Interview with Halo & Swoon’s Co-Founders: Meet José and Sarah
In this interview we hear how José and Sarah came together to create Halo & Swoon, how they came up with the name, their biggest challenge so far and their favourite baking mixes!
What bought you two together to create Halo & Swoon?
Sarah - We actually have been friends for years, but it was over a couple of wines at a charity event that we really started talking about the idea for Halo & Swoon. We were both complaining about the lack of choice when it came to healthy yet delicious snacks. I certainly was struggling to find yummy baked goods for one of my daughters who has severe food allergies, and has Coeliac disease. I really felt there was a lack of choice, and I was weary of certain brands where there had been issues of cross contamination and product recall. So for me creating a product that was tasty, healthy and easy to bake was critical. But equally so, it was imperative for me to have a product that you could trust was allergy-friendly.
José - Sarah and I would always end up talking about food, particularly in relation to allergies, and had been saying for years that we should do something together. We both shared a vision of creating easy-to-bake, delicious treats for those who either have allergies, dietary restrictions or simply choose to eat healthy food as much as possible.
Halo & Swoon uses high quality organic ingredients in all of its products. Tell us why?
José - Choosing organic ingredients for our baking mixes was important to us for a number of reasons. Eating organic, spray-free food means less work for your digestive system and liver, which means your body can turn its attention to other important processes such as detoxification, healing, and immune function. Producing organic food is also better for the environment as it means less pesticide/fungicides and chemical fertiliser run-off into our waterways, and supports natural biodiversity.
Sarah - I agree with Jose, eating organic food is overall a better choice, and it ensures traceability. Knowing exactly how your ingredients are sourced and what manufacturing processes they go through is key.
Sourcing those ingredients must have taken time?
Sarah - Yes, but we wanted to ensure that our product contained high quality ingredients that you can trust are allergy-friendly.
José - We specifically chose suppliers who could provide us with certified organic ingredients from trusted sources. We wanted to ensure traceability and remove any risk of cross contamination.
Tell us more about why your products are allergy-friendly…
Sarah - As a mother with a child with severe allergies, including Coeliac disease, it was paramount that our products were “lunch box friendly” - meaning they are free from dairy, eggs, nuts, tree nuts, fish, shell fish and soy.
José - I’ve had a dairy allergy my whole life and later developed a gluten intolerance after working as a pastry chef. So it was important to me to create baking mixes that everyone would be able to enjoy, whether they have allergies, intolerances or are just looking for a healthier baking option.
Why did you make your mixes plant-based?
José - I’ve avoided gluten, dairy and meat for many years now, and more recently moved to a fully plant-based diet. There are many health benefits associated with a whole food, plant-based diet, including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, alzheimers and diabetes. Eating plants is also much kinder on our planet and is one of the easiest things we can do to help prevent global warming. For me, it just made sense that our mixes would be plant-based.
Sarah - For me, I love the versatility of our mixes and the fact that you can add veggies to boost the healthiness of our baking! Also the fact that there’s no need to add an egg substitute is a massive bonus!
How did you come up with your name Halo & Swoon and what does it mean?
José - I already had a food blog called Swoon Food, but we wanted to make sure we chose a name that really encapsulated who we are. We went through a huge naming process and slowly ticked off the names we didn’t like, that didn’t suit or that were already taken.
Sarah - We eventually narrowed it down to Halo & Swoon, which we think describes our mission perfectly. We provide you with delicious, healthy, allergy-friendly baking treats. We are the “halo” to your “swoon”.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Sarah - Definitely finding a safe place to manufacture our products was a challenge. As a food allergy mum, sometimes using ‘safe’ products is not enough - you need to validate your entire supply chain and ensure the product is produced in a safe manufacturing facility. There are a very limited number of manufacturers in New Zealand that can that safely manufacture our products, without the threat of cross contamination.
José - With some serious research and perseverance, we managed to find an incredible facility that provides a safe environment to produce our mixes. It's an amazing production facility, which produces our mixes in specific allergen-free rooms, significantly reducing the risk of cross contamination.
Final question, what is your favourite product?
Sarah - Obviously, they’re all my favourite. Plus we have many more products in the pipe-line, which are equally delicious. But if I was forced to choose from our current products, then it would be the Anzac Cookie.
José - This is hard because I love them all for different reasons. But if you twisted my arm, it would be the Chocolate Cake because it’s so rich and fudgey, and really versatile! We'll be posting recipes for all the other delicious ways you can bake our mixes on our blog very soon.