Each month we feature a London mum who shares her favourite places in her community. This month we talked to Millly Cundall, mum to Archie and founder of Milly’s Kidchup. They recently moved to Stoke Newington in Hackney North London. Here she tells us what she loves about her local area:
Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m Milly, single mum to four year old Archie and I have a business called Milly’s Kidchup making all natural, refined sugar free condiments for kids. Kidchup was something that organically took shape in the background whilst I was working and juggling motherhood. I’d always blogged in some shape or form over the years and, most recently, I’d been focusing on the food side of things, as I’ve always loved cooking.
In 2015 when Archie was about a year old he was going through a fussy eating stage, flatly refusing pretty much anything I’d put in front of him. He also wasn’t sleeping much either so you can imagine the state I was in. We were away for the weekend and he was refusing to eat much and I was feeling very flat. We were in the restaurant and I ordered myself some chips, which obviously came with some Heinz ketchup on the side. I turned my back for a minute only to turn back and find Arch helping himself to both. I was elated he was eating but horrified at the fact it was a chip dripping with sugary ketchup. Having cooked most things for Archie from scratch since weaning him, I’ve always strived to keep his diet as sugar and salt free as possible, I definitely hadn’t banked on him becoming a ketchup fiend.
When I couldn’t find a ketchup on the market that was super low in sugar or refined sugar free, didn’t use sweeteners and tasted great, I decided to make my own. I spent months working out how to naturally sweeten it rather than pack it full of concentrates or syrups. Initially, Kidchup was just for home use but then a handful of friends said they’d like some for their kids and the rest is history. The plan was to create something completely natural with no refined sugar, sweeteners or artificial preservatives that gave parents a guilt-free alternative to the market leader and here I am.
A year ago, it was clear that I just couldn’t keep up with demand and have a hope of growing the business if I kept making it myself in my home kitchen. So, I out sourced my production, which was a big leap as it meant heavy upfront investment but it has meant I can focus on growing the business and that’s exactly what has happened.
Which area do you live in, and what do you love about it?
We moved to Stoke Newington just before Christmas. It’s probably the quietest place I’ve ever lived, I grew up in Kentish Town and I’ve always lived near a tube so it has definitely been a step change. I’m learning to love the fact it feels a bit like a village but is brimming with character and has a unique vibe to it I’ve not found anywhere else. Church Street is lined with brilliant independent shops and restaurants, which is a rarity on a high street these days, and Dalston is just minutes away so you get the best of both worlds.
Where do you like to hang out with your kid locally?
We’ve always spent a lot of time in Clissold Park, even before we moved to the area, which is now, amazingly, at the end of our road. We’re usually there most weekends followed by exploring new places to eat we haven’t tried or Rowan’s Bowl followed by a Thai curry at Cats Cafe des Artistes in Stroud Green is a new firm fave with Archie.
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What are your favourite local family-friendly eateries?
Who stocks your products in Stoke Newington area?
What local activities do you and your son take part in?
Archie loves tearing around outdoors so taking the bike to Clissold or Finsbury Park is always part of our weekend. When the weather is nicer, we walk through the Parkland Walk Nature Reserve from Finsbury Park to Crouch End with a stop at the Cape Adventure playground is always a lot of fun. Gillespie Park is great for exploring and imaginative play. There’s an amazing craft club on Sunday mornings run by Make Do on Kynaston Road that I’ve heard amazing things about but we’ve not managed to make it to one yet.
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Where’s your favourite place to escape in your area for a little alone time?
I tend to go for a walk in Clissold Park in the morning after drop off and before sitting down at my desk. I’ll usually grab a coffee from the café in the park or the Good Egg on my way in and then process whatever’s on my mind and go over my mental checklist for the day ahead. If it’s been a really stressful morning I’ll hit Franks Canteen in Highbury, it’s like a home from home so I know I’ll always get a warm welcome and a great brekkie. The menu changes weekly but when they have the dal on it is the one. Their sausage sarnie is always a fave as well.
Where’s the best place for a night out with friends or a date night?
If we’re eating I love Osteria Wolf on Stoke Newington High street they do very good seasonal Italian food, delicious cocktails and you’re surrounded by decent pubs for a drink after or you can hop in a cab down to Dalston. I’m also very partial to a pint in The Auld Shillelagh, which is great for a quiet one or as a precursor to something much more spontaneous.
What’s the best hidden gem in your area?
Romeo & Giulietta Gelateria – it’s a brilliant little ice cream spot tucked away on Albion Road. You have to time it right with kids in tow in the summer as the queue can often be out the door but it’s worth the wait.