Lily Pinto On Her Company, Don't Go Nuts!
Lily Pinto is the 13-year-old co-founder of Don't Go Nuts, a company that makes foods completely free from peanuts and tree nuts!
We recently spoke with Lily about her own nut allergy, which she was diagnosed with when she was 3 years old, and how her experience led to the creation of Don't Go Nuts!
"I have a life-threatening nut allergy, and I wanted to provide kids with food that was safe because it was made with a level of safety that no one else had promised," Lily explained.
Lily's decided to turn her own negative experience into something that could help others facing the same issue.
With the help of her entrepreneurial family, she set out to make foods that anyone with an allergy like hers could trust without question.
"My role in the company is to share my point of view having a nut allergy, what I would want and what would keep me safe," she said. "I am the representation and constant reminder of what we're all doing here and why we're doing it."
She is also closely involved in many other aspects of Don't Go Nuts, including marketing, branding, creating recipes, running social media and attending events.
"I love being part of such a great team, who really respect my opinion, even though I'm only 13," she said.
As someone with a food allergy, Lily has to be extremely aware of where her food comes from. Many foods may contain trace amounts of nuts, picked up sometime during the production process, and even the tiniest contamination can be deadly.
"Being afraid to put food in my mouth is not how I want to live," she said. "I want to live with freedom and joy."
Growing up, it was difficult for Lily to find foods that she could guarantee were not processed in a facility with nuts that might trigger her allergy. Today, she has a number of trusted brands.
"I've learned exactly what I should put in my body," Lily said. "I hope our company will become a trusted brand that adds comfort, variety and fun. I don't eat anything that is made in a facility that also processes products that contain nuts. I never risk cross-contamination."
Lily has continued to eat the same brands for her entire life. If she ever wants to try a new brand, she does her research, reads the labels, and follows her instincts.
"I have to eat, I have to nourish my body, and I have to be safe," she said. "I'm so grateful to these trusted brands for helping me do this."
To make this all possible, Lily helped to develop the Don't Go Nuts "Field to Fingers" process. It ensures that the company has higher safety standards than other companies to prevent any kind of cross-contamination.
"I worked with the team to create a process to meet those standards," she said. "The most important thing to me was to build a facility from the ground up with all brand-new equipment. I needed to know it never had a nut in it or on it."
Just as importantly, each and every ingredient that goes into Don't Go Nuts soy butters and energy bars has to come from nut-free environments.
"Everyone who works in our kitchen is whole-hearted about our mission," she said.
You can also check out a video of the Field to Fingers Nut-Free Process below.
Lily believes that other food manufacturers aren't as willing to go to the same ends for nut-free products because of the costs involved.
"It's expensive and it's a lot more work to have an entirely nut-free facility," she said. "Also, a lot of people don't understand because they don't have someone in their life with food allergies."
When it comes to creating substitutes for nuts, soy plays a big role.
"I think our soy butter is the best," Lily said. "We love to cook and bake with it or just eat it with a spoon."
Her products are available in stores all over the eastern United States, and even in Puerto Rico!
She recently showed her Don't Go Nuts products at Natural Products Expo West. Unfortunately, her time there was cut short, because she was placed near several booths that included nuts.
"As much as I wanted to be there to tell the story of my company, I had to leave, because I wasn't comfortable or safe," she said. "I was so sad not to be able to stay because it is a great show."
However, the event did manage to generate more interest for Don't Go Nuts! We hope to see the products in west coast stores very soon.
Lily is also a musician. Lily and her brother, Gray, write and perform music together, with Gray on percussion and Lily on the guitar.
"I am working on an inspirational song for kids with allergies and that will help any kids with growing up," Lily said. "Writing songs and playing music have been amazing and a great way to express my emotions."
Next, Lily hopes to create more Don't Go Nuts products to appeal to people of all ages., including granolas and more. In the fall, the company will also have mini-packs of so butter that are great in a lunch box, which can be eaten with apples or pretzels.
"This company is so important to me because eating and staying safe are very challenging for people with food allergies," she said. "Our foods make eating fun again, and you can feel excited to eat…something you haven't felt in a long time."
To keep up with all of the latest from Don't Go Nuts, be sure to check out their social pages below! You can also join us at SweetyHigh.com to tell us about girls making an impact in your communities!