Cecilia Robinson is group chief executive of My Food Bag and, at 30, has already won several business awards. She talks about love, loss and French onion soup.

1. How did you meet your husband and business co-founder James?

It was the first night I arrived in New Zealand on my working holiday visa. He was one of my brother's close friends. My brother was living in Westmere, he's a big Lord of the Rings fan so he came down to New Zealand because of that basically. It was a very low-key dinner at his house - homemade pizzas and beers. On our first date James took me to Devonport and talked to me about his aspirations in life, about how, like me, he wanted to make a difference, how he wanted to achieve financial freedom and how business had always intrigued him.

2. Your first business together, which you recently sold, was Au Pair Link. Did you have any money to start it?

No, no. We had nothing. I was partly using finance from my student loan in Sweden. James was working full time and his entire salary went into paying our staff and operational costs. We lived off nothing but Weet-Bix and milk for quite a long time.


3.You have an almost 3-year- old. Did you consciously start a family while launching your businesses, or did it just happen?

We started trying when I was about 24 and we actually tried for about three years and it just didn't happen for us so we ended up on fertility treatment. I wrote my business plan for My Food Bank when I was about 40 weeks' pregnant, just about to give birth. It was tough, you're trying to run your businesses and you've got a newborn.

4. Do you miss Sweden?

I really miss my friends and extended family but I don't miss living in Sweden at all. New Zealand is just a really warm culture - Sweden is not as warm or as friendly and I think it's quite natural with the climate; people don't interact and engage as much as they do in a warmer climate.

5. Theresa Gattung is a co-founder of My Food Bag. What have you learned from her?

So much. TG isn't only a business partner but a close friend. She's taught me a lot about myself. All my life I'd heard that I spoke too quickly and it was annoying to other people but TG was the first person to say that the reason is because I digest information really quickly. She said "you're not inconsiderate, you just think really quickly and you need to understand that sometimes you need to slow down a bit, take people on the journey with you, rather than just blurting things out".

6. What was the lowest moment of your life?

Last year I was five months' pregnant and we lost the baby. There had been no sign throughout the pregnancy of any problems, and they did all the tests afterwards and there was nothing wrong with her. It's highly unlikely that you'll lose a child at five months. Her little heart just stopped beating. My husband has been pivotal in ensuring we've emotionally and physically recovered from the loss, although I'm not sure if you ever truly do. Our son Tom has also helped us find happiness again. He's our sunshine.

7. Was it hard to keep up your pace of work after that?

Yeah it was. We were in the middle of launching My Food Bag into Australia. We just couldn't be as effective as we normally would be. Both James and I, when things are tough, we kind of just stick together like glue and help each other get through it. There were days when I was low and he was okay and he could pick me up and vice versa. For us it was a key decision-maker to sell Au Pair Link. We got an approach [to sell the business] at around the same time as we lost the baby and we just looked at each other and said, you know, we can't do everything anymore.

8. You spend a lot of time with James both at and outside of work. Does it ever get to be a bit much?

I think it's kind of the opposite for us. Sometimes we will have a busy day, literally sitting opposite each other, but not really getting the chance to talk, and I get to the end of the day and I'm like "oh my god I really miss you and I need to talk to you about all these things". We're just used to being together and we love being together. If I leave work early to pick up our son from kindy and my husband stays longer, I will seriously miss him for those two hours. I think often people don't speak to their partner, they just speak about their partner to their friends. Because all of my friends were in a different time zone, we would talk to each other about any problems. So we resolved things quite quickly, whereas previously I think I was quite guilty of talking to my best friend about problems in the relationship rather than my partner.

9. What was your childhood like?

My Dad owned his own business doing English training; he's from the UK and he emigrated to Sweden when he was in his 20s. Mum was a teacher. So it was a nice, normal, wholesome middle class upbringing. I was always ambitious. I really wanted to make a difference, that was one of my key things, but I just didn't know what that meant or what it would be. That was really my key driver and we've really achieved that with the business that we run. My Food Bag is a revolution, you know, it's changing the way that people are eating and how they engage with their families. People are becoming less stressed and more organised and relationships are improving and husbands are now helping to cook.

10. What is the least successful meal you've done for My Food Bag?

I still have nightmares about French onion soup. It was actually really delicious but it was just that thing of giving our customers onion as a core ingredient - even if we paired it with expensive items like Gruyere cheese or lovely baguettes. It was not a success.

11. What do you do to relax?

We spend a lot of time together as a family. Friends come over for dinner. Gardening, decorating, nesting. But we're pretty boring people, fundamentally.

12. You've become quite wealthy now - how has your lifestyle changed?

We've bought a cat. We also bought our first home - we didn't want the risk of the property market when we had two businesses. But we don't rest on our laurels. It's more about having more time now and being present. We get home every day at 4pm, we want to be present for Tom. We bathe him and have dinner and put him to bed every night. We make a concerted effort to show him that we're there. And we love it. Then often we pick up our laptops when Tom's in bed and just keep going.