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Photo: Bohemian Baby

Welcome to the new small-business series Trading Places, which will take a look at entrepreneurs who have successfully transitioned from working at a traditional 9-to-5 job to being self-employed. If you have such a story you'd like to share, please email me.

When 36-year-old Anni Daulter gave birth to her first child in 1997, she decided to introduce little Zoe to nutritious, fresh food. There was little such baby food on the market, so Daulter concocted recipes and cooked gourmet baby meals for her son herself.

She would go to her local farmers' market in West Hollywood, Calif., buy a range of fresh produce and then spend a couple of hours each day cutting, steaming and blending fruits and veggies to come up with different combinations of purees. And as her son got older, Daulter mixed in grains she had ground and boiled.

Although Daulter thought of starting her own wholesome baby-food company at the time, she was not in an emotional or financial position to do so then. Seven years later, however, when her daughter Lotus was born, Daulter and her husband, Tim, decided that the time to jump-start a baby-food company was right.

Previous job

: Social worker and part-time college professor.


: Founder and owner of

Bohemian Baby.

The transition

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: "It wasn't really that hard. Emotionally, I was ready to do something different, and also, I saw opening up Bohemian Baby as an extension of the work I was doing as a social worker ... another extension of social consciousness to make a positive impact on kids' nutrition. There was a learning curve, but that was really exciting. I don't get weirded out by change -- I see it as a really fun, exciting part of life," Daulter says.

Start-up costs

: Right at the beginning, the Daulters invested about $25,000 into their business. "Financially it was a little bit of a struggle," Daulter recalls. "We did a lot of borrowing, got friends and family to work for free and did trading services, where we gave a little bit of the company in exchange for work on the Web site." Now, two years into the business, they have about $1 million invested in Bohemian Baby.

Her company's edge

: "All the food is organic and fresh. It's made and delivered the same day and has a very short shelf life, about seven to 10 days, so it's really as if you made it yourself," Daulter explains. "My goal was to have the very best -- what I would want to feed my babies. A key component to how we create products is the taste: What does it taste like, and do the babies actually like it? That's really important to us."

What she wishes she knew before

: "How to deal with business partners. That's been the most challenging -- dealing with various personalities. People have different visions on how to grow a company successfully with the kind of

eco-consciousness we want to have as part of our company," Daulter says.

Dedicated customers

: Gwyneth Paltrow, Christie Turlington, Adam Sandler, Bridget Fonda, Dylan McDermott and Angela Bassett, to name a few. "It really ranges. We see a wide range of people. We wouldn't say they are necessarily health-conscious for themselves, but they seem to really care about their babies, much more than themselves, so they want to give them the best," Daulter says.

Some product favorites

: For younger babies, the carrot-apple-tofu blend; "green baby," a combination of green beans, broccoli, kale and banana; and the pear-raisin-millet breakfast cereal are popular choices. From the menu for older kids, sweet potato cakes, the Indian "veggies with coconut korma," pasta marinara, basil-pesto pasta and butternut squash risotto are all hits.

Parting advice

: "You have to passionate about what you want to do because it is a 24-hour-a-day thing," says Daulter. "It's not something we can forget about when we come home ... we're always working, and if we didn't have the passion for it, there would be no way we could do it. It's an emotional roller coaster a lot of times, so you absolutely have to believe in what you're doing."