Founder of Think Tomato / Mother of two beautiful boys / Loving mum / a crazy wonderful energy
On a cold January morning, I visited Julie at home where she was making fresh ratatouille with her magic tomato sauce. Afterwards she took me to her office where we drank some tea, had some lunch and talked about the life of an entrepreneur and working on your passion.
How are you and what are you doing these days?
I’m very good, a little tired! *laughs*. The main things going on in life right now are bringing my tomato sauce from Think Tomato to the market and being a loving mum and wife. All my time is dedicated to these two things, I don’t actually have time for anything else right now *laughs*.
I started just two years ago with Think Tomato and the brand grew extremely fast. So now I’m mainly focusing on sales and marketing and managing my small team. The fact that it’s going so fast is pretty awesome, but you also need to make the right decisions. For example, the production is still very close to me but is now being produced in an industrial kitchen for quality reasons. If you’re doing everything alone, you can’t grow. I also find it super important that everyone, including me, is happy at work so I’m the one watching over this.
How do you start your day?
I start my day with a lot of stress. It’s such a rush with the kids every morning (they’re like little energetic dogs *laughs*) and it’s super difficult for me, I can’t deal with it. I’m not really a morning person.
After that rush I come here in the office and I immediately calm down. I have my breakfast here while I check my mails. My work doesn’t give me a lot of stress to be honest because Think Tomato doesn’t feel like work, and that’s the dream. It really is my biggest passion. Of course, there’s stress at work like batches of sauce that failed, but I can let it go easily.
Where do you get inspired?
Think Tomato started with my favourite recipe, Parmigiana. When Leo was born, I didn’t have the time to make fresh tomato sauce. After 20 jars of bad tomato sauce I was done. My Parmigiana didn’t taste as good as before and I started to preserve my own tomato sauce to save some time. With this kitchen hack Think Tomato was born!
We brainstorm with the team about new recipes from time to time at the office. I have a few that I invented myself, but we also have an inspiration book where you have for example recipes from Pascale Naessens or Ottolenghi but you use my sauce with it. I don’t want to claim I invented lots of new recipes but I want to show everyone the easy options of Think Tomato.
Where do you unwind?
At the office right now because it feels so natural here. This is where I need to be at this point in my life. Going for a run also calms me down so I should pick that up again. I really need to take more time for myself otherwise I won’t be able to keep going like this.
What are your favourite places? (To go on holiday, in Belgium, places to eat … ?)
Super cliché but at home, especially with my little family. I don’t need to be at a white beach under some palm trees. Give me my home, a long beach walk with my kids and husband, no stress and I’m the happiest person alive.
What is your favourite LN piece?
I’m in doubt between two pieces, don’t make me choose!
The Holly jumper or the Dotty Daisy. I always wear them. I’m very active during the day and I feel so comfortable in the brand. The fit is loose and comfy but it’s still very feminine. It’s also in the beautiful details and it goes with everything in my closet. Yes, I’m a real fan!
Personal: to stay happy and healthy with my family. I want to find that perfect balance between work and life. Right now, I’m heading in the right direction. I manage to be a present and loving mom and wife, I can be there for my family and friends, Think Tomato is going great, although it I just the beginning. Now I need to make some more time for myself *laughs*.
Work wise I dream that everyone has a Think Tomato jar in the kitchen, that it becomes like a jar of Nutella. I want to inspire everyone with my recipes and tomato sauce.
Do you have a life motto?
Definitely: juggling the 5 balls of life.
You always juggle with 5 balls in life. One is from rubber and that is work. The other ones are from glass and are family, health, friends and integrity. You juggle through life all the time and if the one from rubber falls, it bounces back. But if one of the others falls, there’s a crack in it.
Work can fall sometimes, it’s ok. But be careful with the other ones and never take them for granted.
Ellen: "I'm a true Think Tomato addict. I genuinely cannot live without it. Think Tomato is like an 'LNknits': once you go Think Tomato, you never go back." The taste is sweet, gentle and addictive. Also my girls truly love Julie's sauce. While Lily is usually allergic to all tomato sauces, she is not allergic to Julie's fresh and natural Think Tomato.'