to bringing you super nutritious and delicious gluten free, plant-based food that gives you the freedom to indulge guilt free.

What were the very first steps you took when starting your brand?
Research and customer testing were the first steps I took before launch. Here are the top 3...

  1. I spent days researching food trends globally and discovered Gluten Free diets (by choice) and diagnosed gluten intolerance was on the rise and cauliflower was becoming more of a popular vegetable, given its versatility and high nutrient density
  2. It took us 2 years to develop the right flour mix- we searched globally to source the best possible dehydrated cauliflower that outperformed any other in terms of taste, nutrient density, functionality and performance. We had over 100+ iterations of our Flour Mix to get it right, and specifically focused on the percentage of cauliflower content so it maintained a versatile flavour profile yet, performed well and maximized nutrient content
  3. Tastings and Gluten Free expo (most valuable testing ground)- this solidified our assumption that there was a problem to be solved. We participated in a Gluten Free expo run by Coeliac Australia, before we had product ready to sell. We had our story, our USP, the look and feel, the packaging ingredients and SAMPLES of baked goods! Luckily, we invested in a POS Square reader the day before, as we pre-sold over 250+ flour packs at the expo, 3 months prior to launch

"Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. It is packed full of nutrients and can be made to do anything. The saying goes, ‘If cauliflower can become pizza, you too can do anything’, well the humble vegetable is getting somewhat of a rock star status, taking centre stage on our plates." - Lorraine Sarayeldin, CEO & founder.

Tell us more about your products and the benefits they can bring to us and our families?
All of our products are certified Gluten Free, plant based with no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours. We go above and beyond to sneak that vege in to give you the freedom to unleash your culinary creativity and be inspired to make wholesome, sweet and savoury foods that are enjoyed by family and friends. Our signature Cauliflower Flour Mix is a wholesome cup for cup plain flour replacement in any recipe. It’s a pre-mix, so you don’t need to buy any other flours to mix it with. It also has a versatile flavour profile with the right percentage of cauliflower making it perfect for sweet or savoury recipes. It’s a flour with the super nutrients, 1 x 50g serve gets you 100% RDI Magnesium and 50% iron and calcium thanks to a quality mix of ingredients like quinoa flour and psyllium husk. It was also identified by Good Food and Body + Soul as a ‘super flour’ and health food to look out for in 2020. We have also just released a Pancake + Waffle Mix that is egg free, dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free. It is also nutritious being a great source of calcium, iron and magnesium.

Cauliflower is the star ingredient, why is it so beneficial and what does it bring to your product range?
Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. It is packed full of nutrients and can be made to do anything. The saying goes, ‘If cauliflower can become pizza, you too can do anything’, well the humble vegetable is getting somewhat of a rock star status, taking centre stage on our plates. Its versatility extends to its flavour and functionality, where it can easily compliment most foods. It’s highly nutritious too, which is great when it is coupled with a versatile flavour profile. We have made the cauliflower our star ingredient, bringing nutrients and a versatile flavour profile together to create products you would not have thought could bring you wholesome goodness.

"After two years of research, testing and developing, I launched PomPom Paddock in November 2019, manufacturing gluten free and plant-based food, that’s now available across over 250+ retail stores in Australia."

The Pancake + Waffle mix sounds like the perfect healthy alternative to much loved breakfast treats! Why is it different and what are the benefits?
Our Pancake + Waffle Mix is our recent addition to the PomPom Paddock product range. It is Gluten Free, egg & dairy Free, with no refined sugar, preservatives and no artificial colours and flavours. It contains our signature Cauliflower Flour Mix too, bringing you all the nutritious love like Calcium, Potassium, Iron and Magnesium. Pancakes and Waffles that are actually good for your gut and your tastebuds.

Where can we find you and the Pom Pom range to try for ourselves?
We’re in over 250+ stores nationally in Go Vita, selected IGAs, independent health food stores like The Vitamin Shop, Wholefoods House. We have a store locator on our website pompompaddock.com (with little cute cauli’s as markers) and we’re on the socials like Insta, Facebook and I am on LinkedIn.

Thank you so much Lorraine for sharing your ah-mazing brand, business story and advice on how to include more veggies in our meals simply and conveniently while still enjoying those special treats without the guilt! Check out more about Pom Pom Paddock here and follow on Insta for recipe and healthy eating inspiration and motivation!

Hayley x

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