With a huge heart and a generous dollop of determination, single mom Ashley Rossi decided to transform the baby food industry by creating Tiny Human Food. In case that’s not enough, she plans to build a homeless hotel one day. Ashley dished about her passion for helping the homeless, the challenges of life as a young mom and a unique parenting hack.
Congratulations on Tiny Human Food’s Best in Class award! What prompted you to create your company?
Thank you! After I had my youngest son, I saw that the baby food category hadn’t improved since the last time I was in the aisle. It aggravated me so much that so many improvements had been made in the food industry and yet nothing had been done to cater to our tiny humans. So I decided to hold off on pursuing a career in criminal justice and seek justice elsewhere— for a teeny population who can’t speak for themselves.
Part of Tiny Human Food’s mission is to raise money for a “homeless hotel.” What inspires you to give back to this cause?
I have such a soft spot for that project and have been planning it in my mind since I was eight or nine years old. I feel strongly that there’s something fundamentally wrong with a human being not having a place to call “home.” I felt this way even before becoming a young mom. Then, even though we were never homeless, there were times when it was all I could do to keep the lights on or prevent my car from being repossessed. I knew at the time that my circumstances didn’t define me, but I also had the peace of mind of knowing that at the very least, my son had a comfortable bed to sleep in at night, and I couldn’t have bettered our lives without that. I think that when people find themselves on the outskirts of their former lives, sometimes they need a safe, consistent place for themselves and their families, a haircut, some fresh new clothes, a few resources— and when they have those things, they’re in prime position to win. I plan to offer that to them.
What’s something that’s surprised you about being a young mom?
To name just one thing that’s surprised me, it would be how good it feels to break through every barrier that the world tells you exists for you. Society is cruel to young moms. There’s immediate judgement that sears out of people’s eyes, and the really bold say words that can either crush you or fuel you. I opted for fueling. Statistically speaking, I should not be where I am or anywhere close to it. And yet, here I am – and that has been the most surprisingly wonderful experience and feeling.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
COOKING! I would love more than anything to have healthy, delicious meals and snacks prepared for me throughout the day. I’ve been a team of one for much of the company’s history and a solo parent. I find myself eating less than I should or more conveniently than I’d prefer –a protein bar is not dinner— and can’t wait until I have time for consistent, great food.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
Great movies, because they allow me to just “be” for a bit.
What is your best parenting hack?
Include your kids wherever you can. I have an office at the house and recently decorated and made it the haven that I need for it to be since I practically live in it. Naturally, the last thing that I wanted to do was add a kids’ desk with clutter stacked on it, but it makes my son feel like he’s winning at life every day because something is in “our office.” It has become one of my favorite decisions.
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
All things Christmas/Santa related. Children deserve a truly magical experience when they’re little in my opinion and in our house, Christmas and Santa are absolutely magical!
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
Gosh, just one?? I have so many because my boys are truly incredible to me!
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
The world owes you nothing. Don’t you dare sit around waiting for anything or feel entitled to a thing. Get out there, fix the planet, work harder than anyone, and give back to everyone you can.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
Be KIND to yourself and understand that moms have been having children for a couple hundred thousand years. I don’t say that to diminish your love and your individual experience, but I DO say it to put into perspective that the little things that you do that you’re convinced are going to permanently ruin your child probably aren’t.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
I’ve embraced the feeling of chaos and have stopped desiring the “neat little box” life that I thought I wanted. My kids are easier to balance than myself. I go-go-go until I just can’t, then I veg while mentally guilt-tripping myself for vegging. It’s unpleasant, but also very temporary in the grand scheme of things.
What was the last book you read?
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Favorite Beauty Product:
Better Than Sex mascara by Two Faced
Favorite Form of Exercise:
Who has time to exercise?? Walking my dog for the win!
What is on your DVR?
Game of Thrones, AGT, Shades of Blue
Favorite Kids Store:
The Disney Store