Peanut Allergic Teen Builds Business from Ground Up

Thirteen-year-old Lily Pinto, co-founder of Don’t Go Nuts, is proving that you don’t have to be an adult to be able to help others in a big way.

WP_20130308_025
Don’t Go Nuts makes foods that are completely nut-free, “from field to fingers.” Although their facility opened in 2012, the idea for the business first started to materialize when Lily was eight. At that time it had been a few months since Lily had suffered an anaphylactic reaction, and the peanut and tree nut allergies that her family had been managing since she was three had become more severe. Foods that used to be okay – such as items made in the same facility as foods that contain allergens – were now off-limits.

When Easter came around and Lily realized that she could no longer have any of her favorite candies, she started crying. “Oh Lily, don’t go nuts!” her twin sister, Mesa, implored. And they all realized that “Don’t Go Nuts!” would be a great name for a nut-free foods company. Being a very entrepreneurial family (as Lily put it, “anything in our family becomes a company!"), they decided to make it happen.

Today Don’t Go Nuts operates its own nut-free facility that they built from the ground up, making five flavors of soy butters and six different energy bars. Lily is the voice of the company, involved with the creative side of things and providing input regarding what it takes to make products that she feels are truly safe. Lily clearly enjoys the impact that her efforts are having.

“We get emails from moms saying things like ‘Wow! My eight-year-old kid has never had a granola bar and thanks to you she just had one and we’re crying,’ and it just touches me in a special place because I fully relate. We picked these products to start with because we were looking at ‘what has Lily not eaten in four years?’ and ‘when I was in a nut-free school (I’m home schooled now), what was the biggest mistake that other parents would make?’ Granola bars were at the top of this list.”
Lily’s vision for how she can help others extends far beyond what she is currently able to do. “This is just the beginning,” she says. “Right now we’re making a space called Lily’s World. I’m going to start posting on it. My goal is to do live video chats, and write a blog each month, which I recently started. A lot of kids are looking at that blog, which is really exciting for me! I want people to feel like they have someone in the company that’s a friend.

“Eventually I hope to be someone who can do school talks. And I want to make other products, like cereals, and open a restaurant. I’d love to be able to walk into grocery stores and see a nut-free foods shelf or aisle, just like the gluten-free section now. My vision for Don’t Go Nuts is so much bigger than the allergy and all of us. As long as I can help people, I plan to stay involved.”


Attachments

Photos (1)

Add Comment

Comments (2)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

This is awesome....  One area I see a market for you is seeds....  They are a great alternative to nuts, but it is very difficult to find them not processed the same facility as peanuts and treenuts.  So far all we can find reliably is sunflower seeds.

Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
8201 Corporate Drive Suite 1000 Landover, MD 20785
Phone: 1-800-7-ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462)
-->
×
×
×
×