Monday, May 27, 2013

Spotlight on Mom: Amy Hemmert and Tammy Pelstring of Laptop Lunches Bento-ware

I am excited to share this week's two Spotlight Moms, Amy Hemmert and Tammy Pelstring, of Laptop Lunches Bento-ware, as I have been using their sample sent to me, as a way to introduce an assortment of foods to Savannah, our picky eater.  At Easter, I was filling an empty egg carton with plastic Easter eggs I had filled with a variety of fruits and veggies.  This works for a short time, but then she would get tired trying open to the egg shells.  So, while looking for another way to introduce new foods to her in a fun way, I stumbled across Amy and Tammy's website and fell in love with their line of Laptop Lunches Bento-ware products.  Not only would these Bento boxes be great for school-age children and adults to bring their meals to school/work, but it would also be great to use with picky eaters like my daughter.  The first thing that caught Savannah's eye was the bright colors that make up the different compartments.

While we are still struggling to get Savannah to eat what we eat each night, she is slowly adding new foods to her "like" list, which is a great help, as we were serving up hot dogs, mac and cheese, tomatoes, and french fries in the past.  Stay tuned on Friday, when I will share more about Amy and Tammy's Laptop Lunches Bento-ware products, and offer one lucky reader a chance to win one for themselves.  But, today, please enjoy my Spotlight on Mom interview with the ladies from  Laptop Lunches Bento-Ware, Amy Hemmert and Tammy Pelstring.

Name: Amy Hemmert and Tammy Pelstring
Company Name/Product/Service: Laptop Lunches Bento-ware
Company Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Company Website:
Facebook URL:
Twitter Handle: @laptoplunches
Age of Company: 11 years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: “An escalator cannot become broken. It can only become temporarily stairs.”
Favorite Book: The Laptop Lunch User’s Guide: Fresh Ideas for Making Wholesome, Earth-friendly Lunches You’re Sure to Love J

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How many children do you have? What are their ages?

Amy: 2 (18 and 16)
Tammy: 2 (19 and 16)

Your hobbies?

Amy: Reading, writing, yoga, traveling, cooking
Tammy: Horseback riding, yoga, running, traveling

Briefly explain your business. How did it come about?

We manufacture and sell a line of eco-friendly on-the-go meal containers and accessories, ideal for school, work, travel, and anywhere else life takes you! We started Laptop Lunches Bento-ware when our kids were little, and we discovered that most homemade lunches consisted of prepackaged foods and other items packed in baggies, foil, and plastic wrap. These lunches were, in general, pretty unhealthy and generated a lot of food and packaging waste for schools to dispose of.

We were out jogging together one day and realized that parents would pack better lunches for their kids if they had tools that would make it easy for them to do so. That’s when we decided to create our American-style bento box and wrote a book of wholesome lunch ideas to go with it. Laptop Lunches Bento-ware was born! 

What is a typical work day like?

There’s no such thing as a typical day around here! There’s always something new and exciting going on. We have a collaborative work environment, which is great. Each person in the company has his or her area of expertise, but we all work together very well, and we all jump in if someone needs help with something. We do have a pretty typical office environment though: phones ring, emails come in and go out, meetings are held, and we eat good snacks!

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?

We had never done anything like this before, so we had a lot to learn in a short period of time. Also, we both had young kids and wanted to be fully present with them. Thus, in the early years we tended to work during the day while they were at school. Then we’d pick them up, spend the afternoons and evenings with them, and then go back to work when they went to bed. We could have grown the business faster if we’d kept more regular hours, but it was important to both of us to be there for our kids. Now that they’re more independent, it’s much easier!

What did you do in your past work life?

Amy: Taught English as a second language (ESL), conducted research, and wrote textbooks.
Tammy: Sold medical diagnostic equipment, owned and operated a wholesale bakery.

What have been some of your major successes?

We’ve grown the business.
We’ve launched numerous successful products.
We’ve built an amazing team.
We wrote and published The Laptop Lunch User’s Guide.

What have been some of your major challenges?

Balancing work and home.
Learning everything that we’ve had to learn along the way.
Wearing many different hats.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?

Our amazing customers and our wonderful team.
The creative bento lunch photos that people send in or post online.
The appreciative emails we receive from people who say that our bento-ware  has changed their lives.

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?

“Don’t let the wants of the business get in the way of your kids’ needs, and don’t let your kids’ wants get in the way of the needs of the business.”

What is next for your business?

We’re working on a line of new products, so keep an eye out!

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?

Do your research and write a solid business plan. Not all business ideas are viable, but when you find one that is, you can soar beyond your wildest dreams. Most of your friends will tell you that your idea is great, even if it isn’t or if they’re not sure. Run your idea by people who don’t know you and have nothing vested in the outcome.


  1. This is great! I hate having my food touch and wasting plastic bags!

  2. this is a great way to protion out your food for yourself and have a fun way to give an exciting lunch to your kids thanks for sharing this...

  3. I love these! I would get this for my 4 yr old who is going to preschool soon,
    lisae819 at yahoo dot com

  4. So cute! I would love this for myself to use for my luch I take to work! Beats waiting plastic baggies!

  5. I like the colors and that looks fun. Would love to get a set like this for my husband and my daughter.