Bonnie Bester – Allergy Kids

by Claire Minnaar

Tell us a bit about YOU and your family (where you are based, single / married, number of kids, etc)

We struggled with blocked noses and upper respiratory tract infections for 13 months with our third daughter Jessica, before we could eventually do allergy tests. It turns out that she has a dairy and goats milk allergy and we have subsequently discovered that she has a severe soy intolerance as well as being immune deficient.

She was a dream baby to breastfeed which was such a wonderful experience as I could only express and bottle feed my twins for 6 weeks. She latched beautifully from day one, which was initially a concern as she was 5 weeks premature and the suckling reflex usually only comes in around 35 weeks. She fed every four hours and slept the rest of the time for the first few weeks. Her dairy allergy then took over and because her immune system was trying to get rid of the dairy allergen, her metabolism sped up.

Unfortunately the dairy I was eating was being passed through my breast milk.

She went from feeding every four hours, to three hours and eventually down to every 1,5 hours. Initially I thought it was a growth spurt but it kept deteriorating and her weight gain started to drop. I realised that something was wrong and thought it was my breast milk that wasn’t sufficient so stopped breastfeeding and put her onto formulae.

During this very traumatic time, her mucus never gave up and I started to believe that she had allergies but my GP, my Clinic and my Pediatrician all just said that she was sick and was picking things up from my 3 year old twin girls, Kiara and Abigail. I then put her onto Lactose free formulae which help her improve but not as much as I hoped.

When Jessica’s allergies were confirmed, I had to find alternative foods for her to eat and my research begun. Needless to say there isn’t much on the Internet for Mom’s like me specifically detailing actual foods that don’t contain dairy and soy in South Africa which led me to developing this site !

What is the name of your company and when did you start your business?

Allergy Kids – started in 2010.

What inspired you to start your own business?

My daughter is dairy allergic, soy intolerant and immune deficient and I couldn’t find any South African based support so I decided to start my own and try and make a difference in other parents lives that had allergic kids.

What are the challenges you face or have faced being a working Mom and how have you overcome them?

I am lucky that I do work from home but trying to work when you have three kids under the age of 5 running around, proves to be practically impossible at times. I do have an office that I manage to lock myself into for short periods of time but otherwise my best working times are at night when they are all in bed. It’s not ideal but it works for now……as they say No pain No gain !!!

What is the hardest part or have been some of your struggles starting your own business?

I was working fulltime when I decided to start my business so it meant that I was juggling a 9 – 5 job during the day, the kids in the evening and all the research and planning I needed to do to get my website up and running. And while this was all going on, I needed to take care of my family and my baby who is allergic. It was exhausting but all so very worthwhile when I launched.

How do you balance your business and your family?

I try to do my work in the morning when the kids are at school and in the evenings when they are in bed, so I can be with them in the afternoons and do the normal house stuff like watering the garden and making sure the pool is clean….two jobs which I love by the way and find very therapeutic. Strange I know 😉 I also have the most amazing Nanny that has been with us for the last 5 years.

What or whom has been the greatest support for you and your business?

My husband…he’s had to proof read everything over and over again and sit on the couch on his own most nights while I sit and work. He helps where ever he can with the girls as well as work a very long days. And then there’s the financial side, he’s supported me wholeheartedly with whatever I need to get my business going.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have tried to work fulltime for longer or until my site was actually launched, unfortunately our whole Cape Town office was retrenched so it wasn’t my choice to stop working. This would have helped tremendously with the finances of launching a new business. I know this sounds totally bazaar but trying to get any sort of financial assistance from banks these days is practically impossible.

What advice can you give other Moms out there who are starting a new business?

Persevere !!! It’s not easy but if you find something you are passionate about keep at it!!! Once it’s launched the rest as they say is history. I don’t mind working in the evenings because every bit of research I do goes towards helping not only make my babies life a lot easier but other Parents with a children with allergies too. And if I can help even one child or parent a month it makes all the late nights worthwhile.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that I may have missed?

Part of what I do is also to import silicone Allermates Allergy awareness wristbands. You can take a look at them on my website or my Facebook fanpage for more details. I have recently advertised them in the Cape Town’s Child Magazine.

If other Moms would like to keep in touch, how can they contact you?

Twitter: AllergykidsBon
Email: bonnie (at)

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