How did you get your ‘job’?
I’m Marina Wegorek, Founder and CEO of ProYOUth Nutrition, a category disruptor brand recognised for Innovation in Sports Nutrition for youth athletes and active families. My best job , however is being a mum to my two very active children Ava 10, Alec 6, who love their multiple activities including swimming, athletics, cricket, football, music, drama & instruments. Our family enjoys an active & healthy lifestyle where nutrition is an important consideration in our everyday choices.
ProYOUth Nutrition was born from my experience as a mother, of being unsatisfied with snacking options available to active, sporty kids. After-school was often a rush back from school to sports clubs but I just didn’t want to offer my children snacks that were high in refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. These tend to have long term detrimental impact on health and insulin response, but sadly adult sports nutrition snacks were not an option, as they contained ingredients that were not suitable or in safe levels for children.
I saw a real need for an alternative option for active children & so I sought the help of a team of leading applied sports, exercise scientists and nutritional experts. In my work with the scientists, we focussed specifically on how the nutritional needs of adults & children differ and impact of ingredients on long term health.
By catering to different nutritional profile of children, we could improve their overall performance & long-term health. That’s exactly what I have created now – A healthy nutritionally convenient snack on the go that not just adults but children can also enjoy.
What is your business/brand and WHY do you do what you do?
My Business is ProYOUth Nutrition which offers healthy nutrient dense convenient snacks on the go for active and sporty youth with specific focus on supporting performance.
Through ProYOUth Nutrition, we combine fitness, nutrition & education together to achieve one goal - inspire healthy choices from grassroots & educate wider society on the importance of healthy lifestyle. Through ProYOUth-Nutrition we champion the Grassroots-Movement.
Kids and youth are the future! We support and work with athletes before they reach the heights of fame. We nurture our community and walk with them in their steps to success and achievement. Seeing our community of young athletes winning medals and sharing successes makes me feel like a proud mother, not just to my kids, but to the wider community of young people. This is why I love what I do.
What is a typical day in the life look like at your business / brand?
No two days are the same. I wake up at 6am with the best intention of getting through my ‘To Do’ list, which I would have promptly updated the night before. However, I wake up to a phone that greets me with an inbox filled emails and messages from our international contacts who are few hours ahead of UK with a whole new set of actions that need attending to.
My multi-tasking mode kicks in straightaway where I get busy responding to work emails, messages whilst getting children ready for school. After school drop off, I get back home at 8.30am for meetings and business tasks which often involves me flipping multiple hats of marketing, sales, PR, social media, finance etc. Recently my time also needed to be spent on New Product Development and production planning. The juggling act of switching in between various modes of communication via WhatsApp, emails, zoom meetings and telephone calls tend to carry on till 3pm at which time I leave to pick up kids from school. I often take my laptop with me to squeeze a further 15minuites of worktime whilst I park and wait outside the school for kids to finish school.
Between 3pm-8pm I return back to mummy mode taking care of kids, homework, cooking and being a taxi driver for their activities. I love watching them and being part of their activities and therefore often volunteer to be a helper at their swimming squad or other clubs. Although the afternoons are predominantly dedicated around my children, I do find myself multitasking with work calls if my lovely team need my time and guidance.
Around 8pm, kids get settled to bed with bedtime reading after which I then end up most evenings with my sidekick - the Macbook again. My husband has to remind me often to switch off but my way of trying to get the best of both work and relaxing, is by watching TV whilst trying to work. My head pops away from the laptop screen every now & then to catch a bit of the story on the TV screen. Guilty and need to stop working but when do startups get to stop?! ☺
However, there are nights when I do manage to relax completely with a glass of wine and actually enjoy a movie with my husband.
What are your goals and future-plans for your business/brand?
I aspire for ProYOUth to be the No.1 snacking choice of Youth Athletes - A brand that parents trust and children love!
We are working on some exciting new product development plans and I’m looking forward to seeing them launched. We are thrilled to see our brand ambassadors achieving huge milestones in their sporting aspirations like going into Olympics and making Team GB. We want to further build on this amazing pool of young athletes who will go on to achieve great things.
Our team has been expanding and we have already launched our brand internationally, but I hope to see our brand in more international territories and become a global brand with a fantastic team behind it.
How do you currently see the kids cycling scene?
It has been incredible to see the growth in Cycling trends.
During lockdown it was amazing to see more families take to cycling where the data from Sport England showing that 18% of those who are currently cycling are doing so with children in their household.
With the ease of lockdown we don’t want to see a decline in healthy activity. More should be done to encourage families take to cycling not just as a leisure activity or a healthier greener way to move but also as a good sporting option. #LetsRideLocal and similar campaigns are great but, more can be done to create awareness of the cycling scene for children. I love seeing more female riders in this previously, predominantly a ‘boys’ sport.
What impact would you like to make on kids cycling, and how do you see the future?
As always Nutrition consideration, empowering the young riders not just to think about their skills but be smart about their food choices that helps them perform, recover, and grow. I would love to encourage more females to become role models too.
We already have some amazing BMX Ambassadors like Ross Cullen who is going onto be a reserve for the Team GB Olympics teams together with other talented young riders like Matt & Emily Hutt , Ryan Martin who are all multi trophy winning champs. We are also delighted to have MTB racer Felix Nelson as a part of our ambassador cohort. Through ProYOUth, we want to create more awareness of this sport, showcase our ambassadors both male and female, who can become great role models for the younger generation.
We would love to create more support and education around managing injuries and recovery process but also around mental health awareness.
Where do you take your inspiration from? Who inspires you in the industry?
I’ve always enjoyed cycling as a leisure activity and as a family we enjoy this during summer months as a fitness and relaxing activity but haven’t personally considered it as a sport. However, I have found myself glued to the TV screens during Olympic games and have huge respect for the endurance distance cyclists. Some of the best role models I have grown to know and recognize are Sir Chris Hoy and Helen Wyman. However, through our ambassadors I have been really impressed with the BMX Bikers – Its honestly amazing to see their skills and some of those ramp jumps look like watching thrilling stunts in movies.
What goes into the research when developing your new products / service?
The research process is one long process that can take 12-18 months where we work with industry experts, research to deep dive, and build on gaps and needs. Identifying our key USPs and marketing differentiation is key market success. From the concept stage, we commit to product development which can take multiple versions of development, which we then test with our market. The final winning formulation is driven by our customers and focus groups.
We pride ourselves in offering health benefit focused formulation and therefore the correct health validation is necessary – We do this through lab testing to understand which of our nutrients can provide the valid claims. Whilst our products may have additional vitamins or minerals, we don’t make any claims on those that do not meet the needed levels.
Even after our products have been launched to the market, we take our customer feedback to continually refine and improve our recipes. Our customers are behind our product development thinking before, after and always!
How can people find out more about your work and your brand/business?
More information about us can be found on via our website www.proyouthnutrition.com and via our social media pages on https://www.instagram.com/proyouthnutrition/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PYNutrition/about/
Any other comments / content you would like to include?
We are truly delighted to be a part of Little Rider Community who is aligned to our values and vision in every way. Watching the world’s youngest riders gives me the biggest smile and they are so inspiring. We are looking forward to building our partnership more with Little Rider Co and being part of their journey.
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