By Eva Mulloy (CLWS ’10), Alumni Coordinator
This month we are excited to shine a light on Lilian Carroll (Fithian-Zurn), who graduated from City of Lakes Waldorf School in 2003. Earlier this fall, Lilian started Bramblebee Baby, an organic baby food subscription service based in Minneapolis.
I had the opportunity to talk to Lilian about her time at Waldorf, how it still plays a part in her life, and her exciting new company. Read on to learn more!
What was your favorite Waldorf school tradition?
I loved Circus and doing class plays. My favorite festival was [the Winter Spiral], lighting the candles in the spiral. I got to be the Angel once, that was such a special experience, and I am still amazed I didn’t fall on my face because I couldn’t see a thing!
Do you think your Waldorf education is still active in any parts of your life?
Yes, absolutely! There are so many practical life skills I learned at Waldorf that I don’t know if I would have been introduced to outside of this community. I still knit and sew, every new friend or family member’s baby gets something handmade from me (a knit monster, felt mobile, baby bonnet). I just built myself new garden boxes, and last year when we cut down a small tree in our yard, I made it into a playhouse for my daughter. I am very comfortable speaking in front of people and leading group activities. I am very conscious that everything I do has a well rounded quality, if that makes sense.
How have you been staying busy over the past unprecedented year (now almost two)? Did it have anything to do with starting Bramblebee?
Yes! It has been crazy, with so many highs and lows. I was 5 months pregnant when COVID hit and my husband and I were in the process of buying our first home together. We both worked in the restaurant industry and lost our jobs within 24 hours of signing on our house. The home we bought was a fixer, but all the money we had saved up to do the repairs we suddenly needed to save. So we did the work ourselves (thank you Mr. Kane for the woodworking skills). We moved in May and my son was born at the end of July.
I got to see some close family through the pandemic, but not having the support network of my friends was difficult. We are very close, and three of my best friends also had babies in the last year. Not being able to meet each other’s children and support each other through pregnancy, birth, and navigating parenthood was heartbreaking.
When my son started solids I was forced to exercise my creativity in the kitchen, and I found a lot of strength in that. I realized it was something I could share, and Bramblebee blossomed from there.
What exactly is Bramblebee?
Bramblebee is a new Minneapolis based baby food company that offers fresh baby food via an environmentally responsible subscription service. My offerings are handmade in small batches with no added salt, sugar, or preservatives and contain none of the eight major allergens (dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and gluten). I use only ingredients that are USDA certified organic, GMO free, and sourced locally whenever possible.
What has been your favorite thing about starting Bramblebee?
The confidence I have found. I NEVER thought I would start my own business, but I have this thing that I am passionate enough about that taking this leap is thrilling. It also made me feel even more connected to my community. I had no idea how many wonderful resources are out there for small business owners, especially women. I also never realized the resources available to me within my personal community. I have never felt more supported.
How do you think your sustainable approach changes your approach to business? I’m struck by how communal this business model is.
It was important to me that I was creating not only a source of revenue for myself, but also putting something out there that could have a positive impact on the world. Through creating this business I have become a much more active member in my community. I have found many amazing resources to support new entrepreneurs, and met so many people willing to work together to support each other’s business goals. I get to know my clients, though we rarely meet face to face. It is important that we make a connection and build a relationship based on trust and shared values.
My final question is related to the newsletter this interview will be included in. Do you have any favorite memories from the Holiday Fair?
Oh, I loved the Holiday Fair! This may be strange but I remember how great it always smelled. My favorite activities were doing candle dipping and finding the pocket person. I wish they would bring it back so I can take my kids some day!
To learn more about Bramblebee Baby and to purchase subscriptions, click here.
The Power of Community
As the effects of COVID continue and transform, we find hope in wondering about the various creative responses that will arise, to meet our current needs. Perhaps, as we allow ourselves to feel the ache of all that we miss about the ease in which we gathered pre-COVID, we will allow the urgency of community to shape our continued re-entrance into the social order of things.
If you’re interested in being interviewed for our alumni series on the CLWS blog or would like to nominate someone, please reach out to fellow alum, Eva Mulloy (firstname.lastname@example.org)—I look forward to connecting with you!